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Bloody Good Fun

A Scientific Ranking of the 10 Best Things About Christina Ricci’s Lizzie Borden Movie


This weekend Lifetime saw fit to bestow upon us, the waiting masses, the greatest televisual achievement since last week’s Flowers In the Attic: Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, starring Christina Ricci as the infamous 19th century Sunday school teacher who may or may not have (but totally did, according to Lifetime) butchered her parents because they were jerks and she felt like it. For those who watched it—and those who didn’t, because apparently you have better things to do on a Saturday night than watch a Lifetime movie about an historical maybe murderess, ugh, whatever—I’ve put my thinking cravat on, figured out how to make gifs, and assembled this list of the cinematic marvel’s 10 most Oscar-worthy moments. Starting with…

10) THIS DUDE’S MUTTONCHOPS

The guy who prosecuted Lizzie has a name. Josiah? Hosiah? I don’t care. He’s Mr. Muttonchops. He’s also ridiculously incompetent at his job. Not reading Lizzie her rights because you were so sure you’d get a confession? C’mon now. You don’t deserve that facial hair.

9) THE CAMOUFLAGE CHAIR DRESS

Where’s Christina Ricci? Sherlock Holmes, is that you?

8) THIS IMDB CREDIT


Lizzie Borden: Sunday school teacher, (possible) murderess, sound re-recording mixer.

7) RANDOM PIGEON SLAUGHTER

Lizzie Borden Took an Ax was actually a lot better than I thought it would be. It was entertaining, had good acting (well, good bad acting—more on that later) by Christina Ricci, and featured some rocking bluegrass-y tunes during the historical hootenanny scenes. I’m not sure whether to be pleased at its quality or disappointed by it. I don’t watch you, Lifetime, but if I did, it would be for no other reason than to see an abundance of ridiculous, gloopy cheese. You putting out good(ish) movies is like if Disney abandoned the animated princess musical. What do you think God put you on this green Earth to do?!

All this is to say that Lizzie Borden Took an Ax being good (on the scale of Lifetime movies) made me appreciate its approximately ten thousand gajillion lurid cuts to a blood-splattered Lizzie murdering her parents or generally being a Problem Child all the more. The best of those: Random Pigeon Slaughter after she gets back from a party her parents didn’t want her to go to. She likes her pigeons! But then she kills them! Because Lizzie Borden! And it’s never mentioned again. Like the fact that she may have been poisoning her family. Where did that go?

6) THIS EYEROLL

Lizzie, are you exasperated or possessed by Satan right now?

5) WHEN THIS HAPPENED

“I heard you were talking smack about Speed Racer.”

4) IMPLIED LESBIANISM

Lifetime hit all its “Oooh, we’re so scandalous!” buttons by picking a subject that allows them patricide, animal cruelty, implied incest—they just can’t give it up after Flowers in the Attic, can they?—and an implied *cough* special interest Lizzie has for her friend Nance O’Neill (Andria Wilson). I can see how one may object to a sexual orientation being linked to moral depravity and murder. I’m just excited to see historical lesbians. The fact that Borden and O’Neill were rumored to be in a romantic relationship later in Borden’s life is just icing on the cake.

3) THE WEDNESDAY ADDAMS DRESS

Metal… belt? Historically accurate costuming, how do? But I don’t even care. This outfit is in the closet of a grown-up Wednesday Addams. Lizzie Borden may have been a violent psychopath, but girl could dress.

2) THE EPIC SAGA OF LIZZIE EATING PEARS

I’m conflicted on the subject of how Ricci played this line, delivered as part of her alibi in the immediate aftermath of the discovery of her parents’ bodies. Is it the best line delivery of the millennium or merely the century? It is ridiculous loco bonkers, as is so much of the way Ricci plays Borden. It’s like a wide-eyed ingenue with dreams of big-city stardom was sent on a roller coaster a few times to make her dizzy before being given the stupidest, most ham-fisted dialogue possible.  (“Where’s your mother?” “…Who?” / “We need to submit this dress into evidence.” “What does that mean?” It means it’s evidence.) But is Ricci being a horrible actress, or is she doing an excellent job at playing a horrible actress? There are a lot of layers to peel back here. What’s your excuse, Heather Graham?

1) LADY CRAVATS. LADY CRAVATS EVERYWHERE.


I expect that this movie is lying to me about the extent to which 1890s American ladies wore cravats. For some reason it seems like historical accuracy wasn’t high on anyone’s list. Maybe that has something to do with how the movie says Lizzie definitely killed her parents, when it real life no one knows for sure. Just a thought. But anyway. There had to have been a dozen-plus lady cravats in this movie, and every single one of them gave me life. I’m going to bring this fashion back. I’ve just decided.

If you watched Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, feel free to share your favorite moments in the comments. If you didn’t watch Lizzie Borden Took an Ax and you have Lifetime as part of your cable package, you can go on their website and watch it for free. Then come back and share your favorite moments and/or lady cravats.

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  • Kris

    Well, it is 1892. Why would anyone have read Borden her rights? The idea that defendants should be advised of their Constitutional rights (or that the Bill of Rights applies to the states at all) is a 20th century development.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    It was still dumb of him. If you need to do something in order to make a perp’s statements admissible in court, you do that thing.

  • http://readingwatchinglookingandstuff.blogspot.com/ Janna

    I didn’t watch it, but now I’m really intrigued by the pears. She couldn’t have killed her parents because she was eating pears? Three of them? Who eats three pears at once? I need to know more about these pears.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    What we now commonly refer to as the “Miranda warning” did not exist until 1966.

  • Kate Drew This

    If she ate three pears she couldn’t have killed her parents because…bowel functions.

  • TheChief

    I remember seeing this as I was scrolling through the guide. When I saw Lizzie Borden, I mixed her up with Lizzie Bennet. So I thought it was supposed to be an Ax murdering version of Pride and Prejudice. Not quite, haha.

  • http://readingwatchinglookingandstuff.blogspot.com/ Janna

    She was looking for the ex-lax, not an ax!

  • Dara Crawley

    Metal belt is historically accurate! I forget what they were properly called but many ladies wore them to carry:
    Mirrors
    Pouches
    Scissors
    It was a semi-practical way of maintaining an outfit not to mention a clean cut look.

  • Katie Frederick

    In which case you want to watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56aLThMppVE

  • Rebecca Pahle

    I owe an apology to Lizzie Borden’s costume designers, then! Thanks for the info.

  • Sewassbe

    It’s called a chatelaine. Probably didn’t look quite like that though. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chatelaine_(chain)

  • Anonymous

    I caught the end of it. A lot of rando nudity and wind tunnels…

  • SCP3

    I don’t want to have to hunt through my con law textbooks, but I’m pretty sure that, as of 1892, the Supreme Court was still decades away from definitively stating that getting a confession out of someone by beating them with rubber hoses was a no-no, so the idea of not reading her her rights (which SCOTUS didn’t get around to until the 1960′s)? It’s not bothering me — at least, not enough to offset the muttonchops.

    I’m a fan of cravats, lady or not, so I was totally into her rocking those cravats. People today need to wear cravats. And have muttonchops.

    There were two things that kind of bothered me about the movie:

    One, I reread Florence King’s take on the Borden matter that she wrote at the centenary (“A Wasp Looks at Lizzie Borden” — find it and read it) and apparently Lizzie was a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, so her drinking in the movie was kind of bothersome.

    Two, Christina Ricci is a lovely woman, but she has a lot of forehead, and with the shape of her face in general, forget possession; I was half-expecting they’d reveal at the end she was a Gray (as in, alien).

  • Anonymous

    She claimed she had gone outside to look at fishing tackle (supposedly they were going to be going fishing later in the week, although she hadn’t gone fishing in about 5 years), and then on her way back to the house stopped by their pear tree and ate undetermined number of pears. Then came back in the house and parents were already dead.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    The pears did it.

  • Thomas Canfield

    Regarding the ax killings of Lizzie’s pigeons, that was supposed to have been done by Lizzie’s father, which was supposed to have been one of her motivations in killing him with an ax. The suggestion in the film was that he killed the pigeons as a punishment for her sneaking out to a party. In real life, his justification was that the pigeons were attracting young boys who were sneaking into the yard to see them. His reaction was a bit over the top, which carries the suggestion that maybe insanity was running in the Borden family.

  • Thomas Canfield

    Regarding the ax killings of Lizzie’s pigeons, that was supposed to have been done by Lizzie’s father, which was supposed to have been one of her motivations in killing him with an ax. The suggestion in the film was that he killed the pigeons as a punishment for her sneaking out to a party. In real life, his justification was that the pigeons were attracting young boys who were sneaking into the yard to see them. His reaction was a bit over the top, which carries the suggestion that maybe insanity was running in the Borden family.

  • Harvey Throneless King Thornto

    Utility belt???

  • imelda

    I tried to youtube the scene but couldn’t find it! Definitely the most intriguing item on the list.

  • imelda

    I tried to youtube the scene but couldn’t find it! Definitely the most intriguing item on the list.

  • Alison Moss

    All true. I didn’t think the film made it at all clear that Lizzie’s father was killing the pigeons. It seemed as though the film was trying over-hard to make her seem creepy from the beginning, but it annoys me when they play tricks like this. Practically any account you read of the Lizzie Borden murders mentions HER FATHER killing her pigeons. Thanks for clarifying here.

  • Dara Crawley

    I’ve always wanted to have one as part of a collection -_-