An Icon Passes – RIP Gunnar Hansen

July 15, 2016

Actor Gunnar Hansen died at his home in Northeast Harbor, Maine from pancreatic cancer on November 7, 2015 at the age of 68.

Back in the late 90’s – when I was first getting into this whole horror game one of the first horror icons I got to meet was Gunnar Hansen.  I’m not sure what I was expecting when I walked up to that table but it certainly wasn’t what I got.  Gunnar was a soft spoken, highly intelligent monster of a man with the eyes of a wild man but the heart of a poet.  I was transfixed by his soft, friendly demeanor and had a hard time placing this warm, friendly man behind that blood soaked apron.

Throughout the years our paths crossed here and there and I was always excited to read his writings and see any film work he participated in but by far his legacy will be that of Leatherface – to call that character iconic somehow does not quite do it justice and it’s all due to the way in which Gunnar approached the character and wild vibrancy he brought to the screen.

An entire genre raises its chainsaws in honor of a true legend.  RIP Gunnar Hansen.

Gunnar Hansen 1947-2015

by: Dave Dreher

 

David Dreher

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A Pressing Horror Story, that’s a little depressing.

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HORROR HISTORY ™
Pressing

Pressing was a method of torture formerly used in the common law legal system, in which a defendant who refused to plead would be subjected to having heavier and heavier stones placed upon his or her chest until a plea was entered, or as the weight of the stones on the chest became too great for the condemned to breathe, fatal suffocation would occur.

Common law courts originally took a very limited view of their own jurisdiction. They considered themselves to lack jurisdiction over a defendant until he had voluntarily submitted to it by entering a plea seeking judgment from the court. A criminal justice system that punished only those who volunteered for punishment was unworkable; this was the means chosen to coerce them.

Many defendants charged with capital offences refused to plead, since by refusing they would escape forfeiture of property, and their heirs would still inherit their estate. If the defendant pleaded guilty and was executed, their heirs would inherit nothing, their property escheating to the Crown.

C.C. – The Horror Channel ©
Haunted Salem

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MARCEL PETIOT – THE BUTCHER OF PARIS HORROR HISTORY

March 4, 2014

MARCEL PETIOT - THE BUTCHER OF PARIS HORROR HISTORY

HORROR HISTORY ™
Marcel Petiot – The Butcher of Paris

To most, Marcel Andre Henri Felix Petiot was a seen as a shining light during the time of the Nazi occupation of Paris during World War II. He was a doctor who would provide cheap to free medical care for the poor, but on top of that he worked for the French Resistance and helped many of the persecuted Jewish people flee to safety.

He was doing so well for himself, with more than three thousand patients, that he was able to buy a grand house at 21 Rue Le Sueur, a rather affluent part of Paris. There he worked and created his laboratory, but little did people realize the horrors that were going on within.

On Saturday March 11, 1944, a neighbor finally complained about the foul stench that was coming from Petiots’ home and the large amounts of smoke coming from the chimney. It had been noted before but many were trying to go about their own lives as best as they could with an enemy occupying their city and country.

However, on this day the smoke and stench was particularly noxious. One neighbor went to the house to complain and found a note saying Petiot would be away for a month, so the police were summoned.

On arrival the officers learnt that Petiot lived in another house and quickly sent for him, but as the smoke worsened they feared there was an internal fire, maybe one of the fireplaces had gone out of control, and firemen were summoned.

The firemen entered the house and tracked the source of the smoke to the basement where a coal stove was burning hot and thick, a human arm sticking out of its open door. Mixed in with the coal heap were more human remains, bones, limbs, and other parts too small to be identified then and there.

When Petiot arrived he explained they were the remains of Germans, Nazi collaborators, and traitors, that he was the head of a resistance group and that the Germans would have his head for this. This seemed good enough for the sergeant, who let Petiot go.

An investigation was carried out, and more remains were found. At the bottom of a staircase was a sack containing the headless left side of a human body, and in the garage was a lime pit filled with corpses at various stages of decomposition. In the stable another death pit was located.

Back in the house the basement sinks were discovered to be where the corpses had been drained of blood. Various bins were located about the property containing charred bones, fleshy pieces, scalps, and hair.

A soundproof hexagonal chamber was also located, complete with shackles and a peep-hole. Here Petiot could chain up victims and watch their anguish as they languished within the chamber.

The sergeant soon began to regret his decision to let Petiot go, as a telegram was received saying to apprehend Petiot immediately, that he was a dangerous lunatic!

It took about seven months to finally track down the killer. He hid with family and friends, stating that the Gestapo would kill him if he was captured. He adopted several aliases, allowed his hair and beard to grow, and enjoyed a sort of freedom, even if he was constantly looking over his shoulder.

He was finally recognized and apprehended in a Paris metro station. On his possession was a pistol, large sums of money, and fifty different sets of identity papers.

He was imprisoned while awaiting trial, and all the while he claimed the bodies were of traitors to the French. Then he changed his story, claiming he found the bodies, but yes they were Germans. However, the trial would find him guilty and that the murders were for profit.

Remembering that before this time Petiot was seen as working for the resistance and helped many people wanted by the Germans to escape to South America where they would be safe. The cost was twenty-five thousand francs per person. A good sum of money in those days but worth it if you wanted to keep your life.

People would learn of Dr. Eugene, Petiots’ alias, when helping the underground, and through several accomplices would find their way to him. Once in his laboratory he would tell the escapees that Argentine officials required them to be inoculated against various illnesses. However, rather than an inoculation, Dr. Eugene would inject them with cyanide.

From here he would take their money, steal their belongings, and get rid of the bodies. In the beginning the bodies were dumped in the Seine, and bags containing human remains were thrown onto passing trucks, but when that got too hard he destroyed them by dismembering them and submerging them in quicklime.

It was at this time people knew there was a murderer on the loose as one of the drivers of these trucks found the grisly contents of one bag containing two severed heads, two feet, the skin from two legs, and three scalps.

Later, after he purchased the house on Rue Le Sueur, he also had the option to dismember and incinerate them.

At his trial he refused to name his Resistance associates. As part of the evidence against him was forty-seven suitcases belonging to those who had paid him to escape the Germans, only to be killed. In the end he was found guilty of twenty-four murders, but it is believed he killed as many as 160 men, women, and children.

On May 25, 1946, Marcel Petiot went to the guillotine. He accepted a cigarette but refused the traditional glass of rum. He approached the device of his death as if he were comfortable with his destiny. His final words were, “Gentlemen, I ask you not to look. This will not be very pretty.”

Witnesses say his face still carried a smile as his head dropped into the awaiting basket.

C. C. — The Horror Channel ©
Haunted Salem

Christina Corsetti