Director O.H. Krill noted for Zombie Horror Fright Fest  and his constant flow of documentary films one the subjects of UFOs and Paranormal Tales, teams with the talented producer Warren Croyle (Zombie Isle ), bringing a solid effort detailing one of the evils sweeping across Victorian England in the form of a gentle old woman named Amelia Dyer. Her depravity hid in the shadows, while the streets found themselves covered with sickness, thefts, rapes, and murders, yet she strived and worked acquiring a body count that estimated 400 innocent babies thanks to her madness, the law and greed.
This documentary finds itself describing the 19th century, wherein England rules its empire advancing itself in grandiose engineering breakthroughs in all forms impressing the world, wielding its power, except in one area, the less fortunate citizens, namely the poor. Although, to those who know of the history of Dyer this film might only serve a cursory glance of her life and to others unknown of her deeds awakening them to discover her wretched existence. Early in the documentary set a tone of dread, laying the grounds for this serial killer, with insane sinister motives aided both from her past experiences as a nurse in hospital and mental institutions (asylums) and later as a midwife and the laws of that era, gave birth to her chilling acts of macabre haunting actions. Amelia, as told to the viewer, is described as a properly educated woman, and yet glosses over large chunks of her life, as if unimportant, however for every serial killer ever reported, the background becomes as vital as the foreground of their deeds. She dealt in the profitable market of “baby farming” a business in which, single mothers gave their babies over for a fee, prepping them for adoption, and sadly in most cases this never happened, in fact in Amelia’s cases, death for children came in the form of starvation, drugging them into silence, and strangulation. These babies often were the gifts from an illegitimate conceived method, and hence becomes a blemish upon the not only the mother, but her family and the view of society, and therefore a proper discarding of the bundle of joy, would find itself in a tormented world of tears of lonely cries. Nevertheless, the story involving Dyer and her actions, consumes about thirty minutes of solid information and yet does maintain interest for one hour, by sharing her abilities to escape into the asylums when fearing her apprehension by faking mental illness, and as a past nurse she resided happily until she realizes the authorities sought her no longer. Her final convictions based on only six babies death, in many cases false or missing paperwork and mothers refusing to admit to their own child’s existence damned the further cases, the jury convicted and sentenced the monster in record time.
Amelia, though not the first and nor the last in baby farming homicides, her gentleness often sparked the easily obtaining of the babies, and more importantly the fees, in addition the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act assisted her creation of this dreadful chapter in history. This law existed for fathers to escape from the financial obligations of illegitimate children, leaving the women to discard the child quickly. For some, the cases suggested and alluded to in the documentary that women were not always prostitutes, rather servants hinting to the facts these women served as concubines for the masters of the households. Dyer’s story later showed that her own daughter assisted in the killing, making it a family slaughtering business, with profit as the main goal and with babies suffering from twisted societal views and unsanitary states with little or no oversight from authorities, later the child welfare change, but at a snail’s pace.
As for the overall production value, the soundtrack fits into place with the depressing nature of the story that results with a narration aiming for a dry and quite serious tone for the audience, thanks to Sector 5 Films. The vintage movies signets fit the storyline, mixed with numerous sketches and photos of the era, all from the public domain and no actual materials from the crime scenes, or letters from the police, sadly leaving one absent for more, the lack of prep for a film finds itself the culprit and guilty as charged. In addition, the briefest reenactments lack conviction, along with no follow-ups from historians on screen interviews or social commentary. In addition, many movies revisiting serial killers long since pass, a forensic psychologist reveals many of the hidden motivations, and horrific crimes against or perhaps influenced by society. The strangest scene in the film, comes the transition shot involving the burning roses with a CGI overlay done for interests leaves the viewers completely baffled.
Krill’s film presents a fascinating look back into the dark tormentors from narrow-minded views from society of the out-of-wedlock children for the most part to the aspects leading Dyer’s execution on June 10, 1896, even though she was not famous like the murderess Margaret Waters first convicted of baby farming murders. However, while Amelia earned a little known ballad of her crimes, it was nothing to legendary song of Lizzie Borden, for the crimes, which accused of in 1892 in Fall River, Massachusetts. The final and most noted aspect in the film, was the revealing of the executioner James Billington, a Sunday schoolteacher with a fascination for hangings and strangulations and built a replica gallows in his yard past final judgement on the quiet old woman, Amelia Dyer. Angel Maker, a film for the morbid at heart, and those equally interested in discovering a forgotten serial killer.
IMDb Rating: 4.9/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.5/10
This review was originally published on the now defunct Rogue Cinema website in July 2015.