Moonlight Frights: The Legend of Lizzie Borden
Even when I was a little boy, I was very much into the macabre, maybe even more so than I am now. I grew up on horror stories, both from my ancestors’ past and that of fictional storytelling — and if you’re Mexican, you know we have some of the best stories. There was always one American rhyme that stuck with me — “Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother forty whacks, when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.” Needless to say, this cute American folk rhyme has some truth to it, allegedly.
Approximately forty-one years ago, viewers tuned in to their television sets to see the lovable Elizabeth Montgomery star as one of the country’s infamous murderers — allegedly — of the 18th century. This movie is as creepy as it gets, even more so with a recent revelation that Montgomery is related to Lizzie Borden herself. The film doesn’t so much dive into the murders itself, but instead, focuses on Borden’s trial and that of the community around her. She is shunned from public activities, and in return, can be seen hostile to her sister (played by Katherine Helmond) and friends.
This made-for-TV drama cemented how these types of movie needed to be done. From a brilliant script to an unsettling atmosphere, the cast knew how to make Lizzie Borden come alive. The performance Montgomery gave is convincing, quite convincing at times, and may be just enough to show that she didn’t commit patricide and matricide. Over a century later, many still are convinced she was guilty — though the court acquitted her. Whether or not she was guilty, Lizzie Borden has long left this world for another.