Episode 12: Candyman

Candyman was released on October 16th, 1992. It was written and directed by Bernard "Bernie" Rose. The film follows a graduate student, Helen Lyle, in Chicago completing a thesis on urban legends. She stumbles across the tale of "Candyman", the typical look-in-the-mirror and say his name 5 times urban legend. Aka the male version of bloody Mary. She chooses to focus her thesis on how the residents of the low income area use the Candyman legend to cope with the hardships of living there.

Candyman supposedly was the son of a slave who became prosperous after inventing a system to mass-produce shoes during the Civil War. He became a renowned artist, known particularly for his portraits. He fell in love with a white woman he was commissioned to paint in 1890 and the two had children together. Her father was unhappy with the relationship and sent a lynch mob after who is now known as the Candyman. The mob severed his painting hand and replaced it with a hook. They then smeared him with honey to attract bees, who ultimately stung the Candyman to death.

Unfortunately for Helen, the Candyman legend is all too real. She states his name five times in a mirror, awakening the Candyman.

The movie is shit, but the plot had potential. The movie had a budget of $9 million and grossed over $25 million domestically, which it barely deserved. The majority doesn't agree with me however, as the film holds a 74% critic approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. BUT if you do agree with me: ne'er you fret friends. Jordan Peele will be remaking the classic to be released in 2020.

Some fun facts about the film:

Tony Todd, who played the Candyman was stung by bees 23 times during filming; but, this could have been way worse. The bees were specifically bred for the film to be only 12 hours old so that they appeared to be mature bees but their stingers weren't powerful enough to cause health concerns. He was also paid a $1,000 bonus for each sting. Worth it.

Virginia Madsen, who plays Helen, almost turned down the role because she herself was allergic to bees. She said "When Bernie was first asking me to do the role I said, 'Well, I can't. I'm allergic to bees."

"He said 'No you're not allergic to bees, you're just afraid.' So I had to go to UCLA and get tested because he didn't believe [me]. I was tested for every kind of venom. I was far more allergic to wasps. So he said, 'We'll just [have] paramedics there, it will be fine!' You know actors, we'll do anything for a paycheck! So fine, I'll be covered with bees.

"So we a had a bee wrangler and he pretty much told us you can't freak out around the bees, or be nervous, or swat at them, it would just aggravate them. They used baby bees on me. They can still sting you, but are less likely. When they put the bees on me it was crazy because they have fur. They felt like little Q-tips roaming around on me. Then you have pheromones on you, so they're all in love with you and think you're a giant queen.

I really just had to go into this Zen sort of place and the takes were very short. What took the longest was getting the bees off of us. They had this tiny 'bee vacuum,' which wouldn't harm the bees. After the scene where the bees were all over my face and my head, it took both Tony and I 45 minutes just to get the bees off. That's when it became difficult to sit still. It was cool though, I felt like a total badass doing it."

And had she not done it, it was very likely that the part of Helen would have gone to the then undiscovered Sandra Bullock. Which would have been WEIRD. They were also hoping to have Eddy Murphy play the Candyman but he was too high an expense and too short for an intimidating figure. Would've been even MORE weird.

Virginia Madsen and Tony Todd took ballroom dancing together so that the two would have more of a romantic connection between them.

Madsen also claimed she was hypnotized during the film to appear to be under the Candyman's spell. She became uncomfortable with the technique and refused to continue it after shooting just a few scenes that way.

Sounds like the making of the movie had as much weird spiritual shit as the film did. Either way, I guess people (not me) liked it. It also has like a lot of really touchy racial concepts in it and lots of people of color were upset with its portrayal of black people as a whole but me, a white chick from Rhode Island, is not about to comment on that.

What a lot of people don't know is that the name Candyman had already been used in real life for an absolute psychopath.

Dean Corll was born in 1939. He lived in a combative household growing up until his parents separated. He moved with his mother and younger brother to Texas where his mother remarried and a part time business making candy became the family's livelihood. Corll brought candy constantly to others in hopes of making new friends until he was drafted into the military in 1964. Around the time he turned 30, he began hanging out with teenage boys such as David Owen Brooks and Elmer Wayne Henley. He passed out free candy, hosted huffing parties, and became interested in sexual relationships with young men.

Once in 1970, Brooks walked in on Corll in his apartment with two naked boys strapped to a homemade torture rack. Corll let the boys go and gave Brooks a car for his silence. Following the event, Brooks and Henley became Corll's procurers of young men, receiving $200 per victim.

Corll's first victim was Jeffrey Konen who was picked up while hitchhiking in the mid 1970's. He drew most of his victims from a Houston neighborhood known as the Heights. It also wasn't unlikely for Corll to kill two victims at once. He had a total of 27 victims who he molested and slaughtered ranging from young teenagers to men in their 20's.

On August 8th, 1973 Henley brought a 15 year old girl to one of the house parties the men would use to lure their victims. Corll, a homosexual pedophile, was outraged and when the group passed out, tied Henley, the girl, and another friend Timothy Kerley up. Henley came to and begged Corll not to kill him and even offered to rape and kill the girl. However, when Henley couldn't get it up (yknow) Corll began to make fun of him. Henley picked up a .22 caliber pistol and shot Corll dead. He called the cops and confessed.

The media quickly picked up the serial killers story and due to the Corll's Candy Factory and Corll's affection for passing out candy to possible victims, he was dubbed the Candyman. His mother even stated that she believes there were more victims, believing some may be buried under the candy factory.

Henley was sentenced to 99 years per murder conviction and wrapped up six. Brooks was sentenced to life imprisonment.

This movie is based on Clive Barkers 1985 short story called The Forbidden. This is one of the short stories in the 5th volume of the "books of blood" anthology, which was converted into a US version titled In the Flesh.

The movie follows the plot of the book very well but there are some differences. The Candyman in The Forbidden was actually a very pale white guy with long blonde hair who wears an over-the-top brightly colored patchwork outfit. This is probably because the short story was set in an inner-city housing estate in England and the movie was set in Chicago. The book barely went into Candyman's background, but the movie did by talking about how he was a slave in north America. This obviously is different than the book because Candyman is a white British dude and therefore was not a slave in north America. Another difference is that in the book, Anne-Marie had one child named Kerry who is killed by Candyman slitting his throat and then placed in the bonfire. In the movie, Anne-Marie had two boys, one named Anthony and one named Jake. Jake is modeled after Kerry because he is the one who shows Helen to the restrooms. Instead of being killed he is only kidnapped and then hidden in a pile of kindling.

In the short story, according to estate lore, the murders are committed by a man, 'with a hook like jack the ripper". Jack the Ripper is the nickname of an unidentified serial killer who was active in the Whitechapel district of London in 1888. He was also known as Whitechapel murderer and leather apron.

Around this time period, there was a large influx of Irish and Jewish immigrants that caused overcrowding in London. This led to the worsening of work and housing conditions and the development of a more significant economic underclass which then led to an increase in robbery, violence and alcoholism. Many women turned to sex work. In October 1888 the metropolitan police service estimated there were 62 brothels and 1,200 women working as sex workers in Whitechapel. Between 1886-1889, social tensions started to increase, and Jack the Ripper started killing in 1888, right when these tensions were starting to peak.

There were 11 murders known as the Whitechapel murders that occurred between April 1888 to February 1891. There's controversy as to whether all of them were linked to jack the ripper but 5 out of 11 are said to definitely be linked to him. These five include Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly who are also known as the canonical five.

Mary Ann Nichols was killed on august 31st. That night she was turned away from the bed she had been staying in because she didn’t have the money. The last thing she said before she was killed was that she would soon earn the money on the street with the help of her new bonnet. At about 3:40 am She was found lying on the street with her skirt raised. Her throat was slit twice, and her abdomen was mutilated with one deep jagged wound and several other stab wounds. Five of her teeth were missing and she had a cut across her tongue. Her jaw and right side of her face were covered in circular bruises which looked to be from a thumb. She had a 4-inch incision on her neck right above a circular incision about 8 inches in length.

In early September 1888, officer Frederick George Abberline started investigating these crimes. He had worked in this district for 14 years and had the knowledge and experience to take charge of the investigation. He started talking to the sex workers in the area and found out that there was a man nicknamed, "leather apron" who was running an extortion racket and threatening to rip them open if they didn’t give him their money. The press started sharing this suspect and strongly emphasized the man's supposed Hebrew appearance. This led to signs of anti-Semitism surfacing in the area.

Then Annie Chapman was found dead on Saturday September 8th, 1888 at 6 am near a doorway of a backyard that was less than a mile away from where Mary Nichols was murdered the week before. Her throat had two cuts, her abdomen was slashed completely open and her uterus had been removed. There was also a freshly washed leather apron found close to her body. Shortly after this Sergeant William Thicke, one of the investigating officers, arrested a man named John Pizer saying that he was known as leather apron. But, Pizer was able to provide solid alibis and was cleared of any involvement in the crimes.

policemen investigating these crimes collected forensic material and went door to door interviewing more than 2000 people, investigating more than 300 and detaining 80 people in hopes of identifying a suspect. On September 10th, 1888, a large group of citizens formed a group called the Mile End Vigilance Committee and elected a local builder named Mr. George Lusk as their president. Their goal was to help increase the number of people searching for the killer and to raise enough money to offer a significant reward for information that could help find the killer.

At Annie Chapman's inquest, the divisional police surgeon, Dr George Bagster Philips stated that the killer murdered her to take her womb and that the killer must have had some anatomical knowledge because of how quickly and skillfully he removed his victims organs. This started the theory that the killer was a medical man. At this inquest, the coroner, Wynne Baxter revealed that the sub-curator of a Pathological Museum at a medical school in London approached him with information about an American Doctor who said he would pay him 20 euros for each womb he could give him. This theory was quickly quieted and was not mentioned at any of the other inquests.

The killer did not kill again until September 30th, 1888 when he killed both Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes in less than an hour. Elizabeth was found in a yard at 1 am by Louis Diemschutz. She had one large incision on her neck across the main artery but did not have any mutilations to the abdomen. This led the police to believe that Louis had interrupted the killer before he could take out her organs. Catherine was found in Mitre Square 45 minutes after Elizabeth. Her face was mutilated, her throat was cut, her abdomen was mutilated with jagged wounds and her left kidney and uterus were removed.

The police began patrolling the streets and officer Alfred Long found a piece of Catherine's apron, covered in blood and feces, in the doorway of an apartment block. There was a message written in chalk on the wall above the apron that read, "the Juwes are the men that will not be blame for nothing." Most people think he was in a rush and meant to write Jews because somethings people write jewes for women. The city police said that it should be photographed because it was clearly an important clue in the investigation, but the metropolitan police wanted to erase it due to the racial unrest it could cause. They argued back and forth until 5 am when the metropolitan police commissioner, Charles Warren, arrived at the scene and ordered that the message had to be immediately erased and no pictures could be taken. He justified this decision in a report stating, "it was just getting light, the public would be in the streets in a few minutes, in a neighborhood very much crowded by Jewish vendors and Christian Purchasers from all parts of London… The writing was on the jamb of the open archway or doorway visible to anybody in the street and could not be covered up without danger of the covering been torn off at once. A discussion took place whether the writing could be left covered up or otherwise...for an hour until it could be photographed; but after taking into consideration the excited state of the population in London...the strong feeling which had been excited against the Jews, and the fact that in a short time there would be a large concourse of the people in the streets, and having before me a report that if it was left there the house was likely to be wrecked (in which from my own observation I entirely concurred) I considered it desirable to obliterate the writing at once...I do not hesitate to say that if the writing had been left there would have been an onslaught upon the Jews, property would have been wrecked, and lives would probably have been lost.."

The press then made a letter that had been sent to a London news agency public. It was written in red ink and boasted about what he did to his victims and what he would do to his next victims. He also wrote that the police, "won't fix me yet". He signed the letter jack the ripper which is how the killer got his nickname.

Mary Jane Kelly was found lying on her bed on Friday November 9th, 1888 at 10:45 am. Her throat was cut down to the spine, her face was covered in cuts, her abdomen was mutilated, and her heart was missing. This murder was so violent that she was basically skinned and therefore unrecognizable. Her boyfriend Joseph Barnett was only able to identify her by her eyes and ears.

These five murders all took place at night, on the weekend and near the end of the month. The murders became more violent as time went on which showed that the ripper was escalating. The similarities of these murders make it possible to conclude that they were all committed by the same person.

Jack the rippers identity remains unknown and this of course meant there were many theories about him. He even became known as the children's bogey man. He was depicted as an everyday man with a secret who preyed on unsuspecting victims. Later, he became the symbol of a predatory aristocracy and was portrayed more frequently as a gentleman in a top hat. This is like how the movie portrayed him as a gentleman who spoke poetically to his victims before killing them.

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