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Real Hypnosis Was Used In The Making Of This Classic Horror Film

When written and directed properly, movies in the horror genre can masterfully discuss things much deeper than a serial killer murdering teenagers in bloody ways just for kicks. In recent years, the likes of Jordan Peele and Ari Aster will instantly come to mind as horror geniuses that embed poignant meaning into their projects, doing so with a disorientating flair. Peele's "Get Out" has widely been praised for its horrific deconstruction of systemic racism, while both Aster's "Hereditary" and "Midsommar" put the effects of grief under the microscope through a creepy cult lens

But the groundwork had actually already been laid decades before those films arrived in theaters. One 1992 horror classic tackled race issues and poverty through a terrifying supernatural force that cemented itself as one of the most iconic horror monsters of all time. Obviously, we're talking about "Candyman." Based on "The Forbidden," a short story by "Hellraiser" creator Clive Barker, the film sees the Cabrini-Green projects plagued by the titular villain (played by Tony Todd), which leads student Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) to investigate a string of grisly murders.

Tony Todd's Candyman is a truly terrifying force of nature in "Candyman" and its follow-up movies, seeking eternal revenge for being lynched in the 1800s. Helen forms a unique bond with him over the course of her investigation, even becoming a folklore tale herself by the end of the film. But to make her connection with the character feel even more authentic, Virginia Madsen and director Bernard Rose decided to use hypnotism to put the actress into a different mindset.

Hypnotism deepened connections

Candyman himself, Tony Todd, opened up about the unconventional technique when speaking to the Guardian in 2019. He explained that Bernard Rose memorized a hypnotism technique so that during the scenes between Candyman and Helen, Virginia Madsen would be in a trance state, allowing the pair to explore their characters in a deeper way. Todd also explained that this created a trusting relationship between the actors and their director.

"Bernard and Virginia had been to see a professional hypnotist together; every time she did a scene where I was involved, Bernard would take her aside for 10 minutes and hypnotize her with techniques he'd learned there," Todd told the Guardian. "This trance state allowed she and I both to probe deeper into our scenes and our characters. It created a real, three-way process of bonding and trust between her, me, and Bernard."

It's definitely an interesting way of creating a unique atmosphere between the two characters, but we're still never saying Candyman's name five times into a mirror. No chance.