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Belle Gunness the Subject of Feature Film on the Horizon


Love doesn't hurt. It kills.

by JARED LARK (Staff Writer)

Dexter and Belle share some of the same qualities

In our patriarchal world, history has been highlighted by extraordinary men. Whether it be presidents, kings, religious figures - or even serial killers, the actions of men are accredited with defining history and changing its course. We had the legendary Jack the Ripper and his contemporaries; Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, and, of course, the fictional "Dexter". Director Edward Bass would like to balance this gender inequality by reintroducing the world to Belle Gunness- one of the most notorious serial killers in American history. Whose story remains virtually unknown. Until now...

Edward Bass is considering many actresses to portray Belle Gunness

The Norwegian-born femme fatal operated mainly at the turn of the 20th century on her family farm in La Porte, Indiana, which she eventually burnt down in a supposed murder-suicide. Unearthed from the rubble were the remains of nearly 100 people, including 29 unidentified right arms, yet the extent of her mass murders may still lie amongst the ruins. In the middle of where a century old mansion once stood was the body of a woman assumed to be Ms. Gunness, although DNA testing completed 100 years later came back inconclusive, thus fueling age old rumors that her killing spree continued for years.

Like Dexter, Bass sees his femme fatal as intriguing and wants to make her as desirable on screen as the woman she presented herself to be to her many male suitors. "If Che Guevara looked like Al Bundy and not Ted Bundy, his face wouldn't be on the t-shirt of every super model," says Bass. One highlight of the film involves Belle's affair with Andrew, a young, very admirable bachelor. Although Belle is a cold-blooded killer, she is at her most vulnerable while with Andrew, whom she truly loved. "We have that Titanic-type period background with characters that jump off the page and the added psychological drama of Belle being a serial killer," says Bass.

There has already been some speculation in the Norwegian press over who should play the role of Belle. The names most mentioned are Kate Winslet, Angelina Jolie, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Renee Zellweger- who is in fact Norwegian. Bass feels that they all possess the acting chops necessary to portray a woman who held an entire town in her hands years before women even had the right to vote.

Belle Gunness was one of the most desirable bachelorettes of her day as she had a working farm, a ready-made family and an upstanding social position in town, but it was her sophisticated and manipulative poison-pen letters that enticed men. Bass discovered this story with co-writer Eva Mayer whose family bought part of the former Gunness farm, though it was Belle's love letters, which were the real inspiration for the film.