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Terrifying documentary: Paradise Lost

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#1 of 15 OFFLINE   Robert Burkes

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Posted August 07 2003 - 05:44 AM

Have any of you seen Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills? I was recently introduced to it by a friend and watched it for the first time last night. At the end of the tape, I was so angry and frightened that I didn't sleep when I turned out the lights and closed my eyes. This is a documentary on a murder case in West Memphis, AR. Here is a summary copied from a post on imdb.com:

[quote] In West Memphis, three young children are found mutilated in a patch of woods just off the interstate. For no real reason whatsoever, three nonconformist teens are brought to trial, one of which has an I.Q. that is somewhere in the 70s. When he gives a very phony sounding confession, the trials begin with absolutely no other evidence to prove that the boys are guilty. Throughout the film, we meet each of the deceased boys parents, the defendants, and the defendants' families. Most angry of all are the parents of the Byers boy who was murdered. Now, before I get started on the step-father Mark Byers, I really want to say that I can totally empathize with the guy and his rage is completely understandable. However, what I really can't get past is the guy's bizarre behavior and the impression that he left me with. The guy takes up a lot of screen time. I know that the guy is a jeweler by trade and acting may not be his thing, but this is a DOCUMENTARY and while watching him, on more than several occasions I got a little confused. Yeah, the guy has some mental problems, he's on numerous medications, he's suffering from a brain tumor and he's going through some major grieving. But why does he act like he's been watching TOO much WWF? His lines are straight out of a BAD movie and if this is how the guy really is, I'm staying the hell out of this guy's way. Throughout the film there are several subtle (or not so subtle) indications that he may be a suspect. The fact that he gave one of the film-makers a bloody knife as a Christmas present more than proves that the guy is a little off his rocker. He even admitted to having beat the child the day that he was murdered.

Remember, there is absolutely NO physical evidence to pin on the accused and the only thing that got them there was a false confession given by a legally retarded teenager who had been interrogated for hours. Oh, and did I mention that his story KEPT changing? Listening to Jesse Misskelly, the time that the boys were murdered takes place all over the clock. Once, he states that the boys were murdered in the A.M. hours, then during broad daylight, then at night. I don't get it. It didn't matter to the jury. Two of the boys still got life sentences and the other (Damien Eckols) got the death sentence. His crime is that he had a fondness for wearing black, had a bad haircut, and a slight interest in Wicca...Not a whole lot different from myself. Anyway, there is also mention of another mysterious person who made an appearance in a Bojangles restaurant restroom, covered in blood. Oh yeah, that is another issue that is barely mentioned, and then dropped. [quote]

The whole time I was watching this film, I was thinking, "Why in hell are these three here?" The police led a retarded kid through a confession after terrorizing him for 12 hours, and throughout the confession, there are inconsistencies with the facts of the case. This is all over-looked. The police ignored evidence, and the judge would not allow testimonies in favor of the boys. One particularly infuriating piece of the story involved a bloody and muddy man going into a restaurant nearby and freaking out in the restroom the night of the murders. The manager called the police. A detective came by and went through the drive through of the restaurant. Nothing was done about the man while he was there. Later, the police came and scraped blood off the walls. When asked about the blood in court, the detective in charge said he lost the samples! There are holes throughout the investigation and trial. It seems that the only reason these boys are sentenced to life terms and lethal injection is because they wore black, were outcasts with their peers, and one of them dabbled in Wicca (which is portrayed as Satanic but is really a form of earth worship). Now three more lives are ruined without due cause. I was hoping to spread the word on this documentary and its sequel, which I'm about to watch for the first time as well. It's hard to come across, but if you can get your hands on a copy, watch it. You'll never be the same.

#2 of 15 OFFLINE   Dick



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Posted August 07 2003 - 06:15 AM

This is powerful stuff, but unfortunately NOT available yet on DVD. The follow-up, PARADISE LOST 2, is available, however. While it would be helpful to see the original first, the "sequel" can be appreciated in its own right.

#3 of 15 OFFLINE   Kenneth English

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Posted August 07 2003 - 06:54 AM

If the first one pissed you off (how could it not?), the second one is going to send you into orbit.

It's like a Franz Kafka nightmare. The truth is right in front of everyone's face and no one with any power or authority is the least bit interested in seeing it. The authorities simply don't care that they've railroaded three innocent kids and that the man nearly everyone agrees is the real perp -- and who all but confesses on camera -- is dancing around in front of them.

One of the most hopeless and depressing documentaries I have ever seen. Truly chilling. Posted Image

#4 of 15 OFFLINE   Keith M.

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Posted August 07 2003 - 07:23 AM

and it has Metallica music as the soundtrack...Posted Image

#5 of 15 OFFLINE   Russell G

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Posted August 07 2003 - 07:35 AM

I never caught the sequel but loved the 1st one.

Maybe with the directors success with Blair Witch : Book of shadows well see a deluxe 2-pack of these documentaries!Posted Image

#6 of 15 OFFLINE   Kevin Farley

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Posted August 07 2003 - 08:35 AM

Henry Rollins and other artists have been very active in working to free the west memphis three:

Check out http://www.wm3.org/ for details on the West Memphis Three and current updates.

There is a full and updated history on the situation and knowledge on how to donate money to pay for DNA testing.

#7 of 15 OFFLINE   Robert Burkes

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Posted August 07 2003 - 08:16 PM

I live approximately 60 miles from West Memphis, and I can sadly say that both films accurately portray the general population's attitude toward differences in individuals: deviations from the norm are evil or strange and must be squashed. It's shocking that these prejudices have seeped so deeply into the legal system, but the ideas are nothing new to me. I've seen this attitude so much in my life, and I'm only 20. While watching these documentaries, I was awestruck. I was Damien Echols in high school. That could be me on that video. It's absolutely terrifying to me. I really don't know where I'm going with this post. I'm just writing now, having finished the second documentary a little later than anticipated. I fully intend on giving my support to this cause. Anyone who feels that he/she could be tried for not fitting in the homogeneous crowd should, in my opinion, at least fully consider this case. OK...I tried to follow Mark Byers' story throughout the second documentary. I felt as though I needed to be drawing a diagram, so I could keep up with how often it changed. He says his wife died of a broken heart, then that he doesn't know how she died, then he slips up and says she was murdered. How's that?! His teeth were knocked out in a fight, then they rotted out due to medicine he was taking, then he had them surgically removed. Eh!? Fairly convenient that his teeth are gone just when bite-marks come into play in the investigation. I loved what Damien said in reference to Byers: He's the fakest creature to walk on two legs. Very fitting. I got the distinct impression that everything he did on camera was scripted prior to the push of the record button. I don't even know where to direct my frustrations over this whole case. I'd be here all night producing a post so long, none of you would read it. All I can say is that all of you should try to locate a copy of the original VHS and a copy of the sequel on DVD or VHS. So, now you all have my frustrated, incoherent, mentally constipated, delirious, 3:00 A.M. ramblings on something about which I feel strongly. I'll probably wake up in the morning and re-read this to much embarrassment, but oh well... WATCH THESE VIDEOS, AND JUDGE FOR YOURSELF!!!

#8 of 15 OFFLINE   Gordon McMurphy

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Posted August 08 2003 - 12:17 AM

A movie version has apparently been green-lit:

I have never seen either documentary. I would imagine that when the film is released, the original documentary will be released on DVD, presumably with new interviews, commentaries, etc.

It's a helluva case. One of the worst in recent history. Everyday there is injustice in the world, and this case is one of great beacons of injustice in the modern Western World. 'Kafka-esque' indeed.


#9 of 15 OFFLINE   MikeEckman



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Posted August 08 2003 - 03:04 AM

I remmeber seeing this documentary on HBO about 5 years ago and at one point taped it, but I seriously doubt I still have the tape. I would like to get my hands on a copy of this to check it out again now that I am a little older.

As Robert Burkes said, in high school, I was the kid wearing the Metallica t-shirts and the black pants and black shoes and the long hair. I didn't get in trouble at school and pretty much kept to myself, but, I can certainly understand how some of these kids get ostrasized because they don't fit the norm...

Like when the kids from Columbine went shooting, all these people on TV were oblivious and were crying why would someone do something like that. Well, I'm not saying its right, but I can see how some of these kids get picked on and discarded as outcasts, and sometimes they lose their sense of what is right or wrong.

Point being, I enjoyed the first Paradise Lost, and am ashamed at the injustice and prejudices that are still prevalent in our court system today.

I really hope that the doc comes to home video soon. It will be interesting to see a big screen adaptation of the story, but one last comment is....Ricki Lake is gonna be in it?! Posted Image
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#10 of 15 OFFLINE   Max Leung

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Posted August 08 2003 - 03:58 AM

I saw this documentary on HBO as well, many years ago (1996?). Chilling. One of the best I had seen. I can't believe it is still unresolved after all these years. It makes me want to puke. Posted Image
Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him...a super-callused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.


#11 of 15 OFFLINE   JonZ


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Posted August 08 2003 - 05:03 AM

HBO replayed them both about a year ago. PL even made Siskels top 10 for the year it was released. Im also pretty sure there are 2 versions of Paradise Lost - one being quite a bit longer than the other.

#12 of 15 OFFLINE   Robert Burkes

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Posted August 08 2003 - 05:56 AM


The documentaries are on home video. The versions I watched were distributed by Artisan Home Video. I purchased a copy through eBay, but it also appears that Amazon has the first one in stock. I'd heard it was out of print and hard to find, but here's a link to it:

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills

The second one is on DVD and doesn't appear to be difficult to find. Just thought I'd let you know.

I'm glad people seem to be so interested in this post and its subject. Thanks.


#13 of 15 OFFLINE   Mark_vdH



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Posted September 08 2003 - 10:59 PM

I hadn't heard anything about a possible dvd release, but I've just coincidently found out that Dv-Depot is reporting a 11/18 release date for part 1:


Could this be true?
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#14 of 15 OFFLINE   Mark_vdH



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Posted September 09 2003 - 08:44 AM

Hmmmmm.....other retailers don't seem to have this one up for pre-order, and I also couldn't find it on Artisan's website. Posted Image

I've heard so much about this documentary, and I really want to see it (can't play NTSC VHS tapes though). Can anyone confirm the 11/18 release? Posted Image
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#15 of 15 OFFLINE   Shawn_Sek


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Posted September 09 2003 - 09:12 AM

both are brilliant documentaries and i sure hope they raise the money for the DNA testing, i am extremely anxious to hear the results and have donated to help pay for the costs, i think anyone who sees the documentary should, it certainly moved me enough to help. i heard that Winona Ryder was going to do some fund raiser thing to help pay for the DNA test as well, and of course the Henry Rollins CD, which one artist (i forget who) dropped off the CD because after seeing the documentary he thought the kids were guilty. powerful scenes and imagery, the stepfather and the mother who is excited about being on TV (despite the fact that its because her son was mutilated) are especially chilling and shocking.
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