Film Review: Candyman (1992)

SYNOPSIS:Helen Lyle is a student who decides to write a thesis about local legends and myths. She visits a part of Chicago, where she learns about the legend of the Candyman, a one-armed man who appears when you say his name five times, in front of a mirror.

REVIEW:

Written and Directed by: Bernard Rose
Starring: Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd, Xander Berkeley and Kasi Lemmons

Hello, blood thirsty boils and ghouls. Look at yourself in the mirror and repeat five time…”I must see this film.” That’s right, Horror hounds, it’s Candyman. The film based off of the short story The Forbidden (found in the anthology In the Flesh), by Horror Master Clive Barker (Hellraiser, Lord of Illusions, Nightbreed and his most recent masterpiece of the macabre, Midnight Meat Train).

Virginia Madsen plays Helen Lyle, a college student that is married to a Professor at the University named Trevor. She and her close friend, Bernadette are doing a thesis on urban legends. During their investigative reporting, Helen stumbles across the legendary tale of Candyman, who’s actual name is Daniel Roebetie, played by Tony Todd (Final Destination series, Murder-Set-Pieces). “If you look in the mirror and say his name five times, he’ll appear behind you, breathing down your neck.” She becomes obsessed with the tale and somewhat caught in a web of disbelief. Helen drags Bernadette along to Caprini Green, an apartment complex where a woman was supposedly murdered by the infamous one handed phantom. His other hand is cut off and bares a rusty hook in its place.

As Helen becomes more entangled in the myth, all hell breaks loose upon her psyche, her voyage to find out more about the legend and her home life as well. She is stalked by Candyman as he leaves a trail of bodies behind the both of them. Helen seeks some inquiry on the apartment complex, Caprini Green, by a tenant named Anne-Marie McCorey. She is soon blamed for the murders as well as the kidnapping of Ann-Marie’s child and murder and decapitation of her dog. At the same time, Trevor is having an affair on her with a much younger student of his. Helen is locked up and escapes to find Trevor playing house with his newly found student body.
Candyman is determined to make Helen believe his myth as a reality. He doesn’t want to kill her, he wants her to join him and become a legend herself. Helen will stop at nothing to make others believe that she is not responsible for the gruesome murders which have followed her around as she looks into his forbidden legacy. Her dear friend, Bernadette becomes a victim in the process. Helen hallucinates at the most inconvenient moments (such as strapped down in a bed while heavily sedated for supposedly committing these brutal crimes. She keeps trying to believe that through it all, Trevor is always by her side. Little does Helen know, he’s not out until three in the morning grading papers but in fact, student bodies.

Tony Todd’s role as Candyman couldn’t have been played by a better actor. He has a menacing appearance that also sets a gloomy presence which attracts Virginia Manson and strings her along for this decent into the heart of the ghettos of Chicago, and into a macabre realm of romance and murder. His amplified voice adds to the horrific ambiance and setting. Virginia Madsen does a swell job playing the victimized student in search for answers as well. You can see the determined woman trying to finish her thesis, the victimized wife as her husband Trevor cheats on her with the attractive, younger student and the frightened and confused girl inside as she can not make any sense of the bodies turning up around her. The special effects are effective as well and the murders of the film are quite brutal, along with the use of bees and an awesome rib cage provided by the Special Effects team.

This film is a must see classic for any Horror fan. It was followed by two sequels that absolutely blow goat, compared to the original. The sequels mess up the story line, but still star Tony Todd as the hook wielding killer in the mirror. That is the only plus about them, in my opinion. The movie, compared to the story, The Forbidden (an awesome read as well) have the same names, but are portrayed differently in the film. Bernadette is an assistant of Trevor’s, instead of Helen’s best friend. The story told to her about the boy found in the bathroom with his member missing had some major alterations.

Some of the stories in the book told of the legend have been altered in the movie as well, but that doesn’t make it any less of a kick ass film. As with most story to film adaptations, this usually happens. I’m just more use to seeing cut out or added story line. I don’t see too many of them change things up, such as this adaptation. The parts added for the movie are just as effective and disturbing. Not to say that Mr. Barker’s story isn’t. If you’re a reader as well, check out the short story. The blood flows throughout and it is one dark ride. After all, “What’s blood for… if not for shedding.” It is grade A Horror with a little, twisted love tale intertwined within. Candyman also includes an awesome and creepy score by composer, Philip Glass. The soundtrack is the score throughout the film, which goes into different pieces, while keeping the same general progression throughout.

The ending is somewhat of a shocker, if you don’t see it coming. Nevertheless, it f*cking rocks and not in an upbeat sort of way, which is just the way I like them. Down notes galore and buckets of gore. All in all, I give Candyman (…and The Forbidden, the short story in which the film was based) FOUR HORNS UP.

Until next time, this was Jay… Keep one foot in the grave, one fist in the guts and your eyes

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