It was around early 2013 when I first heard about Candle Cove. It was an old show, about a little girl named Janice, who found herself in a world with pirates. But the show was… creepy to say the least. All the pirates were puppets and marionettes. And their villain, the Skin Taker was just messed up. I had looked into its background for quite a while now and began to find some interesting things about the original director. Such as another one of his shows. It was called “Cowboys and Indians”.
I didn’t know what to make of it at first. I found it in an old TV Guide from 1965, advertising it to be released on November 1st. I began to see if I could find any existence of it online, but all I found were dead ends and a few mentions of some character named “Rootin Tootin Randy”. After my intense search for anything on the show, I notice the clock said 3:16 AM, so I packed it up and went to bed. When I awoke, I bolted to the door, where I found my Sunday paper laying there. I picked it up when a flyer fell out for a store known as “Vinnie’s VHS”. It claimed to specialize in old television shows, so I decided to put breakfast on the backburner and drove over to the store.
It was on the ugly side of town were the weeds ran wild, growing through cracks in the pavement. I approached the old building in the plaza, when I started having second thoughts. I knew I had to go inside. “YOU HAVE… TO GO… INSIDE!” I heard the infamous line echo in my head. I opened the door, with a little ding indicating my presence.
“Welcome to Vinnie’s VHS,” the man said, not even looking up from his magazine.
“Hi uh, I was wondering if you had anything regarding the show 'Cowboys and Indians'? It’s an old show so I understand if you don’t hav-"
He cut me off and said, “Oh God no… listen sir, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You probably are thinking of something else like a movie or Bonanza. Yes that’s it, Bonanza is isle five. Thank you come again.”
I was turned off by this statement and decided to ask him why he was so reluctant. “I was in that show kid. Please don’t make me show you the scar.” He promptly rolled up his pant leg and revealed a poorly stitched scar. I began to back away until he threw two VHS tapes at the back of my head. “TAKE THEM! TAKE THEM AND NEVER COME BACK!” I thought he was having a fit. I ran into my car and before taking off, I read the labels on the VHS boxes. Candle Cove, the complete series, and the other was just blank (which I assumed was Cowboys and Indians). Excited, but a little anxious, I drove home.
When I arrived at my house, I ran to get my old VHS player and plugged it in. I inserted Cowboys and Indians first to see if it would work, and to my utter amazement it did. I turned off the lights (for effect) and pressed play. The quality sucked but what else could you expect from 1965. It began with a puppet cowboy riding in an old fashioned carriage down a city road, and then transitioned into the aforementioned town named “Westville”. It showed different shots of the characters, some of which I had heard of, like "Shaman Shane", the Indian leader, and to my surprise "Rootin Tootin Randy" was even in it. The first episode was entitled "Riding Cowboy", and "Welcome to The Camp" as the episodes contained two segments around ten minutes each, the first to explain the story of the cowboys and the second to explain the Indians.
I noticed that the cowboys seemed to be a bit racist toward the Indians and often uttered racial slurs. I was beginning to think that this was going to end up being worse than Candle Cove. Episode 2 was known as "Western Shootout" and "Tribal Feast". Western Shootout involved a rivalry between two cowboys, "Willy the kid" and Randy. After much arguing throughout the episode, they decide to end it in a shootout, which leaves Willy fatally wounded. The episode ends with a shot of Willie's dead body being kicked by Randy. This was most disturbing because the blood coming out of the puppet was pretty realistic from what I could tell. The second part had no audio, but I could infer it was about a celebration to the death of Willy the kid. There was dancing and eating and a side-plot involving a cowboy sympathizer leaving the party, but being brought back by his girlfriend of sorts, or something dumb like that. The show was actually quite boring so far, but things picked up in episode 13.
It was one big segment known as "Shaman Shane bites the dust". This episode was by far the creepiest. The cowboys made a plan to assassinate Shaman Shane, and execute it at nightfall. Randy walks into camp, most Indians are sleeping in the tepees. Randy, is wearing his signature "R" shirt and a safari hat. He approaches Shaman Shane who is still awake. "What the hell are you doing here? I will kill you, you son of a b****," says Shane. The audio cut out for the rest of the scene, however it was obvious that Randy shot Shaman Shane straight in the chest. Then it cut to static, and as I looked down at my VCR player, I noticed tape was flying from the machine. I turned on the lights and ran over to fix it but the tape was mainly ruined. Some footage stayed alive. I sadly decided to pop in Candle Cove and watched the whole thing until an unexpected episode appeared.
It was called "Cowboys, Indians and Pirates".
It was a crossover to end both series at once and had some pretty disturbing content within them. It involved the Laughingstock coming across a river which leads them to the Indians Camp. The pirates take a liking to them and decide to help them defeat the cowboys. While on the other side, the Skin Taker stumbles across Westville, and begins running around drinking beer, shooting stuff and even wishes to collect some Indian scalps so he leads the cowboys into battle. It results in the death of Randy, after being speared through the head, and Janice begins crying, causing both sides to finally stop the battle and ends with the Skin Taker, leaving the camp and the Cowboys and Indians becoming better friends. It ended with the Indian from episode 2 proposing to his girlfriend, but with a ring from Randy's hand, with the finger still attached, blood seeping out.
I was shocked that this was a kid’s show. I grabbed both sets and drove back to the shop but I was shocked to find the store to be burned down. I sadly drove back with both VHS tapes and checked the computer. I googled “Vinnie’s VHS”, and in there was a news report about the store. The headline read “Vinnie’s VHS goes up in flames”. But that wasn’t the worst part. I looked down at the date and it was 1965. I passed it off as a creepy coincidental misprint, but immediately threw that theory out the window when I read the byline. “Employee Shane, bites the dust." I threw my hands over my head. I was shocked. How could this have been when I had just been there? I wanted to know who wrote this. Chills went down my spine.
I totally lost it. I grabbed the tape and rushed to the nearby woods to bury the damned tape. I bet you're wondering what was so disturbing that I went through such extreme measures to bury it. The person who wrote this article for the “Westville Advance”… was none other than Randy Savage.
The next day I googled “Vinnie's VHS” one last time to see if there were any updates but there were none. However I did find a website that had a list of employees. The one known as Shane was… not the man at the store. That was Vinnie Vincent. I found his email and decided to ask him if, we could meet sometime. To my amazement, he actually agreed to meet with me at his house, the address written at the bottom (obviously I can’t share this without his consent). On Friday, I stopped by to, almost interview him in a way. The following was our exchange:
ME: Hello Mr. Vincent.
Vinny: Please call my Vinny, now what did you come here for?
ME: To discuss the tragedy that struck your business last week.
Vinny: Yeah… that… what do you need to know?
Me: Well, first I would like to discuss your time on the show. What was it like be-
Vinny: NO. NO PLEASE NO!
He began sobbing loudly.
Me: Vinny calm down, it’s alright, your time is done from that show.
Vinny: They cut me! I'm sure you're wondering what happened to my leg! They needed blood from Willy the Kid, so that sick, sick man use mine!
He began wailing with his head in his hands, taking a shot of his Jack Daniels.
Me: Okay, okay, we can just talk about the store then-
Vinny: Why would that be any better to talk about!
His fists crashed down onto the coffee table.
Me: Vinny can you just tell me how it happe-
Vinny: It was me! I burnt down the store, I forged the article and now I have one last job!
Me: Vi-vinny what are you doing?
He pulled a knife out of his pocket.
Me: What the hell?!
I ran for the door, just barley escaping with my life. I saw from the inside Vinny throwing a rope over the rafters. That’s the last time I ever wanted anything to do with that kids show. I don’t care what people say about Candle Cove. Even Candle Cove wasn’t as sick as what I had witnessed. To this day if anyone even mentions the word cowboy I have a fit. One day, a year or so after the horrific experience, I was watching the news, at about 3:16 in the morning when I heard shovels out back. I ran behind my house and… the tapes were gone. Deep inside I knew who did it. That last thing I remember was faint western music, playing in the background.