Candyman (1992) Poster

(1992)

User Reviews

Add a Review
231 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
9/10
Adult horror strikes back
Steevh18 May 1999
Deeply disturbing, intelligently made and without a screaming teen in sight, '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'.
108 out of 121 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
The Candyman definitely can...
ivony9 September 2003
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.
114 out of 129 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
A spooky, but also well thought out tale!
mylimbo2 September 2005
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.
47 out of 52 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Who wants candy now, huh? Didn't think so…
Coventry6 October 2005
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!
73 out of 91 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Candyman! Candyman! Candyman! Candyman! ... I'll Stop Here
CitizenCaine15 January 2004
Warning: 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.
48 out of 60 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A truly wonderful, chilling, compelling and high quality masterpiece
president24200722 May 2004
`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
40 out of 50 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
* * * out of 4.
brandonsites198110 September 2002
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 believe.

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.
33 out of 46 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Dare you say his name five times... "Candyman"
dee.reid9 October 2004
Undoubtedly one of the more original and frightening horror movies of the early 90s, Bernard Rose's "Candyman," an adaptation of famed author Clive Barker's "The Forbidden," stands well on its own as an effectively creepy film.

I was only about six or seven when I first heard the terrifying "Bloody Mary" legend, which was similar to the Candyman legend. And I'm sure others have heard stories about alligators in the sewer or the hesitant 911 operator. Indeed, the "Candyman" and "Bloody Mary" legends do share some common ground, in that if you chant their names before a mirror "x" number of times, they'll appear behind you and hack you to pieces.

I used to believe in these legends - when I was kid - but as I grew older, I realized that they're just legends and therefore aren't meant to be taken literally. But that's the central dilemma with 1992's "Candyman": If you believe in something enough, will that belief make fiction reality?

The Candyman (Tony Todd) has claimed responsibility for a series of grisly slayings in a particularly rough Chicago housing project, and Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) is anxious to discredit the myths. But when she is falsely accused of several brutal murders, could the Candyman be out for revenge, because she doubted him?

I'll admit upfront that I'm not familiar with the works of Clive Barker, who is clearly one of the most talented writers of the last 20 years. Only this film and "Hellraiser" have been able to capture my interest, unfortunately. "Candyman" is certainly a terrifying experience from start to finish, as you can't really be sure if the hook-handed spectral entity of the title actually exists in the physical world.

10/10
20 out of 27 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
ok, a little anticlimactic, so what?
tht3 September 1999
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 mirror.

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!
27 out of 38 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
One of my favourite horror films! Spoilers!
Skeptic45921 January 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I love the horror genre! I grew up loving films that scared the hell out of me! Candyman is excellent because it is a film that I genuinely found very twisted and disturbing when I saw it at the tender age of 15.

Check this out, 'It is a blessed condition believe me. To be whispered about in street corners...to live in other peoples dreams...but not to have to be...do you understand?'

How cool is that quote! I am going to throw in a few quotes in this review because the writing of this film is really, really cool! The Candyman is not an inarticulate Jason or Michael Myers. He has the vocabulary of a homicidal drama professor who likes Richard Burton. Candyman is the thinking person's horror film. It explores the notion of the urban myth. The Candyman exists because people tell the stories about him. They spread the myth making him flesh.

Unfortunately for researcher Helen Lyle, she doesn't know any of this. She investigates the urban myth of the Candyman, seeking to debunk it and her fate becomes sealed. Hey! Writing a paper isn't worth being burned alive! The film rests on the central idea that fiction can suddenly become real life if enough people believe in the myth. Boogey men can therefore be created if enough people believe in monsters. This theme is familiar to the director Bernard Rose. I recommend another one of his films called 'Paperhouse.' This is about the imagination of a little girl that starts to manifest in reality. It is also quite good although not as scary. The original story of how the Candyman was made is horrific and just deepens the mystery. This is not a film like the Friday the 13th series. This is far more cerebral and relies much more on its concepts.

The Candyman is the whisper in the classroom that will exist forever. When Helen sets out to debunk the Candyman, this is essentially like trying to murder him. 'Your disbelief destroyed the faith of my congregation. Without them, I am nothing.' Debunking the Candyman will destroy his immortality. The only way the Candyman can exist is through the shedding of innocent blood so that the stories of him can continue to proliferate. So when Helen decides that the Candyman is actually a local drug dealer hiding behind the Candyman identity. She feels that she has solved the mystery of the mysterious murders that the Candyman has committed. What Helen does not know is that the Candyman is a kind of a physical manifestation of the Jungian collective unconscious. The Candyman takes his revenge, he feels obliged to come, after all she has caused much doubt about his actual existence. The Candyman tears away Helen's day to day reality. Driving her into what other people think is her own insanity. Now she knows the truth of the Candyman...

The conversations between Helen and the Candyman are haunting. What is also interesting is that sadism and masochism are major features in Clive Barker's work. 'The pain I assure you, will be exquisite.' S&M tendencies! This is one dark and twisted piece of celluloid! The acting is also really good from both actors. The final scene is horrific as Helen tries to rescue a baby in a blazing woodpile and is burnt alive! Helen herself then becomes part of the legend and therefore comes back as another physical manifestation of legend. However, remember this is not Helen's ghost but a construction of Helen through the beliefs of those who believe this mysterious urban legend. Candyman says it best...

'Your death will be a tale to frighten children...to make lovers cling closer in their rapture. Come with me and be immortal...' Genius.

This film also has a great soundtrack, a very haunting score.

Candyman is a very interesting film that originates from the absolutely twisted mind of Clive Barker. This is brilliant, well written horror. 9 out of 10.

By the way avoid the sequels. I saw number 2 and it just ruins the whole thing. Think of this as the one and only.
12 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Near-perfect but often misunderstood horror.
johnpetersen17 May 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Candyman is one of my all-time favorite horror movies, and it seems to me that it is often underappreciated and misunderstood. It is a rarity in its genre, for it goes deeper than the standard formula horror movie, presenting a story under a story. While it contains plenty of frightening shocks and gore, that is only the suurface level, and the focus for watching it the first time. After the first time, pay careful attention to the dialogue and the interactions between Helen and the Candyman. The Candyman is not what he first appears to be.

<SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON...STOP HERE IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE!>

The biggest complaints I usually hear about this movie are of plot holes. People often ask, "Why does the Candyman haunt the black population instead of the descendents of those who killed him?" or, "Why does the hook make Helen come back when it is not what made Candyman come back?" or other similar questions. These are valid questions about the ghost story concerning Daniel Robetei, but they entirely miss the point of the movie. That point is that the incarnation we see of Candyman in the movie is NOT the ghost of Daniel Robetei. Forget what the pointless sequels lead you to believe, for in the first movie, as well as the original story "The Forbidden" by Clive Barker, the Candyman is an incarnation of the faith of those who tell stories about him. There is no ghost of Daniel Robetei, but rather an entity that is formed by rumor, faith, fear, and the story itself. It seems to me that almost everyone misses this point, but it is there, clear as day, if you listen closely to the dialogue. Of course, reading the original story helps shed a little light on this as well, and it can be found in Clive Barker's "In the Flesh," a collection of short stories. So, Candyman haunts the black population because they are the ones who tell the stories and believe in him. He is constantly asking Helen to "be his witness" in order to strengthen their belief, and his offer to her to live forever is literal. If she does become his witness, she will become a part of the story, and a part of the creative force that allows Candyman to exist. In the end, Helen returns because the population of Cabrini Green makes her a part of the story.

I hope this sheds a little light on the story for those of you stuck on the plot holes. This really is a fantastic, original story that is much more complex than that of any other horror movie I have seen. Not to mention that the performances are fantastic. Tony Todd and Virginia Madsen have a fantastic chemistry that is very convincing. The only gripe I have about this movie is the p***-poor actress they picked for Helen's husband's girlfriend. So, watch it first for the shocks, but watch it again for the deeper story buried within.

Definately a perfect 10/10.
9 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Beware of the medicine cabinet!
jotix10021 October 2004
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.
27 out of 40 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Modern Horror Masterpiece.
Mr_Ectoplasma12 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Clive Barker's "Candyman" is an excellent example of a good horror film. The movie is about Helen Lyle, a woman who is investigating urban legends and mythology. While doing research, she comes across the tale of the Candyman, an African-American artist who had his arm sawed off, and was attacked by a swarm of bees hundreds of years ago after having an affair with a white woman. Supposedly, if you say "Candyman" in the mirror five times, the Candyman will appear to you, with his big hook-hand, and brutally murder you. While investigating unsolved murders within the city that are suspected to be caused by the Candyman, Helen herself becomes entangled in the legend, and the Candyman begins appearing to her. Soon, Helen's life goes into a downward spiral as she is accused of murder, while the Candyman tries to make her one of his new victims.

Clive Barker must have a pretty good imagination, because this is quite a unique horror story. I don't think I've ever heard of a story like this, so the movie is definitely original. The plot is woven very neatly, with plenty of scary moments and artistic touches, making it a beautiful horror film. Virginia Madsen was excellent and convincing in this movie, the audience really sympathizes with her as her life is turned upside down by the Candyman, and in the end, she still turns out to be a hero. Tony Todd was seriously scary in his role of the Candyman himself, with his creepy stare and his low-key voice. There are some genuinely gruesome death scenes in this movie, and the sequences where the Candyman appears to Helen were extremely well-done and scary. Tony Todd was the perfect Candyman, his dead-serious facial expressions and low, menacing voice adds to the overall creepy effect of his character.

The film takes place in the inner-city area of Chicago, and the film includes undertones of racial issues that play in well with the setting and the characters in the movie, without going over-the-top. The music in this film is one of the most memorable things about it though. It's an eerie, haunting score that is used in the scenes very appropriately and makes things much more unsettling and spooky, as if things aren't creepy enough.

Overall, "Candyman" is a breath of fresh air in the horror genre. It's imaginative, it's morbid, it's artistic, and it's an all around good horror movie. If you are a fan of scary films or have the slightest interest in the genre, I highly recommend this. "Candyman" is undoubtedly one of the best horror films of the decade. 10/10.
8 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
The Best Horror Film of the '90's.
BigShemp28 August 1999
Managing to be both frightening and classy, this is a nerve-wracking experience. Masterfully written and directed by Bernard Rose, the film creates its own fascinating mythology, which, given the fact that it was based on a Clive Barker story, isn't much of a surprise. Much better than the resultant sequels, this is one not to be missed.
8 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
One of the best Clive Barker adaptations for screen
lizimal30 March 2004
Candyman is an elegant little gem of a horror film, combining the best elements of the Clive Barker story it's drawn from with the imaginings of the director/writer of the film.

Starring Virginia Madsen, who is at her absolute best in this film, which is reason enough to see it in my opinion, Candyman tells a wonderfully dark tale of love, death and revenge. This is brilliantly set against mirrored worlds in Chicago, Virginia Madsen's character's posh upscale condo and its twin, the project Cabrini Green. There is much going on within this film, beyond just the surface tale of horror, as there is in any good horror film. It's a morality play, a story about how we deal, or rather don't deal, with race relations, and a really beautifully twisted love story as well, as all of Barker's works are.

If you've never had a chance to see this wonderful film, please give it a chance. Tony Todd's voice will tingle your spine, there's enough gore for slasher film addicts to keep interested, but don't let that blind you to the smart, elegantly crafted story underneath. This is one 'Candy' that only gets sweeter with each repeated viewing.
7 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Candyman was beautiful
Bobo-538 August 1999
Candyman was a horror movie that required an open mind. It was a beautiful movie with what was, by far, the most fitting ending that such a movie can have. The premise was unique and creative, and the movie required some thought as to what really went on in the film, but I praise it as the greatest horror/slasher film since 79.
7 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Her Disbelief Brought Him Back
Claudio Carvalho5 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
In Chicago, Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) and her friend Bernadette Walsh (Kasi Lemmons) are researching for their thesis about urban legend in the University of Illinois, where Helen's husband Trevor Lyle (Xander Berkeley) gives classes. Helen becomes obsessed by the legend of the Candyman (Tony Todd), a son of slaves whose father became rich in 1890 after inventing a device for mass producing of shoes. The educated Candyman was an artist, but when the daughter of a powerful man got pregnant of him, her father hired some hooligans that saw off his right hand with a rusty blade, took him to an apiary with dozens of hives with hungry bees, smashed the hives and smeared honeycomb in his naked body. Candyman was stung to death by the bees, than his body was burnt in a giant pyre and the ashes scattered on Cabrini Green. Candyman stays alive in the legend that says that he would appear if his name is spoken five times in front of the mirror, and the skeptical Helen summons Candyman. Helen and Bernadette go to Cabrini Green, where two unsolved murders had happened, and the dwellers blame Candyman for the crimes. Helen's disbelief brings Candyman back; the dog of Cabrini Green's dweller Anne-Marie McCoy (Vanessa Williams) is slashed and her baby vanishes, and Helen is blamed. Later Candyman kills her friend Bernadette, and Helen is accused of first degree murder and arrested, while she unsuccessfully tries to prove that Candyman is the real killer.

"Candyman" is a gore and well-developed horror movie with a character visibly inspired in the urban legend of Bloody Mary. The screenplay sustains the ambiguity of Helen's sanity, and it is never clear if Candyman does really exist or the murders are committed by the disturbed and impressed Helen. Virginia Madsen is excellent in her performance of a woman in the edge of insanity and Tony Todd is amazing with his strong and dark voice. The great music score of Philip Glass fits perfectly to the movie and is another plus. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "O Mistério de Candyman" ("The Mystery of Candyman")
8 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Underrated Classic
Gafke20 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Grad students Helen and Bernie are gathering information for their masters thesis concerning urban legends when Helen runs across the tale of Candyman, a demon who can be conjured by saying his name five times in front of a mirror. Further research leads Helen to Cabrini Green, a frightening ghetto project where everyone not only knows about Candyman but believe in him, and fear him. Helen does not believe in the legend of Candyman, until Candyman comes looking for her. When Bernie is brutally murdered and a baby goes missing from the projects, Helen is arrested, having been found at the scene of both crimes, covered in blood and wielding a weapon. No one believes her claims, that it was Candyman who committed the crimes. But Candyman offers her a bargain: her life in exchange for the baby's, who is still alive. Cruelly abandoned by her cheating jerk of a husband and pursued by the police, Helen returns to the projects for a final showdown with Candyman.

Based on Clive Barker's short story "The Forbidden," Candyman is a combination of the Bloody Mary legend, the Guy Fawkes celebration and The Phantom of the Opera. Virginia Madsen as Helen is beautiful and tragic and also damn scary when she wants to be. Tony Todd as Candyman is both horrific and tragic, evoking true, dark, Gothic horror whenever he appears on the screen. This is a stunningly original film, heavy with dread and never once going in for cheap scares. The acting is flawless, the musical score is creepy as hell, filled with ghostly organ music which sets just the right tone of sadness and fear. The setting of Cabrini Green is frighteningly convincing - it's a scary enough place without Candyman, filled with hopelessness and the constant threat of death. The violence is brutal and bloody, so be warned.

This is not your typical teenage slasher film. Anyone with an appreciation for urban myths and legends, and for Clive Barker's excellent morbid imagination should not miss this film. It is a genuinely dark, moving tale of love, blood and horror, boasting realistic, three-dimensional characters instead of the usual one dimensional meat puppets for the horror grinder.

See it at least once!
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Disappointing.
zmaturin3 May 2000
With his big fur coat, giant hook hand, and bee-stung body, Candyman is a very cool character, played by Tony Todd, a very cool actor. Unfortunately, he's only in this movie for about twelve minutes. The rest of the time is spent with an uninteresting grad student who is doing research on urban legends (horror movies have taught me that there's always a class on urban legends at every college). She unearths the tale of Candyman, which apparently ticks the guy off, because he lives on through word of mouth, and if she demystifies him he'll die- I think. The movie's kind of confusing. At one point the uninteresting grad student talks to an older colleague who also wrote a paper on Candyman, but Candyman seemingly has no interest in killing him- oh, wait, because the uninteresting grad student is a reincarnation of his past love or something. Again, the movie's kind of confusing. Not very scary, either- although the part where Candyman slices off a young boy's genitalia and throws them in a toilet goes beyond any John Waters movie in the ugly bad taste department.

This movie has a lot of good ideas, and the art direction is good, but the slow pacing and dull characters really hurt it. Despite a cameo from Ted Raimi, I can't recommend this movie. It's stuff like this that keep Clive Barker from becoming "future of horror".
11 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
The Best Horror Film of 1992
robert haynes6 July 2013
Candyman is undoubtedly the best horror film of 1992. Released with very little fanfare the film became a surprise hit and I remember why.

Having been one of those lucky individuals to see the film five, yes five times on its initial theatrical run, I think it's safe to say that I'm a fan.

The ability that director Bernard Rose has to create a palpable sense of dread is evident in every frame of this film. This is what true horror is all about. Candyman is extremely suspenseful and intensely creepy, in fact just writing about it I can already feel the hairs on my arms standing up again. It's that affecting!

Virginia Madsen is superbly cast as Helen, a flawed but likable heroine the audience cares deeply about. Her journey into madness is one that we empathize with every brutal step of the way. You don't want bad things to happen to her because you've fallen in love with her. How Madsen wasn't nominated for an Oscar for this performance is still beyond me.

Tony Todd is also an antihero with a personality and a rich one at that. The film is violent but the gore never becomes comedic. It sets the perfect tone of brutality.

Candyman cannot come more highly recommended. It's a truly terrifying psychological art-house horror with standout performances and a deeply haunting score by Philip Glass. Horror films DO NOT get any better than this. Prepared to be scared.

A terrific 10!
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Dare you to say it, cause I don't.
toll-829 September 2011
Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman…….. Not even looking in a mirror but I don't dare finish the phrase. I can see my reflection in the computer screen. Maybe that counts, I don't know. No hook so far, I'm safe.

Most of you will be thinking that this film will be typical. Looking back at it now, from the teens to the nineties you will be thinking another typical Nightmare On Elm Street or Friday the 13th that will be remade very shortly as a Hollywood slasher flick. I have to say on first impression of this film, this was not the case.

The first forty minutes follow Helen (Madsen), a student researching for her thesis on urban horror. To accompany her on her project is her best friend Bernadette (Lemmons), who unwittingly helps Helen delve deep into the theories behind one of the great legends, that of the 'Candyman.' Say his name five times and he'll cut you with his hook of a hand. They interview people from a rundown council estate, a place where a while back a girl was murdered after stating Candyman's name five times into the mirror. Her body was then sliced open from groin to gullet. The residents believe it has some mystic reason but Helen just shrugs it off and researches the building without any care. She finds, hidden away behind the mirror a secret lair, which has signs of life to it. Intrigued by this she goes in taking photos. Photos she believes will help her ace her project. Bernadette on the other hand is more interested in their safety.

Helen gets rid of the shackle that is Bernadette and continues her research alone but comes unstuck when she meets 'Candyman' himself. A leader of the local gang who uses a hook to hurt people. She is attacked but not killed and then helps the police in capturing this man.

Up to this point the film is good and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I was enjoying it. No silly teen girl doing things out of the ordinary, no shoddy acting to match the dreadful script. As a matter of fact the acting and script were pretty good. There is also believable reason as to why Helen pursues her interest alone. An untrustworthy husband and a desire to achieve greatness.

I'm afraid after here though the film takes a huge dive. For starters the Candyman is finally introduced, the spirit of a slave who had his hand sawn off, his body smothered in honey to attract deadly bees and burnt on a fire, and that is the problem from there. He was much more believable when he wasn't seen. People say they thought Todd was excellent as the Candyman but I just found the whole role lame. The film had real potential up until we finally see him, standing like he has a rod up his arse in a parking garage. From there we see him hypnotize Helen into murdering the next load of victims and being arrested for it. Causing her to drop her obsession with the case and instead be an object of Candyman's desires.

I won't tell you too much more as it may ruin a film many horror fans will love, I'm just a little disappointed that a film that started off so well ended so poorly. Madsen is brilliant in her role and takes the useless female actor cliché away from the horror franchise, well at least from this film anyway, and the score is intensely creepy although there is only so much organ playing I can take. Also many of the tracking shots giving you the sense that someone is watching you are great.

It's just an absolute shame this film took a dive as it could have been something a hell of a lot better.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Imperfect but tightly controlled shocker cum social engagement
Polaris_DiB11 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
DEAR LORD how has nobody forced me to see this earlier? I knew it was a cult classic horror film, but I had no idea it was going to be so good! The story here is a very intriguing and, in my opinion, amazing mix of social abjection. The "abject" is defined as that which transcends boundaries, and in this case a very clear boundary is drawn between urban white and black neighborhoods by a freeway, but their interaction is broken through the very boundary between reality and the supernatural. A woman investigating urban legends comes across a local superstitious belief in Candyman, an Emancipation era black man who broke the social rules of the time by falling in love with a white woman, thus honeyed to be stung to death by bees and burned to ash. A century later the Candyman wreaks vengeance upon society by being called five times from a mirror, and that legend is used generally to keep the local kids in urban-area Illinois to respect the undercurrent of racism contained in those communities. Well this woman goes and forces her way into the black neighborhood shortly after breaking the rules and calling Candyman, and since her skepticism and general outreach has people engaging with her and her studies of "urban legend", the Candyman finally appears and demands the blood of innocents to continue the power of fear and vengeance--while also forcing the woman to join in his quest for spilled blood. And it only gets more delightful from there.

This movie is by no means perfect, but the sheer sincerity of its message and audacity of its style stands it head and shoulders over more dramatic movies of the same theme and horror movies with pretense towards such social engagement. Some of the characters are, indeed, stereotypical, but mostly they're well-written enough to illicit some form of sympathy all around. The Candyman's dialog is absolutely ridiculous, but it's easy to ignore when his relationship to both the world and the woman is so very clear. And this is a Clive Barker idea, which means blood, feces, and insects have to literally saturate the walls, which is both incredibly effective and randomly kitsch. Heck, it's not even really clear how the whole baby being killed but actually being alive thing works, but you know what? I'm not complaining, this movie is pure 100% enjoyable with a clear social statement. That's harder to pull off than it seems, and many directors try and in the very act of trying try to hard, but this movie is very clear the limits of its statements and its storyline, and keeps things structured tight and clean.

--PolarisDiB
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews