America’s first serial killer was buried face down.
H. H. Holmes, known as Dr. Death , was America’s first known serial killer, convicted and executed for a string of murders in South Side Englewood in the late 19th Century.
“I’m playing with the idea that he wants to be turned over,” says writer-director Parris Reaves.
That’s the premise of “The Evil One,” Reaves’ new feature film, which is set to lens in Chicago this spring.
“The Evil One” is an urban horror film in the vein of “Candyman,” Reaves says. Urban film company Maverick Entertainment (“Go For Broke,” “Two Degrees”) is financing the picture for a budget in the low six figures.
Holmes has been gaining new attention lately thanks to the publication of Erik Larson’s non-fiction book, “Devil in the White City,” which traces the parallel stories of Holmes and renowned architect Daniel Burnham.
” I’m tying the Holmes story in mind with what’s been going on in the community lately,” says Reaves, who lives in the same neighborhood where Dr. Death built the Castle of Horrors with iron-plated rooms and zinc-lined tanks, where he killed women
Englewood regained notoriety in the late 1990s for a series of killings.
Reaves sealed the deal with Maverick to finance “The Evil One” when he sold them domestic distribution rights to his previous film, “When Thugs Cry.” Maverick is scheduled to release “Thugs” on DVD in July through Artisan Entertainment’s home video division. “We just have to do a little more last minute work on it before the release,” Reaves says.
Reaves says “The Evil One” could go straight to video, like “Thugs,” or could enjoy a theatrical release. “It depends on how good a job we do,” he says. Maverick focuses on the video market, but has had one theatrical release thus far, last year’s “3 Strikes,” by rapper DJ Pooh.
Cinematographer Joey Domaracki is set to shoot “The Evil One” on Super-16mm, as he did for “Thugs” in 2001.
“When Thugs Cry” was shot “sporadically” for a total of a month beginning in July of 2001. Reaves’ Hawkfilmz Ltd. produced the film for $150,000 from family and friends.
Maverick picked up “When Thugs Cry,” and signed Reaves for his next picture, after “Thugs” screened at the 2002 New York Independent Film and Video Festival.
Lion’s Share Entertainment, which co-produced the Mariah Carey-Mira Sorvino vehicle “Wise Girls,” bought foreign rights for “When Thugs Cry” after a Los Angeles distributor screening.
Lion’s Share is working to set up an overseas theatrical release for “Thugs.” “They have a strong feeling they can get a theatrical run going,” Reaves says. “They’re looking for a bigger distributor to work with, but they can put it out themselves if they have to.”
” When Thugs Cry” stars Chicago hip hop artists Soundmaster T and Jah Ristah, as brothers who trek from Alabama to Chicago to help their mother battle drug addiction. The brothers get embroiled in a street hustle that leads to revenge and tragedy. Noted comedic actor Carl Wright (“Barbershop,” “Soul Food,”) makes his first dramatic turn as a minister trying to steer the brothers straight.
Reaves studied film at Chicago State University in the mid-1990s after a tour in the Navy. He directed two features before “Thugs,” similarly rugged urban dramas “Project Englewood” and “Backstabber.” Reaves is negotiating with Maverick for a video release of “Backstabber.”