CABRINI-GREEN : THE TRUE HORROR OF CANDYMAN



"Be my victim."

In 1992 director Bernard Rose adapted a short novella by Clive Barker entitled "The Forbidden" into a big screen horror film. That film would become Candyman. It starred Virginia Madsen as Helen Lyle, a Chicago Grad Student doing a thesis on urban legends,  and Tony Todd in a career defining role as the titular boogeyman. The following year it hit home video and my friends and I (probably in our final year of Junior High at the time) finally got around to seeing it. I still remember going over to my buddy Joey's apartment on a Saturday night, his dad, Bruce had rented it for us to watch (Thanks Bruce). I still remember the "ooooh shit" moment we both had as soon as the opening credits started playing and Philip Glass' brilliantly haunting score began to blare out of the surround sound. We knew were in for something frightening and different. Turns out, it was one of the scariest movies we had seen in a long time. We were a group of kids who were always watching horror films, renting whatever we could from the video store or staying up late watching Joe Bob Briggs or movie channels hoping for a new horror flick to show up. So we were not newcomers to horror and didn't particularly scare easy. Candyman scared us, it scared our other friends when they watched it, it scared alot of people. 


Over the years since it's release it has garnered heaps of praise and is regarded as a classic. It has found itself in my personal top 3 horror films and more than likely won't be moved from there at this point. I originally intended to write this article as a normal retrospective of the film and my experience with it, however that ended up kind of boring to me and was not letting me talk about the part of the film I always found the most fascinating and frightening. As most will know by now Candyman revolves around the story of Helen Lyle who is researching urban legend, particulalry the growing number of tales she is hearing from interviewees about the mythical figure of Candyman (the hook wielding ghost of Daniel Robitaille, a black man who was murdered in an act of racism during the civil war era ) The stories hook (no pun intended) was that if you look in a mirror and say his name 5 times, he will appear behind you. So it's basically the classic "bloody Mary" legend with a twist. Now Candyman as stated before was a frightening film, Tony Todd's portrayal of the ghostly figure was as perfect a performance as you will see. He played him with a gentlemanly quality and always spoke to his soon to be victims in a poetic dialogue, right before he would split them from "groin to gullet" with his large rusty hook jammed into the stump where his hand used to be. The film is full of creepy imagery, well earned scares, superb gore and overall extremely well put together. Still rather than go into detail about the film, recap and dissect it which I originally intended to do, I decided to talk about the thing that gives the film it's truly unique take on the old boogeyman story, it's location, the infamous Cabrini-Green housing projects of Chicago. 


"An entire community starts attributing the daily horrors of their lives to a mythical figure" 

One of the boldest choices by director Bernard Rose was setting his film in Cabrini-Green. For so long horror had been relegated to the old mansions, backwoods towns and of course the suburbs. 1988's Child's Play also set it's story in urban Chicago, including some of the more downtrodden parts of the city, still the majority of it takes place in the middle class confines of the Barclay family apartment. Candyman on the other hand brought supernatural horror to the ghetto and did so with the blight of the area being an integral part of the story. It's mythology was firmly rooted in the projects and it's director was adamant that it was important to set it in Cabrini-Green, regardless of the obvious obstacles and dangers of shooting in such an area. The Cabrini presented in Candyman is far different from the one J.J. Dynamite Evans and family called home on the classic t.v. show "Good Times". The films story starts out with Helen being told the story of a murder that occurred in Cabrini, where a woman named Ruthie Jean was killed by someone who came through the walls in her apartment. When Helen and research partner Bernadette head to Cabrini to investigate they are initially "greeted" by gang members (who were actual real gang members given parts in the film to ensure their cooperation and the safety of the production crew) eventually eluding them and making their way up to the apartment where the murder occurred, the residents all seem to blame the murder on The Candyman. Helen and Bernadette soon meet Ruthie Jeans neighbor Anne-Marie McCoy who proceeds to tell them the story of what happened from her point of view. Ann-Marie is a stark contrast to the Gang Members whom they encountered in the lobby area. I bring these points up for two reasons, the first and most important being that while the general belief exists that these areas in real life are populated with nothing more than dangerous criminals, the actual truth is that there are plenty of good people in the community just trying to live their lives and raise their children safely among the crime. Ann-Marie makes this clear to Helen and also states how Ruthie Jean called for help yet no police came till it was too late, she then adds "Everybody is scared, he could come right through these walls you know, I'm scared, scared for my child...they ain't never gonna catch him.." "Who?" Helen asks. "Candyman."


The reason I bring up that portion of the story first is because the entire Anne-Marie McCoy/ Ruthie Jean tale in which the movie builds a large part of its story around is inspired by an actual case that occurred in Chicago's Grace Abbot housing projects. The horrific true story of Ruthie Mae McCoy (see the similarities?) is one that I came across while researching the film online. Upon reading up on it, it becomes clear this is where the movie makers drew their inspiration/concepts for the Ruthie Jean/Candyman murders set up of the film. While I didn't know about the true story till 22 years after the film was released, nonetheless it's chilling stuff. On April 22nd, 1987, Between 8:45 and 9:00 pm, Ruthie Mae McCoy was shot and killed by someone who gained access to her apartment via the passageway behind her medicine cabinet. It would take police a day and a half to enter her apartment to discover her body. The in depth news article I read detailing the crime and it's aftermath entitled "They Came In Through The Bathroom Mirror" was written by Chicago writer Steve Bogira in 1987. It is a fascinating piece that details the horrors of the Chicago Housing Authority properties. He also wrote a follow-up regarding Candyman and its similarities to his article along with his conversations with Illinois native John Malkovich that may or may not have lead to the film being green lit. I highly recommend reading the full article because it is as fascinating as it is sad. While judging on his follow up article I get the impression Steve was not a fan of the film and also seemed to feel it exploited the people of the projects living situations, while there certainly is a bit of merit to that sentiment,  I personally feel otherwise and respectfully disagree. Nonetheless without Bogira article perhaps no one would know Ruthie Mae McCoys story and perhaps Candyman would be a far different film than what we have come to know. Director Bernard Rose has always been adamant about his desire to give his film social undertones and bring light to real life issues through the horror. In a 1992 article in Fangoria magazine entitled "Demons of the Mind" he stated "My element of social criticism asks how people can be expected to live in squalor, because the housing authority has allowed Cabrini Green to rot instead of trying to maintain it." Growing up in New York City, I have been to my fair share of housing projects in my life, some good, some bad. Some I felt perfectly comfortable in, others I knew it was probably better if I didn't hang around after it got dark. Cabrini-Green by all accounts from reading and speaking to friends from Chicago was a place that there was absolutely no reason to go near.


"I'm not trying to scare you Helen, I just want you to think okay? The gangs hold this whole neighborhood hostage."

While the tragic Ruthie Mae McCoy murder took place at the Grace Abbot housing project, it's film counterpart was set amid the ominous concrete towers of Cabrini-Green. Star Virgina Madsen who grew up in Chicago stated "Growing up here, I knew all about Cabrini-Green, you didn't even drive by there, let alone enter on foot."  In the film Helen (Madsen) discovers the hard way that initially it was a leader of a Cabrini based gang called the Overlords using the well known name of the mythical figure to cause fear throughout the neighborhood. By committing a series of seemingly mysterious murders in his name, such as Ruthie Jean's and that of a young boy, leaving his calling written calling card "Sweets to the Sweet" on  the walls where he committed the acts, he lead the residents to believe these crimes were committed by a supernatural being rather than man of flesh and blood. Helen being attacked by this man and left for dead eventually leads to his arrest, thus proving to residents that there was no Candyman and their belief of him begins to dwindle, prompting the REAL Candyman to prove his doubters wrong. While the gang culture in the film is touched upon often and part of the story, it is still a movie about a ghost, a monster, a boogeyman. However when it comes to the reality of this real life location, its reputation precedes it. In a 1992 interview Candyman himself Tony Todd had this to say about some of his experience filming in such a notorious area "I tried to come there with no expectations, but I still felt fear. Anybody who didn't belong there was subject to Danger. The Cops told me to keep my eyes on the rooftops for snipers, and then I ran into a woman and her two children, they were hustling back from the grocery store before it got too dark, and thought the film security people were cops, she asked us when we were going to clean the projects up, which really got to me." This exchange stands out for many reasons, but the two that pertain to this article are 1. The area is known for being extremely dangerous and 2. The woman knows it is and still has no choice but to live there. This is also illustrated in the film by the characters of Anne Marie as well as the young boy Jake who befriends Helen early on in the film. Good people stuck in a bad situation trying to make the best of it. That was sadly a reality for many residents of Cabrini-Green. It truly was Hell on earth. Gangs did in fact hold the area hostage, The "Gangster Disciples" or "GD's" were the dominant gang in the area and they are the same gang members who can be seen in the film, throwing up signs in the scene where Helen and Bernadette first arrive at Cabrini. The same gang that as stated before had to be put in the film as extras in order to be "allowed" to film there and assure the crews safety, and while there were no incidents with the cast and crew, there is the well known anecdote of one of the aforementioned snipers putting a bullet through the crews van. 



Cabrini-Green had become so dangerous in it's later years that at times police could not even respond to calls, the buildings became what were essentially fortresses for the gangs. Benard Rose stated "It's not a safe place, it's a place that police did not have control over" As seen throughout the film, the walkways for the towers on each floor were covered with a steel fencing, closing off the previously open aired areas, this was done initially as a safety precaution but unfortunately lead to it being used as cover for snipers and became a hindrance to police trying to access the buildings but would be unable to see who might be standing armed in those areas who occupied vacant apartments, tearing down walls in order to have an escape route whenever police did do their raids. The good people who resided in Cabrini received little assistance from the Chicago Housing Authority. What you saw in the film, the sparse playing fields,and graffiti laden hallways were only the tip of the iceberg. Broken windows, lights, clogged trash chutes went unattended for months at a time. Some stairwells were even pitch black due to the lights being broken while elevators in those same buildings were out of service. 

photo by Matt Tuteur
Murders sadly had become common place in this area, whether it was related to the gangs that called Cabrini home or others who saw the wild west nature of the property as an opportunity to do wrong. It just became a normal occurrence. Officers annually closed the streets to Cabrini on New Years Eve to keep any traffic out of the area as gangs would take to the streets firing their weapons any and every direction in a blatant display of disregard for the law. One of the most saddening occurrences was the accidental shooting of Dantrell Davis. He was 7 year old boy shot and killed by a gang member from one of the high rises who was aiming for a rival gang member. Dantrell Davis was holding his mothers hand as they walked to school when it happened. His tragic death would become one of the main factors over the neighborhoods lifespan that finally caused the city to take action. 


In 1997, 5 years after Candyman would bring the area it's most widespread notoriety, the city came out with a plan for redeveloping the neighborhood that would spell the end for Cabrini-Green. Many tenants were relocated throughout the city and the surrounding area was being rebuilt as a mixed income community. The last Cabrini-Green high rise was demolished on March 30th of 2011. Many of it's former residents who were not involved in the gangs and drugs have good things to say despite the horrific living conditions and dangers Cabrini presented to them on a daily basis. Proof that life is what you make it. Many good people certainly resided here, in fact I would be confident in guessing MORE good people than bad resided in Cabrini, however the influential power of the bad unfortunately outweighed the good. Still the good people spoke of friendships discovered and memories made. Even some who were affected by tragedy and crime still spoke fondly of it and did not want to leave. It was their home, their community and many of those people had bonded amid the hardships and had plenty of enjoyable times. No gang could change that. 

photo by Marc Poekempner
I remember after the film came out everyone now knew about Cabrini-Green, I remember in our old neighborhood we had an apartment building with an entirely boarded up, burned out floor, of course being kids, we eventually gained access to this floor and constantly drew comparisons to the burnt out apartment Helen and Bernadette enter to investigate the Ruthie Jane murder. It was scary for us to enter that hallway, not knowing what was in it, I remember there being talk of someone spray painting the Candyman face and "sweets to the sweet" on the walls, I also dont remember if I actually ever saw them or just pictured them via peoples stories, but everyone in the neighborhood would call that building Cabrini-Green for a while because of that floor, that stayed that way for years. While we knew it wasn't anywhere close to being the dangerous place Cabrini was, it was still an example of the influence Candyman had on people at the time. For years Cabrini-Green was synonymous with a danger and crime. While the rest of the United States along with Chicago had other housing projects reported to be just as dangerous or at times worse such as the Robert Taylor homes and the ABLA houses, they weren't put on display in a popular movie that we watched over and over again throughout our lives. 


Bring up the name Cabrini Green to horror fans and chances are they know exactly what you are talking about. However, chances are they don't know much more beyond what the movie showed, I took interest for whatever reason and wanted to find out more and wouldn't say I was shocked by how a prominent city such as Chicago could let such a large community turn into a war zone as much as I was just morbidly intrigued by the horrifying nature of it all. Gone forever are the looming towers where lives were lived, ended and lost. The residents have all moved on with their lives no doubt with the memories of Cabrini-Green etched into their minds. Candyman now serves as a bit of a time capsule for them as well as us. It's become one of those all time horror films that introduced the world to a now classic horror character. Still most people who have seen the movie won't ever know that the neighborhood was demolished. They won't know how severe the situation was while the gangs essentially held the neighborhoods hostage. Nor will they ever know the true stories of Ruthie Mae McCoy or Dantrell Davis. While the hook wielding spirit of Candyman is fictitious, The horrors and ghosts left behind by Cabrini-Green are all too real.

photo by David Schalliol



Our Favorite Films of 2014


The new year is almost upon us, so it's time to bring you all a list of our favorite films of 2014 to close it all out. While we wont lie and say we have seen every horror film released this year, we have however seen the majority of them. Our list here isn't some kind of wanna be definitive end all be all list as much as it is a recap of our thoughts and impressions on the years films. We start with the horror films, however we also have included some of our favorite non horror films from the year as we simply cannot overlook how much we enjoyed them. We ALSO have included some words on a few films that we WERE NOT particularly impressed by or that let us down.

Our Top 5  Horror Films of 2014 

STARRY EYES:
Directed by Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer



Starry Eyes is the story of an aspiring actress named Sarah (played to perfection by Alexandra Essoe) who gets more than she bargained for when she thinks she lands the role of a lifetime for a fictitious film company "Astraeus Pictures". The film explores the cutthroat nature of Hollywood and the struggle anyone trying to get into the business will encounter,and  by all accounts it hits the mark more often than not. Right down to the aspiring filmmakers and actresses who constantly talk about doing things, instead of actually doing them. Things get weird after Sarah's audition for the aforementioned studio goes not as planned, then after they get weird they get grim, and extremely gory. There were some scenes in the film that were so brutal and gross (in a good horror movie way) that they were absolutely cringe inducing and I definitely squinted a time or two.  Without going into full review mode I will say Starry Eyes won me over early on based on the strength of the lead actress, interesting story hook, and the sense of style that it was shot with. Also have to give much credit to it's excellent synth tinged score by Jonathan Snipes. Overall this was probably my favorite (actual) horror film this year. As I just stated I am a sucker for style and a good score, and Starry Eyes has that in throughout but also has the very important performance by Alexandra Essoe which pulls you into the compelling tale of what one woman would sacrifice to achieve her dream. Of all the horror films you see this year, I also feel this one will provide you with the most horrific imagery of them all.



DELIVER US FROM EVIL:
Directed by Scott Derrickson


I am a big fan of director Scott Derrickson's previous two films "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" and "Sinister" which is one of my new modern favorites. So I was excited to check out "Deliver Us From Evil" when it hit theaters this summer. While I know many horror fans are sick and tired of possession and exorcism themed films and others were not fans of this flick I ended up enjoying it. I too was pretty burnt out on these type of films, but I knew Derrickson would bring a fresh take on it and inject it with the same artistry he used in his prior works. The urban New York City setting and angle of it being told from an NYPD Sergeant's perspective was a big plus for me. Derrickson does a great job utilizing the locations to help capture an extremely dark and dreary rain drenched atmosphere that gives the proceedings an ominous vibe. The story revolves around Sgt. Ralph Sarchie's pursuit of a demonically possessed war vet is pretty straight forward and simple but its Derrickson's eye that elevates the material to a height a lesser director might not have been able to achieve.  Actors Eric Bana and Edgar Ramirez play the roles well of the Sgt and Priest caught up in the supernatural occurences (though Bana's attempt at a New York accent could use some work) Joel McHale also provides a noteworthy performance as Bana's partner on the force.So what you get here is a good combination of the cop thriller,creepy horror with enough human drama to make you care about it all. Overall I really enjoyed this different twist on demonic possession, the class that it's all handled with here made "Deliver Us From Evil" one of the better horror films of 2014. 



UNDER THE SKIN:
Directed by Jonathan Glazer


Under the Skin is a movie that I am not totally sure how it ended up here in my favorites of the year list, let alone my top 5. My initial reaction upon seeing this in the theater was and I quote "oooookaaaaay.....?" I wasn't sure what I just watched or if I even liked it. Truthfully while I found plenty of it to be haunting and creepy, I thought it was way too artsy and meandering for it's own good. I actually STILL think that to an extent. So why or how did it make my list? A funny thing happened after a while, the movie stayed with me, I kept thinking about it, the eerie portions of this film had made their mark. Scarlett Johannson plays the role of the cold blooded sensual predator to a T here. The basic story for those that don't know is Scarlett Johannson is an alien prowling the streets of Scotland looking for prey (men). It's been said that alot of the scenes in which she drives around and approaches men on the street were unscripted and shot with hidden cameras, this only adds to the creepy nature of it all. To see her turn on the charm then go ice cold the minute she realizes they do not fit her criteria is chilling. This film is certainly NOT for everyone and I wouldn't fault anyone who can't get into it. It's an extremely slow burn and very abstract to boot and the horror elements could have been capitalized on a tad more, but I think with the right frame of mind, many horror fans will be won over by the haunting imagery, creepy situations and the amazingly eerie score by Mica Levi that is a character in the film all it's own. There is plenty more that can be said about this flick, but I will leave you with this. If a film keeps you thinking about it long after you have seen it and can still manage to creep you out in some way, that is the sign of an effective horror movie. Also pick up that score wherever you can, it's brilliant and easily one of the best of the year if not THE best. 






THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (2014)
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon


I am not a big fan of the original "The Town That Dreaded Sundown" I barely actually remember anything about it. Im sure some fans will say thats "blasphemy" but I know others will agree, it is more a popular name than anything. The point of that diatribe is that I had no feelings on the fact that this was being remade as the original is not an important film for me. However one of my buddies mentioned that he enjoyed this version a great deal. So I went ahead and checked it out last night while compiling this list and I must say while not a perfect film, It was definitely one of the best slashers I have seen in a while. The beautiful camera work here really helps set it apart from other horror movies of this kind and the attack scenes and the gore that follows are absolutely brutal. Instead of being a straight up remake, The Town That Dreaded Sundown exists in a world where the original film exists AS a film, about the actual murders. In this world someone has decided to "remind" everyone that "the phantom" has returned. That prior sentence may be confusing to read, but you will get it as soon as you watch the opening minutes. I think it was a really great way to play it and it caught my interest. The cast here sprinkled with well known character actors all help elevate the film to something better than it has any right to be. I had alot of fun with this one and would suggest it to every fan of the slasher genre, even with its ending which felt a bit rushed and slightly "eh" it still leaves an impression on you and I look forward to what the director does next. 




THE GUEST:
Directed by Adam Wingard


The Guest TECHNICALLY in my book IS NOT a horror film. However, it still fits into the horror movie category for a variety of reasons in my book. It's inspirations come from plenty of old school horror/thriller films such as the Terminator and various Halloween films/sequels. The badass synth score by Steve Moore could have easily come from a Carpenter film of that era. To top everything off the entire movie takes place during the Halloween season. The Guest is one of my favorite films overall this year and is just a really fun throwback film. The advertising and marketing didnt really do a good job at all of getting across just how unique this film is. I personally would have loved to have been tasked with figuring out how to market this to audiences. To read more about it here is the link to our full review from when it was released theatrically. THE GUEST full review

Of all the marketing materials out there this teaser trailer does the best job of not giving away too much yet still cluing you in as to what type of movie this is. 



HONORABLE MENTION:

THE BABADOOK:
Directed by Jennifer Kent


This was one of my most anticipated films of the year, As I sat down to watch it, I was hoping I would love it, once I was finished, I did not love it. The Babadook is a good film. There is no denying that.The production design is very well done and influenced greatly by German expressionism. The acting by Essie Davis who plays the mother Amelia and Noah Wiseman who plays the son Samuel is exceptional. There are moments throughout in the beginning of the film that are extremely creepy. However what the trailer sells us on and what the movie actually turned out to be were for me two different things. I won't spoil it, but after watching it and then viewing it a second time since I was really tired during my first viewing, I came to the conclusion that its just a good film, but not the horror film I wanted or was expecting based on the trailer. As a matter of fact I would say the trailer below is a better horror film than the actual movie turned out to be. Of course my opinion seems to be in the minority, but I have discussed it with a few friends who have seen it and we have often agreed on the fact that it is just not the masterpiece everyone is claiming it is. My personal feeling on it is that while I am all for having to draw conclusions of my own after viewing a movie, (ie Under The Skin) things in the movie have to add up and make SOME sense for me to do that and I feel that isn't always the case here. ALL that being said I would still recommend checking it out as I look for specific things in my horror and while this didn't fully deliver it is certainly worth your time to see if it do so for you. 





OUR FAVORITE NON-HORROR FILMS OF THE YEAR

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Directed by Matt Reeves


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes completely blew me away. It is my film of the year and I have urged everyone who hasn't to watch it immediately. The Performance by Andy Serkis as Caesar is Oscar worthy. Never before has a cgi character been so easy to relate with and root for. The FX work is astounding and the movie gets better with each watch. I wont go into too much detail but if you enjoyed Rise of the Planet of the Apes, absolutely check out Dawn. 


GODZILLA
Directed by Gareth Edwards


Godzilla was my sentimental pick for movie of the year. Dawn of the Apes was the better movie, but Godzilla was the best theater going experience I have had this year and one I won't soon forget. The gist of my love for this film lies in my life long love for the titular character. Coupled with a genius marketing campaign. This film brought him back to audiences with respect and class and I was so extremely happy about that. I wrote a much more in depth review of Godzilla back on opening night and while I wrote it hastily to get it finished, all the sentiment and info is there.You can check that out here: Godzilla full review






CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
Directed by the Russo Brothers


I love comic books, and in a year full of comic book films, Captain America was simply the best. Guardians of the Galaxy was a blast but for me Cap delivered on every level, action, story, emotion. It raised the stakes for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I cannot wait to see how it affects the rest of the stories going forward. 










Blood, Babes, & Boogeymen: The Recap


Blood, Babes, & Boogeymen was one of our main projects for during this past October. The concept was to take a minimalist approach and have our models portray feminine versions of some of horror's most iconic characters. We received a great response to all the individual shoots when we revealed them one by one throughout October. Now that we have had a chance to catch our breath here after the hectic Halloween season, we wanted to revisit this project and shine some new light on it, as some may have gotten overlooked during everything that was going on last month. So here we are revealing a previously unseen photo from each set followed by a link to it's previous post so you can check out any you may have missed. So without further ado...

MARILYN SAYS "YOU'RE NEXT"
The first set we unveiled features Marilyn donning an outfit inspired by the Fox masked killer from director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett's film "You're Next". These were a big hit and even prompted Simon Barrett himself to post the photos and a link to our site on his Facebook page, which for us was the highest compliment. 


To see the rest from this set click here.


DEB REVS UP HER TEXAS CHAINSAW
Next up we have our homage to everyone's favorite skin mask wearing slasher, Leatherface. Deb was great to shoot with and excited to represent Bubba Sawyer in our series. It takes alot to make Leatherface sexy and Deb did it with ease. We love how they turned out and hope you will as well. 



To see the rest from this set click here.

8-BIT ERIKA
Moving on to Crystal Lake we have Erika portraying the ultra popular NES 8-BIT version of Jason Voorhees. Wanting to keep these sets colorful when possible, it was an obvious choice to go with and proved to be very popular. Erika being an avid gamer and already having that amazing hair color also made her the perfect choice to shoot this one with. 


To see the rest of this set click here.

KRYSTAL WILL MAKE SURE YOU NEVER SLEEP AGAIN
Of course, you can't do a Jason photoset without a Freddy Krueger one to compliment it. This whole project concept started from hanging out with Krystal one day and shooting something very similar to these, just for fun and to keep productive, so when it came down to doing them all for real, it was only right to redo the ones we originally took to include in this series. She is always great to work with and this time was no different.


To see the rest of this set click here.

SHEYLA IS READY FOR HALLOWEEN
We couldn't do a series of photos entitled Blood, Babes, and Boogeymen without honoring THE boogeyman. So it was really important to get the perfect model to portray Michael Myers and one look at these photos and we think you will agree, Sheyla was just that. 


To see the rest of this set click here.

As an added bonus here are the full bold colored versions of the images used in the header image for this feature.






















TrueHorror.net presents CARVED





Carved is something I had been working on little by little for about two years with my friend and frequent collaborator Holly. Initially conceived as simply a faux movie one sheet in 2012, it was after some thought and discussion that the decision was made to expand on the concept when I created the mask you see here to wear as a simple Halloween costume last year. The original plan was initially to film a short fake trailer, when I realized that unfortunately I didn't have access to the necessary equipment to do things the right way without half assing anything I scrapped that idea. The next plan was to tell a story sequentially in photos and have them posted on a separate site created especially for the project. Unfortunately due to scheduling circumstances beyond Holly's or myself's control we ran out of time to complete the necessary photography. However, that is not to say we didn't get to create some images that were cool on their own. These images you see here were created as promo images and faux one sheets in the vein of a film marketing/advertising campaign, these were a great deal of fun to work on and conceptualize and I am still totally pleased with the results. So while it is a bummer we weren't able to complete our original goal, We are proud of this set just the same and  we hope you still enjoy this look at what we were able to complete. I still feel all are strong, creepy and fun images that serve their purpose of garnering interest in the would be film and honor the spirit of Halloween, and who knows, there is always next year!

Carved 1st teaser one sheet


Carved 2nd teaser one sheet


















Evil Dead Diana



I have known Diana for many years now. She is definitely one of my favorite people I have met through this whole photography aspect of my life. We have since become great friends and I am always excited whenever the chance arises for us to collaborate on something. This time was no different.

We had these different photos of her laying in bed that on there own are great to begin with, but we wanted to turn them into something more. So the trick was to come up with something to do with them that turned them into "TrueHorror" photos. We thought about it for a while and she trusted that I would eventually come up with an idea that she would love. So after a week or two of staring at them and brainstorming, I came up with the idea of distorting her eyes into these white non pupil having ones, that in turn made me think of the "deadites" from the Evil Dead films. I loved the contrast of her black and white sweater and the orange sheets which further cemented the idea that I would hold off on showing these off till October as they fit perfectly. I also really dig how she is still able to exude sexiness even with her new creepy eyes. We are both really psyched with how they turned out and hope they help you all get into the mood for this horrifically wonderful time of year.










Blood, Babes, & Boogeymen : Marilyn Says You're Next


Welcome to the first day of our official "Blood, Babes, & Boogeymen" celebration. October, as all us horror fans know is the best time to celebrate the spooky and macabre for 31 days straight, culminating on Halloween. We here at TrueHorror.net thought it was the perfect time to take our tagline a bit more literal and create something ideal to help everyone get in the spirit of the season.
This set is the first in a series that we will reveal one at a time, each day this week. We are extremely excited to share these with everybody so without further ado...

Trick r' Treat with Sheyla


It is finally here, the day we have all been waiting for, Halloween. Our month long celebration of all things spooky has lead up to this one final day. If you are like me, you do your best to do something no matter how small, Halloween related each day so that you can get every last bit of October fun in before that before that dreaded Nov. 1st date rolls around. But for now, it is a time to rejoice and celebrate. It is a time to carry on traditions that started long before most of us were around. So carve your pumpkins and keep them lit, don your costumes, and most importantly check your candy. These rules are all well illustrated in one of my (and many others) favorite films "Trick r' Treat" It as I have written about before is the quintessential Halloween film. So I knew eventually I would want to do a photoset based on it sooner rather than later. It wasn't until Sheyz and I were shooting our Blood, Babes, and Boogeymen  stuff and I brought up the idea to her, that I knew I would be able to get it done, She was really excited at the prospect of being involved in this shoot based on a film she had a real affinity for. Knowing she was a big fan of Sam and the "Trick r' Treat" film just made me that much more enthusiastic to prepare and get this shoot done. 


The prep work was a large undertaking as I had to reconfigure my room to look like the scene which we were attempting to recreate, This involved adding wallpaper and the handwriting in blood, which I am glad I opted to do instead of doing it in photoshop as it just would have not been practical or turned out as well. On top of the wall alterations, there was the obvious pumpkin carving as well as the actual outfit Sheyz is wearing, which had to be dyed the appropriate color, along with the gloves which had to be altered as well to appear to be the correct material and color. The lighting was probably the most important aspect as I needed it to be moody and have a light source to represent the flame coming out of the pumpkin, and not just look like normal lighting. I also have to thank my friend Mirkala who was kind enough to help sew that part of the Sam mask at a very last minute, moments notice. I was really pleased with how it all turned out for doing it within a short time frame. When Sheyz showed up for the shoot, she was excited with how it all turned out and it was all this work that made the photos much easier to shoot. 

One thing I was not as concerned with was with Sheyla, I already knew that if I was able to pull everything on my end together that she would in turn do her part and provide me with some great shots and that is just what she did. Alot of these shots may look like they are easy to shoot and that they don't require much effort on her part, but it couldn't be further from the truth. While the poses themselves are easy for her and come natural. All the other factors involved are things she as the model needs to deal with and adjust to. Whether its a rotating light that just doesn't stand still, a very uncomfortable surface, or other unseen variables, she did a great job of doing everything necessary to make sure this photset is as great as we both wanted it to be in order to properly send off October on the site in style. I think you all will agree that once everything came together it certainly paid off. I couldnt be happier with these images and I am extremely proud with what we were able to produce with such a small prep window. The set up looks great and Sheyz looks amazing. We hope these images get you into the Halloween spirit and hope that we have made all the Trick r' Treat fans out there proud. Happy Halloween from Myself, Sheyla and TrueHorror.net