Introduction and notes

About this Website

In February of 1995, I fell under the spell of this haunting and unique film. Luckily for me, I had also recently become acquainted with the Internet - and my two new passions became inextricably linked as I discovered a network of people just as fascinated by the film as I was, and a wealth of information I could never have gathered on my own. John Porter's Heavenly Creatures FAQ was a much-anticipated highlight - it contained acres of detail about every aspect of the movie. It was a delight to read. However...

It was a text file. That meant lots of slow scrolling-around. It was only a matter of time before I hit upon the idea to "Web-ify" it. I suppose I should have picked something a bit more manageable for my first web project, but logic lost out to my passion for the film (and my desire to learn HTML)! And now at last I have found the energy to take it a step farther by employing the power of Frames. What you are now viewing is the result. It was a lot of sometimes tedious work but, I think, well worth it.

It has been "satisfying indeed" to achieve my goal. I hope you enjoy it as much as I! If you do, please share your thoughts with me through email. (Reports of errors or inadvertent dead-end links also encouraged!)


Indexes and sub-indexes are in the left frame at all times, the chosen page appears on the right. At the end of each page are forward and back arrows which will always take you to the next or previous sequential page of the FAQ (just keep clicking the forward arrow and you'll eventually see the entire FAQ). References within the text to other numbered sections are hotlinked to that section. And you can always click the "Main Index" button at lower left to see the top-level index.

Also, please note that if any frame is inadequate size on your monitor for its content, you can drag the "edge" of the frame itself until everything's just right. Go ahead and customize!

If you have new info or observations for the FAQ, by all means attempt to share them with me or John Porter.

Enjoy your time in The Fourth World - the Heavenly Creatures Website!

John D. Porter's original notes to the FAQ

With some updates by Adam

Overview of the FAQ
Information on the current release of the FAQ
Highlights of new material in this release
Contacting the FAQ compiler
Submitting information for the FAQ
Requests for input and assistance

Overview of the FAQ

The "Heavenly Creatures" FAQ/database provides information about Peter Jackson's award-winning 1994 film "Heavenly Creatures" and about the real people and events of New Zealand's infamous, tragic and controversial "Parker Hulme" murder case. Even more than forty years later, emotion still runs high about the "Parker Hulme" case and opinions are still as divided as the diametrically opposed quotations given above.

Readers only interested in the "Parker Hulme" case may want to look first in section 7, where the bulk of the information on the case has been collected. However, there is also background information on the "Parker Hulme" case embedded in sections 3 to 5 where "Heavenly Creatures" is described and discussed. Sections 3 to 6 also contain social, cultural and historical material which is useful for placing the events of the case in context.

There are no spoilers to "Heavenly Creatures" in sections 1 and 2 of the FAQ. Formally, there are spoilers for the film in sections 3 - 7. But see the introduction to section 3 for more about the almost spoiler-proof nature of the film. Section 7 contains spoilers to "The Cater Street Hangman" by Anne Perry.

Though not unique to this case, the issue of personal privacy has emerged here as a particularly contentious one. The "Heavenly Creatures" FAQ has been compiled, as far as possible, in an atmosphere of respect for individual privacy, while recognizing that there are legitimate and sometimes conflicting issues of public interest and concern here, too. FAQ policy regarding privacy is stated at the beginning of section 3.

The material contained in the FAQ has been drawn primarily from the public domain, though there is also unique material obtained by private communication and presented by permission. Every effort has been made to present material in an informative, neutral, academic and balanced tone. Nevertheless, some readers may be offended by the choice of material presented here, or by the way it is presented. They are encouraged to let their opinions be known to the FAQ compiler and to the community of people interested in the "Parker Hulme" case and "Heavenly Creatures."

The film "Heavenly Creatures" contains material which may be unsuitable for children and so does this FAQ.

The "Heavenly Creatures" FAQ is meant to provide:

Though it is 'unfinished' in many ways, this is intended to be close to the final version of the FAQ. Updates will be infrequent because the pace of research has slowed--I have reached the hard grunt work, where progress is costly and tedious. Suggestions for further work (and requests for assistance) are given below.

The format of this FAQ is a combination of criticism and analysis, in the form of 'traditional' Q? presentation placed at the beginning of the FAQ, followed by a database of selected material culled primarily from the open literature.

The database has been included because there are relatively few in-depth studies, scholarly or popular, of the film "Heavenly Creatures" or its subject, the New Zealand "Parker Hulme" case.

There is a fascinating and controversial postscript to "Heavenly Creatures," not mentioned in the film but included in this FAQ. After the film had been completed and was being shown in film festivals, an investigative reporter in New Zealand tracked down one of the title characters and revealed her present identity: she is mystery author Anne Perry.

This unexpected development makes available for the FAQ additional public-domain information and it raises for discussion interesting ethical issues related to art, justice, celebrity and privacy. Anne Perry has made public statements recently about the film "Heavenly Creatures," the "Parker Hulme" case and her life since the murder and some of these have been included in the FAQ.

In general, the FAQ compiler has included material which is in the public domain and which is directly related to the "Parker Hulme" murder case and/or to legitimate issues of public concern which have arisen from the case. There is also material in this FAQ which is unavailable elsewhere, contributed by private communication and authorized for release by the contributors. Material which might be described as fully unsubstantiated rumour, or which intrudes unnecessarily and unduly into the private lives of real people still living, has generally not been included in this FAQ. However, because of the extraordinary public impact of this case, the dividing line between appropriate and inappropriate material is not clear-cut. Now that the preliminary work has been done, and some new perspective has been achieved, the FAQ compiler is going to start the process of putting together a book on the "Parker Hulme" case. Opinions/encouragement/discouragement would be welcomed. As would be criticism of the FAQ. Let me know what you think of it.

1.1 Information on the current release of the FAQ

The FAQ v1.0 provided a first-draft structure and breakdown of topics. It was released 1995/04/09.

The FAQ v2.0 incorporates corrections, additions and changes to v1.0 made between 1995/04/09 and 1995/08/03. Most were the result of input from FAQ readers. Version 2.0 will be close to the final one. Infrequent updates are planned.

1.2 Highlights of new material in this release

1.3 Contacting the FAQ compiler

PLEASE DON'T send copies of the FAQ back in email replies!!! Please DO refer to version number, section titles and section numbers if you have comments, additions or suggestions. Copies of the FAQ can be sent out by request. If you have trouble getting the FAQ from rec.arts.movies.misc or have special needs, other arrangements might be possible. Contact the FAQ compiler at the following snailmail address:

Dr John D Porter
1742 Spruce St. #23
Berkeley CA 94709

or at:

US residents can obtain a copy of the FAQ ver 2.0 as simple DOS ASCII text files (readable by PC or Mac into any commercial editor or word processor) by sending two 3 1/2" 1.44 MB floppy discs in a stamped (sufficient postage), self-addressed envelope to the snailmail address above.

New Zealand residents faced with exorbitant Internet connection charges to download the FAQ ver 2.0 can get a copy on floppy discs, too. Put sufficient NZ postage on your self-addressed envelope and I'll mail FAQs back in batches to NZ, on your discs, for re-mailing domestically.

The FAQ compiler is also willing to trade for free copies of the FAQ. If you have anecdotes, artifacts, photos, personal stories or recollections, newspaper clippings or copies, copies of articles etc. etc. -- anything new and relevant to the FAQ -- get in touch with the FAQ compiler for a FREEBIE copy of the FAQ. As an added incentive for joining the ranks of FAQ contributors, contributors to the FAQ database will receive the most recently updated version-in-progress > 2.0, incorporating their new material (and the material contributed by others), unavailable to the general public. I am especially interested in getting the items I have listed in section 1.5 and background information on Dr Henry Hulme, Hilda Marion Hulme/Perry and Honora Parker from residents in the U.K. who are willing to "enter into the spirit of the thing greatly" and do a bit of digging at Cambridge, Manchester, Birmingham, Southport, Greenwich and Liverpool (and Aldermaston). And, as always, I am very keen to hear from New Zealanders with background information and from Kiwis also willing to do a little digging in libraries and archives. I am also more than willing to enter into "completely off the record" discussions about "Heavenly Creatures" and the "Parker Hulme" case. Everything crossing my desk has not gone into the FAQ, of course. Drop me a line.

1.4 Submitting information for the FAQ

Updated versions of the "Heavenly Creatures" FAQ are planned, but release will be very infrequent. If you would like to submit information for a future version of the FAQ, or if you would just like to pass along or share information on the case, please drop me a line at the above snailmail address.

The Table of Contents appears in the short first piece of the posted FAQ. Please refer to version number and section number if possible when submitting material for the FAQ.

Unsolicited submissions (and informal discussion) are welcomed. Submit material for editing and inclusion in the FAQ (or for off- the-record discussion) to my snailmail address above.

All FAQ material obtained from private discussion has been included by permission. That would continue to be the policy in any future versions of the FAQ.

Some sections of the FAQ cover controversial issues for which there can be no one 'answer.' In those cases, especially, the FAQ compiler tried to reflect breadth of opinion as well as consensus in the FAQ entries. Discussion of FAQ-bound material in relevant newsgroups prior to submission is encouraged, of course.

1.5 Requests for input and assistance

Although only infrequent future updates of the FAQ are planned, here are some things that could still be clarified/added:

1.5 Acknowledgements

Versions 0.1 - 2.0 were prepared by John D Porter, who wishes to thank, first, the many anonymous contributors of discussion and analysis who stimulated and helped shape the entries marked [jp].

Many sincere thanks for material contributed by:

Movie DataBase [MDB]
Adam Abrams [aa]
Can press kit, music, credits info, analysis
Arlene [a]
music info
Gabe Baker [gb]
music info
Christopher Beckett [cb]
Mason film info
Henk Beentje [hb]
Biggles info
Paul Bickerstaff [pb]
Christchurch info
John Bierman [jb]
Perry quotes, background, book info
Chelsea Birnie [cb]
Corrected "Otahuna" info for credits
Wynter Blathwayt [wb]
3YA, credits info, HC crew anecdotes
Sandra Bowdler [sb]
background, Perry, crew, Jackson, soundtrack info, analysis - 75
Marie Braden
articles and reviews in the Library
Katrina Campbell [kc]
St. George & White Horse Hill
Craig Clark [cc]
Corrected info on Monty Python's 'Biggles' sketch
Merle Colebrook [mc]
NZ school, ChCh Girls' High School, background info
Angela Davies [ad]
Ilam, HR Hulme info]
ebenke [e]
Biggles info
Howard Edwards [he]
NZ geography
Sarah Ettritch [se]
Jackson, background, book, Perry info
Marsha K Fearing [mkf]
background, book, Perry, Winslet info
Michaelanne Forster [mf]
"Daughters of Heaven," background info
Glamuzina and Laurie
authoritative book, see 7.7.6
Eric Gregersen [eg]
Carrie S Hafer [csh]
Biggles info
William Hanselman [wh]
music info
Diana K Harkness [dkh]
music info
Jane EB Harrison [jebh]
NZ film info
Steve Haynes [sh]
music info
Karen Hedelund [kh]
Perry info
Paul Henry [ph]
background info
Ben Hoffman [bh]
Miramax info
Janalynn Howard [jh]
Soundtrack acquisition info
Miranda Kaye [mk]
background, Dr HHulme, NZ film info, G?
Doug Johnston [dj]
music info
Janet Leary [jl]
Ilam info
Justine Lee [jlee]
ChCh Girls' High School info
Ali Lemer [dp]
John Mackin [jwwm]
"Daughters of Heaven," Perry info, G? analysis
Alexis Magnotti [am]
St. George and the Dragon painting info
Nancy Marth [nm]
soundtrack & Perry info
Margaret Mayman [mm]
NZ school info
Jim McLennan [jm]
Jackson info
Miramax Films [Mir]
US press kit
Lilah A Moore [lam]
med and psych background info
Anne Perry [ap]
Karl Reinsch [kr]
music info
Luisa F Ribeiro [lfr]
music & film analysis, Perry, credits, script, soundtrack info
Paula Salamone [ps]
Perry book info
Andrew Salmond [as]
Jackson info
Jonathan Sauer [js]
Relevant quote from Queen
Monica Smith [ms]
Perry book info
Cedrick Stalpers [cs]
music info
Elliott Swanson [es]
music info
Karen Swenson [ks]
articles and reviews in the Library
Harold Underdown [hu]
Biggles info
usman [u]
Biggles info
Lyndon Watson [lw]
NZ school, NZ and ChCh info
Lee Whitman [lwh]
music info
MC Wilson [mcw]
NZ press, PYP & Jackson info
Michael Witbrock [mw]
NZ geog
Cho Yan Wong [cyw]
Margaret Wong [maw]
NZ, ChCh, ChCh Girls' High School, Templeton, Rieper info
Michael Woodhams [mw]
NZ school info

The numerous contributors to the "Other films dealing with murderous children," section 6.2, and "Other films dealing with similar school themes," section 6.3, are listed separately in those sections. [your name could be here, too...]

Some people listed above have been officially elevated to "HC" Sainthood (and you have my special thanks--you know who you are).