Mr. Death: The Rise And Fall Of Fred A. Leuchter

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +1

Content: +1

Execution of human beings is generally considered a morbid, as well as controversial topic. But the life of Fred Leuchter revolves around executions, since he makes his living designing execution equipment. In this documentary film, the audience is invited into the world of Leuchter as he details how to properly design an electric chair that is both effective and as painless as possible. Hes also commissioned to design several other types of execution equipment, most notably a lethal injection system. As Freds reputation in the execution industrygrows, Ernst Zundel, on trial in Canada for publishing revisionist history, requests Leuchter as an expert witness at his trial. Zundel sends Fred to some of the major German concentration camps, like Auschwitz, in an attempt to prove that no gas chambers were used there. Lack of gas chambers would help prove Zundels belief that the Holocaust never happened. False suppositions lead Leuchter to agree with Zundel. For testifying on Zundels behalf, Fred is ostracized and loses any hint of a career in the execution industry. A definitely different but well made documentary, most people are unlikely to get charged up about the story of Fred Leuchter.

From comments about his job, Leuchter obviously supports capital punishment, but really doesnt provide supporting arguments in the film. However, he does say that part of the reason he got into the business was to prevent, what he calls, capital torture. He feels that much of the execution equipment used in prisons today is outdated and generally never all that effective. Much of the film follows Leuchters on his journey to Europe to gain evidence supporting Zundels claim that concentration camps never gassed people. He eventually decides that there was no gas, for two reasons. In his opinion, the buildings would not have structurally supported a gas chamber, plus he found very little evidence of cyanide on the walls. The opposing position is admirably and clearly stated in the film. And, in light of the evidence presented, the only conclusion would be to affirm the presence of gas chambers. Interesting though, Leuchter risks his whole career on an issue built on questionable evidence. The film does include some graphic descriptions of executions and a few instances of foul language. However strange, MR. DEATH falls within our standards of acceptability.

Preview Reviewer: John Adair
Lions Gate Films, 5750 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 501, Los Angeles, CA 90036

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Few (4) times All Mild

Obscene Language: Once -other

Profanity: None

Violence: Few times Mild (Graphic descriptions of electrocutions and other forms of execution)

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Once (cigarette smoking)

Other: Mr. Leuchter argues for capital punishment; brief discussion of a spirit trapped in an old electric chair, but all involved are uncertain; issue of whether or not the holocaust took place is discussed with ample evidence from both sides

Running Time: 91 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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