The movie about a historic Iowa murder case comes out on video today (Friday). It includes the kind of bonus features today’s movie fans have come to expect with a DVD release, in addition to the film “Villisca: Living With a Mystery.”
Filmmaker Kelly Rundle says it was more work moving the movie from the silver screen to the television screen. Rundle says there are two feature-length commentaries, one by him and his wife Tammy and one with researcher Edward Epperly, who focuses on the historical perspective. Then there’s about 50-minutes of “bonus footage,” behind-the-scenes film and even a 1960s radio program that offers a historical note.
The radio broadcast included in the DVD release was one in a series of Iowa stories done in 1963. One of the stories chosen from Iowa history was the Villisca ax murders. Rundle calls the 3- or 4-minute radio piece “a little cheesy” but says it’s interesting that it was so well-known as an Iowa story that they chose it.
Historian Edgar Epperly says fifty years ago when he was a student at the University of Northern Iowa, he wrote a paper on the murders, along with two classmates. He says they’d grown up in Leon, so as natives of southern Iowa they’d hard about the case growing up. They chose that as an interesting topic, though he says writing the paper got him started.
Epperly says his interest never really quit after doing research and interviews on the murders, and he admits he continues gathering information on the case to this day. He says it became a hobby, though he hopes “not an obsession,” and over the years he’s continued to work on it, interviewing, reading newspapers, getting access to government files and gradually building up a file of information about the murders.