Being a huge fan of Clive Barker, it is no surprise than I absolutely love the 1992 film adaptation of his short story ‘The Forbidden”. The film that made Tony Todd one of the main men of horror, Candyman brings some heart stopping performances all around. The film is more than just a great story, it also has one of my absolute favorite scores of all time. The movie was a huge success giving the green light for it to become a horror trilogy. The film revolves around the topic of Urban Legends. Candyman is a local urban legend who according to his logic ceases to exist if people stop believing in him. He chooses a local college professor investigating his legend to be his victim. Candyman is one of the best horror films of the 90’s and a classic horror tale that appeals to any horror fan. Bringing elements of legend and urban violence, Candyman provides a insight into the psychology of fear both real and imaginary. Every culture has a legend that is told to keep the children scared. Candyman is the tale of the horrific outcome when the legend manifests into reality.
Tony Todd stars as the Candyman. Tony’s second film role was the largely successful film Platoon (1986), putting Tony on the map; his career has been consistent since. He is also well known among newer generations as the creepy mortician from the Final Destination franchise. His most notable trait is his soothing-yet-creepy voice, intense acting, and towering stature. He is also especially tall, at 6′ 5″ he shares the same height as Dolph Lundgren, Tim Robbins, Michael Clarke Duncan, & The Rock. At the time of casting comedian Eddie Murphy was considered for his role.
The Candyman’s leading lady Helen is played by the talented Virginia Madsen. She is the older sister of actor Michael Madsen and ex-sister in law of Anjelica Huston. Virginia has two eyes that are different colors, called heterochromia. Her left eye is part brown and part green and right eye is all green. Madsen claims that she was hypnotized for some of the scenes of the film.
Although the bees used for the movie were bred especially for the film, Virginia is very allergic to bee stings, making this film a very dangerous one for her. The bees were made sure to be only 12 hours old so their stinger would not be able to do much damage in the case they did sting anyone. The scenes with Tony and the bees in his mouth required him to wear a mouth guard so they did not go down his throat.
The film revolves around the tale of a local urban legend Candyman. Helen plans on exposing the legend as simply a coping method for the stress and horrors of living in the ghetto. When she realizes a the leader of the Overlords gang, is passing himself off as the legend in the flesh, using the pre-existing fear to control the ghetto, Helen gives up on the story. That is, until the real Candyman comes forth. Explaining that his legend is bred only upon the fear of his believers, choosing Helen to be his victim and breath life back into his legacy. Passing off his murders as her own doing Candyman’s ploy to drive Helen into his arms works. “It was always you, Helen”. The phrase has double meaning. Only Helen can see Candyman, after the local beating she took in the ghetto. The phase indicates it could have always been Helen commiting the crimes. Losing her mind, she associates the murders to the fictional story she was obsessed with uncovering. The phrase also has a second meaning, one that is revealed at the end of the film. Believing Helen to be the reincarnation of his once true love (for whom he was killed for), Helen was always chosen to be his.
There are a few other notable stars of the film that should be mentioned. Helen’s best friend Bernadette is played by Kasi Lemmons, Kasi is better known for her roles in The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Vampire’s Kiss (1988). Helen’s husband played by Xander Berkeley is recognizable as John Conner’s “dad” in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). Well known African American actress Vanessa Williams plays Greene resident Anne-Marie. Lastly, my favorite of the Raimi Clan Ted Raimi plays Billy in the storytelling of Candyman’s babysitting massacre. Raimi and his brother’s are well known for thier work on the cult-classics The Evil Dead (1981), The Evil Dead 2 (1987), Darkman (1998) and the 200’s Spiderman films. Raimi himself is best known as the overly adorable Joxer from television’s Xena: The Warrior Princess (for which he wrote his own song Joxer The Mighty) as well as his out of print cult classic film Lunatics: A Love Story (1991).
The film takes place and is based largely on the well known housing structure in Chicago, IL. Cabrini–Green. A once striving project housing succumbed to gang violence and turned it into the notorious public housing unit. In the late 1990’s a redevelopment plan was put into effect. The last of the housing was demolished March 2011. The filming was done in the real Cabrini-Green. The filmmakers were “allowed” to film without violence if they put the gang members into the film as extras. Although, on the last day of filming a sniper bullet punctured the production van. The exact location according to an interview with Tony: Building 116. Unit C.
I can not think of Candyman without hearing the Philip Glass song that introduces the film. The song is as perfect for the film’s vibe as Todd is for the role. They were simply made for one another. It is by far my favorite piece of music in any film. I would most likely choose it over anything else to play at my funeral. The song, titled “Helen’s Theme”, is as mesmerizing to listen to as Todd’s voice. The soundtrack to Candyman is one of only a few non-lyrical compilations of film that I could recommend as a good investment.
If Madsen was unable to do the film, the part of Helen would have gone to a then-unknown actress named Sandra Bullock.
“Sweets to the Sweet” is a line from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Writer and Director Bernard Rose discovered the architectural flaw of the medicine cabinets and being able to sneak in, while doing research for the film. A series of real murders were committed this way.
When he was 4 years old Clive’s grandmother told him of a man who would cut of boy’s private parts in public restrooms. Clive retained this fear and implemented it into the story that the film is based on.
Candyman is one of the few films I can watch several times a year and never get tired of. The psychology of the fear is more alluring than the horrific deaths of his victims. Clive’s stories are always sure to leave a long lasting impression on everyone. This is especially true with the tale of Candyman.