Ever since I started on this October/Halloween-inspired project of watching the worst of the worst horror movies available to stream, I fear I’ve caused irreversible damage to my Netflix recommendations. What was once filled with suggestions for witty shows and thoughtful movies or documentaries has now turned into an endless parade of cheesy gore and bad acting. I don’t think it will ever recover.
“100 Ghost Street: The Return of Richard Speck,” which has the honor of being the movie with the most unnecessarily long title, was recommended to me based on my recent viewing of ‘Inkubus,’ (Review HERE) which is never a good sign. A brief outline, courtesy of Netflix:
“A group of paranormal investigators sets out to film mass murderer Richard Speck’s ghost at the site of his heinous killing spree in Chicago, where he strangled and stabbed eight student nurses in July 1966.”
Realizing this was one of those ‘Blair Witch’ style documentaries that haven’t worked since, well, ‘The Blair Witch Project,’ and seeing that it barely passed the two-star mark in the Netflix user-generated ratings- I grabbed some Dramamine for the shaky-camera induced motion sickness I knew was on the way, got comfortable in my chair, and prepared to watch director Martin Andersen’s attempt to exploit a pretty horrific and real event.
Halloween is almost here, everyone. These horrible movies are almost over. Hang in there.
AND AS ALWAYS- SPOILERS AFTER THE CUT. DON’T READ ON IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW HOW THIS MOVIE ENDS.
In true faux-documentary style, this movie starts off by spoiling the entire ending by letting us know in the captions that no survivors of the film crew were ever found- just their footage- which starts off with some pretty standard shots of a couple of guys setting up cameras in what looks like an abandoned hospital. Amazingly enough, one of these two men, while drilling a camera mount into the wall in one section of the hospital, hears a noise and goes to investigate into the darkness- where he can be heard promptly being butchered by an unseen person/force. We catch a couple of glimpses of him attempting to crawl, back towards the camera mount, before being yanked away roughly by his feet, splattering blood all over the floor in the process. This happens barely two minutes into the movie, which is much more interesting than making viewers suffer through a back story for characters that are almost always insufferable- but then the footage quickly cut to the actual film crew, wasting the batteries in their cameras by recording each other and themselves during their drive to their destination- the aforementioned abandoned hospital, which is actually supposed to be the dormitory where Richard Speck massacred eight student nurses in the 60’s.
Now, being somewhat familiar with the Richard Speck story, and having done a little additional research before, during, and after watching this film- I’d like to point out that the building used in this movie doesn’t look anything like the real site of the crime (which was and is a modest townhouse that is currently inhabited,) which I’m sure will be the first of many historical inaccuracies.
The crew is amateur, fumbling through introductions to their documentary and getting their gear inside while the one guy who didn’t get butchered while setting up the cameras earlier is shown again, remarking that the other guy must have taken off since he can’t find him, and handing the leader of the crew keys to the building with strict instructions that they have to keep the doors locked at all times when while they are inside or outside to keep vagrants out. He makes no mention of paranormal entities, however. He also states pretty loudly that no cell phones work in the building. No texts. No calls. It doesn’t matter what plan you have. It doesn’t work. How convenient.
Said surviving crew guy goes to mount one more camera on the roof while the others are setting up their stuff. While testing the filming, there’s movement behind him, but it stops when he turns to look- because ghosts are just natural pranksters. When he turns back, his throat is promptly cut open and he collapses as the camera is suddenly jostled off.
Downstairs, the film crew have already started rolling their own cameras with the narrator, a pretty blonde, giving a loosely-based-on-actual-facts-account of Richard Speck’s murders before she attempts to get his spirit to communicate with them by continually asking him to make his presence known. Speck, who seemingly doesn’t have anything better to do after his recent rooftop kill, complies- opening a medicine cabinet door in the corner of the room. While investigating this half-assed attempt to communicate by a ghost that just successfully slaughtered two people with amazing ease, the audio technicians pick up what sounds like cries for help. Rather than be freaked out by this development, or take notice that the guy who went on the roof never came back- the group celebrate.
Outside, a guy who I don’t believe is part of the filming crew, but for whatever inexplicable reason is carrying a hand-held camera, approaches the building. He also hears the same cries for help, and determines they are coming from some sort of metal pipe/tube leading into the building. Rather than call the police like any good samaritan would probably do, this unnamed character proceeds to REACH INTO THE TUBE. It ends how you’d expect. A struggle ensues and Speck’s ghost wins by RIPPING THE GUY’S HEAD OFF- and that’s the end of that story line. Moving on.
Back inside, two of the film crew, one of which is a woman who thought it would be a brilliant idea to wear a skirt into an abandoned, dilapidated building, are attempting another EVP session with Speck’s ghost outside a series of bathroom stalls, of all places. Meanwhile, the rest of the team continue their fumbled narration of Speck’s life and incarceration. There’s a couple of jump scares for good measure, with ceiling tiles falling and whatnot, before they reconvene in a main lobby area to eat dinner and discuss their findings so far. In her second lapse of good judgment (after wearing a skirt, of course,) girl-whose-name-I-don’t-know heads out of the room, alone, to get cups and/or silverware, leaving the others- specifically one cameraman- to talk massive amounts of shit about Richard Speck’s underwhelming kill total. While comparing Speck to Dahmer and Gacy, and flat-out calling him “a joke,” a nearby bookshelf falls over. WUH OH.
The pre-mounted cameras catch sight of girl-in-the-skirt returning from her cup/fork trip. As she rounds a corner, a chair gets dragged across the floor behind her just moments later, but she fails to notice despite it being incredibly loud. Speck’s ghost, apparently realizing that he may be dealing with the most oblivious person on the team, amps it up a little- slamming two double-doors closed behind her. We hear her screaming, and so do the rest of the team- who quickly split up to go find/rescue her. While they’re searching, we find out her name is Sarah. Sarah, the poor decision maker. Anyway, Sarah’s screams stop- leaving the rest of the team with the daunting task of scouring a gigantic abandoned building with nothing but their cameras and flashlights to find her. As you can probably guess, they hear a bunch of weird noises, see some weird shit (like the elevator moving with no power in the building,) until they eventually find Sarah in a blatant ‘Blair Witch’ rip-of pose, standing in the corner of one of the hospital rooms- facing the wall. Once they snap her out of her trance, she’s hysterical, pleading with the crew that they have to leave- and it’s obvious she’s been injured, with cuts and bruises all over her arms.
Despite one of their own having been attacked and inconsolable, the film crew don’t leave. Instead, they patch Sarah up, give her a sedative, and let one of the cameraman help her to one of the rooms- you know- like the one she was just attacked in- to sleep it off on a filthy mattress. The rest of the crew head to the basement to further instigate Speck’s spirit, while the director and the narrator stay upstairs to film more dialogue. With friends like these- Sarah certainly doesn’t need any enemies.
Things in the basement go predictably bad, resulting in the cliché night-vision shot that takes place in all of these types of movies. This time, it’s on a camera strapped to an RC race car that the two crew members use to navigate forward down a dark tunnel rather than walk down it themselves- which might be the only smart thing anyone in this movie has done so far. The feed from the camera picks up a blood trail, and as they move forward, a body. It’s revealed that it belongs to the first kill of the movie. It’s also revealed that his name was Earl, but since he had no lines and about fourteen seconds of screen-time, who cares? The crew members, upon seeing this, high-tail it out of the basement.
The director of the documentary, who had proven himself to be a douchebag after the incident with Sarah, once again reaches new levels of douchebaggery by bitching about his crew being amateurs despite them sticking around to finish his stupid movie, and by discreetly filming his narrator, unbeknownst to her, while she’s giving this movie it’s obligatory tit-shot by changing her shirt for a reason I’m still trying to figure out. Speck, while undoubtedly a douchebag himself, is also so repulsed by this blatant invasion of privacy that he wastes no time in snatching the director and dragging his ass down the hallway to (hopefully) teach him a lesson. His screams for help attract the attention of the rest of the crew who run to help- inadvertently leaving Sarah still passed out on a bed in one of the rooms.
After discovering a blood trail that presumably belongs to their director which leads from the floor, up a wall, and into a hole in the ceiling, the actors and actresses who portray the remaining crew use whatever training and natural talent they have to convey their shock and horror- and fall short, of course. I’ve never seen a group of people look and sound so bored after being terrorized by a spirit and discovering that one of their friends has, by all accounts, been murdered in a horrible, gruesome way. Anyway, rather than climb up into the hole- this movie breaks out horror documentary cliché #2- sticking the camera up into the ceiling and waiting for the jump-scare. This time, however, it doesn’t happen- because Speck’s ghost is too busy assaulting poor Sarah in a really uncomfortable scene that ends in her being murdered while the crew is rushing to help her after hearing her cries for help.
Finally realizing that enough is enough and they need to get out of the building, the crew attempt to flee through the door they initially came in. Unfortunately, it’s locked, per the dead guy on the roof’s earlier instructions, and the keys are somewhere on the director’s corpse- wherever that is. The windows are barred and barricaded- leaving the four remaining survivors to walk aimlessly around the building looking for a way out. Instead, they find a small living quarter, tucked away in what looks like a boiler room- that has a few bird cages around it- some with live birds inside (because Richard Speck was nicknamed “birdman” in prison and the creators of this movie had to somehow tie in some facts to remind viewers what it’s about again.) One cage also has the director’s finger in it, signified by his ugly class ring we caught a glimpse of earlier in the film.
Coming back to the hole in the ceiling, the RC race car comes into play yet again, and the feed from the night-vision reveals that the director’s body is indeed up in the ceiling. It’s cut in half- but all that seems to matter to anyone is that the bottom half could have the keys to the gate in one of the pockets. A game of odds & evens (seriously) determines that the narrator will be the one to head into the ceiling to try and retrieve them. She’s killed off pretty quickly- leaving the remaining three crew members to make a run for it down the corridor. They hear banging by an exit they come across, and deciding that whatever is outside is better than being trapped with Speck’s ghost on the inside- they go to open the door only to discover it’s a way to the roof, and the banging was from the guy I thought had been killed earlier. Turns out, he’s alive, and trying to get inside- and despite having a pretty nasty slit throat- he can talk, yell, and walk around without issue. When one of the cameraman, rightfully suspicious, asks him how they know he isn’t behind everything- he answers “why would I slit my own throat?” which might be my favorite line in the movie. Sound logic.
After assuring the crew he has bolt cutters in the basement that could get them out once and for all, the team retreats back into the hospital and downstairs. The three film crew pass the camera to the groundskeeper/janitor/I don’t even know this guy’s name or what he does- since they refuse to go back into the dark- failing to realize that whenever any of them go off on their own- they get killed. Sure enough, he gets offed by the poorly edited CGI ghost of Richard Speck within moments the second he steps away from the group.
With little more than ten minutes left, the three remaining film crew members are running back upstairs, trying to find a way out (again,) when the power in their camera goes out- consequently sending them into pitch blackness for a few moments until they’re able to get it up and running again. When they do, Speck is predictably visible behind one of them- and strangles him to death using what looks like a bed sheet. The two remaining team members, after a brief break-down, vow to get out of there- together. That is, until they get separated, of course. It’s short lived, and after reuniting, it turns out one of them has found an escape route- a small crawlspace that was briefly shown earlier in the film. It’s big enough for one of them to get through, and the other, giving up the way I felt like doing throughout watching this, sacrifices himself to save the other.
She makes it out of the crawlspace, out of the hospital, and boldly says “I beat you,” despite all of her friends having been murdered and not entirely being in the clear, yet. Richard Speck’s ghost takes this as a “challenge accepted” move, and quickly kills her- or at least I think he does. The last shot of the movie after something lunges at the lone survivor is of the locked front gate being pulled open after the camera hits the ground.
Had this movie revolved around an entirely fictional ghost/mass murder, and not based around something that actually happened (with the facts of the case- scary enough on their own- being altered or omitted entirely,) I may have actually enjoyed it a little more, but between that, the poor acting, the choppy editing, the second-rate special effects, and the total lack of genuine scares- this is one to add to the collection of un-watchable garbage- but I think everyone saw that coming.
‘Til next time!