Tuesday, August 2, 2011
I've just watched a rather brilliant documentary called Cropsey. It starts off as an examination of the Statten Island urban legend known as Cropsey - the local neighbourhood bogeyman, a supposed homocidal escaped mental patient - and then develops into something much more terrifying that is based in fact.
Over the years, a lot of kids went missing from Statten Island, and a former staff member of the Willowbrook Mental Institution was blamed for at least one of them. Andre Rand was arrested and charged with the abduction and murder of a Down's Syndrome child, and the documentary delves into the story behind this terrible crime. Was Rand a lone killer, did he act with accomplices, or was he the puppet of a Satanic cult who used these kids in their rituals? The film looks at each of the urban myths and stories surrounding the case, theories elaborated upon by succesive generations of Statten Island citizens, and shows that the mythic Cropsey is still alive and kicking in the form of Andre Rand...because bogeymen, by nature, never die - even made-up ones.
We all have our own personal bogeymen, our scapegoats for the evil that men (and women) do, and sometimes story and reality can become so entwined that something even more terrifying is created. A lot of crime and horror fiction plays with this notion, and characters like Hannibal Lector are mixed up with real life killers so that the seperate identities blend, fusing together to form a whole that is part fact and part fiction. I find this cohesion between the myth and the reality fascinating, and, like the bogeymen of my youth, these figures walk the halls and corridoors of my mind, trying all the doors, peering out of the windows, and waiting to be heard...