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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Terrifying portrait of our corrupt legal system..., 21 Feb 2006
By 
Ni (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Paradise Lost: The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills / Revelations: Paradise Lost 2 [1996] [DVD] [NTSC] (DVD)
This is a very well made documentary that, despite its length, manages to hold your attention all the way through. It is horrifying, emotional, and incredibly revealing. It is essentially the true story of six unfortunate boys who had their childhoods taken away from them during one harrowing incident in West Memphis. Three young boys were murdered and three young boys were hunted down like witches and incarcerated for the crime. The documentary features excerpts from the trial video, interviews with the suspects, the families of both suspects and victims, and very definitive shots of the murder scene.

Admittedly I was shocked when one of the very first visuals of the movie was the dead bodies of the three young boys lying in the woods. It was a very powerful opening and also very impartial as it makes sure that you start your journey as the viewer in exactly the same place as everyone who was there at the time, enabling you to feel the raw emotions of this terrible tragedy before you see the suspects.

The documentary, as it progresses, does however, have a subtle bias towards the side of the defence as we get to see the consultations between the defence attorneys and the three teenage boys accused of this 'ritual murder. This might seem like simply a tactic by the filmmakers; attempting to throw an 'innocent' possibility into the mix, spicing up the movie a little, but as shown in the second part, there are many people who believe this to be true and who campaign rigorously for the release of Damien, Jason and Jessie.

The trial footage in particular is incredibly frustrating to watch; seeing the very little amount of evidence, if it can even be called evidence, be enough to convict these children of murder, even send one to death row, is very disturbing, especially when most of the real evidence points in other distant directions. Despite whether or not these boys are guilty, we see that the prosecutors had nowhere near enough conclusive evidence to justify a conviction. It is exceptionally enraging to see such legal bias existing in the present day and it is difficult not to feel fear that this is still a possibility.

The documentary is also revealing in the sense that it shows the inefficiency and discrimination within the community and specifically the police department. It tells the story of how a police officer 'lost' blood samples that could have connected another man to the case and it tells the story of how the movie makers had to bring a possible murder weapon to the police. The fact that the boys were chosen as suspects merely upon the way they dress and the music they listen to, demonstrates the pure, unfortunate prejudice that exists in their own community. We see that the minds of West Memphis were already made up before the trial even began.

The viewer is also shown the reactions of the victims' families and while their devastation is understandable and upsetting, their readiness to pick up a gun and kill without remorse, after everything they've been through themselves, is horrifying and disturbing. The documentary and one of the defence attorneys even go as far as to suggest the possibility of one of the victim's stepfathers being the murderer, and his inconsistent testimony and violent nature only help to give this accusation some ground.

The best way to sum up this documentary is 'frustrating'. Whatever we feel about the guilt or innocence of the boys convicted of this murder, this movie reveals one truth; there was nowhere near enough evidence to convict them. The incredible power of fear and prejudice is on full display in this unsettling story of legal injustice. Watch, but be prepared to get angry.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking, 24 Dec 2005
This review is from: Paradise Lost: The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills / Revelations: Paradise Lost 2 [1996] [DVD] [NTSC] (DVD)
Like many others, I had read snippets about this case in NME and other 'alternative' publications. It was only when the DVDs were released that I took more interest in the case. I won't go into the ins and outs of the case now, but you can read about it on the website made by their supporters.
The documentaries themselves are harrowing. The first one opens with the murder scene and police video of the boys' bodies; this is disturbing stuff. Unfortunately you get to see more photographs of the victims, but this isn't to shock, this is simply to aid the narrative.
After the first documentary, I could see why people still weren't sure of the boys' guilt. The documentary's style is deliberately unbiased (the film-makers simply set out to make a documentary about 3 boys they believed probably were guilty) and the narrative is guided by the people involved, not a 'voice of god' telling you what to think.
The second documentary is deliberately biased. The film-makers believed that the Memphis Three were innocent and therefore set out to make a documentary suggesting this. Again, there is no voice-over, so you are able to make up your own mind (my partner still doesn't believe all three boys are innocent, even after watching the documentaries) but it is very much in the favour of the WM3.
Brilliantly crafted.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential viewing, 7 July 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Paradise Lost: The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills / Revelations: Paradise Lost 2 [1996] [DVD] [NTSC] (DVD)
Three young boys brutally murdered, their bodies dumped in a drainage ditch in a West Memphis wood. One teenager sent to death row, two more sent to prison for the rest of their lives for the crime. Case closed, or one of the most disturbing legal cases in recent American history?
I first started to read about this case three years ago, and have read the two books written on the subject. So I came to watch these films with a fair amount of background knowledge of who was involved.
But they still manage shock me to the core - and the individuals say more on screen than a book could ever hope to convey. This case is about much more than the terrible, tragic murder of three boys. It's about the loss of freedom of three more as a result, and the possible chief suspect staring the viewer in the face. A witch hunt in a town of country hicks? A terrible miscarridge of justice? A pack of lies that tell only half the story?
Decide for yourself, but watch this film. The access given to the documentary makers is enough in itself (they later went on to make Metallica's 'Some Kind Of Monster' film). When a resonable individual looks at this case, it's hard to turn away and if you've ever felt as if you weren't part of the crowd - the issues raised will especially ring true.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing, haunting, mysterious, a great documentary, 15 Jan 2013
By 
Mr. Randal Chalmers (glasgow, scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Paradise Lost: The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills / Revelations: Paradise Lost 2 [1996] [DVD] [NTSC] (DVD)
Fascinating true life story. Three 8 year olds are slain brutally, the questions surrounding it can not be satisfactory answered. Why did it happen? and who carried it out? Following the pre, trial period & post trial period this documentary - or series of documentaries are extremely gripping. The convictions on the three young defendents who live in & around the small town next to the murder scene is very much open to question, still to this day.
Despite this fascinating & brilliantly made documentary, if you wanting to find out more of the prosecutions case you shouldnt regard this as containing the whole prosecution case. Issues little covered in the films are: the defendent Damien echols violent past, the 'forced confession' by misskelly & his so called IQ of 72 - are all analysed & covered in detail (using exisitng police transcipts that were freely available & taken from the police archieves ) by recent books such as Abomination - Devil worship & Deception in the West Memphis 3 murders by William Ramsey (also on amazon).
A current assesment of the case may well be placed that the police & justice system had a reasonable case to consider full guilt onthe case that was cicrumstantially constructed together, while, the medical & forensic evidence pointed strongly to the defendents' non invovement in the murders.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsive viewing, 15 July 2012
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This review is from: Paradise Lost: The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills / Revelations: Paradise Lost 2 [1996] [DVD] [NTSC] (DVD)
Having already read the book on this terrible crime I just had to obtain the dvd and I just could not stop watching it (5 hours long).If you are a true crime fan this is a must see,and if you are a believer in the death penalty it's a must see,however I will not go into the detail of the case only to say part 3 of Lost Paradise is due out in the USA on the 14th August but no release date for the UK yet, I will be one of the first to order it when available.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, if flawed, but getting the trilogy makes more sense, 24 Jun 2012
By 
K. Gordon - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Paradise Lost: The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills / Revelations: Paradise Lost 2 [1996] [DVD] [NTSC] (DVD)
This set represents the 1st 2 films in the "Paradise Lost" trilogy, 3 documentaries, make
over a period of 15 years, following the case of 3 young men convicted of horrible murders
if very little evidence, and lots of questions. This set really only makes sense if you already
have the third film separately.

In any case, here are my notes on these first two of the three films;

Paradise Lost (1996) Powerful and thought provoking look at U.S. justice, and how we treat those who
are outsiders or 'different'.

When three very young boys are found brutally murdered, and mutilated, the town of West Memphis demands
retribution and closure. So, after some fruitless weeks of police work, the suspects become three outsider
teen-age boys, who listened to heavy metal, and the oldest of whom dressed (somewhat) Goth and was interested in Wicca.

A strong indictment of how, at least some of the time in our justice system 'guilty until proved innocent' is the rule.

That said, the film makes some serious miss-steps by not being clearer about some of the evidence it brings up, but never
explores. For example, we're told early on by the filmmakers that all 3 boys had alibis for the night of the killing, yet we never
hear about it again. Are their defense lawyers THAT bad, or were the alibis not solid? Two said they were home with their
families, yet the families never mention being with them that night. Similarly, we are never told why the police picked up the
first of the boys, a borderline mentally retarded kid, who clearly didn't know what was going on, for questioning. The
implication was that the cops wanted an easy pliable target, but the issue is never explored either by the defense, or by the film-makers.
In a 150 minute movie, there's no need for those kind of loose ends, leaving us to question whether we've seen a fair reporting of what went
on, or if there really was more evidence against the kids than we're shown.

Still it's a powerful and important examination of how we often rush to judgment, socially and legally. Recent history has shown this is far
from an isolated case - people are sent to prison, even death row on flimsy or incomplete evidence, coerced confessions, and by playing to
society's and a jury's fears and prejudices far more often then we would all like to believe.

Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (2000) Generally riveting follow up of the case where three quite possibly innocent young men sit in prison for
murdering three children.

Certainly, at least given what the two documentaries show, there is way beyond 'reasonable doubt' that they're responsible. But what was a
moderate flaw in the first film becomes worse here; In the same way the prosecution disturbingly made the evidence fit their theory, throwing
out, ignoring, or belittling what didn't fit, the film-makers seem to play some of the same game in reverse.

Crucial questions about alibis are never answered, and this sequel spends too much energy trying to pin guilt on Mark Byers, step-father
of one of the murdered boys.

Is there some spooky circumstantial evidence that he may have been involved? Absolutely. But proof? The man even voluntarily takes a lie
detector test, and passes with flying colors, which the film- makers then dismiss since the man is on various prescription mood altering
drugs. But do we ever hear an expert say those drugs might affect the test? No.

More disturbing, the film seems to imply he's guilty because he looks and acts weird, and says confusing and contradictory things, the very
sort of 'guilt by odd behavior' association both films attack in relation to the three boys found guilty. The fact that Byers (supposedly) has a
brain tumor, and what effect that might have on his outward behavior is never explored at all. And watching this character at such length starts
to get dull after a while, as his rants go on and on.

None-the-less, this is still a very interesting film, the most moving sections being those spent with the three now young men in jail for a
crime they very likely didn't commit. All have grown up a great deal in the 4 years since the last film, and are sad and articulate reminders of
how horrifying it can be that people never given the benefit of a fair trial are allowed to sit and rot in prison. And the amazing lack of
despair or bitterness they show is a testament to human resilience.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars horrific crime, horrific circumstances, 18 Aug 2005
This review is from: Paradise Lost: The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills / Revelations: Paradise Lost 2 [1996] [DVD] [NTSC] (DVD)
i watched these documentaries not knowing anything about the case & there is no way that the 3 people serving time are guilty of this murder. The crime itself is scary & knowing that 3 innocent people are doing time is scary but the scariest thing about these documentaries is the real murderer is staring you in the face the whole time.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb, 17 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Paradise Lost: The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills / Revelations: Paradise Lost 2 [1996] [DVD] [NTSC] (DVD)
this was so gritty I,m into true crime in a big way ,,this was so thought provoking ,the emotion from the victims family was so raw ,th13 hours interview tere was no crocodile tears for the cameras there was rage,uncontrollable . hatred towards the three young men ,innocent or guilty ,for the parents guilty ,someone to focus on ,a confession of guilt is not the best starting point for claims of innocence,i,m going to watch the second part ,I,m gripped by the rawness .satanic may be ,you would need to know about leaving no trace of the crime ,I suspect that these three do not fit the criteria,forensic evidence ,finger prints ,any think linking any of the three ,I don,t think so ,,
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