I hadn't seen Candyman
before, but knew some base details about it and I
gotta say, it's a pretty decent horror movie from
Bernard Rose (a director I have a love/hate
relationship) based on a Clive Barker story. Virginia
Madsen is great and there's a few unnerving moments I
was surprised by. Can't believe I hadn't seen it
Candyman was skillfully adapted
into an American Urban Legend, from a short story by
Clive Barker which was originally about a
superstition held by working class families in
Liverpool. Barker himself took the role of executive
producer, so the metamorphosis was done with his
consent and co-operation.
It's a good movie, with a lush
big-budget "look and feel" and an excellent cast.
A-list actors and direction made it a scary movie
that is actually scary, for several reasons:
1. The director makes excellent
use of the sudden surprises and jump cuts so popular
in this genre. It is common practice to deprecate
their use, but I like 'em when they are done well.
2. The Urban legend itself is
scary. Stand in front of a mirror and repeat his
name five times. I guarantee if you were a kid or
somebody likely to believe in the preternatural, and
somebody spun this tale for you as if it were true,
and there were real murders in your neighborhood
that people attributed to this mythical dude, that
you would be scared to do the ritual. Oh, maybe
you'd do it, but don't tell me you wouldn't be
apprehensive and chilled before saying that fifth
3. The bogieman himself is
played by a powerful screen presence (Tony Todd) who
is simultaneously chilling and romantic, and not at
all unsympathetic. After all, he is a man who loved
honestly and zealously in his lifetime, and who was
unfairly tortured and killed for it.
4. The story leaves open the
possibility that a scientific researcher named Helen
is the real murderer, and is subconsciously using
the Candyman legend to bury the guilt. (We saw her
hit someone with a meat-cleaver, and the police
caught her with the cleaver in her hand, about to
descend on a woman. Furthermore, the videotape
evidence never supports her "scientific" versions of
In a logical world, the world of
the police investigators, a world which admits no
possibility of supernatural causes, the researcher
must have committed the crimes. In her meeting with
Candyman, he says that people are starting to doubt
him, so he has to do some new killings. Oh, really?
Well, if that's the case, why would he make it look
like Helen committed the crimes? That would make
Candyman seem even less credible, not more credible.
If Candydude committed the crimes, he'd want
everyone to be very clear on that point, wouldn't
he?. Nobody will be afraid of Candydude if they
think some chick named Helen really committed the
murders and is under secure lock and key.
Not to mention the baby thing.
Helen was in the prison hospital
for 30 days while a baby was missing. Of course, the
baby thing is a major plot loophole. If Candydude
isn't real, then who took care of the baby for 30
days while Helen was incarcerated? Then Candydude
must be real. But during that time, do you expect me
to believe that Candydude was changing the baby's
diapers and giving him his 4 A.M. feeding? Say what?
He pops into an all-night CVS for pampers and
formula? We know he couldn't have killed the clerks
while Helen was locked up, because the emergence of
the real killer would have exonerated her. So he
must have paid for the stuff he needed. How does he
reach into his pocket to get his wallet? How does he
earn money? Anyway, he shows this loving kindness
toward the baby for a month, but is perfectly
willing to let him die in the closing bonfire? Come,
Anyway, the ambiguity makes the
film special, because it leaves the impression that
the entire thing could have been a product of
Helen's warped mind. After all, none of this
happened until the other professor filled in the
details of the Candyman legend for her. Only then
did she start thinking about the hook and the bees,
his iconic accompaniments. I never did figure out why he's
called the Candyman. Is he named after a Sammy
Davis, Jr song? Shouldn't he be the Hookdude, or the
Beeguy or something?
After watching the movie, I read
"The Forbidden", the story which forms the basis for
"Candyman". As is usually the case when one checks
the written source, the major plot holes in the
movie were not present in the original source.
1. In the written version, the
Candyman didn't babysit for a month. He killed the
baby right away, as you would expect him to do to
keep his Evil Entity Equity card. I guess Hollywood
rejected this version.
2. Needless to say, the Candyman
didn't try to place the blame for the killing on
Helen. As I stated above, that would have been
contrary to his purpose in committing the killing in
the first place. The only reason he did it was to
bring back his legend to the foreground of people's
consciousness - to make himself live again in their
fears and in their tales - and he would not have
been able to do that unless he took personal credit
for the horror.
So give points to Clive Barker for a tight story,
and subtract points from the screenwriter for
screwing it up.
Madsen film clip (collage below)