Carroll McKane isn’t your average serial killer. Fact is, he’s just too damn good at his job. You see, he’s killed exactly 17 couples and never been caught, and no bodies have ever been found. As he says, "What good is a secret if it never gets revealed?" A self-professed "videomaniac," Carroll (Martin Cummins) has surrounded himself with cameras that document his crimes. After kidnapping renowned forensic psychologist Dr. Martin L. Selby (Lawrence MacGowan) and imprisoning him in his subterranean killing room – which stands in for his own independent film studio complete with eight DV cameras on reticulated arms – he tells the doctor he’s making a movie that will make the already bestselling author famous as Carroll’s biographer and key player in his 39th and final murder.
Directed by Gary Sherman (Raw Meat, Dead and Buried, Poltergeist III), 39: A Film by Carroll McKane takes the viewer on a firsthand tour through the tormented psyche of a serial murderer. Its voyeuristic cameras, incessantly trained and retrained on their narcissistic subject, Carroll, are reminiscent of Michael’s Powell’s Peeping Tom, the Belgian horror comedy Man Bites Dog and Julian Richards’ The Last Horror Movie, all of which possess a snuff-style aesthetic. Of course, we’ve seen all this before, but this time it’s the film’s subject (a complex killer who uses a supposed expert in his field to achieve fame and martyrdom through self-orchestrated capture, ŕ la David Fincher’s Se7en), not its violence, which gives it merit. Make no mistake, 39 is a graphic and unsettling movie, but it doesn’t rely on abject depravity or exploitative gore to disturb. No, this one’s by Carroll McKane, who’s far too obsessed with himself to let his victims take centre stage.
Shot on a shoestring budget in Sherman’s hometown of Chicago, the film was originally written (by Larry Brothers) portraying Carroll as an obsessive video freak who meticulously videotapes all of his crimes. It was director Sherman who suggested that they "let Carroll make the movie," with a little help from Sherman. The director strapped a ninth camera to the killer’s hips, in an effort to capture his cruelty in first-person. In the end, everything you see in the movie was shot by Carroll. A creepy score by Oscar-winning composer Joe Renzetti, which relies on the sounds of water running through pipes, radiators clunking and the rumbling of a nearby subway, add to the grubby, realistic tone of the film.
"Sick! Really sick! And I loved it!" - Guillermo del Toro, director of DEVIL'S BACKBONE and HELLBOY
"Incredibly intense... Well written... Beautifully directed..."
- Mark Victor, writer/producer, POLTERGEIST
"The style of this film will be copied for years."
- Bruce Sheridan, Chairman of the Film School, Columbia College
Hosted by Director Gary Sherman
Director: Gary Sherman
Screenplay: Gary Sherman
Cast: Martin Cummins, Lawrence MacGowan, Catherine Glynn
Producers: Geoffrey Brandt, Carrie Holt, Anthony Howell, Matthew Loze, Gary Sherman
Distributor: Gary Sherman