‘Candyman’s Director Hypnotized His Actors Cause He Hated The Sound Of Screaming

Associate Producer: This spinning watch.
‘Candyman’s Director Hypnotized His Actors Cause He Hated The Sound Of Screaming

While presumably an unmitigated disaster for the bathroom mirror industry, the original 1992 Candyman (which celebrates its 30th anniversary today) still holds up as a classic of modern horror – and is perhaps the scariest movie about a grad student working on their thesis (although still not as harrowing as actually writing your grad school thesis). 

Making the film, however, was more unusual than you might think. Apparently, director Bernard Rose, by his own admission, wasn’t a huge fan of screaming in horror movies, claiming that it was “annoying to watch people scream” because it’s “a f**king horrible noise.” Which is fair enough. But rather than simply replacing each scream with an air horn or slide whistle effect, Rose questioned how someone would “really respond” when coming face to face with a creature like Candyman. And in the end, he went with hypnosis.

Yup, for any scene where star Virginia Madsen was “going to come into contact with the Candyman,” Rose decided “that it was best to actually hypnotize her.” That way, the character of Helen would seem as if she was in an otherworldly trance. Madsen and Rose went to a real-life hypnotist who put the actress under and gave the director a “keyword” to do the same – which in retrospect, seems like it should have warranted a quick phone call to HR.

The plan worked. According to Madsen, once she was hypnotized on set, she “really couldn’t see the crew,” and “all the lights became very, very blurry” because her pupils were dilated.  But after Madsen couldn’t recall an entire day of shooting, the technique “pissed her off a little bit,” and she understandably put an end to the Las Vegas stage show approach to these scenes. Though, to be fair, the same strategy worked out for Werner Herzog.

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Thumbnail: TriStar Pictures

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