Candyman (1992)

The Candyman, a murderous soul with a hook for a hand, is accidentally summoned to reality by a skeptic grad student researching the monster’s myth.

Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) doctoral student, and wife of a collage professor, is doing research on urban legends and mythological folklore for her school thesis. Though, there is one legend which gets her attention and leads her to rundown housing block where the residents believe that the murders that took place there were done by the hook-handed serial killer The Candyman (Tony Todd). A mysterious figure that can be summoned by repeating his name five times while looking in the mirror. Which Helen does and now her life turns into horrifying nightmare, which teeters between reality and myth, as she gets closer to the truth about the Candyman.

Second time around and this memorable piece hasn’t lost any of its effect. It’s not only a incredibly brood horror film that manages to create an creeping/ingenious plot with such an unsettling physiological tone, but also providing some generally horrific shocks that creep up on you and aren’t for the squeamish. So, it’s far from your normal slasher and it just doesn’t concentrate on the violence for a change. Not only does the plot build on this mystical legend constructively, but also there’s also some solid social commentary on the mindset towards race and sex, which added more to this cleverly layered plot (or should I say tragic love story). What is so great about the screenplay is that you yourself feel apprehensive to what’s happening to the protagonist and to where this story is heading by playing on what people believe and how these believes can overcome them. Plus it makes great use of the Chicago’s gloomy surroundings. Not only does the film have substance, but also style to boot. The direction by Bernard Rose is quite brilliant, with Rose superbly mixing visuals that gel myth and reality superbly. Particularly the well-crafted encounters between Helen and the Candyman – these sequences were incredibly hair-raising. He creates such a glum and dark atmosphere within these rundown buildings filled with vibrant artwork, the richly layered aura goes hand-to-hand with the moody legend. The slow pacing of the film is perfect; there are no tedious blotches because you are totally wrapped in the story and by the delightful performances. The death toll isn’t big, but there are some real gruesome deaths, with A LOT blood. The make-up and special effects are extremely thoughtful and inventive. Phillip Glass’ extremely effective score deserves such high praise. Soothing, but also haunting and was incredibly effective towards building towards such an almighty blow. Another bonus was the smooth as silk camera-work; it captured the balanced layout of Chicago with plenty of stunning Ariel shots (great intro). Overall, I was just amazed by this beautifully planned production.

What a horror icon! Tony Todd totally nails down such a terrifying and profound performance as the mythical being The Candyman. I believe this horror character totally wipes the floor clean of the other icons of its genre and who created him? No other than from the dark mind of Clive Baker (Hellraiser), who brings this frightening thriller alive, which is basically based on Baker’s short story – The Forbidden. He came up with a unique horror character that’s downright unnerving, completely authentic and has a lot of depth. But Tony Todd’s towering figure and eerie voice has a lot to owe to that and to make one tremble in his presence! Virginia Madsen gives a stellar performance as Helen Lyle, who we really do care for her and feel what she is feeling. Good supporting roles from Xander Berkley as Helen’s Husband, Kasi Lemmons as her friend/student who’s also working with her their thesis and Vanessa Williams as Anne-Marie McCoy who lives in the rundown estate. The dialogue was packed with depth, but also laced with interesting topics and Todd’s lines were pretty much poetic and smooth.

The one and only “small” negative would be the ending for me. I was somewhat let down by the second ending and I thought maybe it could’ve done without it. It just felt tact on. Anyhow it didn’t stop it from being damn right creepy and it does pack a real unsteadiness.

To get in the mood of it, I say it’s definitely a film to watch late at night… alone.

One of the clever horror films (if not the best) of that disappointing decade they call the ’90s for horror films. If you’re looking for a serious horror (before Scream’s imitators made a mockery of the slasher sub-genre), I highly recommend this provocative slasher that doesn’t cop out the audience.