• Cropsey
    2 minutes 13 seconds
    Added: May 17, 2010


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Cropsey Reviews

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Jason S

Super Reviewer

June 20, 2011
This was a chilling doc about a series of child murders. It's scary to see all of the history behind it. The location is eerie and the people we meet are just as off putting sometimes. Well shot and well put together.

Super Reviewer

July 14, 2010
Noncommittal presentation of the events surrounding the disappearance of several children in Staten Island, New York. Cropsey doesn't pretend to know all the answers, but it certainly asks all the right questions. Creepy and compelling.
Thomas J

Super Reviewer

July 30, 2010
I was expecting more of urban legends in general and this movie is more of a story that narrows in on one suspect for crimes committed over two decades. It is still ok....but the descriptions were misleading.

Super Reviewer

July 15, 2010
Creepy documentary isn't quite what you think it will be. Instead of an exploration of childhood urban legends and how they may have been affected or created by actual crimes, the film singularly turns to one particular criminal and his horrible acts. Still creepy, just not what I thought it would be. The two leads behind the film sure seem to enjoy being on camera.

Super Reviewer

June 20, 2012
Over the decades, Staten Island goes through a multitude of changes from "former dumping ground" to respectable urban enclave, especially after the Verrazano Narrows Bridge opens in 1964 which eases access to the rest of the other boroughs of New York City.

With their thought-provoking and creepy documentary, "Cropsey," Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio turn to their native Staten Island for a disturbing true crime story that of course begins with Geraldo Rivera. Even after his damning expose of the Willowbrook State School in 1972, it still takes the state 10 years to close it. And that is not the end of it because it becomes the locus of any number of urban legends and actual homeless people living in and around the deserted grounds. Then, in 1987, 7-year old Jennifer Schweiger disappears and is found murdered nearby. Andre Rand, a former worker at Willowbrook, is convicted of kidnapping, but not murder. Zeman and Brancaccio have their doubts, especially about the evidence that is primarily circumstantial which may have caused the jury to convict an unstable man who fit the bill more than anything else. Many years later and a few years before he is eligible for parole, Rand is on trial again, this time for the kidnapping of Holly Ann Hughes, one of seven other Staten Island children who went missing over the years. Eyewitnesses again place him at the scene of the crime but did they really see what they thought they saw? That's not to mention the host of theories that come up, some more plausible than others. The filmmakers make it a point to talk to as many people involved as possible and take the extraordinary stance of leaving it up to the viewers to make up their own mind.
Joey S

Super Reviewer

April 13, 2012
I wouldn't call it a very scary movie at all, but it is a pretty interesting documentary about a disturbing series of crimes. The movie is a crime documentary though, so don't watch it expecting to be frightened.
Ryan M
Ryan M

Super Reviewer

June 11, 2012
*** out of ****

"Cropsey" is a name that has been used - historically - to describe a kind of boogeyman. The documentary film of the same name is about the boogeyman of Staten Island, New York. The documentary tells of the area's secretive and tragic past; which is one full of child disappearances and possible kidnappings, as well as dead bodies of potential victims being found buried under soft ground. Cropsey was the name that the residents of Staten Island gave the unidentified perpetrator of the crimes, that is, before they found a legitimate suspect. His name was Andre Rand and whether you know the name or not does not matter, as the film does all the necessary homework for you. He was somewhat of a hermit, often seen riding a green bicycle with a basket in the front. He was not a respected man, and perhaps that is what led to such an easy conviction. Most people that live in Staten Island who know of his proposed "crimes" seem to side with the opinion that he did kidnap and kill these young children - who, if I may add, were all handicapped in some way, be it psychically or mentally. The ingenuity of the documentary is that it gives us no straight answers and encourages us to think for ourselves. It does not spoon-feed, nor does it act as a perverse form of smaller-scale propaganda. We can take the case of Andre Rand however we choose to.

The film is about many things. The power of urban legends, the impact that one man can have on an entire community, and the nature of deception itself. That last part relates to an aspect of the film which deals primarily with both sides to the story; Rand could have been innocent, or he could have been guilty. One thing is clear; he didn't plead shit. But people had a common take on his life and his actions; and a lot of the gossip can perhaps be traced back to a photograph in which he seems to be drooling as he is being taken away from court. This gives off the impression of a deeply disturbed and vile man, although after we dive deeper into the part of Rand that the filmmakers behind "Cropsey" actually took the time to try and get to know; we are provoked to question our reactions to the man and our personal views on the film. When telling the fascinating story of the seldom-heard-of case, the filmmakers could have taken an entirely different direction and made a fictional account of the events. However, by making a documentary, they merge fact with fiction - urban legend with reality - and the final result emerges all the more effective.

I do not think that the documentary is without its flaws, though. Being a crime-based documentary narrative, it can get drearily repetitive at times; but it often has the intellectual capacity to pick right back up again and be engaging as soon as we get the feeling that it is dragging in the slightest. You can sense that its makers - Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio - are very passionate about the subject through their consistent respect for it. Never does "Cropsey" feel exploitative or excessively staged; most of it feels very genuine and respectable, which also attributes to why it is entertaining and why it is good. It was a personal project made on what looks and feels like a shoe-string budget, but it turned out alright after all. It doesn't demonstrate much style other than the haunting shots of the abandoned mental hospital in the woods where this "Cropsey" apparently used to live (existent in the legends, of course). But it's got a brain and a darn good one too.

Zeman and Brancaccio had sent Andre Rand a letter while they were in the process of filming the doc. They waited a month for him to take the bait, but they got no response. Finally, they had decided to pay him a visit in person at Rikers Island. Coincidentally, the day they had planned to go, Rand replied to their letter. Soon, this became a normal thing; with the crew hoping to learn something different about the man with each letter. The results were not entirely conclusive. By the end, it seems as if Zeman and Brancaccio just gave up on the whole thing. But maybe that wasn't the case. Maybe they realized that there was no truth. And if there ever was one, only Rand knew it. But he refused to testify, or leak the information that was desired. At one moment, the duo attempts to dig into Rand's obscure childhood, but again; nothing terribly conclusive. No evidence, no nothing. Indeed, this is a very cold documentary; but it is narrated and presented with great optimism that seems to be keen on message-making. And the message seems to be that urban legends can come true, at any moment, at any time. We must acknowledge that the boogeyman could be a mortal being. And that urban legends are always intriguing, whether the truth behind them is ever properly exposed or not.
Jake B

Super Reviewer

May 15, 2011
Very memorable documentary that is worth seeking out.
James C

Super Reviewer

February 28, 2013
Cropsey is an interesting documentary that bridges the gaps between fact and urban legend, and horror and documentary. The story begins with the creepy legend of Cropsey and moves forward to explore how, on Staten Island, there actually was a "Boogey Man" (Andre Rand). He terrorized the local community by kidnapping young disabled children before murdering them. Or did he?
I wouldn't say that this is the most technically advanced documentary that I have ever seen, but it flows well, is intelligent, well researched and achieves the level of disturbance that it strives for. It is an entertaining watch but falls short of being great due to its lack of anything concrete. In its defence, the things required to access the complete truth were sadly unobtainable for the filmmakers. I find it ironic that the true story behind an urban legend is actually a mystery.
If you like documentaries and fancy something a bit different (if a little grizzly) you could do far worse than Cropsey.

Super Reviewer

June 21, 2011
If the name Cropsey sounds familiar to you, you've probably seen the classic Slasher the Burning about a madman who lives in the woods and likes to hack up young horny teenagers. This isn't about that, but about the real life urban legend of Staten Island New York. This film started out about the urban legend at least but then switched focus to a convicted child killer named Andre Rand, whos parallels with the Urban Legend are uncanny. He lived in the woods, and was convicted of killing at least one mentally disabled child (based on shoddy evidence) and is suspected of at least 4 more. He was a former attendee at a school/instituion for the mentally handicapped that has since been shut down called Willowbrook, and him and a number of former employees and patients were known to live in the abandoned building as well as in the underground tunnel systems of the building. Willowbrook was also quite the controversial instituion in it's day due to it's unhumanitarian treatment of it's patients. Some footage is shown of the place in it's heyday and it is disturbing and sickening to say the least. The film goes on to explore the case, a look at Andre Rand (both from former friends and some of his main accusors), the going on's of Willowbrook, and some of the crossover with the Cropsey Urban Legend. All in all a very good and intresting True Crime documentary. I liked that the filmmakers wanted to explore this case and compare it to the Urban Legend, but I think as the movie developed they lost interest in exploring the urban legend and focused more on the case itself which was a little dissappointing for me as this was the most intresting thing about the film for me. Still though a very good Doc that is worth seeing for people intrested in true crime.
Jason R

Super Reviewer

January 27, 2011
Very in-depth and personal look at an urban legend that became all to real for two filmmakers as they documented the real-life disappearances of several Staten Island youths and the man that is believed to have been responsible for the horrible crimes.

Very well researched and put together. The film is very gripping and disturbing all at the same time.

It is scary to think what is lurking around your hometown and unfortunately for the people in this community they found out the hard way.

Definitely check this one out!
July 12, 2012
A truly creepy documentary, Cropsey will leave you more freaked out than most fictional horror films.
October 5, 2012
I could not finish watching it.. er I chose to not finish it.. it really couldn't hold my attention. Imo rather boring :/
December 4, 2011
Cropsey is a very thrilling and compelling Documentary about the unexpected murders of kids that takes place in Staten Island from the early seventies, to the late eighties. What I love about this film is that, even in a documentary, creeps you out about all the disturbing footage and the actual thought of devil worshipers attempting to sacrifice people in the forest. We follow directors Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio to figure out all mysteries behind suspected killer, Andre Rand. A real satisfying movie, shows how an urban legend can turn into reality.
November 18, 2011
Cropsey is an interesting film. The filmmakers behind it are two people who grew up on Staten Island hearing stories of Cropsey, a fictional bogey man who was made up in order to keep kids out of such places as the former mental institution Willowbrook and the remains of the hospital. The two did not know each other as children, yet heard the same stories. So as adults they decided to look into it and see if it really was fiction, or in fact was based on truth. What they found was that the underground of Staten Island was much more bleak and twisted than they would have imagined.

The Island was used as a dumping ground for unwanted things. First it was home to New York City's trash dump, then Willowbrook was established where the city's unwanted people were left to rot, a sensation chronicled by a young Geraldo Rivera in a startling piece on the horrid conditions at Willowbrook. But the two also discovered that it was a place where children often disappeared. With the likes of Jennifer and Molly Ann, there seemed to be a pattern, so when they discovered that the authorities had pinned it on one man, Andre Rand, they investigated further for the whole story. This is that story.

It is certainly interesting and thrilling, but what I found was that I didn't believe about 95% of the people they talked to. The disappearances and investigations were all too mysterious and based on too many eyewitness accounts that were swayed by personal bias, public opinion and the need to have a scapegoat and closure. I am not sure Zeman and Brancoccio's work with this film really added anything to the story other than making a film about it. Their investigating and interviewing seemed amateur to me, only scratching the surface of the story. They seemed to let the people talk about what they wanted to talk about and never seemed to ask the tough questions, or even question what the witnesses and people involved believed. It is obvious why the people thought the way they did, but how about play devil's advocate once in a while?

The film had some thrilling sequences, even if they were manufactured for entertainment purposes. It presented an intriguing story, albeit with little real investigation of commentary. It allowed me as the viewer to form my own opinion, as they did present friends of Rand and those skeptical of his conviction and guilt in the whole matter. Overall, it was interesting and entertaining. I was not moved to act, or to care a whole lot about these people. Losing a child is tough and maybe the worst thing. It can make you reach conclusions through emotion and not logic, find a scapegoat for closure instead of the real perpetrator. I don't know if Andre Rand is guilty or not. It seemed like there was convincing evidence to say he wasn't, yet the courts said Rand was guilty. If anything, the film served as a interesting way to spend my Sunday morning.
November 17, 2011
This one hits home since I was raised there and lived with the fearful aftermath as the first generation to not go outside to play without supervision.
May 26, 2011
A rather boring documentary. After viewing it, I'm rather unsure what the point of it was. Was it to prove that some urban legends are rooted in truth? Was it trying to vilify Rand more or possibly to show that there might be more to the story? They try really hard to get an interview with Rand and if they could have this might have saved the documentary for me. He claims innocence but you never get to see his end.

Despite all these things, the doc is well put together and well narrated. It goes from topic to topic in a smooth, well thought out manner.
September 15, 2010
The urban legend of Cropsey reminds me of the urban legend of "Lurch"! Lurch was the nickname for a, supposedly, very tall (6'9 - 7'0 feet tall) character that roamed the grounds, buildings, and tunnels on the old Byberry Estate (Byberry Mental Hospital/Philadelphia State Hospital). As the story goes, he could be found roaming the tunnels wearing a "Jason" style hockey mask, wielding a machete, and when he saw you, even if you were some distance away down a long tunnel (Such as 50 yards or more!) he would raise the machete high above his head and scream and run towards you...

Stories of kids being picked up for trespassing by the local cops smelling of feces and crying themselves silly wasn't particularly common but, since I worked there, at Byberry, as a security guard for a few years, and I had this story, among others, told to me by cops, as well as other, perhaps, less reputable sources, on some level it needs to be understood that urban legends are inspired by, and in many cases based on, fact! Perhaps the kids managed to scare themselves, and one another, so intensely that even if "Lurch" never actually did this, or even if that character only did it once or twice, all the stories about how Lurch lived down there, in the tunnels, and roamed the tunnels looking for victims and flesh to consume.... all of this created a life to this urban legend and in that sense the kids did it to themselves. Apparently, whether or not Lurch ever really existed, the kids really did believe it.

Supposedly, "Lurch" was just a tall guy with a twisted sense of humor. There was a lot of copper, brass, iron, & other metals inside Byberry and if you could get to the stuff, and if you could get the stuff off of the property, you could take it to someone, such as a metal recycling business, and sell it. Lurch apparently knew that the place was a hangout for kids and knew that he would be outnumbered; so, he decided to make an ally of fear and use it to his advantage, in an attempt to keep anyone from taking away any of 'his' action, while he was pilfering the metals that stood to make him a lot of money. There were stories about how Lurch even scared away the Satanists bc, he freaked out on everybody that he encountered. Even they were scared of him!

Lurch also, supposedly, never hurt anyone. He would threaten and curse and scare the shit out of everyone, including the cops and the security guards who were armed! But, he only did that so that they would stay out of the tunnels. He also apparently knew that if anyone that he encountered told someone else of these stories that they would sound so ridiculous that nobody would likely believe them. Plus, he did have that sick sense of humor... I guess "for shits & giggles" could be considered a bonus, right?!

Obviously, Byberry reminds me of Willowbrook quite a bit!! There was a documentary film made, not about Byberry but, about the patients inside Byberry and the mental and emotional problems that got them there. Its called "Final Asylum: The Closing of Philadelphia State Hospital" and even imdb doesn't have it. It was filmed by a company that no longer exists, paid for, and is owned, by Temple University...for a psychology course that they have. To even have a hope of seeing it you pretty much have to be enrolled in that school and be taking that course and they don't let just anyone view it.... I doubt that we will see it on Flixster anytime soon.

"Crospey" brings back a lot of memories and is definitively one of the creepiest films that I have seen in a very long time...
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