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Being a horror movie buff, I have no idea how this little gem escaped me the
first time around. I'd heard a lot about it, read about it, etc but wrote it
off as "probably stupid" like most of the other horror movies I had so
wanted to see. So, it wasn't until many years after the movie's release
that I finally saw it. And boy am I glad I did!
Surprisingly, the acting is fabulous...especially for a horror movie. Each character portrayed fantastically so as to add to the movie, rather than detract. No one really went over the top or became TOO dramatic. Overall, each character was portrayed realistically.
As for the plot: absolutely wonderful premise playing on the Bloody Mary urban legend. Surprisingly, the movie delivers on aspects of believabilty. Of course we don't *really* expect Candyman to pop out of a mirror, but how many of us have started the "Bloody Mary" chant only to stop at the very last one, not daring to continue? Our fears lie behind what COULD happen and the possibility that maybe..just maybe it's all real. Candyman plays on that fear and takes us even further over the edge.
The movie rids itself of the typical cliches (white, undefeatable stalker chasing half naked twits) and allows itself to be an entirely enjoyable, CEREBRAL horror movie. At first we wonder if the Candyman is perhaps just a person pretending to be him, then we start to question Helen's own sanity...wondering perhaps if SHE isn't the "real Candyman". Eventually, the movie leads us to an ending that answers our questions but doesn't shove those answers down our throat. Candyman also does what very few horror movies are capable of: it succeeded in having a strong ending rather than fizzling out during the last 10-15 minutes.
The setting and atmosphere are top notch. Using Chicago and Cabrini Green as its stage was perfect...bringing into play racial issues without going over the top or getting "in your face" to the point of losing its focus. The music in Candyman adds a mysterious mood that matches the dark, dismal atmosphere of the lone apartments in Cabrini Green.
All in all on my horror movie scale, I give Candyman a 10. To me, it was purely artistic and absolutely enjoyable. I HIGHLY recommend this to anyone even slightly interested in horror movies.
Deeply disturbing, intelligently made and without a screaming teen in
'Candyman' is one of the stand-out horror movies of the decade.
To just list all the elements that make this one of the classiest genre efforts of recent years would probably take up most of the thousand words I am allowed here. Suffice to say, it has a genuinely uncomfortable premise, uncompromising execution and a bone jarringly lonely score by Philip Glass. Tony Todd is exceptional as the hollow-voiced titular creature; a lost soul brought to life by the whispers of myth. At once heartbreaking and terrifying this could be the definitive latter day horror movie monster- if it wasn't just that little bit too close to Hellraiser's Pinhead. But, when you have a winning combination of elegance and disgust in a verbose, cultured villain, why alter it too much?
Virginia Madsen convinces totally as Helen; and you can almost see all the cast acting their little socks off so as not to let the side down. So good, in fact, that I'm struggling to find one bad thing to say about it.
I read here, that in the eyes of one viewer, it "dwells on the nastier things in life" and wasn't a "nice film". I can think of no greater compliment for a truly adult horror movie. No dear, you won't find happy teens in pastel t-shirts having slumber parties and discussing trendy scary movies, while some rap star tries to sell records on the soundtrack. This is a grown up film for grown up people. There is a reason horror films are for adults, and that reason is 'Candyman'.
A strong contender for the title of best horror film of the 1990's, Bernard Rose's "Candyman" is a very faithful (and therefore truly scary) adaptation of Clive Barker's skin crawling short story. This film features a very rare and successful combination of both creepy atmosphere and visual ingeniousness. Whereas most movies (especially during the 90's) can hardly focus on any of these essential horror elements, Bernard Rose masterfully succeeds in stuffing his film with genuine tension as well as shocking gore-images. The plot centers on doctoral student Helen (underrated actress Virginia Madsen in her best role) who becomes obsessed with the urban legend of a hook-handed killer that terrorizes the pauperized ghettos of the nearby Cabrini Green. Needless to say that the Candyman-myth gets a little too realistic for Helen, as everyone she comes into contact with ends up being brutally killed with a hook. The script is intelligent and always several steps ahead of you, the eerie musical guidance is brilliant and the make-up effects are fantastically gruesome. Tony Todd is ideally cast as the bogeyman, with his strong posture and above all incredibly frightening voice. The legend behind his character is staggering and it's beautiful to see how director Rose plays with the realism and surrealism of Barker's basic idea. Not many horror films of the 90's decade come with my highest possible recommendation, but this one definitely does. And don't forget, the Candyman CAN rip you to pieces!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Look into a mirror, preferably alone at night, and say "candy-man" 5
times and...uh...see what happens. Little known Bernard Rose directed
this terrifying horror/suspense/thriller set and filmed in Chicago. The
story is adapted from a novel by horror master Clive Barker. Two
attractive female graduate students research an urban "myth" only to
discover it may not be a myth, or is it? That's the premise of this
tightly written and directed film, which does for looking into mirrors
what Psycho did for taking showers. This is a thinking man's horror
film that scares the daylights out of you at times while still leading
you to think beyond what's on the screen.
It's much more than just a horror film with a creepy man goring people to death. It exploits many of our deepest fears about society and in ourselves, such as: what can happen in a run down public housing complex (Chicago's notorious Cabrini-Green projects), and can our fears remove the certainty of what we know to be untrue? Rose expertly weaves in Hitchcockian themes of being wrongly accused, emotional vulnerability, and psychological exploitation, while maintaining interest and building a high level of tension throughout the film. Philip Glass' quasi-religious score consistently provides an eerie companion when the camera takes us into seemingly normal locations, like a public restroom for instance. Truly one of the very best horror films of the 90's that can disturb your thoughts, penetrate your sense of security, and still provide disturbing gore and violence. This film is not for the faint of heart. Virginia Madsen stars as the main character and doesn't strike a false note. Tony Todd is the candy-man, and he doesn't appear to deliver gumdrops. Don't look behind you! *** of 4 stars.
Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) doctoral student, and wife of a collage
professor, is doing research on urban legends and mythological folklore
for her school thesis. Though, there is one legend which gets her
attention and leads her to rundown housing block where the residents
believe that the murders that took place there were done by the
hook-handed serial killer The Candyman (Tony Todd). A mysterious figure
that can be summoned by repeating his name five times while looking in
the mirror. Which Helen does and now her life turns into horrifying
nightmare, which teeters between reality and myth, as she gets closer
to the truth about the Candyman.
Second time around and this memorable piece hasn't lost any of its effect. It's not only a incredibly brood horror film that manages to create an creeping/ingenious plot with such an unsettling physiological tone, but also providing some generally horrific shocks that creep up on you and aren't for the squeamish. So, it's far from your normal slasher and it just doesn't concentrate on the violence for a change. Not only does the plot build on this mystical legend constructively, but also there's also some solid social commentary on the mindset towards race and sex, which added more to this cleverly layered plot (or should I say tragic love story). What is so great about the screenplay is that you yourself feel apprehensive to what's happening to the protagonist and to where this story is heading by playing on what people believe and how these believes can overcome them. Plus it makes great use of the Chicago's gloomy surroundings. Not only does the film have substance, but also style to boot. The direction by Bernard Rose is quite brilliant, with Rose superbly mixing visuals that gel myth and reality superbly. Particularly the well-crafted encounters between Helen and the Candyman - these sequences were incredibly hair-raising. He creates such a glum and dark atmosphere within these rundown buildings filled with vibrant artwork, the richly layered aura goes hand-to-hand with the moody legend. The slow pacing of the film is perfect; there are no tedious blotches because you are totally wrapped in the story and by the delightful performances. The death toll isn't big, but there are some real gruesome deaths, with A LOT blood. The make-up and special effects are extremely thoughtful and inventive. Phillip Glass' extremely effective score deserves such high praise. Soothing, but also haunting and was incredibly effective towards building towards such an almighty blow. Another bonus was the smooth as silk camera-work; it captured the balanced layout of Chicago with plenty of stunning Ariel shots (great intro). Overall, I was just amazed by this beautifully planned production.
What a horror icon! Tony Todd totally nails down such a terrifying and profound performance as the mythical being The Candyman. I believe this horror character totally wipes the floor clean of the other icons of its genre and who created him? No other than from the dark mind of Clive Baker (Hellraiser), who brings this frightening thriller alive, which is basically based on Baker's short story - The Forbidden. He came up with a unique horror character that's downright unnerving, completely authentic and has a lot of depth. But Tony Todd's towering figure and eerie voice has a lot to owe to that and to make one tremble in his presence! Virginia Madsen gives a stellar performance as Helen Lyle, who we really do care for her and feel what she is feeling. Good supporting roles from Xander Berkley as Helen's Husband, Kasi Lemmons as her friend/student who's also working with her their thesis and Vanessa Williams as Anne-Marie McCoy who lives in the rundown estate. The dialogue was packed with depth, but also laced with interesting topics and Todd's lines were pretty much poetic and smooth.
The one and only "small" negative would be the ending for me. I was somewhat let down by the second ending and I thought maybe it could've done without it. It just felt tact on. Anyhow it didn't stop it from being damn right creepy and it does pack a real unsteadiness.
To get in the mood of it, I say it's definitely a film to watch late at night alone.
One of the clever horror films (if not the best) of that disappointing decade they call the '90s for horror films. If you're looking for a serious horror (before Scream's imitators made a mockery of the slasher sub-genre), I highly recommend this provocative slasher that doesn't cop out the audience.
`Candyman' is a very frightening and yet intriguing and compelling movie
that plays upon and cleverly manipulates old urban legends and myths of
folklore and brings to life some of your worst nightmares and horrors. As
far as scary movies go it falls into a category of its own in terms of its
depth and excellence
One of the main strengths of this movie is that the script and the character performances are so powerful and credible that it doesn't feel the need to inject unnecessary horror/graphic/violent scenes into it to sensationalize it. Sure, there is an extensive amount of blood and gore in the movie but it nevertheless fits in with the plot and isn't added in just to give the film an unnecessary `horror' feel. The chilling and terrifying aspects of this movie come from the dialogue, the sequence of events and the emotions and personas revealed in the characters. The plot and the script is enough to leave you mesmerized throughout the whole movie and to remain on the edge of your seat with the anticipation of what is going to happen next. The producers and scriptwriters must receive top marks for the wonderful way in which they enriched the whole movie by relying on the script and the acting instead of adding cheap gimmicks into it to make it more frightening. In addition to that the lighting and the scenery around the whole movie makes it even more frightening
I have always thought Virginia Madsen to be a highly talented, qualified and excellent actress whose wonderful acting and gifted performances have been consistently overlooked when allocating movie roles. For me `Candyman' confirmed this thesis. Her portrayal of Helen Lyle is truly one of the most excellent portrayals of a character I have seen recently. She gives her character so much depth, dimension and genuine emotions. Tony Todd also emerges from this film as a very talented and wonderful actor. The amount of depth, dimension and persona that he gives to the character of the `Candyman' is amazing. Although the Candyman is in many ways a truly evil and frightening character, you also can't help but feel a great deal of sympathy for him at times and this too is a testament to Todd's acting. The supporting cast particularly Vanessa Williams and even the young kid who Helen interviews while in the neighbourhood-also deserve an honourable mention for giving their characters such a realistic edge.
I would recommend this movie it is chilling, frightening, intriguing, compelling, sad and wonderful all in one. One of the best movies I have ever seen in this genre
College student (Virginia Madsen) decides to write a paper on a slave (Tony
Todd) who was killed for simply being in love with a white woman. Legend has
it if you call out his name several times, he will appear and kill you to
avenge his death. Naturally Madsen is disbelieving of this, but Todd starts
butchering off all of her friends and framing her in order to make her
This film is so intense and frightening, that when I first saw this on home video with all of the lights on, I actually had to call my mother and get her to come over and comfort me, because this film scared me to death. Tony Todd is perfect in a menacing performance as the villain and Virginia Madsen makes the perfect victim capturing the right balance between terror and disbelief. The myths and legends behind the film are so complex and so fascinating that this film could have gone on for at least another hour and not be one bit overlong. There is plenty of characterization and atmosphere and the settings for the film are very well chosen. However, working somewhat against the film are some of the supporting actors, poor special effects, and an ultra gimmickey ending that feels as though it belongs in another film given the tone and subject matter of this film.
Rated R; Graphic Violence, Profanity, and Brief Nudity.
Candyman is one of my all time favorite horror movies. It is genuinely
scary, and it makes one have second thoughts when standing in front of a
What I particularly enjoyed about the movie is the multidimensional development of the plot at the sociological, psychological, and parapsychological level. The first scene of the movie presents in a nutshell the experience that the viewer is going to have, an experience so common (regarding urban legends) yet so distant.
The acting (esp. by Virginia Madsen) is superb. The setting could not be more perfect. The shaggy, derelict apartment buildings at Cabrini Green create the proper ambience for what is to follow.
Certainly the gory scenes are not very attractive, and in a way such explicit portrayal does not seem necessary, since the psychological suspense is the driving force of the movie. Also the ending is rather anticlimactic and overdrawn. Disappointing sequel....
Fun to watch with people who scare easily!
As far as horror films go, this movie will scare the living daylights
out of anyone! Clive Barker's novel "The Forgotten" is the basis for
this picture that shows a lot of style under the direction of Bernard
Rose. This nightmarish tale is translated for the screen by the author
and its director.
The two principals, Helen, brilliantly played by the gorgeous Virginia Madsen, and Tony Todd, as the Candyman, enhance the picture. Ms. Madsen plays Helen the student finishing her thesis in urban legends. She makes the mistake of going to the projects to do some research, only to learn much more of what really happened at the scene of the crime. Helen tempts the Candyman. He comes back to haunt her as we discover that this is a story that is being replayed and must have a closure. Tony Todd makes a smashing appearance and runs away with the movie.
The special effects are cleverly done. The brilliant costumes by Leonard Pollack add a touch of class to the proceedings.
This is a film to watch with someone, as it can cause nightmares for a long, long time.
We've all heard urban legends, just about every town seems to have a
few. The questions of course is whether or not any of them are based on
fact. There's the old favorite about the couple in a parked car
harassed by a man with a hook, but did that really happen? It sure
makes a good premise for a Horror movie and has been done a number of
times, though not always successfully. The most recent example is of
course the 'Urban Legend' series of films, which started pretty decent,
but quickly became tired. A few years prior came a film that not only
brought urban legends to the screen, but made many afraid to look into
a mirror for a long time, including yours truly.
Pros: Solid performances. Another terrific directing job by Bernard Rose. Phillip Glass's score is both beautiful and haunting. Beautiful cinematography. Great script. Terrifying villain that fortunately doesn't spout one-liners. Well-paced. Suspenseful. Some really powerful scares.
Cons: The last few moments really weren't needed and actually cheapen the film a tiny bit.
Final thoughts: Many say 'The Exorcist' is the scariest film they've ever seen. That film certainly effected me the first time I saw it, but not nearly as much as this one. It would be years before I was OK with being alone in the bathroom alone at night. Any movie that has that kind of effect on a person must be pretty darn scary. 'Candyman' is without question one of the greatest Horror films of not only the 1990s, but period.
My rating: 4.5/5
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