Leonardo DiCaprio is set to star in a new film called The Devil in the White City, which is based on the true story of a Hannibal Lecter type serial killer who walked the streets of Chicago in the 19th century. DiCaprio will play the killer, Dr. Henry Howard Holmes. I've heard of this horrific tale, and it's pretty freakin' insane.
This story is told in a non-fiction book called The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic And Madness At The Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson. This is going to be one hell of a crazy film!
DiCaprio will play Dr. HH Holmes, a cunning serial killer believed to have murdered anywhere from 27-200 people at a time when the city of Chicago was enthralled with hosting the World's Fair of 1893. Holmes constructed The World's Fair Hotel, an inn more lethal than the Bates Motel, especially for young single women. The sociopath used charm and guile to lure guests into what became known as a "murder castle," a haunt that had a gas chamber, crematorium and a dissecting table where Holmes would murder his victims and strip their skeletons to sell for medical and scientific study.
This is going to be one jacked up film. The film will be produced by DiCaprio and his Appian Way production company along with Double Features partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher. Now that they have the rights to the book, they will hire a writer and put together a package before making a deal with a studio. I don't think they will have a problem getting a studio to jump on board the project.
As for DiCaprio playing a serial killer, he's never really done anything like this before so it should be a great and challenging role for him to take on.
What do you all think of this film project?
Here's a description of the book from publishers weekly:
Not long after Jack the Ripper haunted the ill-lit streets of 1888 London, H.H. Holmes (born Herman Webster Mudgett) dispatched somewhere between 27 and 200 people, mostly single young women, in the churning new metropolis of Chicago; many of the murders occurred during (and exploited) the city's finest moment, the World's Fair of 1893. Larson's breathtaking new history is a novelistic yet wholly factual account of the fair and the mass murderer who lurked within it. Bestselling author Larson (Isaac's Storm) strikes a fine balance between the planning and execution of the vast fair and Holmes's relentless, ghastly activities. The passages about Holmes are compelling and aptly claustrophobic; readers will be glad for the frequent escapes to the relative sanity of Holmes's co-star, architect and fair overseer Daniel Hudson Burnham, who managed the thousands of workers and engineers who pulled the sprawling fair together 0n an astonishingly tight two-year schedule. A natural charlatan, Holmes exploited the inability of authorities to coordinate, creating a small commercial empire entirely on unpaid debts and constructing a personal cadaver-disposal system. This is, in effect, the nonfiction Alienist, or a sort of companion, which might be called Homicide, to Emile Durkheim's Suicide. However, rather than anomie, Larson is most interested in industriousness and the new opportunities for mayhem afforded by the advent of widespread public anonymity. This book is everything popular history should be, meticulously recreating a rich, pre-automobile America on the cusp of modernity, in which the sale of "articulated" corpses was a semi-respectable trade and serial killers could go well-nigh unnoticed.
Here's a more detailed history of these seriously insane events:
While in Chicago during the summer of 1886, Holmes came across Dr. E.S. Holton's drugstore at the corner of S. Wallace and W. 63rd Street, in the neighborhood of Englewood. Holton was suffering from cancer while his wife minded the store. Through his charm, Holmes got a job there and then manipulated her into selling him the store. They agreed she could still live in the upstairs apartment even after Holton died. Once Holton died, Mrs. Holton mysteriously disappeared and Holmes told people she was visiting relatives in California. As people started asking questions about her return, he told them she enjoyed California so much that she decided to live there.
Holmes purchased a lot across from the drugstore, where he built his three-story, block-long "Castle"—as it was dubbed by those in the neighborhood. It was opened as a hotel for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, with part of the structure used as commercial space. The ground floor of the Castle contained Holmes's own relocated drugstore and various shops, while the upper two floors contained his personal office and a maze of over one hundred windowless rooms with doorways opening to brick walls, oddly angled hallways, stairways to nowhere, doors openable only from the outside, and a host of other strange and labyrinthine constructions. Holmes repeatedly changed builders during the construction of the Castle so only he fully understood the design of the house, thus decreasing the chance of being reported to the police.
After the completion of the hotel, Holmes selected mostly female victims from among his employees (many of whom were required as a condition of employment to take out life insurance policies for which Holmes would pay the premiums but also be the beneficiary), lovers and hotel guests, torturing and killing them. Some were locked in soundproof bedrooms fitted with gas lines that let him asphyxiate them at any time. Some victims were locked in a huge soundproof bank vault near his office where they were left to suffocate. The victims' bodies were dropped by secret chute to the basement, where some were meticulously dissected, stripped of flesh, crafted into skeleton models, and then sold to medical schools. Holmes also cremated some of the bodies or placed them in lime pits for destruction. Holmes had two giant furnaces as well as pits of acid, bottles of various poisons, and even a stretching rack. Through the connections he had gained in medical school, he sold skeletons and organs with little difficulty.
To read more about this guy's capture, arrest, trial and execution Click Here.