Horror film based on Pickton due out before trial

From Thursday's Globe and Mail
Sept 7, 2006

VANCOUVER A graphic horror film that purports to be based on the real-life story of Robert Pickton is scheduled for release next month on DVD in Australia, weeks before jurors are selected in his trial for the murder of 26 women.

The 85-minute fictional thriller, made by German cult-film director Ulli Lommel, is called Killer Pickton.The movie, filmed with actors, tells a tale "that is so disturbing that even the mention of it is banned in Canada," its promotional material says.

With blatant disregard for the presumption of Mr. Pickton's innocence, the film, which will be released on Oct. 18, offers "a stomach-turning look" at the killing of as many as 125 Vancouver-based prostitutes and drug addicts over a 20-year period by a fictional character called Robert Pickton.

The fictional Mr. Pickton drugs women and feeds them into a wood chipper, mixing the victims' flesh with pork products that are sold to an unsuspecting public. "Pickton lured his victims with the promise of drugs. When he got them into his house, all bets were off in this wall-to-wall horror spectacle," the promotional material says.

Some family members of women who have disappeared from Vancouver's skid row were distraught yesterday over the pending distribution of the film.

"That's horrible," Sandra Gagnon, the sister of Janet Henry who went missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside neighbourhood, said yesterday in an interview.

"I find this unbelievable. It was hard enough for us families. I find this totally disgusting," she said. "I don't understand why people want to see movies like that."

But Mr. Pickton's lawyer Peter Ritchie indicated he was not overly concerned about the impact of the film on his client's trial. "I hope that anyone who may potentially be on the jury would stay away from that sort of thing," he said.

"Canadians are pretty sensible people," he said, adding that he anticipated those who might be on a jury would realize they should not go out of their way to watch the film.

So far, no plans have been unveiled to distribute the film in Canada.

As long as the film and any information obtained from the trial remain outside Canada, a court order restricting publication of evidence in the case until presented to the jury would have no impact.

The jurisdiction of the court in Canada ends at the border, Stan Lowe, a spokesman for the Crown prosecutor's office, said in an interview. The ban applies only in Canada, he said. "The issue is enforcement of the order," he added.

However, the RCMP is currently investigating whether the film violates Canadian law, an RCMP spokesman said later.

Mr. Pickton, 56, has been charged with the murder of 26 women. The court is currently reviewing evidence in order to decide whether the material is admissible before a jury. Selection of the jury is slated to begin on Dec. 11.

Mr. Lommel, 61, has played prominent roles in several Rainer Werner Fassbinder films and has directed numerous movies. One of his most recent was Green River Killer, which was about Seattle serial killer Gary Ridgway.

Mr. Lommel won the Euro Shocker award at the 2005 Fearless Tales festival in San Francisco, and starred and directed in the 1979 film Blank Generation, which included a cameo appearance by Andy Warhol.

The Shadow Factory, a Hollywood production company, announced plans last summer for a horror thriller based on the alleged exploits of Mr. Pickton. In the following months, more than 1,200 people signed an on-line petition urging a boycott of the movie if it was distributed in Canada.

"The film serves only to feed the prurient interests of misogynists while making violence against women a commodity," said the petition mounted by women from the Downtown Eastside.

"We feel the film is disrespectful to the memories of the murdered and missing women and their families. We are tired of the women being referred to as 'mostly drug addicted prostitutes,' as if killing them were not as heinous as killing other women. The film and publicity surrounding it show a total disregard for the humanity of the women."

Wayne Leng, who has been involved in the search for the missing women since his friend, Sarah DeVries, disappeared in 1998, said he exchanged e-mails with one of the actresses in the film.

She broke off the correspondence, saying she did not want to talk about the movie and jeopardize her career, Mr. Leng said in an interview.

Families of the missing women are upset with the film, Mr. Leng said.

"But nothing is going to stop it. This guy [Mr. Lommel] has done lots of thrillers. There is a market for it and there is money to be made," Mr. Leng said. "As horrible as it is, though, people do not have to watch it."

Copyright 2006 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Fictional Pickton film pulled 9-15-06

The Shadow Factory

Pickton Petition



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Updated: August 21, 2016