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Jon Towlson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781911325543

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781911325543.001.0001

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Urban Legends, Urban Myths: Adapting Candyman

Urban Legends, Urban Myths: Adapting Candyman

(p.33) 2. Urban Legends, Urban Myths: Adapting Candyman

Jon Towlson

Liverpool University Press

This chapter looks at ways in which Candyman (1992) offers a discourse on urban myth, and how it utilises actual urban legends such as ‘Bloody Mary’. Social scientists and folklorists have theorised that such urban legends construct and reinforce the worldview of the group within which they are told, sometimes through an acting out of the legends themselves: a form of ‘ostension’. In Candyman, that worldview speaks of minority oppression and the outward projection of the dispossessed as Other. Despite Clive Barker's then-unawareness of the term ‘urban legend’, a number of classic urban myths already appear in ‘The Forbidden’, including the tale of the hook, razorblades in sweets, and the public toilet castration. Bernard Rose would develop the self-reflexive aspects of the story in his adaptation, the sense that the story is very much about itself, about the experience of horror and the nature of campfire storytelling.

Keywords:   Candyman, urban myth, urban legends, Bloody Mary, ostension, minority oppression, Clive Barker, Bernard Rose, horror, campfire storytelling

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