Real Horror: The Players

Joe Grisaffi — Grisaffi has been on big-budget Hollywood sets like Pirates of the Caribbean and Austin Powers, but his real contribution to the world of acting is as a dedicated and constant presence in Houston as part of the local film scene. He is the director of his own horror releases, Dead of Knight, Conjoined and more, and has roles in stellar local productions like Larry Wade Carrell's Jacob and Carlos Tovar's superhero Web series More Than Human. He maintains a brutal work schedule, playing parts in at least ten films in 2013 alone, including Dean Corll in In a Madman's World.

Dean Corll — The quiet but likable son of Corll Candy Company founder Mary Corll, Dean was a well-regarded resident of the Heights who would hand out his company's samples to children at Helms Elementary across the street from his office. Beneath that exterior was a closeted sexual rage and a desire to rape and torture young boys. After recruiting teenage accomplices David Brooks and Elmer Wayne Henley to procure victims for him, Corll was responsible for the deaths of at least 28 Houston youths. He was fatally shot by Henley, who refused to allow Corll to assault his friends Rhonda Williams and Tim Kerley.

Chris Binum — Blessed with Disney Channel looks, Chris Binum was initially discounted by director Josh Vargas when he was suggested for the part of Wayne Henley. Binum proved himself a dedicated artist, though, wearing Henley's actual clothes for months at a time, drinking heavily in the Heights late at night and even pretending to stalk potential victims in order to get into the mind-set of the famous killer. He is scheduled to work with Vargas again in Vargas's next film, a biopic on the filming of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Elmer Wayne Henley — Coming from a broken home, Wayne Henley noticed that David Brooks always seemed to have money but never a job. He was taken to Dean Corll as a potential victim, but, desperate to help his mother support the family, wound up as Corll's personal assassin and disposer of victims after Corll threatened to kill Henley's family if he ever revealed the crimes or tried to leave. For two years he provided boys for Corll to rape and torture, and then strangled them to death as Corll watched. Unable to allow two friends to suffer at Corll's hands, Henley killed Corll with his own pistol and voluntarily confessed to the murders. He is serving six life sentences.

Bobby Haworth — You wouldn't normally associate Bobby Haworth with something as terrifying and horrendous as the Houston mass murders. He's best known locally for his role as Jean Paul in Seriously?, which won the "Audience Favorite" Award at the 2011 Houston Comedy Film Festival, and as one of the minds behind the 2007 comedy short Bobby & Kalob. Beyond the lighthearted work, though, he has been a staple cast member of Josh Vargas's filmmaking career since his first horror film, Sway, in 2009. Haworth's humor came in handy on the set of In a Madman's World, joking constantly to keep the grim subject matter from affecting the crew.

David Brooks — The area in back of the Corll Candy Company was a frequent gathering place for Heights kids like David Brooks, 11. Corll took a liking to Brooks, giving him money and inviting him on trips to the beach with other boys. The relationship turned sexual as Corll would pay the boy to allow him to perform fellatio on him. When Brooks walked in on Corll assaulting two boys who had been restrained, he accepted $200 and a car to remain quiet. This led him to begin actively hunting for Corll's victims as a source of income. He was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of William Ray Lawrence, 15.

Josh Vargas — A fan of gruesome film and culture, Josh Vargas dreamed of making movies but thought that was an out-of-reach goal. Instead, he wound up doing monster effects for local haunted houses, but after helping a friend do makeup for an indie zombie short, he decided to pursue filmmaking himself. He stumbled across the Houston mass murders case, and thanks to murderabilia mogul Rick Staton and almost-victim Rhonda Williams, was able to interview Elmer Wayne Henley over the course of a year in order to pen a script about his life and the murders he committed for Dean Corll.

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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner