Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done she gave her father forty one.
Why is that a thing we repeated as kids?? I remember it being chanted while jumping rope! It’s so creepy. I was older when I realized that she was a real person and not just a weird childhood murderous tale from the sea*. In high school I was obsessed with serial killers and criminals in general though so I doubt everyone was reading up on Lizzie Borden at the public library like I was.
Basically Lizzie Borden seemingly horrifically killed her parents with an ax but this was back in the day when people thought women were too frou-frou and delicate to do something gruesome so no one believed it.
Now Christina Ricci is here to play her in a Lifetime Movie! Chadd asked me what the last thing she did was because he thinks you go 8 years without a movie and then your Lifetime Movie is announced. I know she did the short lived Pan-Am show a few years ago but I can’t remember her last movie. The internet tells me it was the Speed Racer movie in 2008… only a mere six years ago, take that Chadd!
The movie opens with Lizzie walking into the living room and seeing her dad’s head all hacked up and then screaming. I hope this doesn’t mean the movie is taking the “she’s innocent!” stance right from the top. I wish the crime was built up to a little bit more but maybe there will be a flashback.
The credits say Billy Campbell is in this too. Clea Duvall is playing her sister!! Oh man, this movie is really bringing out some 90s faves for us all. Some dude after church tells Mr. Borden that his daughters are looking good and he’s all “if that’s true then why don’t I have any grandchildren??” Ew, yeah, tell these dudes to impregnate your daughters. I guess this was the flashback I was hoping for.
They’re at home and Lizzie is humming and how fucking dare she- her dad is so pissed. He told her not to make noise! Then we see him yell at some dude for no reason. They’re setting him up as someone we’d all murder if given half a chance.
Lizzie is going to sneak out for some party but she tells her friend that she says that she thinks something bad is going to happen at their house. I hope that she’s psychic now!
How is this movie about murder so boring already?? Jeez. There is something happening about shoplifting now but it’s vague. Her dad is pissed, as is his normal way of being. He won’t be letting her go unaccompanied to some party because that’s wrong. Um, if you want grandchildren so bad just let her go party it up more. If I’ve learned anything from Lifetime Movies it’s that unwanted pregnancies start that way 75% of the time.
The soundtrack to this movie is modern terrible rock music. Ugh, I hate it. What a weird choice to make modern- are they pulling a Great Gatsby here but on a Lifetime budget? When music plays Chris just titters to himself.
She goes to the party anyway because she’s the only one who doesn’t give a shit about her dad and his bad temper. She hears noise in the night and sees someone in the chicken coop… wait, pigeon coop(?) hitting the pigeons with a hatchet. WTF? (also, who raises pigeons?)
Lizzie is woken up to be told that there was a robbery in the night and the step-mom’s jewelry is missing. It’s being heavily implied that Lizzie took it. Did she? I don’t care.
Her dad looks like Skeletor. Or like Skeletor and the Crypt Keeper had a baby. You can see all of the bones in his face.
Lizzie and her dad fight but it’s oddly sexual and that is taking a lot of liberties. Maybe Flowers in the Attic opened up the incest floodgates and all Lifetime movies will have this element now? After watching it I took a nap while watching the Gilmore Girls a few days later and had a vivid dream that Rory and her dad were dating so yeah, that movie puts incest worms in your brain.
Clea Duvall says she’s going away for a few days to visit her friend who just had a baby and Lizzie is all “yeah, go for a few days” because her murder mind is working overtime.
Another terrible song starts and Chris says “they should have just gotten Nick Cave to do this soundtrack.” Yes, he’s right, but truly mostly anything would be better than this. I’m now wondering if the director was going for a Rob Zombie thing (gross).
In real life the Bordens were mega-wealthy but didn’t even have indoor plumbing because Mr. Borden was so cheap. They’re keeping that detail in the movie it seems like. “I can’t imagine being that cheap,” Chris. TELL ME ABOUT IT. Once you pee in a toilet and flush it once you can never go back.
Dad gets home and Lizzie lies and tells him that mommy went out. Dad just takes her word for it and lays down on the couch instead of going upstairs. She hugs him for a long time and then walks off.
She walks around the house and back into the room and he’s on the couch with his head all hacked up.
Lizzie screams and tells the maid “father is dead. Someone came in and killed him.” That sounds plausible. Maybe it was the same person who robbed them…
The maid runs into town screaming for a doctor and tells him that Mr. Borden has been killed. The police arrive and one nearly faints at the sight of his mashed up head and then stumbles outside to puke. Cops are so much more hardened now (which I know from television shows about cops).
Lizzie’s friend asks where her mom is and the maid says she never saw her leave so Lizzie tells her to check upstairs. More screaming.
They show the old timey photographer come in and set up to take medium format photos of the crime scene, which takes a lot of people and room for him to work. I like that they included that detail.
The detective asks her what she was doing and she says “I ate a pear, (pause) I ate three pears and then I came in and saw my father …” WHAT WAS IT? ONE OR THREE? Jesus Christ she can’t even keep her number of pears straight, what else is she capable of?!!?
The detective asks to see her hands. Back in the 1800s I bet a lot of crimes were solved by just seeing who had blood on their hands and then being all “I have found the murderer! Case closed.” What a simpler time. Back when tons of people got away with crimes fairly easily. “Welp, no one here has blood on their hands, I don’t think anyone did it!”
I’m pretty sure that Mitchum Huntzberger from Gilmore Girls has big chops and is asking questions about the crime scene. Lizzie sobs. (Did this happen because I mentioned Gilmore Girls before? Am I this powerful?)
Lizzie’s friend says she’s going to bring them over some dinner of roast lamb and Lizzie is all “I am rather hungry” like she has no soul. Then she tells her sister that she thinks they should move now and her sister is all “you can tell me anything… why didn’t you run when you saw daddy?”
Lizzie is shocked that her sister would ask her these questions. Then Lizzie calmly says that she didn’t run because killers run and she didn’t want anyone thinking she was a killer. Eeeeeee.
Chris is on his phone so I asked what he’s reading and it’s the wiki page for THIS MOVIE. I told him no spoilers, don’t tell me what happens!
Billy Campbell shows up and he’s Lizzie’s lawyer. Go watch him in a great movie that my friend Johnny wrote- Fat Kid Rules the World. It’s on Netflix!
The girls are confused as to why a criminal lawyer is there but he explains that he’d be representing them if they’re charged with a crime and they’re all “I never…” about it despite it being obvious.
Mitchum Huntzberger is coming up with his theory that Lizzie did it because a killer wouldn’t have killed the step-mom, hid in the house for two hours and then killed the dad. However, her step-mom was dead for two hours and no one noticed so this house seems pretty big.
The funeral happens while another terrible song jams out. As soon as the service ends the police pull up to exhume the bodies for autopsy. The sisters are confused again.
Clea Duvall asks their friend to read something because her eyes are too tired. It’s a reward notice for $5000 for information leading to the killer, in giant letters. How tired are your eyes that you can’t read this? Did everyone just need glasses back then and not realize it?
Lizzie and her sister are told that she has to be at the police station at 9am tomorrow, no big deal, just a formality. Sister is all “what about lunch?” Yes, that’s the question I’d ask too. Lizzie is very impressed that the mayor was in their house- can you imagine?? Sister is more angry that Lizzie doesn’t see that this is serious.
Oh man, sister is getting ready for bed and Lizzie just pops up in the dark to sing song “goodnight, sister” and the slink away. Sister is definitely locking her door before bed tonight. That was legitimately scary.
They go to the police station and EVERYONE is outside. The 1800s version of a media frenzy.
Lizzie is questioned alone and her full name is “Lizzie Andrew Borden.” Lizzie isn’t short for Elizabeth? Weird, right? She tells them that her mom died when she was two so I guess that’s one death she’s off the hook for… for now.
They ask her if she had blood on her when they were at the crime scene and she says no- that the Marshall checked her and her dress and it did not have blood on it. They ask where the dress is now and she supposes it’s at home.
No big deal, she runs home and burns the dress in the middle of the night while telling her sister to mind her own business. That’s not suspicious, at all.
Mitchum hates women and thinks tons fill of asylums with hysteria so why can’t they be cold blooded murderers?? The judge just doesn’t believe Lizzie could do this.
Mitchum questions Lizzie and says that she killed her mom and then went to a dusty barn and ate three pears in the heat and then went into the house. She sobs and sobs.
She asks the maid what the police questioned her about and she says she told them that Lizzie would never kill her parents. She thanks her and then promptly fires her. I guess the mean apple doesn’t fall far from the jerk tree, huh?
Lizzie is tired after her long day being questioned so, no big deal, a doctor just gives her a shot of morphine to relax and then leaves the morphine there for her to inject later. Oh, the past.
She has a crazy dream where the mom has blood pouring out of her head and an ax coming at her. It’s shot really neatly, actually.
Sister hears something and gets up to lock her door from the inside again.
Montage of Lizzie getting more morphine shots and going back to the police station to a real foot stompin’, rockin’ jam (ugh). She’s all flustered while being questioned and I think we’re supposed to think it’s because of all of her morphine injections. She has no idea where she was or what was happening and it’s all dreamy until Mitchum asks if she loved her mother and she yells “SHE WAS NOT MY MOTHER.” Bloody ax shot takes us to commercial.
This is still just questioning at the police station? Days and days of questioning before even being accused? Jack McCoy would never get away with such shenanigans. She’s taken to jail in the back of a carriage and Billy Campbell awaits her there as her lawyer. They’ve brought her way out of town because Fall River, where she lives, has no way to house female prisoners so she’s in a mental institution for hysterical women. What a scary time for women! I mean, most of time has been a scary time for women but sheesh.
She’s all “they never said my dress was evidence, I didn’t know I needed it!” and Billy is all “of course.” He shows her the paper that shows that she’s been arrested and she says “I hate this picture of me.” He doesn’t think she gets how serious this is. If found guilty, she will be executed.
When she gets to the courthouse the people are all “whisper whisper, she’s pretty, she couldn’t have done this, whisper whisper” and Mitchum the prosecutor looks wary.
The lawyers make their opening statements and the movie cuts back to more brutal bloody ax shots. Mitchum hits a table with something to illustrate hitting someone over the face with an ax 11 times so they know how awful the crime was in case that wasn’t already clear to you.
Right before commercial we see someone else be killed by a dude with an ax- who the eff were these people?? So confusing! I rewound but I still have no idea.
The maid is on the stand and for some reason Mitchum is asking if Lizzie ever gave her dad gifts. Billy Campbell objects and he moves on. Why was that important? Maybe you shouldn’t have fired the maid, huh Lizzie? She’s not being that nice on the stand now.
Friend is on trial admitting that Lizzie burned the dress. Jury gasps. The Marshall is questioned about her dress and says that there was no blood on the dress. There was an old stain that she said was stew and it looked like stew. Mitchum hates him so much. People being questioned back then had to stand- Chris says just the men have to stand. The Marshall says there was no blood on her and that this crime would have had much more blood. OBJECTION. Mitchum hates him so much.
The medical examiner says the first strike on the dad killed him so the next 10 whacks (as it were) were not even necessary. That’s strange. Let’s say Lizzie did it (which I do assume) was she full of that much rage? That’s scary to think about. This movie is not playing her as that full of rage but I guess it could be the quiet ones.
Mitchum shocks the courtroom by bringing out the skulls of the victims and Lizzie faints. If I remember correctly people thought that move was really well timed by her to convince the jury that she’s weak and fragile.
The trial moves through their house showing the crime scene to the jury. I can’t imagine living in this house still.
For some reason Mitchum keeps asking about this ring Lizzie gave her dad. WHY?!!? It’s so dull, just tell me why it’s important.
Sister is on the stand and saying that the dress brought back too many terrible memories so they got rid of it so I guess her plan is to lie and then continue living with her murderer-sister. Wow, she really fights with Mitchum, which I like because he’s such a blowhard but I don’t know if she wants to sleep locked in fear in her bedroom for the rest of her life.
I think closing argument montages are happening now. Zzzzzz lawyers and flashbacks to the crime for the 100th time. The all male jury takes off to deliberate. They come back just an hour and ten minutes later and Mitchum thinks this means they think it’s as obvious as he does that she will hang. He’s so smug.
Not guilty! Everyone gasps. The judge demands order. A terrible noodly-doo rock song kicks in.
She looks more angry than relieved while leaving the courtroom.
Now the sisters go to church, late, so that everyone can turn and whisper about them during the sermon. Then people leave to flee from the scary lady. She just has a blank smile.
Lizzie goes to a New Year’s Eve party and is so psyched to party with her friends again. Sister just sits in a chair sulking.
Sister tells her that the people hanging out with her think she’s a carnival attraction and only hang out with her because they think she got away with murder. I’m not sure that would make me hang out with someone but I think people were really bored back then.
Then she whispers in her sister’s ear the way she actually did it while her sister weeps. How she actually did it was nude, by the way, and then she toweled off and put her dress back on and it was good as new. There is definitely no evidence that this part happened in real life but I guess the movie needed an ending.
The sister moves out post haste, which did not happen in real life. Then Lizzie hears kids outside chanting the Lizzie Borden chant and the movie tells us that no one was ever convicted. Hahhahahahahha, it also says that Sister moved out and they never spoke again.
Actually, they moved into a new house together. Wiki says that she moved out in 1905 and the murders occurs in 1892 so yeah, thirteen years later her sister left. That would be a more boring chyron I guess.
Chris can’t believe that kids chant that rhyme while jumping rope. How do kids even learn it?? I have no idea where I picked it up.
A quick google shows me that you can stay at the “Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast” in MA if you’re a total weirdo who’s into that kind of thing. I may be that weirdo…
*I will be impressed if anyone but my sister and Chadd get this reference.