In the days before CGI and VFX became the norm in movie-making, practical effects were the way to go. Horror hounds in particular are known for mourning the move away from practical effects, after all, they produced iconic scenes such as the American Werewolf transformation, and the creature in The Thing. But what happened when your relatively low-budget early 90s horror movie needs an awful lot of bees? You hire a bee wrangler and 200,000 live bees of course.
That’s precisely what was needed for the cult classic horror Candyman and as you can imagine, this presented many challenges – not least the fact that star Virginia Madsen was allergic to bee stings. Tony Todd, who plays the titular villain, shrewdly negotiated in his contract a $1,000 bonus for every sting he received, which netted him $23,000.
Bee wrangler Norman Gary deliberately used bees that were only 12 hours old and controlled them with pheromones. For the infamous scene in which bees spew forth from Todd’s mouth an – ahem – dental dam was used and it took half an hour to add all of the bees into his mouth – according to FilmSchoolRejects.
A hypnotist was also used on set, which probably helped the actors with the horrific bee situation but was also to get a certain reaction from Madsen during the scene. Regarding her bee allergy, Madsen was reassured that paramedics would be on set, which was apparently enough to convince her to do the scene — that, and learning that she was more allergic to wasps than bees.
It sounds like having to remain perfectly still and calm while tickly bees crawl all over your face was the biggest challenge. Madsen told HorrorNewsNetwork; “When they put the bees on me it was crazy because they have fur. They felt like little Q-tips roaming around me. Then you have pheromones on you, so they’re all in love with you and think you’re a giant queen.” According to Madsen, the longest part of the process was removing the bees, which required the use of a tiny bee vacuum. Reportedly the process took 45 minutes, during which it was very hard to sit still.
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