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At the Death House Door (2008)

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An investigation of the wrongful death of Carlos DeLuna, who was executed in Texas on December 7, 1989, after prosecutors ignored evidence inculpating a man, who bragged to friends about committing the crimes of which DeLuna was convicted.

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Carroll Pickett ...
Himself - Retired Minister
Steve Mills ...
Himself - Chicago Tribune
Maurice Possley ...
Himself - Chicago Tribune (as Maury Possley)
Anne Ellis ...
Herself - Pickett's Daughter
Charlotte Hirschfelder ...
Herself - Pickett's Daughter
Karel Henry ...
Herself - Pickett's Daughter
Ed Garza ...
Himself - Former Police Detective
Jim Willett ...
Himself - Prison Museum Director
Roy Villanueva ...
Himself - Inmate Choir Director
Rodney Smith ...
Himself - Former Inmate
Preston Rodrigues ...
Himself - Former Inmate
Fred Allen ...
Himself - Shipping Broker
Steven Pickett ...
Rose Rhoton ...
Dave Atwood ...


An investigation of the wrongful death of Carlos DeLuna, who was executed in Texas on December 7, 1989, after prosecutors ignored evidence inculpating a man, who bragged to friends about committing the crimes of which DeLuna was convicted.

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9 March 2008 (USA)  »

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Powerful piece of Advocacy against the Death Penalty
12 March 2008 | by (Austin, TX, United States) – See all my reviews

At Death House Door had its World Premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, TX. This is appropriate since its focus is on the death penalty here in the Lone Star state at the Death Chamber in Huntsville, TX. The film is a powerful indictment of the Texas death penalty. It makes little pretense at neutrality and is clearly designed to argue its point-of-view rather than present a unbiased analysis of the issue. The film presents an intensely human narrative of the Texas death penalty.

It does this mostly through the eyes of Reverend Carolle Pickett who served as the Huntsville death row chaplain from 1982-95 spending the final day with 95 death penalty prisoners. He is clearly haunted by what he has witnessed on death row and has now become an advocate against the continued use of the death penalty.

The film's second parallel narrative follows the tragic case of Carlos De Luna who appears to have been executed in 1989 for a crime he didn't commit despite significant evidence that another man actually committed the murder that De Luna was accused of. The film does a better job of arguing that the Texas death penalty system is deeply flawed than it does in making a case that the death penalty is inherently wrong.

At the Death House Door is a compelling, emotional documentary that presents a strong moral and human case against the death penalty. One is certainly left to wonder if Carlos De Luna was wrongly executed and how many others like him are out there.

While this is a solid and provocative film, it seems a level below veteran documentary film maker Steve James's very best films, Hoop Dreams and Stevie. Still, this is a very good film that deserves to be widely seen as our society has begun to question how we use the death penalty in the United States in general - and in Texas in particular.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Sadly, the Rev. is a pathological liar movinmetalu
Death House Door lacks Closed Captioning hokiewolf
I'm not convinced De Luna is innocent quiet451
What does this mean for Hoop Dreams 2? drpathsjacket
What book is that in the movie? goathouse
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