Director – Bernard Rose
Cast – Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd, Xander Berkeley, Kasi Lemmons, Vanessa Williams, DeJuan Guy, Marianna Elliott, Ted Raimi
Release Year – 1992
Reviewed by John of the Dead
It seems most people, horror fan or not, knows of the film/name “Candyman”. Based on Clive Barker’s short story titled “The Forbidden”, we get a pretty sweet storyline and an iconic killer whom is the absolute reason behind this film’s fan-based success. I had never taken the time to watch this film in its entirety, and after viewing Candyman for the first time I can see why it has garnered the success it has received, despite many flaws.
Candyman stars Virginia Madsen as Helen Lyle, a graduate student working on her thesis paper regarding local myths and legends. When she learns of a local legend regarding a man known as the “Candyman”, a man with a hook for a hand who appears when you say his name 5 times facing a mirror, she heads to the Cabrini Green area of town, said to be the site where he first murdered a young woman. When her and a fellow researcher decide to test the boundaries and say his name 5 times into a mirror, nothing happens at first, and that is the Candyman’s plan. The girls have opened a door to a killer, and to their early graves.
Well, I did not like this film as much as I thought I would. That is not saying this is a bad film by any means, I just did not find it as “special” as I expected it to be. I blame it on execution, namely Bernard Rose’s direction. While he did a VERY fine job showing us the brutality and vengeance the Candyman exacts against those who call on his name, I never felt compelled to give a damn about any of the characters aside from a supporting actress, and that says something about this film. I will give him this though: his usage of Tony Todd as the Candyman was epic and nicely done. While Tony Todd had previously starred in Tom Savini’s remake of Night of the Living Dead, it was THIS film that made his name in the horror world. Thank Clive Barker for creating an awesome slasher with a superb conflicted backstory behind his carnage, and the gore that ensues. At first it seemed like this flick would come off as the usual Hollywood slasher and not give us any of the “goods”, but by the second act I was wrong. While gore is not a requirement in this sub-genre, I believe it helped move the film and show us the real horror that the Candyman can bring thanks to us getting a first hand watch of what he can do.
The rest of the storyline aside from the Candyman himself was pretty cool, especially if you are into urban myths and legends. These myths and legends tend to play on the paranormal, so naturally I have an interest in those sorts of things. If you thought Bloody Mary was scary, the Candyman would kick her ass any day. I really liked the psychological turmoil that was thrown into this film regarding Helen. We watch her descent into madness as the Candyman toys with her and expertly displays her to the world as a psychotic. Because this is a Clive Barker based adaptation, we get a fairly strong sensual and sexual element thrown in that I found pretty fun and enjoyable. We do not get this element thrown in too much in the horror film, and yes the “tits and ass” stuff we get in normal slashers does not count. I am referring to the sensual elements we got in Hellraiser, and the venereal elements we get in much of David Cronenberg’s films such as Videodrome, and The Fly.
Overall, this is a pretty cool watch that did not excite me as much as I wanted it to, but still delivers what I wanted to see in this type of film. We get an iconic killer, a cool backstory, and plenty of the “goods” to go with them.