KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reviews the new documentary "Cropsey."
Related Story: Review: 'Cropsey'
December 16, 2010
Tomorrow (Friday), Reading (pronounced REDDING) Gaslamp Theaters opens the documentary "Cropsey." KPBS film critic Beth Accomando says the film serves up a real life urban legend.
CROPSEY 1 (ba)
Filmmakers Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio, like many in Staten Island, grew up with the legend of “Cropsey,” a local Boogeyman who allegedly lived in the woods, and killed small children.
First learned about Cropsey in summer camp… he was a doctor… he was supposed to have a hook…had a knife about this big… he was an axe welding madman… (:10)
Then in 1987, their urban legend became real. Andre Rand, a man described as a drifter, was arrested and convicted of killing a mentally handicapped girl. Evidence was circumstantial. So some, like former Staten Island Eagle newspaper editor Jim Callighan, questioned whether the right man was in jail.
I used to teach the Andre Rand story in my journalism class, coming down the steps of the courthouse with the headline drifter arrested well what does that mean? It means guilty right? Whether he is or not I don't know. But it's lot easier to do it that way than to say you know what it might be someone on your block, or somebody you work with. (:23)
"Cropsey" asks what we might do if confronted with a real monster in our midst. It’s a horror documentary because it highlights the terror of losing a child, and the fear that someone you know might be the killer. Plus there are peripheral things the film digs up like footage of a state hospital where Rand worked and where conditions for mental patients were horrifying.
"Cropsey" is a compelling and creepy look at how urban legends can distance us from real horrors and make our fears more manageable.
Beth Accomando, KPBS News.