Many forget that Leonard DiCaprio got his start in the horror genre, making his very first film appearance in 1991’s Critters 3. The Hollywood A-lister is next set to return to the world of horror, and in a departure from his usual roles, he’s playing a bad guy. A really, really, really bad guy.
Deadline reports tonight that Paramount has closed a deal to acquire Erik Larson’s book The Devil In The White City: Murder, Magic, And Madness At The Fair That Changed America, intending on turning it into a feature film. Martin Scorsese will direct, and DiCaprio is attached to star.
The story is based on the real-life Dr. H.H. Holmes, widely considered to be America’s first serial killer. DiCaprio will be playing the prolific murderer, who claimed between 27 and a whopping 200 victims in the late 1800s. Billy Ray has been tasked with penning the screenplay.
In 1893, Holmes built and opened The World’s Fair Hotel in Chicago, a labyrinthine building that the madman constructed as a sort of death trap – his own personal murder house, if you will.
The hotel consisted of over 100 windowless rooms, as well as many stairways leading to nowhere and doors that could only be opened up from the outside. Once female guests checked into the hotel, they rarely checked out, and he would dispose of their bodies with a secret chute that led to the basement.
From there, Holmes would strip the bodies of their flesh and cut them into pieces, and in a cruel twist he would sell many of the skeletons and organs to medical schools. Other bodies were simply cremated, or boiled in vats of acid.
Holmes was captured and put on trial in 1895, and hanged one year later.