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Shattered Hopes: The True Story of the Amityville Murders - Part I From Horror To Homicide
Shattered Hopes: The True Story of the Amityville Murders - Part I From Horror To Homicide
DVD ~ Edward Asner

5 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Documentary!!!, April 21, 2012
Well, it was a matter of time before the "haters" who hate the producer of this film started their smut campaign on Amazon. And it's time to reply.

First, I have purchased this film and reviewed it several times over. Second, I know Ryan Katzenbach, the producer. We're not good friends, but I have corresponded in email with him; I find him to be very honest and candid, and I found his film no less honest and candid. Shattered Hopes is in no way sensationalism or capitalization off a crime. It is a super interesting look at a dysfunctional family that seemed destined to destroy themselves and it is, honestly, a never-before told story. Forget the ghosts and demon crap, the family story is more interesting.

I have followed this documentary's website and Facebook page for about 3 years. In order to understand the comments being made here by those who wish to dis the film, and the producer, you have to understand the players and who exactly is involved and, let me tell you, there is a nasty agenda against the filmmaker for no good reason.

Since filming began, the producer has had to put up with a constant attack on his credibility by a group of people who run a website that claims that they are all about the "truth" behind the Amityville case. The reality is that they are not interested in the case but instead their only goal seems to be smearing Ryan Katzenbach and those on his team. If I were Katzenbach, the people who are responsible for this would have been in court a long time ago and held accountable for their actions because their actions cross well over the line of freedom of speech.

The website is run by a man named Dan Nolte who resides in Southern California. Nolte was very good friends with George Lutz, something he states on his forum. Of course, Lutz and his wife were the ones who perpetuated the whole Amityville haunting story of the 28-days in the house which I think we can all appreciate as a hoax. The original book by Jay Anson is full of inaccuracies and contradictions. And the book even contradicts itself repeatedly from one edition to the next as discussed by the Steven Kaplan book The Amityville Horror Conspiracy. (Kaplan is a repeated target of Nolte and his followers, too.) Lutz is held on the Nolte forum as a sort of God....a man whose credibility is never questioned despite being the ultimate profiteer off the film and he capitalized on the dead Defeos which is something demonstrated by the probate papers that Katzenbach's team dug up from the courts. But, of course, in their claims again the producer of Shattered Hopes, they claim that he is the one trying to capitalize off the DeFeos while Lutz is given a free pass. When you read their forum, their bias and hatred of the producer of this film is clear as a bell and as a result there is zero objectivity. It is not surprising that their forum members, trying to disguise themselves as objective reviewers, are here trying to dissaude you, the Amityville enthusiasts or true crime fans from spending your money on this film. The film is well worth the price, and it is a must view for anyone interested in this subject matter. And this is not just my opinion, just go to the documentary's Facebook page and read the comments made by those who have purchased the DVD as well those who have already posted here. These positive comments burn Nolte and his followers to the point of reacting with as many negative reviews as possible.

In the past 3 years, the personal attacks on the producers and anyone else that the forum disagrees with have been absolutely disgusting to read. They attack personal attributes of people instead of sticking to the subject matter. They constantly twist the producers words to make them suit the truth that they want people to believe.

Living in southern Cal, I looked into Dan Nolte because I have just found his remarks over the top. In April last year, Mr. Nolte filed chapter 7 bankruptcy and clipped his credit cards for over $25G. Yet in the past he has speculated and allowed others to speculate on Katzenbach's finances and how the movie he made was funded, even despite Katzenbach's very candid statements that there are no investors and the film was made out of pocket. I also found a YouTube site under "dantemadison" which is apparently Dan Nolte's personal channel. Nolte has stated that Katzenbach's movie, even years before it was released, would be worst than "Plan 9 From Outer Space." When you look at his YT profile, you see that Nolte in his younger days was an aspiring creative type who took a stab at filmmaking. And when you watch what he filmed, you realize that his work, "Santuary", IS worse than "Plan 9." His hate for Katzenbach stems from his own failure. Apparently, Nolte was so desperate for attention and to be on television, he even went as far as to appear on hatemonger Wally George's show back in the 1980's. For those of us who remember Wally George.....well.....I'm rolling my eyes. For those not in the know, Wally George was a cheesebag UHF talk show called "Hot Seat" out of Anaheim in the early 1980's.

Nolte lives in an apartment in Fullerton and works as a graphic artist from his home when he's not busy parked on his forum tossing garbage at Katzenbach. Based on his bankruptcy schedules filed with the Federal Court, he'd be better suited spending more time WORKING and less time crapping on others. He is joined by a group of other losers who spend their time attacking Shattered Hopes.

I felt that it was important to bring this out and to understand WHERE these reviews of Shattered Hopes are REALLY coming from. They are NOT objective or honest and they are only designed to attack the filmmaker. I've sat back and watched it for long enough and I felt it was time to reply. Nolte and his morons may have their forum and there may not be anything anyone can say to defend the filmmaker over there because any reply will be removed or the pack will immediately gang up to attack anyone who defends Shattered. BUT, here is different. If you want to venture off your forum and attack this documentary and Katzenbach on a public website like this one, be prepared for a reply. I hope there are more fans and supporters out there who will also join in who feel the same way.

Some time back Nolte's forum accused Katzenbach of purposely not interviewing those connected to the case which is something in the past week even Katzenbach talked about on his FB page. He was attacked for this and forum members claimed that Ryan would not interview people connected with the family because he was afraid that Geraldine Gates, who is a character in this story as the ex girlfriend of Ronnie DeFeo, would be discredited. Well, unlike these people on the website, Katzenbach remained quiet and did not disclose who he had interviewed or hadn't. But when Part I came out, some of the people interviewed in the film were friends of the Defeos who knew quite well. And while we don't know what they will have to say about Geraldine (which the producer says will be discussed in the final portion of the film yet to be released) their stories about the Defeos painted a scary picture of what life was like for the family. The people that the forum claimed Katzenback would avoid were the people that were interviewed in depth in the film, something that caused me to laugh because I thought about how Nolte and his followers must have been smoking hot after watching this. Bottom line - for those really following all of this - Katzenbach has made Nolte and his followers look like uniformed idiots repeatedly.

One of the people the forum asked Katzenbach directly about was the Nonnewitzes. For those who don't know who all the people involved in the story are, these people were very close to the DeFeos. Mrs. Nonnewitz was the Defeos housekeeper, and she was very close to Louise DeFeo for several years before the murders. While Mrs. Nonnewitz died before being interviewed, her husband told her story as well as his own personal memories of the Defeos. These were people who probably knew the Defeos better than anyone else and since I have never seen them interviewed anywhere, they were people who seem very important to the story. Kudos to Katzenback for getting an account no one else ever has.

Katzenback was grilled for not interviewing the Nonnewitzs and Nolte and his cult pack made a big deal about this. But after the film came out, and after they saw that Katzenbach HAD interviewed Nonnewitz, then their song suddenly changed and instead of accepting that they had been wrong now they simply claim that Nonnewitz gave a sort of revisionist history or that he is wrong in his recollections. My point in saying this is that no matter what Katzenbach presents or asserts, this forum will spin it around and discount whatever evidence is presented. This is not an objective view of the facts and it is this very forum, run by Dan Nolte, that is all about "revisionist" history. Somehow these people think that they somehow know far more than Mr. Nonnewitz about this story. Their fabrication of facts outweighs the eyewitness testimony of someone who lived the story and was really there. THIS is the truth according to them and them only. And anyone who reads their reviews on here should know where it is coming from before passing judgement on this film or this team of filmmakers. And it is apparent that these negative reviews are written by members of this forum because they harp about the same things that are said over and over and over and over and over at the forum - the same crap over and over year after year after year.

The forum goes on and on about Geraldine Gates and whether or not she was real. For the last umpteen years, Ryan K. has said openly and candidly that Geraldine is a sideline story to the real Defeo case and to the murders themselves. As he has said, whether you believe her or don't, it doesn't affect the outcome of what's in the film-- whatever the findings may be that come out in the last segments.

Katzenback was grilled for not interviewing the Nonnewitzs and Nolte and his cult pack made a big deal about this. But after the film came out, and after they saw that Katzenbach HAD interviewed Nonnewitz, then their song suddenly changed and instead of accepting that they had been wrong now they simply claim that Nonnewitz gave a sort of revisionist history or that he is wrong in his recollections. My point in saying this is that no matter what Katzenbach presents or asserts, this forum will spin it around and discount whatever evidence is presented. This is not an objective view of the facts and it is this very forum, run by Dan Nolte, that is all about "revisionist" history. Somehow these people think that they somehow know far more than Mr. Nonnewitz about this story. Their fabrication of facts outweighs the eyewitness testimony of someone who lived the story and was really there. THIS is the truth according to them and them only. And anyone who reads their reviews on here should know where it is coming from before passing judgement on this film or this team of filmmakers. And it is apparent that these negative reviews are written by members of this forum because they harp about the same things that are said over and over and over and over and over at the forum - the same crap over and over year after year after year.

The forum goes on and on about Geraldine Gates and whether or not she was real. For the last umpteen years, Ryan K. has said openly and candidly that Geraldine is a sideline story to the real Defeo case and to the murders themselves. As he has said, whether you believe her or don't, it doesn't affect the outcome of what's in the film-- whatever the findings may be that come out in the last segments.

The website claims that Geraldine met DeFeo in prison and cooked up this strategy for a new trial. They support Defeo's assertions that he met Geraldine after 1985. The story that has been presented in Shattered and throughout Rick Osuna's book The Night The DeFeos Died claims that Geraldine was married to DeFeo before the murders in 1974. Whether he was married to her or whether they met in 1985, as Katzenbach has said, it's really ireelevant. They had a long term relationship and Katzenbach has years of their letters in his possession. So whether they were together before the murders or they met in 1985, Geraldine had a 20 year relationship with DeFeo and as Katzenbach said, this makes her a relevant witness which ever way you slice it. But this falls on deaf ears over there at the website. Their case against this film is that it is in sole reliance upon Geraldine's account. Having viewed this film, that is absolutely NOT THE CASE. With or without Geraldine, this docudrama stands on its own feet. What is especially interesting to me, is that Geraldine's details and accounts sync perfectly with those people who were there. For someone who is lying, she sure sounds pretty damn convincing to me and its plain to see that Geraldine is talking about the same people that Roger Nonnewitz and Louise's friend Gloria are talking about.

Ryan Katzenbach on his FB page and his own website has made no attempt to hide any of the stories given by Geraldine. Regarding the bogus brother from the trial in the 1990's, Katzenbach posted a clip on his FB page wherein Geraldine very openly and colorfully discusses how this whole bogus brother story came to be. Yet again....it falls on deaf ears. In the review here, Salerno makes a big issue with it and tries to present it like its something that is being covered up by Katzenbach. Fact is, its right out there in the open for discussion and it was put out in the open by Katzenback HIMSELF. These are hardly the actions of someone trying to dupe the public.

Also right out in the open are the very property records, Suffolk County DA's records, and birth certificate that these forum members drone on and on about. Months back, Ryan Katzenbach discussed on the Facebook page the deed that supposedly proves that Geraldine lived upstate at the time of her relationship with Ronnie. As I recall, without going back and looking at Ryan's post, the individual who sold the property could not verify Geraldine's identity at all after he asked if she could do so. There were other inconsistencies, such as misspellings in official documents and other contradictions that suggest that these documents had been tampered with. Bottom line -- the forum asserts that Geraldine is a fraud, and while Katzenbach can't seem to offer 100% proof (which is moot at any rate when you consider that Geraldine DID have a relationship with Defeo) of her existence, the forum can only present circumstantial documents that prove she is a fraud. And again, repeating myself, it doesn't matter anyway because Geraldine is NOT the story being presented.

One of the things that Katzenbach talked about on his Facebook page, which prompted me to find an out of print copy, is Betsy Carrington's book Judicial Carousel. Betsy was the legal secretary of William Weber, Ronnie DeFeo's defense counsel. In the book, she talks about a woman who came into Weber's office IN THE 1970'S wanting to see Weber and claiming that she was the wife of Ronnie DeFeo and the child with her was Ronnie's. Also, as Katzenbach has pointed out, Hans Holzer who wrote Murder In Amityville quizzed Ronnie during the 1970's as to whether he was married and had children, something that is printed in his book. Rick Osuna also has a soundbyte on his website wherein Holzer admits to meeting Geraldine back when. But, will we ever see Nolte's group talk about this? Nope. Sorry.

And another thing we never hear about is how Rick Osuna and Katzenbach spanked George Lutzs butt in court several years ago. Lutz came after both of them over a bad business dealing with Rick, but what the real agenda was was to shut Rick's book down. Plain and simple. In the end, Lutz got nothing. Same with Ronnie Defeo who also sued and claimed that Geraldine was a fraud. When I asked Ryan Katzenbach for the docs pertaining to the lawsuit, he actually sent them to me via a series of Acrobat files. When you read it, it becomes evident that if Ronnie Defeo had a case against Geraldine or Rick or Ryan he would have won something -- but he didn't. And in all cases wherein he sued, he was tossed out on his rear. Where is the forum to discuss this? NO WHERE because it would paint Noltes dead buddy, George Lutz, as an idiot who lost every lawsuit he ever filed.

When these people assert what Shattered Hopes will or will not present, they are complete idiots. They have no idea what Katzenbach's film will bring forward. Remember, these are the same people who all claimed that the film never bothered to interview anyone who knew the Defeos -- something that they had to eat after the DVD came out and were proven wrong. And last week, Katzenbach shut them up pretty good again when he proved that Rick Osuna had visited the Amityville Horror house. Rick claimed he met the owner and got a tour and for a long, long time the website has challenged this and called Rick a liar. Ryan Katzenbach had correspondence with this owner who, in writing did state that it did happen. So once again these website forum members who act like they know everything are proven to be idiots who really know NOTHING.

These people are not in ANY type of authoritative position to talk about this film, a point that Katzenbach has made over and over until he is blue in the face. The problem is that there are more people who have raved about Shattered Hopes and more of us who really understand what is going on and what is really happening than what they think. And I decided that if they can run their pie holes to distort facts and twist the truth, then its time someone who does know what is going on stands up. I don't know what the next segments of this film hold in store...I can't even begin to guess. But whatever comes out, I am sure it will be substantiated and interesting and the focus will be on the Defeos and not Geraldine. So let the haters hate because every day this DVD continues to sell despite their best efforts. And for years they spouted off and claimed that this film would never see the light of day. So today its not surprising that they rant and rave and scream like a bunch of jackals.

The real truth here --- the film is a must see if you are into Amityville or true crime. It was put together by a passionate filmmaker who wanted to tell this story better than anyone else. And I think that this team behind Shattered has done exactly that. The haters are the haters and there is no convincing them, but before they can convince anyone that Katzenbach is some bad person with questionable credibility, it is important that even the most casual viewer understand the real agenda and hate and jealousy going on here. The film is honest and so is the filmmaker. Don't be fooled by individuals like Dan Nolte. Its high time that these people get a dose of their own medicine back and even if no one else will say it, I will stand up. Ryan Katzenbach is an artist and he's been savaged and held to ridicule by those who are so jealous of his research and tenacity that they can't see straight. That alone speaks for itself. Shattered will be, mark my words, the best film series ever done on this case and it will take its spot with the greats and it will be talked about even after the haters and their disgusting website is long gone.
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