The Bye Bye Man is based on a short story by Robert Damon Schneck. It is included in his compilation The Bye Bye Man: And Other Strange-but-True Tales, which was originally published in 2005 under the title The President's Vampire: Strange-but-True Tales of the United States of America. In the original book, the Bye Bye Man was featured in the chapter titled "The Bridge to Body Island." That chapter was retitled in the new book to coincide with the movie. Schneck says that someone in Hollywood heard him retell the story on the radio and shortly afterward they were interested in turning it into a movie.
Schneck is a folklorist and strange history expert. He makes a living writing about the weird and the unexplained, authoring works on everything from suicide clubs to killer clowns. According to the description on Amazon.com, he wrote most of the book that became The Bye Bye Man: And Other Strange-but-True Tales while sitting at his favorite table at a McDonald's in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
Yes, according to the short story, someone had found an old Ouija board in an attic and gave it to the three friends who had been living together. The friends began conducting experiments with the board, and after they believed they had communicated with a number of spirits, they made an effort to contact a spirit that had actually lived. After a few sessions, the board eventually transmitted the story of the Bye Bye Man. The three friends, Eli, Katherine and Jonathan, were told via the board that the spirit of the Bye Bye Man had latched onto them and that he was coming for them.
According to the author, the actual Bye Bye Man had supposedly been a blind albino born in Louisiana sometime in the 1920s. His parents put him in an orphanage in Algiers, New Orleans. Shunned, the boy eventually escaped the orphanage and turned to murder. Jumping on trains and traveling like a hobo to get around, he was accompanied by his companion called Gloomsinger, a sort of dog-esque creature sewn together from the tongues and eyes of his victims. He had somehow managed to bring the creature to life. When the real Bye Bye Man killed someone, he would supposedly add their eyes and tongue to a bag he carried around called the Sack of Gore. Of course it is at this point that the story starts to sound like a gory tall tale rather than something that could possibly be based in reality.
In the movie, the history of the Bye Bye Man is similarly traced back to a teenager who told a reporter that he killed his family because "the Bye Bye Man made me do it." The reporter, because he had been investigating and thinking about the Bye Bye Man, is later driven to mass murder after the Bye Bye Man comes for him. One of the three college-age friends in the movie then comes to learn of the Bye Bye Man from the late reporter's widow.
Yes. According to the supposed Bye Bye Man true story conveyed by author Robert Damon Schneck, like in the movie, the real paranormal being zeroed in on anyone who thought of him or spoke his name (let's hope writing an article about him doesn't count). Doing so transformed a person's mind into a sort of psychic beacon that called out to the Bye Bye Man. He then began riding the rails in their direction. When he got close enough, he sent out his grotesque creature known as Gloomsinger to locate the person. Once they were found, Gloomsinger would let out a shrill whistle to call for the Bye Bye Man. In the movie, sounds of a train and the appearance of coins or a large skinless hound precede the Bye Bye Man's arrival.
No. Not surprisingly, the movie exaggerates the killing. In the short story told by author Schneck, no one gets hit by a train or a car, and the three friends don't kill each other or themselves. It's told as more of an eerie tale rather than all-out horror.
No. Robert Damon Schneck's I-heard-it-from-a-friend tale is impossible to prove, as there is no factual evidence to support the author's claims. Of course, that doesn't mean that horror fans won't find it enjoyable, as it's sometimes fun to imagine that the boogeyman is real. Like Eric Knudsen's Slender Man story that originated as an Internet meme in 2009, the tale of the Bye Bye Man is largely believed to be urban legend that began with Robert Damon Schneck's 2005 short story. The tale was subsequently spread in web forums, on late night radio shows, and retold amongst fans of the paranormal.
As there's no real way to prove the question "Is the Bye Bye Man real?" untrue, you're free to believe as much as you want. However, with the release of the movie, it's fair to assume a lot of people are thinking about and saying the name of the Bye Bye Man. Does this mean he will be coming for all those people? The fact that we haven't see a huge spike in murders and suicides after the movie's release sort of disproves the whole story altogether.
The Bye Bye Man is portrayed by actor Doug Jones. The 6' 3½" actor has portrayed similar masked characters, having previously played one of the Gentlemen in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Abe Sapien in Hellboy (2004), and the Pale Man in 2006's Pan's Labyrinth (pictured below). The multi-talented actor also has experience performing as a mime and a contortionist.
Learn more about the supposed real Bye Bye Man by listening to an interview with the book's author, Robert Damon Schneck.