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Only Belle: A Serial Killer from Selbu (2006)

DVD | Color
52 min | Full Screen.

Directed by Anne Berit Vestby
Produced by Subrosa Film AS
ISBN 978-0-8026-0702-7
Price:  $31.95* Home Video includes Public Library Circulation rights.
ISBN 978-0-8026-0703-4
Price:  $249.95**  Academic and Institutional price including Public Performance rights for non-paying audiences.
 
Consumers Reviews


Critics Reviews
"3 Stars Female serial killers are rare, but Belle Gunness (as Brynhild Paulsdatter Størset came to call herself after emigrating to the United States from Selbu, Norway) certainly made up for the slack with the sheer volume of her victims: she’s estimated to have killed between 30–100 people - mostly husbands, suitors, children (perhaps all adopted), and stepchildren – over the course of 10 or so years, fattening her own bank account with their savings and cashing in on insurance policies. Gunness’ first murder appears to have occurred in Chicago, circa 1900, but her main site of operation was a farm she purchased outside La Porte, IN, where she would apparently fake her own death in 1908, leaving behind many buried bodies and a hired hand to face the law (it’s possible that Gunness decamped to Los Angeles, where a woman some believe was her died in 1931). Director Anne Berit Vestby, who also hails from Selbu, treats the investigation of this grisly true crime tale as a personal odyssey…she solidly covers the facts, and her interview with residents of Selbu and La Porte, as well as the family now living on the old Gunness farm (whose youngest son claims to talk to ghosts that inhabit the place), all help contribute to Only Belle’s bleakly humorous tone. Recommended."

-F. Swietek, Video Librarian

"The land where Belle Gunness' farmhouse once stood is now the home of a young Indiana family whose son, Junior-like the boy in THE SIXTH SENSE-sees dead people. It's perhaps not surprising, considering his backyard was a slaughterhouse for one of history's most mysterious serial killers. This compellingly creepy mystery, replete with ghosts, uncovered bones and a murderer who got away, seeks to uncover the truth behind a century of rumors. At just over five-feet tall, portly hog butcher Belle Gunness was a mystery to her Indiana neighbors-and still is to this day. Born in 1895 as Brynhild Paulsdatter Storset in Selbu, Norway, Belle lived the dutiful life of a farmer's wife until her husband was "accidentally" killed by a falling meat grinder, leaving her with three young children and a considerable amount of money. The well-to-do widow wasted no time finding a second husband by advertising in the local papers for a suitable mate. Lonely men arrived from far and wide in hopes of becoming her new spouse... But those who arrived were never heard from again. Honing her skills at the pigpen, she poisoned these men, chopping them to pieces and scattering their remains in the backyard. The exact number of Belle's victims remains unknown. But if the rumors are true, Belle was the most bloodthirsty female serial killer of all time..."

-Amy Dotson

Summary
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Brynhild Paulsdatter Størset, better known as Belle Gunness, was born in 1859 in Selbu, Norway. After moving to the United States, she became one of the most notorious female serial killers of all time. It is estimated that she murdered between 40 and 70 people, but she was never tried or sentenced for any of these crimes. As the net closed in around her, she arranged her own "death" and disappeared without a trace.

Director Anne Berit Vestby, a native of the same small village in Norway, follows Belle's tracks from Selbu to Chicago. Drawing on archival newspapers and featuring authentic photos, the story Vestby recounts turns out to be wilder and more gruesome than you can imagine.