a Creative Latin Composition Inspired by Bernard Rose’s Candyman (1992)1
INTRA DIAETAM CDIV — NOCTE2
MOVENS CUM HELENĀ
Helena3 per diaetam discussam viam dat, lucillā4 facis semitam illuminanti.
INTRA BALNEUM — NOCTE
Helena armario medicamentorum pendenti in pariete se opponit5; quod6 tarde aperit. In inani lumen luteum longe fulget. Animum7 augens illa per foramen ascendit.
INTRA CONCLAVE SANGUINEUM — NOCTE
Helena in primum cubiculum cruore aspersum repit. Paucae candelae lucem tenuem in solo spuunt. Illa per foramen in secundum conclave ascendit.
EXTRA SECUNDUM FORAMEN — NOCTE
Helena ex ore imaginis Cuppediatoris emergit. Uncus desuper descendens in faciem Helenae tundit. Ea agiliter resalit videtque se ad unum uncorum lanii qui de tecto pendent offendisse8. Uncum de orbi eius tollit; nunc telum Helenae9 est. Ad magnum foramen situm in extremo conclavis illa ambulat. Est inane atrum. Radius facis lucentis longinquum parietem tangere non potest. Sonus stillicidiorum10 in lacunas labentium ex inani RESONAT. Quicquid ultra iacet, est vasta spelunca. Helena perscendit.
INTRA CUBILE11 CUPPEDIATORIS — NOCTE
Helena in pariete haerens per conclave atrum it12. Lucilla seriem picturarum muralium illuminat, quae ritu imaginum iter sancti pingentium13 praebent14:
Cuppediator per oppidum a grassatoribus feris agitatur. Vulgus spectat, quorum15 nemo misero opem fert.
Cuppediator denudatur atque manus serrā praeciditur.
Denique Cuppediator in saxis extensus examine apium ad mortem mordetur16.
De tenebris sonos ADSPIRATIONIS gravis tardaeque Helena audit. Luce obscurā17 trans ingens conclave, multis parietibus ad cavernosum locum intra aedificium creandum18 perfractis19, quoddam Helena videt. Est cubile20 de sanguineā lanii tabulā21 factum; cui incubat supinus Cuppediator dormiens. Helena illum tacite aggreditur, vibrans uncum et parata percutere.
Propius propiusque it, auscultans constantem Cuppediatoris ADSPIRATIONEM et orans ne ille expergiscatur22. Helena iam est tam propinqua ut uncum in caput eius condere23 possit24. Bracchium tollit.
Videmus faciem Cuppediatoris, oculis apertis25.
CUPPEDIATOR (leniter): Helena…
Illa uncum in cervicem condit26. Cuppediator vix tergiversatur atque eximit telum sicut spinam.
CUPPEDIATOR (voce iam summissā): Helena…
Subito sedet recte rapitque illam. Uncus e manu Helenae cadit. Oculi Cuppediatoris desiderio27 implentur.
CUPPEDIATOR: Venisti ad me. Deposueram spem, at animus meus gaudio impletur. Mea eris28?
Uncum suum29 in tergo ponit, eleganter complectens Helenam. Saltare eam cogit.
CUPPEDIATOR: …in aeternum?
Saltant per conclave, sicut solo supernatant. Cum saltant, Cuppediator unco tergum Helenae tarde mulcet. Uncus cervicem palpat — primo leniter, deinde tali cum pressu30 ut cutem rubicundam incidat31. Helena in bracchiis illius tremit.
CUPPEDIATOR: Victima mea sis32.
CUPPEDIATOR: Pacti sumus33.
HELENA: Timida sum.
CUPPEDATIOR: Timesne dolorem, an quid ultra iaceat34?
CUPPEDIATOR: Dolorem fore35 dulcissimum iuro…quod attinet ad36 infinitum37 ipsum…in morte stabilitas nobis38 non est. Fama39 nostra in centum parietibus et decem milia oribus pingetur. Si quis40 de nobis iterum dubitet, dulcedine41 invocari42 semper possumus43.
Special thanks to Allie Pohler.
¹ This composition is primarily inspired by Bernard Rose’s original screenplay for Candyman (1992). I chose this section because it focuses on the horror of Candyman’s origins, as well as the tragic love story playing out between Candyman and Helen. The screenplay naturally differs from the movie in certain details and dialogue, but I tried to incorporate moments and observations from the movie throughout my translation.
² Alright, let’s set the mood! I translated most of this comp to Philip Glass’s haunting score The Music of Candyman. The whole album is a revelation and worth listening to, but this section picks up at “Return to Cabrini.”
³ I placed Helena first in these initial scenes to reflect the audience’s POV as she enters Candyman’s lair, which focuses on Helen looking around (as opposed to what she sees); we shift to her POV when she focuses on the murals depicting Candyman’s death.
⁴ Helen uses a penlight in the movie, presumably from the nurse’s uniform that she stole in her escape from the psychiatric hospital. I wanted to form my own diminutive noun from lux, ‘light’ to reflect the penlight’s small and focused beam, so I added the diminutive suffix –illa to lux‘s base luc-, to mean ‘a little light’ (Allen & Greenough 243).
⁵ Se opponere, ‘to face, confront’ here because Helen is both literally facing the medicine cabinet as well as figuratively facing her fears, as she now knows what (and who) lies behind the cabinet. The verb can also have adversarial connotations, so I wanted to foreshadow Helen’s confrontation with Candyman.
⁶ quod: connecting relative with armarium
⁷ I had originally wanted to use virtus, which, like animus, can be translated as ‘courage,’ but additionally as ‘manliness’ and ‘military excellence.’ It’s a term typically applied to male heroes, so I thought it could be fun to play with gender here. However, my editor explained that virtus is often an external quality, demonstrated through military prowess and displays of masculinity; animus, on the other hand, reflects a courage that comes from within, which I think better describes what we see from Helen. I like how her relationship with fear and courage evolve throughout the movie. Her first time to Cabrini-Green, she walks in fearlessly (and, I’d argue, foolishly) and even taunts Bernadette for exercising reasonable caution. She isn’t scared by the stories of Candyman because she doesn’t believe in him. Compare this to Helen’s final visit to Cabrini-Green, after she’s experienced the real and deadly power of Candyman; her fear is palpable in this scene, but she’s nevertheless resolved to save baby Anthony and enters, knowing that she may not come out alive.
⁸ se…offendisse: indirect statement
⁹ dative of possession
¹⁰ I used the noun cubile for Candyman’s lair because it can indeed mean ‘lair, den’, but it also often translates to ‘marriage bed’ (fun fact: Vergil even uses cubile for ‘hive of bees’! cf. Verg. Georgics, 4.243). I wanted to play with this double-meaning in light of Candyman’s pursuit of and desire for Helen. I like reading this scene as something of a homecoming for Helen too.
¹¹ My editor and I had a hilarious time puzzling over how to translate ‘to move’ intransitively because movēre is primarily a transitive verb — it’s ire, ‘to go!’ *Picard facepalm*
¹² ritu imaginum iter sancti pingentium: ‘in the manner of paintings depicting the journey of a saint’; imaginum refers back to the Roman death masks worn in public funerals to honor the dead and reanimate their ancestors with their likenesses depicted in wax, cf. my first comp XOXO, Candyman: a Creative Latin Composition Inspired by Clive Barker’s “The Forbidden.” I also like the connection to Candyman’s past life as an artist (this detail was not in Rose’s original backstory for Candyman but was developed by Tony Todd). I used iter to describe Candyman’s passage through life (and death), as well as to echo Helen’s journey through Candyman’s lair and his story.
¹³ The true horror of Candyman — the lynching of Candyman. I switch to staccato sentences in the indicative here to keep the images of Candyman’s capture, torture, and death vivid and real.
¹⁴ antecedent is the collective noun vulgus
¹⁵ The movie regrettably doesn’t show a painting of Candyman being stung to death by bees. The screenplay doesn’t go into much detail here, but we learned in Purcell’s earlier speech that the men smashed the hives of a nearby apiary and rubbed stolen honeycomb on Candyman’s prone body.
¹⁶ I separated luce obscurā from the main verb videt to reflect the effort it takes Helen to make sense of the chaos and confusion of Candyman’s lair.
¹⁷ ad cavernosum locum…creandum: I love me a purpose gerundive
¹⁸ multis parietibus…perfractis: ablative absolute
¹⁹ cubile again, here with its other meaning ‘marriage bed’
²⁰ de sanguineā…tabulā: ablative of source or material
²¹ ne…expergiscatur: negative indirect command
²² I chose the verb condere, ‘to thrust or strike in deep, to plunge,’ which Ovid uses to describe Hecuba’s fingers thrusting into Polymestor’s eyes as she avenged her son’s death; cf. Ovid, Met. 13.561). Ovid’s Metamorphoses (specifically the story of Philomela) was my first foray into horror — I mean, does anyone write body horror as well as Ovid? — so I wanted to gesture to him here.
²³ ut…possit: result clause
²⁴ oculis…apertis: ablative absolute with an implied participle of esse (Allen & Greenough, 419a)
²⁵ Quick, impactful sentences reflect the action ramping up. It should feel easier to move through these sentences as we’re focused on the back-and-forth between Candyman and Helen.
²⁶ I employed romantic and emotional language throughout this dialogue to express Candyman’s twisted love for Helen (e.g., desiderio, gaudio, complectens, mulcet, etc.).
²⁷ I omitted the interrogative particle –ne per Allen & Greenough 332a, which says when –ne is omitted, “it is often doubtful whether the sentence is a question or an ironical statement.” Can Helen truly deny Candyman’s will here?
²⁸ I used the reflexive adjective with uncum suum, ‘his own hook’ here to distinguish between the two hooks in this scene: the butcher hook Helen is using as a weapon (which has just fallen out of her hand), and Candyman’s hooked hand. I wanted to clarify that uncus from here on out refers to Candyman’s own hook.
²⁹ tali cum pressu: ablative of manner
³⁰ ut…incidat: result clause
³¹ jussive subjunctive
³² i.e., Helen for baby Anthony
³³ quid…iaceat: indirect question
³⁴ Dolorem…dulcissimam: indirect statement with fore (the future infinitive of esse); fore is rare, but I wanted to capture that Candyman’s speech and tone here feels formal and from another time.
³⁵ quod attinet ad (c. acc), ‘as for’
³⁶ cf. Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, 2.1044-1045
³⁷ dative of possession
³⁸ Candyman is concerned with crafting their mythological narrative in the public eye. How will they be remembered? I also appreciate fama‘s alternate translation of ‘rumor,’ as Candyman often refers to himself, “I am rumor,” a line which also inspired the title of both my Candyman comps, cf. Gossip Girl 😉
³⁹ quis = aliquis; “After si, nisi, num, ne, all the ali-s fall away,” as I was taught my first year of Latin and re-taught dozens of times thereafter, every time I translated as ‘who.’
⁴⁰ I used both dulcissimam and dulcedine in Candyman’s final speech of this section to recall Candyman’s famous phrase, “Sweets to the sweet.”
⁴¹ The verb invocare, often used to invoke a god, emphasizes the ritualistic and otherworldly nature of calling Candyman. I also liked juxtaposing the idea of summoning Candyman (and now Helen) back ‘with sweetness’ (dulcedine) with the knowledge that their return will almost surely mean death for the invoker, as we see at the end of the movie with Trevor.
⁴² Si…dubitet…possumus: mixed conditional with a future-less-vivid protasis and a present
adspiratio, -onis, f. breathing
agito (1), to hunt, chase, pursue
animus, -i, m. courage, spirit; heart
aperio, -ire, -ui, apertus, to open
aspergo, -ere, -ersi, -ersus, to spatter
ater, -tra, -trum, black, dark
ausculto (1), to listen to
balneum, -i, n. bathroom
bracchium, -i, n. arm
cervix, -icis, f. neck
cogo, -ere, coegi, coactus, to force, compel
complector, -i, -plexus, dep. to clasp, embrace, grasp
conclave, -is, n. chamber, room
confringo, -ere, -fregi, -fractus, to smash
cruor, -oris, m. blood, bloodshed, gore
Cuppediator, -oris, m. Candyman
denudo (1), to lay bare, make naked, expose; to strip, plunder
depono, -ere, -posui, positus, to give up
diaeta, -ae, f. apartment
discutio, -ere, -cussi, -cussus, to shatter
dolor, doloris, m. pain
dulcedo, -inis, f. sweetness
eo, ire, ii, itus, to go, walk, move; advance
examen, -inis, n. swarm
eximo, -ere, -emi, -emptus, to take out, remove
expergiscor, -i, -perrectus, dep. to awake, be awakened
fax, facis, f. torch
ferus, -a, -um, savage, barbarous, cruel; wild
foramen, -inis, n. an opening, aperture, hole
fulgeo, -ēre, fulsi, to flash, glitter, gleam, shine
grassator, -oris, m. hoodlum, bully
haereo, -ēre, haesi, haesurus, to stick, cling
iaceo, -ēre, -cui, -citus, to lie (geographically)
imago, -inis, f. image, picture, portrait
impleo, -ēre, -evi, -etus, to fill up
inane, -is, n. an empty space, void
incido, -ere, -cidi, -casus, to cut, nick
incubo (1) (c. dat), to lie upon
infinitum, -i, n. the beyond, boundless space
iter, itineris, n. passage, journey, progress
labor, -i, lapsus, dep. to fall
lacuna, -ae, f. puddle, pool, pond
lanius, -i, m. butcher
longinquus, -a, -um, far off, remote, distant
lux, lucis, f. light
mordeo, -ēre, momordi, morsus, to bite, sting
mulceo, -ēre, -si, -sus, to stroke
obscurus, -a, -um, dim, dark
obsecro (1), to beseech, implore, supplicate
offendo, -ere, -fendi, -fensus, to hit, bump
ops, opis, f. aid, help, support
oro (1), to pray, beg
os, oris, n. mouth; lips
paciscor, -i, pactus, dep. to make a bargain
palpo (1), to stroke
paries, -etis, m. wall
pendeo, -ēre, pependi, pensus, to hang (down), be suspended
percutio, -ere, -cussi, -cussus, to strike (hard), smite, pierce
perscendo, -ere, to climb, clamber
pictura muralis, f. mural
pingo, -ere, pinxi, pictus, to paint, depict, portray
praebeo, -ēre, -ui, -itus, to show, exhibit
praecido, -ere, -cidi, -cisus, to cut off
propius, adv. closer, nearer
quisquis, quicquid, whoever, whatever
radius, -i, m. beam, ray (of light)
rapio, -ere, rapui, raptus, to seize, grab, snatch
recte sedēre, to sit straight up
repo, -ere, repsi, reptus, to creep, crawl
resalio, -ire, -ui, -saltus, to jump back, leap back
resono (1), to resound, reverberateritu (c. gen), in the manner of, like
salto (1), to dance
sanctus, -i, m. saint
sanguineus, -a, -um, bloody
saxum, -i, n. rock
semita, -ae, f. path, a narrow way
se opponere (c. dat), to face, confront
serra, -ae, f. saw
solum, -i, n. ground, floor
spelunca, -ae, f. cave, cavern
spina, -ae, f. thorn
stillicidium, -i, n. drip, trickling liquid
supernato (1) (c. dat), to float over; to swim on top
tabula, -ae, f. slab
tardus, -a, -um, slow
tectum, -i, n. roof, ceiling
telum, -i, n. weapon, spear, shaft
tenebrae, -arum, f. pl. darkness, gloom
tergiversor (1), dep. to flinch, shift
tergum, -i, n. back
tollo, -ere, sustuli, sublatus, to lift, take up; remove
tundo, -ere, tutudi, tunsus, to strike, thump, bump
uncus, -i, m. hook
viam dare, to make way
vibro (1), to brandish
vulgus, -i, n. the crowd, mob, mass
Heather is a Latin teacher turned translator. She has a BA in Classics from Reed College, where she developed a deep passion for Latin poetry and mythological women, especially Helen of Troy. She currently lives in Central Oregon with her husband Andy and their 15yo doggo Mo. She loves horror movies, particularly anything cozy or campy. Her dream is to translate Latin in the horror space, so hit her up with your spells, spooks, and spoofs. Heather’s website is latinklub.wordpress.com.