Friday, April 10, 2015


"Candyman" (1992)
Directed by Bernard Rose

I said, Candyman five times, while looking in the mirror today and nothing happened.

   Have you ever seen the film, "Candyman"? In it, Tony Todd plays Candyman, an urban boogeyman that manifests when you say his name five times while looking at a mirror. This hook-handed villain was the first black slasher that I knew of in horror movie history. I still think that he is. (Sorry, Blacula.) Although Candyman never reached the heights of popularity as Jason or Freddy, he does have his own action figure and something of a loyal cult following.
   The film is adapted from a short story by Clive Barker called, "The Forbidden" and directed by Bernard Rose, who may be better known for his Beethoven bio-pic "Immortal Beloved". I always enjoyed his 1988 fantasy horror film, "Paperhouse".
   The first time that I saw "Candyman" was at the theater when it opened back in 1992. Since then, I have owned it in my collection for a long time and watch it every now and then. For me, this is one of those films that gets better every time that I watch it, but not in that, "Oh my God! This movie is SO GOOD!" kind of way. No. In a much more subtle way.

   I watched it again the other day. It had been a few years since I had last watched it and sure enough, the film went and got better on me. But wait, the movie never changes. I'm the one that changes. Why do I find this movie better as I get older? I think I know why.
Here's my theory:
   In the early 90's, it was still too close to the 1980's for me not to compare "Candyman" to all those popular 80's slasher films. After all, this movie is named after it's villain. It must have been an attempt to start a new franchise. (For the record, two more "Candyman" films were released straight to video, after this one and neither are very good, in my opinion.) As a teenager, I could see that it was a good film, but I didn't realize that it was a better film than I was giving it credit for. Candyman did not slice and dice his way through his movie, the way Jason, Freddy, Michael and other slashers had gotten me used to. At the time, I must have felt a little ripped off.

   Now that I am far removed from the Slasher-rific 80's, I have learned that there is more to a horror film than the formula: Killer Kills Kids...Done. Now, I can appreciate a good story and suspense. The early 90's are looked upon as a weak time for horror films. It was the late 90's that are credited for the horror comeback. Is this fair? I understand that history will remember things the way it already does, but does that mean that the first five or six years of 90's were weak, or did it just take that long for horror fans to shake the 80's out of their systems and be ready to move on?

Here are some things that I really like about "Candyman":
He talks, but he's not some wisecracking comedian like Freddy Krueger.
Sometimes, when he talks, he doesn't move his lips. You just hear his thoughts. That's creepy!
His voice is amazing. (In other words: Tony Todd's voice is amazing.)
His look: The coat, the bloody hook hand, the bees that come out of his mouth, ALL cool!
The line, "Be my victim." (In Tony Todd's voice, it sends chills up the spine.)
That scene where he is floating above Helen, while she is tied down in the psychiatric hospital. Nightmarish.
The way he flies out the glass window backwards. Like a boss.

   I have one question: Why is he called "Candyman"? His back story never clarifies this. I've never read the story, "The Forbidden" by Clive Barker.  Although this is not addressed in the film, this question is answered in that book.
   I have a running joke of why he is called, Candyman. I like to pretend that the moment the film's director, Bernard Rose, found out that the villain was going to be black, he was like: "I've got a great idea! Since he's black, we'll call him Candyman!"
(What ever person Bernard is talking to): "Why would you call him Candyman, just because he's black?"
Bernard: "Because if Candyman is the only black slasher, let's name him after a hit cover song by the only black member of the Rat Pack: Sammy Davis Jr.!"

   I know. Not funny. But please, if a re-make ever happens, can we get that version of the song in the closing credits?

   My other awful joke that I thought of, is in regards to the most significant black Pro-Wrestler in wrestling history: Booker T.
Booker was the 5 time WCW Champion. In his promos, he would remind you, "I'm the 5 time, 5 time, 5 time, 5 time, 5 time WCW Champion!"
Maybe, he was the WCW Champion 5 times so that he could say that line 5 times to honor that you have to say Candyman 5 times to summon him. Kind of a nod from one black icon to another.

...crickets chirping.

I just mentioned Sammy Davis Jr. and Booker T in a "Candyman" blog piece. I can cross that one off the bucket list.

I have to go now. I'm going to look in a mirror, to say Candyman's name five times. I think it's going to work this time.
I want him to teach me how to do that "float above a person while they're lying down" thing.

(Artwork by Isaac Keith Martinez)

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