Helen Lyle is a graduate student researching superstitions and urban legends in the projects of Chicago. She discovers and pursues an urban legend called the Candyman. By calling the name of Candyman out loud, will summon his presence. Once appearing the Candyman slaughters the victim with his hook! Will Helen’s findings reveal it to be a simple superstitious myth or will this legend be a true nightmare.
Candyman is a 1992 slasher film directed by Bernard Rose and based on a Clive Barker book titled The Forbidden. It stars the iconic Tony Todd as the Candyman, Virginia Madsen as Helen, Xander Berkeley as Trevor and Kasi Lemmons as Bernadette. It was given a theatrical release in October and competed with another slasher film named Dr. Giggles. Candyman received a few positive reviews by critics and spurned two sequels. Both of which never measured up to the first.
Candyman seems to be a horror film that did not get a great deal of recognition in the 90’s and even today does not seem to get a great deal of attention. Ask about popular slasher figures and most people will say: Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Chucky, Michael Myers and Leatherface. First, you have to assume weather or not those people are true horror fans because those are the typical answers. But it makes a good point so just go along with it. Anyways, they rarely bring up Candyman.
Historically the film was released when the slasher genre was taking a huge dive. Previous films like A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child and Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers were both released in 1989. Both performed miserably and could have marked the end of the genre. Let us be honest, those were terrible piles of garbage and so were a large number of films that came out in the early 90’s. It makes me wonder if the downfall of the slasher genre may have been induced by crappy films and not necessarily slasher fatigue. People may not have been sick of slashers, just sick of schlocky repeats and terrible concepts. At least that’s what I believe. I see this with modern horror films today. I don’t hate ghost or possession movies, I’m just sick and tired of seeing the same damn movie over and over again. I’m talking about you Conjuring films!
The story goes Candyman was a normal guy who was wrongfully killed. Historically he was from the late 1800’s and went by the name Daniel Robitaille. He was the son of a rich shoe maker that gave him a good life with a good education. Daniel was a compassionate, respectful and artistically talented man. While painting a rich land owners daughter. for a commissioned portrait. Daniel and the heiress fall in love and conceived a child. Enraged by Daniel being African American, the father gathered a lynch mob and hunted Daniel down. They cut his hand off with a rusty saw and replaced it with a hook. Then they poured honey all over him and let a swarm of bees sting him to death. Later, the mob burned his body to ashes. During the torture a small child was there and licked candy from Daniels body and saying “Candyman!” Thus the legend is born and calling his name five times in a mirror and then turning the lights off will summon the Candyman. Where he will slaughter the innocent person with his hook.
“I am the writing on the wall, the whisper in the classroom. Without these things, I am nothing. So now I must shed innocent blood.”
HOLY CRAP THAT IS AN INSANE STORY! Who the hell comes up with such a brutal, disturbing and sad legend? Oh yea, Clive Barker does. It only makes sense that the guy responsible for creating Pinhead could come up with something so twisted and cool. Which is why Candyman is such a great character. Unlike Freddy, Michael or Chucky; Candyman is a slasher with a mournful story. He wasn’t a killer before he became an urban legend. He was innocent and was murdered in terrible acts of racism fueled rage! Freddy wasn’t innocent and for him the murderous mob is right! Candyman’s vengeance has motivation and a pure sense of revenge. It’s clear as to why it exists and teaches us how destroying innocence and goodness creates violence and pain. It’s often a symptom of people that hurt others and one that makes Candyman such an amazing film.
Candyman doesn’t make faces or do dances. He doesn’t scream in rage. He’s charismatic and lacks exaggerated gestures. It’s all business and sticking to the legend. He may recite a poem or something and show you the hook before he rips you from your groin to your gullet. To be honest, between all the slashers; Candyman and Myers are my favorite. Their presence is foreboding, the kind of person you don’t really fear until the last second.
I love the urban legends approach. Helen is pursuing her research into legends and lore so she can gain notoriety off her thesis. Finding herself enthralled into a world where myth becomes real. Helen ends up calling upon Candyman. In which he does appear and haunts her.
The way you call him is extremely familiar to the Bloody Mary or Blue Baby legend. Which might be my only real gripe with the film (and that is a small one). There could have been a more interesting way in calling his name, but it is familiar so maybe it makes it easy to relate to.
We’ve all done this with groups of friends. Calling in the mirror multiple times so some rumored ghost can get us. It’s become a staple in our youth. Often times I think we wish they were real. Which is why Candyman makes it so awesome. The movie isn’t a teen angst film. It’s an adult situation that takes your childhood fears and says “Yea, be glad you bitched out on this because if you had said it one more time then you’d be a dead kid!”
Call The Candyman
It’s my opinion that Candyman deserves more attention and credit. It’s a great film that did the opposite of so many slasher films in the 90’s. It didn’t succumb to the temptations by pandering to moronic youth or creating some absurd killer like it’s competitor Dr. Giggles. Candyman is a film that can make you appreciate the essence of a good slasher film. How slasher films are meant to be. Intriguing stories with magnetizing characters. Kind of like how A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th started. It’s a bloody film with a great villain and I for one love it.
So on this day for Horror Movie Marathon 2018. Go to your mirror. Look deep into your soul and call out “Candyman” two times. Then wait and think deeply if saying it a third time is a good thing to do.