by Rob Rector

Filmmakers Joshua Zeman and Rachel Mills fashion themselves as a real-life Mulder and Scully in Killer Legends, the new film from Zeman, who created “Cropsey,” one of the more generally creepy documentaries of the last few years.

Their assignment? Urban legends such as ‘The Hook,’ ‘Candyman,’ ‘When A Stranger Calls,’ and ‘Killer Clowns.’ Most of these have been retrofitted into various horror films throughout the ages, but Zeman and Mills are determined to get the root of these oft-shared scary stories.

Even a cursory glance at disproves the entire “Candyman” legend. We’ve often been told of fearing various pins, razor blades and poison that our crotchety old neighbors have laced in our Halloween loot.

Killer Legends
Written & Directed by
Joshua Zeman
Rachel Mills, Joshua Zeman
Release Date
Out Now
Rob’s Grade: D

The story is as old as trick-or-treating itself. But in all these years, there has never been a single incident confirmed of a child being poisoned by tampered candy. Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself. So not only does the entire segment fall flat against the weight of evidence, but they also further dig a hole for themselves by casing a neighborhood in which a father, the “Candyman,” had poisoned his own son and head to the house to confront its current owners about the tragedy that happened decades ago. The fact that the house’s current resident was a sweet, elderly lady seems just cruel and unnecessary.

But on and on they press — stirring up old kettles to no new conclusions, resolutions or information.

Who does Zeman interview to set the record straight on what the future may hold for these sleepy little towns? Local teenagers, not really a bastion of knowledge on the subject matters of which they speak and more prone to fueling the campfires at which they can tell their next boogeyman tale.

It all seems like a set-up to some ghost-hunting reality show the two pitched (almost like a TMZ of horror), but which never came to fruition. For all his dramatic voice-overs, creepy John Carpenter-esque piano-tickling soundtrack and film clips of horror films based on these tiny threads of truth, Zeman’s film feels like a cheap troll to kick up more dust by merely name dropping former murderers and stringing them together with the two racing around the country to look at old gravesites and talking about their own research.

Had this been, oh, 1985?, this perhaps may have been a more effective documentary. But with the ability to check the sources of these myths with the push of a few buttons on our smartphones, resurrecting these tales seems like nothing more than Nancy Grace-style murder porn of the lowest common denominator.