By Joe Lozito
Making a Killing in the Art World
With the film "Collectors", documentary filmmaker Julian P. Hobbs has unearthed a little known subculture of collectors of artwork done by serial killers in prison. The connoisseurs in the film obsess over the minutia of their artists with a zeal usually reserved for sci-fi conventions. They approach famous crime scenes with the reverence of an archeologist uncovering an ancient ruin. However, as one interviewee points out "they probably can't name any of the victims."
The film follows two main collectors and it doesn't give a good indication of how large this subculture is. But the work here is thorough and always interesting. Just when he seems to have revealed all there is, Mr. Hobbs brings to light another interesting tidbit, like a bizarre scene surrounding a proposed serial killer board game.
The horrors that surrounded these killer's deeds seems to either have been forgotten by their fans or, more frighteningly, have been so trivialized that the men can distance themselves from it.
Happily, much of the would-be artwork is laughable trash. Only one of the killers, Edwin Wayne Haley, shows any real flair. It is doubtful that his artwork will be studied or even viewed in the years to come. If there is any justice at all, however, Mr. Hobbs' fair, evenhanded documentary will remain.