Killer Legends

This hair-raising two-hour event focuses on four timeless urban legends that continue to haunt the psyche of the American public. This horror documentary follows filmmakers Joshua Zeman and Rachel Mills as they investigate the true crimes that may have spawned these urban legends, while exploring how these myths evolved and why we continue to believe. The documentary probes the following legends:

The Candyman: The film travels viewers to Houston, Texas, to explore the legend of tainted candy that strikes fear in parents every Halloween. Though the legend is prolific, in actuality there is only one documented case of a child dying from tailnted candy: 8-year-old Timothy O’Bryan. Timothy was poisoned on Halloween by a real life monster who used the legend to hide his crime, earning him the nickname, The Candyman.

The Baby-Sitter and the Man Upstairs: As the legend goes, a babysitter tormented by a twisted caller, learns that the sadistic calls are coming from inside the house. While the babysitter has become the go-to victim in so many of our horror films, does the same hold true in real life? Tragically, the answer is yes - as our filmmakers discover in the unsolved murder of Janett Christman - a babysitter who was slain in Columbia, MO, in 1950. 

The Hookman: The filmmakers investigate the “Moonlight Murders” of Texarkana that some believe sparked "The Hook" urban legend of the 50s & 60s. Based upon the legend of two teens lovers terrorized by a madman with a hook for a hand, Killer Legends will investigate this real life case of a killer known as The Phantom, who in 1946 attacked five couples parked on lovers’ lanes. This unsolved crime that has created its own unique urban legend in Texarkana, perpetuated by a town that refuses to forget.

The Killer Clown: In Chicago, the filmmakers investigate the “phantom clown” scares that have been spontaneously occurring since the 1980s. In cities across the globe, clowns have been spotted in vans trying to snatch children. Is this just a case of hysteria, manifested by fears of coulrophobia (the fear of clowns), or is there something much more serious at work? Chicago’s creepy clown past, from John Wayne Gacy to Bozo, is explored in an attempt to answer the question of how clowns became so evil, and why they continue to haunt our nightmares.

Killer Legends is directed by Joshua Zeman, whose previous film was the critically-acclaimed 2010 horror documentary Cropsey. Killer Legends is produced by Gulp Pictures and Storyville Entertainment (A&E's Paranormal State, Psychic Kids, Animal Planet's The Haunted) in association with Gigantic Pictures (The Great Invisible, SXSW 2014, Goodbye Solo).

Killer Legends premieres Sunday, March 16th at 8pm ET.

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  • Joshua Zeman

    Joshua Zeman has been creating independent films for over 10 years.  His critically acclaimed horror documentary Cropsey, a critic’s pick with The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Roger Ebert, was called “one of the year’s best documentaries” and “one of the scariest films of the year” in 2010.

    Zeman recently directed the short, The Best Man for The Job, starring David Call (Two Gates of Sleep, Tiny Furniture). As a writer, his first screenplay, Fresh Kills, was optioned by Fine Line and Forensic Films. Most recently, Zeman received a 2012 MacDowell Colony Fellowship, and the 2013 San Francisco Film Society Screenwriting/Djerassi Residency Award for his screenplay, Collider. As a producer/co-producer, some of Zeman’s past credits include The Station Agent, Mysterious Skin, The Hawk is Dying, Choking Man, Against The Current and most recently Ceremony.

    Zeman has also served on the selection committee of the IFP West Screenplay Competition, Hamptons Screenwriting Lab, McKnight Screenplay Fellowship, and Sundance Screenwriting Labs.

  • Rachel Mills

    Rachel Mills is a film and television producer who started her career running the much lauded, Edit Center, selecting and shepherding documentary and narrative films through their award-winning workshop process. Some of the films she oversaw during her tenure included Winter's Bone, Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters, and Garbage Dreams. In 2010, Rachel produced A Matter of Taste, a feature documentary that profiles famed chef Paul Liebrandt. After premiering on HBO, the film won a James Beard Award and soon after received an Emmy nomination. In 2011, Mills left The Edit Center to travel the country as she field-produced one of cable television’s top-rated docu-series, American Pickers for the History Channel.

    Other than filmmaking, Rachel's passion lies in all things science fiction. That interest developed when she graduated, at age eight, from Silva Mind Control. She is currently developing an immersive theater performance drawn from her experiences growing up within the inner circle of the Jose Silva School of Mind Control in the 1970s. Indoctrinated in-utero to the Silva Mind Control Method, of which her grandmother was a founding member, Rachel was exposed to all forms of pseudoscience, from remote viewing and bending spoons, to going to one’s alpha “level” to program and heal the body through self-hypnosis.   

    Though she now has a healthy skepticism for pseudoscience, that dose of real-life science fiction opened her up to the tangential world of horror and folklore, culminating  in her an interest in the myths and legends from our page turners and campfires. She has recently focused her attention on the field of mythology and urban legend. For the past year, she has been researching urban legends by tracking down real people and real events that have helped to perpetuate the fantasy filled tales - parsing fact and fiction to get to the bottom of the legends we all know and have each had a hand in sustaining.