The Pitch: While there's plenty of lurid details in The Doodler case, I'd really like to see a chilling crime drama made from it in the vein of David Fincher's Zodiac--another San Fran-set murder mystery. In that film, Fincher managed to make the case of independent investigator Robert Graysmith's book while revealing the disturbing details of the Zodiac's crimes along with the cultural setting that they played such a role in. I think this very treatment could not only make for a fascinating film, but also might shine a light on the injustice his victims faced. With a society that sneered at their existence because of their sexual orientation, their murders have been nearly forgotten. But a thoughtful detective story--even a fictional one--could be at the very least a tribute to their memory if not a tool to renew interest in this unsolved mystery.
The Pitch: This is one of those stories so strange it can't help but draw your attention. While this series of doggy suicides is a modern phenomenon in Dumbarton, I can see this story suited to a more Gothic setting of high collars and stiff upper lips. Think something in the vein of the wildly popular Woman in Black, wherein an outsider comes into a small town that is experiencing a bizarre phenomenon. At first this newcomer is cynical about the local lore, but upon seeing the strange events happen before his very eyes is forced to reconsider. Above you can see animal behaviorist Dr. David Sands demystifying the cause of these seeming suicides, but I'd prefer to see this play as the start to a cryptic ghost story.
She's believed to have been killed roughly 18 months before, in October of 1941, and placed in the tree before rigor mortis had set in. Taffeta wedged deep in her mouth suggested she was suffocated to death, possibly on her own dress. With World War II raging, there was little time to solve this mystery of a murdered girl. But Bella, while gone, was not forgotten. In 1944, graffiti appeared in Birmingham demanding, "Who put Bella down the Wych Elm - Hagley Wood." Variants on this phrase continue to appear, including the one filmed above, which was spotted on August 18th, 1999 on an obelisk on Wychbury Hill. The current location of her skeleton is unknown.
The Pitch: It's a sad and strange story that has inspired a string of songs and apparently graffiti artists. Everything from witchcraft to German spies and wild American servicemen have been accused of leading to the death of this "Bella." Was she a victim of the black arts? Or as one letter to newspapers in 1943 claimed, was she a spy in league with the Luftwaffe? With so many years passing, and no clue where the bones are literally buried, we may never know. But the graffiti is an intriguing development, like someone is still calling out for justice for a fallen friend or sister. Imagine Bella's story spun into one of intrigue, where she is part of a top-secret group that ultimately gets her killed. Perhaps parallel her story with one of a contemporary agent who uncovers a secret about Bella--maybe how she was double-crossed--and now her own life is at risk. A gripping horror-thriller or intrigue, conspiracy and murder could definitely be spun from this unanswered English query.
Story: This may well be cited as one of the inspirations for American Horror Story
Murder House as the goings on within the walls of the Congelier Mansion are totally spine-tingling. Once located on 1129 Ride Avenue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the sprawling mansion began its bad history with the coming of Charles Wright Congelier, his wife Lyda, and their servant girl Essie. The Congelier marriage was severed in the winter of 1871, when Lyda caught Essie and Charles in flagrante delicto, and responded by fatally stabbing him, and decapitating her. This was just the beginning of this house's horrors though. 1900 brought Dr. Adolph C. Brunrichter. He caused an explosion in the home that blew out windows, and brought police who uncovered his ghoulish experiments that involved attempting to re-animate the heads of dead young women. From there, stories of weeping ghosts arose, drawing the interest of Thomas Edison, who came to investigate, attempting to use one of his inventions to communicate with the dead. The house was destroyed utterly in 1927, when an industrial accident of the Equitable Gas Company blew a portion of Pittsburgh to smithereens.
The Pitch: As loaded with ghastly stories as this mansion was, there are lots of sources of dark inspiration here. But I'm actually most fascinated by the Thomas Edison angle. Imagine, a man we hold up as a grand inventor, a man of science, dabbling with a device to talk to the dead. There is a movie about his Current Warsfeud with Westinghouse in development, but this is an intriguing new angle to the man who invented the phonograph, motion picture camera, and light bulb. We often like to pretend science and faith can't go hand in hand, but it'd be interesting to see a case of this playing out in a story about Edison confronting the supernatural, and possibly his own demons. For one example of Edison's skeletons,