Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Trailer For 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Unrated Blu-Ray Edition, Will Also Feature An Alternate Ending Watch: Trailer For 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Unrated Blu-Ray Edition, Will Also Feature An Alternate Ending New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' Viggo Mortensen Reveals He Turned Down Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight,' Auditioned For 'Reservoir Dogs' Viggo Mortensen Reveals He Turned Down Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight,' Auditioned For 'Reservoir Dogs' Watch: First Teaser Trailer For 'Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation' With Tom Cruise Arrives, If You Choose To Accept It Watch: First Teaser Trailer For 'Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation' With Tom Cruise Arrives, If You Choose To Accept It Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey & Jason Momoa Join Ana Lily Amirpour’s Cannibal Love Story ‘The Bad Batch’ Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey & Jason Momoa Join Ana Lily Amirpour’s Cannibal Love Story ‘The Bad Batch’ Jonathan Nolan Says His Original Ending To 'Interstellar' Was “Much More Straightforward” Jonathan Nolan Says His Original Ending To 'Interstellar' Was “Much More Straightforward” The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far 13 Cult Films About Cults 13 Cult Films About Cults The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Looking Back On 20 Years Of 'Candyman': What's Blood If Not For Spilling?

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist October 16, 2012 at 1:23PM

Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman. One silly sounding word repeated five times into a mirror, which unleashes all kinds of mayhem -- and, as it happens, one of the more original horror creations of the last few decades. The hook-handed son of a slave (as embodied by Tony Todd) summoned by the chanting of his name, created by horror legend Clive Barker (along with writer/director Bernard Rose), he's appeared in three films to date. And while the substandard sequels saw the character lose his luster, it doesn't change the fact that the original "Candyman," which was released twenty years ago today on October 16th, 1992, is a fairly superior and unusually intelligent horror flick.
5
Candyman

It doesn't end well for anyone and has a particularly bleak conclusion, with Rose telling Cinefantastique at the time: "I'm rather bored with happy endings. They reduce the sense of danger. It's like having the absolute feeling that however complicated or convoluted the problem any character may be going through in a movie, you feel so confident in most movies that at the end there is going to be a deus ex machina that's going to solve everything. There is almost no suspense to the story anymore."

The film isn't perfect, occasionally falling prey to horror movie silliness. But it has more ideas in its head than a dozen other horror movies, from the social deprivation of the film's environment (nicely observed by Rose), its smart, modern take on race, its discussion of the power of urban legends and myth, and its progressive gender politics -- as star Virginia Madsen told Fangoria, "Bernard immediately takes out that scene of 'getting punished for your sins' which is so exploitative of women. Our traditional role has always been as helpless victims. But now we've had the 'Alien' and 'Halloween' films, where women get chased but still remain strong. Helen never allows herself to be a victim in Candyman. Horrible things might happen to her, but she fights back." And, perhaps most importantly of all, it's genuinely scary, and prepared to go to grim places that most sequel-chasing horror movies won't.

Filming wasn't easy, particularly given they were shooting in the Cabrini-Green projects themselves (Todd, who stands an intimidating 6'5", said that "I tried to come there with no expectations, but I still felt fear. Anybody who didn't belong there was subject to danger. The cops told me to keep my eyes on the rooftops for snipers"). The Candyman's trademark bees were almost as dangerous -- Todd had real bees in his mouth for the climactic scenes, protected only by a throat guard, while Madsen was, according to Barker, hypnotized by the director for a number of scenes.

Candyman

The film -- complete with a score by, of all people, Philip Glass -- premiered at the Midnight Madness section of the Toronto International Film Festival in September 1992 and went on to pick up atypically strong reviews for a horror flick (Roger Ebert called it "a horror movie that was scaring me with ideas"), and made a healthy $25 million back at the box office, inevitably inspiring two sub-standard sequels -- 1995's "Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh" (directed by "Dreamgirls" and "Twilight: Breaking Dawn" helmer Bill Condon, who three years later would win an Oscar for his screenplay for "Gods and Monsters") and 1999's direct-to-video, mostly disowned "Candyman 3: Day of the Dead." The second tries to add some extra pathos to the title character through flashbacks, mostly diminishing him as a result, while the third is simply a cheap slasher movie.

The third film pretty much killed the franchise, though Barker and Todd have discussed a fourth film that would be set in New England, with Todd playing dual roles. And Barker also wanted to get the rights to the films back, possibly for a (seemingly ill-advised) crossover film with his other franchise, the more enduring "Hellraiser" series. Word's been quiet for nearly a decade now, and it surely can't be long before someone floats the idea of a remake. But if it does come to pass, they'll have a tough task coming up with a picture as interesting and as terrifying as the 1992 original.

This article is related to: Bernard Rose, Virginia Madsen, On This Day In Movie History, Features, Clive Barker


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates