An American Crime
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The film, "An American Crime", shown on the Showtime cable channel, follows Sylvia's last three months fairly closely. Gertrude Baniszewski, who may or may not have been playing with a full deck to begin with, progressed from slaps and spankings when the support checks arrived late, to more grotesque punishments after Sylvia "lied" about Baniszewski's oldest daughter Paula being pregnant (Paula actually was pregnant by a married man), culminating in Sylvia being locked in the basement and systematically tortured not only by Gertrude Baniszewksi and six of her seven children (the baby was too young to participate), but also by several neighborhood children who stopped by from time to time after school to join in the fun. Even worse, Gertrude forced Jennie Likens to take part in abusing her sister, threatening to do the same thing to her if she didn't. By the time Sylvia mercifully died of shock and abuse, there was hardly a square inch on her body that had not been cut, scalded, beaten, burned with cigarettes, or subjected to whatever torments the Baniszewskis could dream up, including scratching the words onto her abdomen with red-hot needles in letters two inches high "I'M A PROSTITUTE AND PROUD OF IT".Read more ›
An American Crime is more true to the actual events then The Girl Next Door, although it skips over a lot of the abuse and doesn't really give a clear picture of what this young girl was forced to endure during those few months in late 1965. Sylvia Likens, fondly nicknamed "Cookie" by her father, and her sister Jenny were two bright, energetic, and endearing teenagers. When their parents decide to go on the road with a carnival they are left in the care of Gertrude Baniszewski, a single mother with seven children who is constantly sick and battling with depression.
The real life story of Sylvia is one that will forever haunt me. When police found her body on October 26, she had been burned with cigarettes and matches over a hundred times, beaten on a daily basis by a host of neighborhood kids from 11 to 18 years of age, starved, forced to eat her own feces, and a host of other atrocities that I cannot repeat here. But by far the worst torment she endured was a brand across her chest made with a hot piece of metal that said "I am a prostitute and proud of it." Sylvia, only sixteen at the time of these tortures, was killed in one of the most horrendous fashions imaginable.
So, which film, An American Crime or The Girl Next Door, is truly the better film?
When it comes to staying true to the original story An American Crime comes out on top.Read more ›
I recommend this film immensively, but be prepared for it to stay with you a long time. I know it did with me.
When I was a kid, my parents had a book called "Encyclopedia of Crime" or some similar title. It was filled with a variety of gangsters, mass murderers ( I don't think "serial killer" had entered the lexicon yet) and other assorted creeps. One perosn in the book that really stuck out and spooked me wasn't Manson or Richard Speck but Indianapolis' own Gertrude Baniszewski, convicted of the true life horrible torture killing of 16 year old Sylvia Likens. The details of she and her charges horrible crimes against young Sylvia were sickening enough, but her old black and white photo in in the book I saw showed the face of true evil, almost a modern day witch- someone of whom "bogeyman" tales are probably still told.
"An American Crime" relives the horrible true crimes committed by Baniszewski in late Summer and early Fall of 1965. A demented, drug addicted single mom with too many mouths to feed takes in two neighborhood girls for a weekly payment from their travelling carney parents. After a misunderstood "insult" against her promiscuous daughter, Baniszewski lashes out sadisticly against the older foster child Sylvia. The true account of the case is stomach turning in the totrure and cruelty that Sylvia experienced. At the hands of one maniac, Sylvia's treatment is criminal and barbaric, but as this cruelty came from the hand of not only Baniszewski but her sons, daughters and other neighborhood kids is unfathomable. I imagine psychologists today could still write volumes on the group think sadism and the adult approval that had one maniac leading about a half dozen others.
There's no pretty ending here. Nothing seems to be learned, people go to jail, some for probably way too short a time.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great story but very gruesome. How anyone could treat another human like this is beyond me.Published 27 days ago by Steph
Well, I just watched this film and I didn't felt so intensed.
I felt sorry for the girl(Ellen Page) who was tortured and died but on the other hand I was not into deep for... Read more
This movie was nothing compared to what this poor girl actually suffered.Published 2 months ago by Melanie Nielsen
Very disturbing story that makes you think twice before you leave your children with someone to take care of them for you.Published 3 months ago by Richard Rivera
Good movie, you will likely be pissed off by the horrible things this poor girl's character endures.Published 4 months ago by Jack Grubb
Awesome movie! Great to see Ellen Page as an up and coming actress!Published 5 months ago by Daphine E. Campanelli
It is horrifying that this actually happened!! It ripped my heart out! I have no sympathy for any of the parties involved in the torture, no matter what their ages!!!! Read morePublished 5 months ago by Lou Ann Price
Better then what I thought , was really based on the real story, Girl went through so much pain.Published 5 months ago by Sharon
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I feel the same way. It was stupid. I too wish they had stuck to the real story.
Jul 14, 2013 by Andy's Lady Starlight | See all 6 posts
House of Evil by John Dean is the most accurate . You can always read Avenger of Blood Genesis the graphic novel at WWW.avengerodbloodgenesis.com. it's fictionized somewhat but I've made the account of the Sylvia as close to actuality as possible.
May 16, 2011 by Avenger of Blood | See all 2 posts
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