Lizzie Borden Took An Ax premieres this Saturday night on Lifetime, following the network’s trend of cramming all their high-profile movies into the beginning of the year. Christina Ricci is playing the title character, a Massachusetts woman who was tried and acquitted for murdering her father and stepmother with an ax in the 19th century. The case continues to be theorized about to this day, but based on the title and promos, Lifetime seems to be of the opinion that Lizzie totally did it.
Lifetime’s known for adapting true stories into melodramatic TV movies, but they’re usually based on pretty modern events, so it’s interesting to see the network go back so far in time for its crazy lady inspiration. That got me to thinking about other “crazy ladies” (as Lifetime would see it) in history whose stories are perfect for the Lifetime treatment. So I did a little research into notorious women from decades and centuries past and chose nine whose stories would make great TV movies. And by great I of course mean delightfully bad. Some of these women have already had movies made about them, but that wouldn’t stop Lifetime from putting their own spin on it. And if there’s any doubt as to these women’s guilt, don’t worry. Lifetime will just assume they did it.
1. Lucrezia Borgia (1480-1519)
Lucrezia was the daughter of Pope Alexander VI. Her family was notorious during the Renaissance for being power-hungry and murderous. Lucrezia, who had three husbands, was adulterous and is rumored to have poisoned drinks using a hollow ring. What part of this doesn’t have LIFETIME written all over it?
2. Mary I of England (1516-1558)
Mary was the daughter of Henry VIII and reigned as Queen of England and Ireland for five years. After her half-brother Edward VI ruled under Protestantism, Mary restored Roman Catholicism. And she was serious about it. She had hundreds of Protestants burned at the stake and got the nickname “Bloody Mary.” That should give Lifetime plenty of title opportunities.
3. Elizabeth Bathory (1560-1614)
Elizabeth was a countess in the Kingdom of Hungary who was nicknamed “The Blood Countess” (perfect title) and is thought to be the most prolific female serial killer in history. She’s also rumored to have had vampiric tendencies, bathing in or drinking virgin’s blood to remain young. She was never tried but was put under house arrest. Come on, this couldn’t be more perfect.
4. Delphine LaLaurie (1775-1842)
You might recognize this name if you’ve been watching this season of American Horror Story. Kathy Bates plays a fictionalized version of Madam LaLaurie, who tortured and murdered slaves in Louisiana. Of course Lifetime’s version would be pretty fictional as well, but without the whole immortality thing.
5. Mary Surratt (1820/23-1865)
You might think John Wilkes Booth was the only one involved in the assassination of President Lincoln, but Mary Surratt was convicted of being involved in the conspiracy and hanged for it. Lifetime would be a little late getting in on the Lincoln trend from a couple of years ago, but it’ll probably become a hot topic again soon enough.
6. Mary Ann Cotton (1832-1873)
Mary Ann Cotton was an English woman who is thought to be Britain’s first female serial killer and was believed to have murdered as many as 21 people, mostly through arsenic poisoning. She was eventually convicted of killing her three children. She also has a nursery rhyme about her like Lizzie Borden. It starts with, “Mary Ann Cotton, she’s dead and she’s rotten, lying in bed with her eyes wide open.” I’m sure Lifetime can find a title in there somewhere.
7. Nannie Doss (1905-1965)
Nannie Doss was an American woman who confessed to the murders of 11 family members, including four husbands and two children. Her nicknames include the Giggling Granny and the Lonely Hearts Killer. Titles!
8. Manson women
Charles Manson, who’s currently serving life in prison, had a group of followers called the Manson Family in the late 1960s whose victims included actress Sharon Tate, who was pregnant. The family included the women Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel, Mary Brunner and Linda Kasabian. Lifetime would have a field day with the casting.
9. Squeaky Fromme (1948-present)
Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme was also a follower of Manson, although she wasn’t arrested for the Tate/La Bianca murders. She should have her own movie, because she’s perhaps most famous for her assassination attempt on President Gerald Ford. She was released on parole in 2009.