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As Evening Falls Around Us
by Brian Yandle

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There is nothing more evil than to destroy that which is innocent.

There is nothing more evil than to destroy that which is innocent.
It's that time of year where we all feel a bit frosty & find ourselves wanting to spend as little time outside as humanly possible. Or maybe I am just speaking for myself here as I'm not cold-blooded by nature ofcourse. With the exception of a few holidays which I love dearly, I can honestly say I would rather be snuggled up at home in front of the TV watching some great films, catching up on the latest episode of True Blood on HBO and listening to Rozz Williams' music. Hopefully, the gas prices will continue to drop while I stay locked away inside my own dungeon keeping warm & occasionally lifting a finger or two in hopes of sharing my latest findings with all of you.

As I try to adapt to the changing of weather like every other living soul does, my heart cries out when I think of cold-natured humans as reflected in many forms of media today. The whole aspect of human cruelty & downright frostiness disturbs me greatly & has weighed heavily on my mind in recent years. I must admit that the stories we discover, in fact, unusually appalling & grossly inhuman. Do I believe that a mere column written for a site dedicated to those as passionate about films as I am will do so much to change anything? Probably not. However, it's shameful not to touch upon the dark sides of the human heart while grieving for the faithful departed.

It's been 43 years since Sylvia Likens was literally tortured to death & somehow the story is just as shocking to me now as it was when I first read the fictionalized account "The Girl Next Door" some years ago. Back then, I was merely a teen myself & the book left me nearly cold. I still get chills up & down my spine when I think of the horrendous crime that was commited & how no one came to this innocent
Ketchum's book was fleshed out for the screen & it does the book justice.

Ketchum's book was fleshed out for the screen & it does the book justice.
child's aid. Not since "Flowers in the Attic" had I felt so dumbstruck. Having said that, I cringe even more when I think about all the young children in the world who are currently suffering even more than what we experienced in those novels.

Nearly 20 years after Jack Ketchum's fictionalized account of Liken's story was published, the film Girl Next Door was finally released to the masses. What could I possibly say after seeing this film? Yes, I was angered. Yes, I probably screamed at the television & cursed the evil-doers in the back of my throat more than a few times. To no avail, all the rantings & ravings in my own living room could not save one child. At the end of the film, I sat motionless watching the credits roll & I felt all the emotions that the film-makers knew I would go through. I felt like a sick-o. I felt dirty. I needed a shower & yet I couldn't move. Suffice to say, TGNP made me feel less than human but the tears must flow nonetheless.

I allowed myself the luxury of crying. I cried for the loss of such an innocent child. I cried for the boy who loved her. I cried for the sister who would surely miss the sibling many years down the road. I cried for every child in the world who had been or would become the target of a sickened human mind. I cried until enough was enough. But those sobs would not stop with TGNP. I would surely cry again once I saw An American Crime. It was only a matter of time until I would get my hands on that the DVD & the time would need be granted again to re-group after such a hideous experience.

As with TGNP, AAC left me with similiar feelings although I did have to admit feeling a bit more sorry for the foster mother this time around in the very beginning of the film which slowly
It would be a crime if this film were to go unnoticed.

It would be a crime if this film were to go unnoticed.
progressed into saturated hatred. Catherine Keener & Ellen Page played very memorable roles which shouldn't have surprise me but I had wished that this film would've been the one Page would be remembered for rather than the chalky but popular Hard Candy. I immediately felt that I understood Sylvia much more although I never understood why she allowed those around her to do these ghastly things which would inevitably result in a slow but painful death. Only Sylvia herself knows the real reason & she took it with her to the grave.

After viewing both TGNP & AAC, I couldn't shake the feeling that this isolated incident is only one of millions which will ever be told. In fact, what distrubed me even more than the films were the hoorendous thingsa which happen all the time & there is never a speaker for the dead. No one to reach out a mere hand of comfort in those last moments of misery nor a speaker for the dead to inform others of the inflicted torture which had to be endured before the final passing. Millions of young children have become the sacrificial lambs in the execution of terrbile lives their parents have chosen. Who are these people? Do they live next to you? Would you know one of them if you saw them? If you thought you knew something terrible was happening, would you do anything at all?

How strange that one who loves gratuitous violence or gore should feel so threatened & completely taken out of his comfort zone by two fairly recent movies or the novels that came years before? Would I have felt any different had I never known that both films were based upon actual events? Would the films be any less harrowing or would we simply dismiss them as more examples of extreme, sickening horror? Who can say for sure?

I had to stop
In memory of the real Sylvia Likens

In memory of the real Sylvia Likens
& think back to my formative years when I would flinch at the slaps heard from a neighbor's window. I would want to run & hide at first but then I would finally build up enough courage to take myself next door. By the time I would arrive, the damage was already done & the harm couldn't be extracted in any fashion. Weeks went by & these slaps became increasingly more brutal until the day Social Services entervined thanks to one phone call which I encouraged a close family member to make. Unfortunately, not every child is so lucky to have that intervention & not every slap will be circumvented. We live to see this harsh legacy unfold over & over before our eyes more often than any of us care to mention or dwell on.

I am freezing on the inside during nights like these & I desperately crave the warm weather of Spring. I pray the winter nights are not so long & that the cold winds may have mercy on those who are finding it difficult to warm themselves. I know there are worse fates than freezing to death but we are living in a world full of frost & sometimes we are reluctant to do or say anything about it. The ugliness of our surroundings can be rather haunting when we realize that enough is enough & some form of action must be implemented.

My heart goes out to those who suffer tremendously & have suffered or lived in turbulent shadows. If you know someone who is suffering or has been suffering, do not stand by & allow it. Get them help & get them assistance very quickly. Our lives are meaningless if we cannot bring ourselves to helping another in great times of need such as this. I bid you a good evening & am hoping you will keep warm during this cold winter.

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Sinema Infatuated Junkie
Every other Saturday

Dissecting artwork be it trash cinema or tomorrow's cult classic wannabes & spreading the knowledge on how to distinguish the real from the reels. Exploring unchartered territories throughout history of film-making which have been overlooked & simply deserve a second chance.

Other Columns
Other columns by Brian Yandle:

Interview With Lucifer Valentine

Interview with Filmmaker Toby Ross

Zombies Will Eat Us

100 Movies to See Before You Die Pt. 2

100 Movies to See Before You Die Pt. 1

All Columns

Brian Yandle
If Pan met Apollo down with the sin, I would be amongst the angels who descended to Earth with great mission to seek newfound meaning & to explore great sinema. Brian was born in 1974 ofcourse on the NC/VA border & has been watching movies for as far back as he can remember. One should never forget a great movie nor pass up the chance to spread the word on a bad one.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Brian Yandle by clicking here.

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