‘Your death will be a tale to frighten children, to make lovers cling closer in their rapture. Come with me, and be immortal.’
Director: Bernard Rose
Cast: Virginia Madsen, Xander Berkeley, Tony Todd, Kasi Lemmons
Plot: Helen Lyle (Madsen) is a sceptical grad student investigating the myth of the Candyman (Todd) for her thesis, but her fearless actions lead to her summoning the tortured soul back into reality.
This nostalgia-inducing cult classic could easily have found its way into THN’s Guilty Pleasure feature of last month, but we felt it best to save it for its true home, amongst THN’s selection of gruesomely gory and titillatingly taut horror greats. Based on the short story ‘The Forbidden’, by Clive Barker, CANDYMAN is one of the few stories you’ll find that, although derives from an urban legend, could perhaps be more accurately defined as ‘ghetto mythology’ due to its humble setting.
So it goes, Candyman was the son of a slave, but matured into a successful artist. After falling in love with, and impregnating, a white woman, a collection of local ignorant crackers seized him, cut off his painting hand, and replaced it with a hook. They proceeded to smear honey on it, and set thousands of bees from a nearby apiary on him. Some of the locals chanted ‘Candyman’, referring to the honey, as he was stung to death, and so the legend was born… lovely.
Alright, so it isn’t the most convincing of tales; what could they possibly gain by replacing his hand with a hook? However, what CANDYMAN does have is subtle charm. Much of the horror is implied rather than explicitly shown, which is very affective, and it boasts one of the most beautifully melodramatic conclusions to a horror film ever. Furthermore, legendary composer, Philip Glass scored the film, which adds an extra thick layer of eeriness to the proceedings.
Tony Todd became a cult icon as a result of this role, and went on to brandish the hook for two sequels, CANDYMAN: FAREWELL TO THE FLESH and CANDYMAN: DAY OF THE DEAD (which is a particularly disappointing title, as it has merely been lifted straight from a George A. Romero film). But we don’t need to worry about those because they are lip-quiveringly awful.
What matters is Tony Todd terrified a whole generation of kids, including myself, and made them fear saying ‘Candyman’ into a mirror five times (something I was too afraid to do until I was in my teens) purely because of his performance. It could have been so different too, as Eddie Murphy was the first choice to play the lead, but Todd eventually prevailed, and his booming voice and wicked grin will live on in the hearts of many, long after he has gone.
Horror Highlights: A decapitated dog, a mouthful of bees, and Candyman the babysitter.
Best Nugget Of Wisdom From A Young Boy: When talking about one of Candyman’s alleged victims who had his genitals sliced off, a neighborhood youngling offers these profound and succinct words: ‘they found it in a toilet. Can’t fix that. Better off dead.’
Have a gander at the rest of our HalloweenFest here.