When two couples walked out of a screening at John Borowski’s real life horror docu-drama, “Fish,” at Horrorbles small theatre in Berwyn, the filmmaker felt compelled to talk to them.
“They said, ?You do great work, we love it, but we just can’t take it,’” he reported, possibly a compliment of the highest order for a filmmaker of his genre.
Everyone, Borowski says, stayed for his next film, “H.H. Holmes,” a fact he credits to the romantic, even quaint Victorian nature of the story of the infamous Chicago turn-of-the-century murderer, who was America’s first known serial killer.
The guests walked out on "Fish," which resonates differently, although both films use the same docu-drama approach --integrating reenactments with interviews, location footage, and manipulations of traditional graphics like maps and other documents.
Monster pedophile Albert Fish of New York who, during the early 1900s, "was the original Danger Stranger," notes Borowski. "He looked like a kindly, gentle grandfather, yet he admitted to molesting over 400 children and killing many others."
The third entry in Borowski's "American Killer Trilogy," as he calls it, is film-in-progress, "Panzram," about hate-filled serial killer, Carl Panzram, of around the same era. Brutalized in and out of various prisons during the early 20th century Panzram unleashed a rampage of revenge murders and acts of violent sodomy.
"A jail guard felt sorry for him and sneaked paper in and out every night," said Borowski. The result was a 145-page autobiography that the filmmaker took as his primary text for the film, along with the story of his friendship with the guard.
Northwest native Borowski graduated from Columbia College's film production program before buying a single camera and forming Waterfront Productions.
After moving to L.A. to shoot "Fish," Borowski, returned to Chicago. "I just missed home, missed real people, and now with the distribution strategies that are in place, you can live wherever you want. Everything is not based in L.A. as much as the industry would want you to believe."
Besides, as Borowski points out, the Midwest -- the place that gave us people like Gacy, Speck and Dahmer -- is arguably the horror center of America.
"I think people are drawn to my films because they're horrific, but also because they're real?they really happened?and that makes them more frightening than the next Jason film or the next ?Nightmare on Elm Street.'"
Borowski says he has a Netflix deal in the works for video-on-demand, that could include the 120-minute "Panzram" "if it's finished in time; I have to fund my films myself as we go along," he said.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org See
Horrorbles, thee place for movies Tucked away among retail stores along Roosevelt Road in Berwyn, is Horrobles, owned by John Aranza and his wife, Christine. The one-stop shopping for all things horror and sci-fi, especially movies, is crammed into a 1,600-sq. ft. space.
Aranza recently divided the basement into a gallery and a 16-seat theatre, with movie theatre seats and a 60-inch screen. There, filmmakers like Borowski, can host screenings of their work for a modest ticket price of $3. See