Columbia-TriStar/1992/Directed by Bernard Rose
Available on DVD
Based on horror master Clive Barker’s short story “The Forbidden”, Candyman is an interesting spin on the “Bloody Mary”-type urban legend. A former slave who was once persecuted, tortured, and left to die by his masters, the supernatural killer known as the Candyman can be summoned by anyone who says his name five times in a mirror. Once summoned, the imposing entity slays those who dare call him with hooked hand and takes their soul into the netherworld.
Helen, a young woman who is researching urban legend mythologies, gets more than she bargained for when she starts investigating the Candyman tale, unleashing the hook-handed ghost stalker into our world in the process. A string of grisly murders starts to occur, with Helen at the center of the chaos. Of course, the police don’t believe in legends, and Helen finds herself the prime suspect in the slayings committed by Candyman. She soon finds that her fate and that of the Candyman are inter-twined, and there is no escaping destiny. Together, they shall become legend.
Candyman, released in 1992, is an excellent, if bleak, exercise in fear. The film is well-crafted, with great performances by its cast. Tony Todd, no stranger to horror and science-fiction (he played the lead character, Ben, in Tom Savini’s 1990 remake of Night Of The Living Dead and turned in memorable performances in several different roles in the various Star Trek shows), portrays Candyman, perhaps his best-known role. Virginia Madsen, also no stranger to the horror genre, plays Helen Lyle, the doomed graduate student who is drawn into the hooked horror’s world. The music by Philip Glass provides a perfect soundscape for the bleak and desolate atmosphere that the film evokes.
Candyman was successful enough to spawn a franchise, although this first entry in the series is by far the best. Candyman: Farewell To The Flesh, the first sequel, is almost as well-crafted, though, and expands greatly on the mythology of the first film. Candyman is a modern classic of the horror genre, making Tony Todd a star and giving him a signature role, and ensuring that he haunts horror fans for many years to come. Halloween season is the perfect time to revisit (or discover) this haunting fright flick, but make sure there are no mirrors in the room with you as you watch it, and whatever you do, don’t say his name five times!