Candyman (1992)

Urban legends.

They must come from somewhere.

They say all legends have a grain of truth, some basis of creation.

They may be nothing more than exaggerated campfire tales, moral tales to chide and curb behavior.

But what if they’re not?

Say his name 5 times in the mirror and find out…

The 101 Horror Movies brings another Clive Barker tale to the screen, in Candyman, adapted from his story “The Forbidden” by director Bernard Rose. The story follows Helen Lyle (played by the Virgina Madsen, she of the big, expressive eyes) who is working on her graduate thesis on urban legends, when she stumbles upon a possible tie-in with the real world.

It seems the Cabrini-Green housing project in Chicago is in the grips of terror, blaming the tragic events that occur in their neighborhood on a mythic being named Candyman (the Ever-Awesome Tony Todd).

Candyman was the son of a slave, who because of a love affair with a white woman, had his hand sawn off, to be replaced with a hook, and had his body smeared with the stolen honeycomb from a bee’s apiary, resulting in him being stung to death. Now he visits his vengeance on anyone fool enough to call on him.

As Helen begins to investigate she first debunks the myth, despite having stood before a mirror herself and called his name, proving that it is only gangs using the Candyman story to hold the projects in its grasp, but then other things begin to occur.

While definitely a horror film, the film doesn’t employ a large amount of jump scares, instead, making use of gore, blood, and the fear of something about to happen…

The cast is great, Tony Todd, Virgina Madsen, the always under-used Xander Berkley and a brief cameo by Ted Raimi!

As Helen investigates and the true name behind the legend begins to impose on her life, it would have perhaps been interesting if they had played up the notion a little further that Helen commits the terrible atrocities that begin to litter the film, to leave not only doubt in her mind but ours as well.

Still, the film is very enjoyable, and delightfully creepy, due in no small part to Tony Todd’s performance, and that amazing voice of his of course.

There is a wonderful, recurring piano theme woven throughout the score by composer Philip Glass that is almost reminiscent of a lullaby, almost working in concert with the concept of urban legends serving as campfire and bedtime stories.

Also present in the film is the concept that if something is believed enough then it is true, taking on its own life. Candyman comes to life because the people in the projects believe in him, consequently bringing him to life, where he lives in their dreams, nightmares, and within the walls of their apartment complex.

Candyman is a creepy little entry into the 101 Horror Movies, as we come into the last stretch of the list, can you believe there are only 16 titles left?!

So… will you stand in front of the mirror this evening and say his name 5 times? What are some of your favorite urban legends?

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