A children's ghost story comes to terrifying life in this gut-wrenching
thriller about a graduate student whose research into modern folklore summons
the spirit of the dead. Braving the gang-ridden territory to visit the site aof a brutal murderer, Helen Lyle arrogantly assumes Candyman can't really exist... until he
appears, igniting a string of terrifying, tragic slayings.
am the writing on the wall, the whisper in
the classroom! Without these things, I am nothing."
This dark and unnerving horror outing based on a story by Clive Barker
and directed by Bernard Rose has quite rightly earned a reputation as one
of the best horror films of the Nineties.
The story follows Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen), a researcher for a University
as she works on her latest thesis regarding modern urban legends. After
hearing stories about the myth of the Candyman (Tony Todd) she and
her friend Bernadette Walsh (Kasi Lemmons) decide to investigate the myth
further. According to the legend if you stare into a mirror and recite
the word 'candyman' five times then you will call him and he will
come for you so obviously that is what Helen decides to do, but it didn't
work….or did it?
'Candyman' has to be credited as at least one of the top five horror
films of the 1990's due to its interesting and unnerving subject matter.
The story takes the ideas of harmless urban legends (much similar to the
‘Bloody Mary' legend) and gives them an evil and physical form. While some
people have slated 'Candyman' for ignoring its own rules I don't
think it did. 'Candyman' is not a straight forward horror film;
there is an intricate plot which requires thought to be fully understood.
The Candyman is expected to act one way but chooses to do otherwise,
he plays games and confuses people with riddles, why does he do this? Those
are the type of things that people make complaints about when talking about
this film, he should do one thing but does another, however the reasoning
for this is explained in the film if people look for the answer. 'Candyman'
itself is a rather interesting and complex puzzle that needs thought to
Bernard Rose does a great job of creating an unnerving and dark atmosphere
which is complimented perfectly by the haunting music. The film has an
almost religious feel to it without actually being a religious-based movie
and an abundant sense of dread is created through some inventive and impressive
direction. Virginia Madsen's performance should be acknowledged as well
as she plays her role very well, even generating feelings of sympathy for
The only thing I'd say that this film lacks is character development. While
Madsen's character is developed well the other characters in the film,
including the Candyman himself, remain rather under-developed. While
I will agree that leaving a certain air of mystique to the Candyman is a good idea and enhances the whole experience I feel that Bernadette
and Trevor Lyle (Xander Berkley) become almost unrelated characters. The
relationships between Helen and these two characters aren't explored enough
and this I feel negatively effected a couple of scenes where these were
However, even taking that into consideration 'Candyman' is definitely
worth watching for horror fans and even just casual movie fans. This is
a quite ingenious and thought-provoking movie that doesn't rely on gore
and cheap effects but rather its self-generated dark atmosphere to provide
tension and shocks.
- There is a Guy Fawkes mask hanging next to Helen's bathroom mirror.
Fawkes is an infamous figure in English history (an influence from Clive
Barker's original story perhaps), who attempted to blow up the English
Parliament on November 5, 1605. Every year the British celebrate Guy Fawkes
Day by lighting bonfires and burning Fawkes in effigy.
- The bees were breed specifically for this movie. They need to make sure that the bees were only 12 hours old so that they looked like mature bees, but at that point, the stinger isn't powerful enough to do any real damage.
- Virginia Madsen claims that she was hypnotized for some of the film's scenes.
- "Sweets to the Sweet" which is written on the walls in two areas of Cabrini Green is actually a line from Shakespeare's Hamlet.
- Candyman grossed $25,792,310 in the USA.
- When the Candyman breaks the window to
escape the psychiatrist's office at the hospital, there are shards of glass
in the frame. In subsequent shots, when Helen, or Virginia Madsen, goes
to the window, all of the glass has been cleared.
- Phillip Glass didn't want to score the film at first because he didn't want to do a horror film. But after Bernard Rose showed him a rough cut of the film, he decided that there was more to the film then he originally thought.
- Virginia Madsen, is allergic to bees, so an ambulance was always on set while filming the bee sequence.
- Released on October 16, 1992.
- Real bees were actually put into Tony Todd's mouth while they where shooting the climax. His only protection was a mouth guard that kept him from having the bees go down his throat.
- The European version was cut by 12 minutes, the region 2 DVD restored
it to 94 minutes from the original 86 minute version.
- The architecture flaw of the medicine chests and people being able to sneak in, is something that Bernard Rose discovered in his research for the film and there was actually a series of murders that were committed this way.
- Virginia Madsen won the Saturn Award for
her portrayal of Helen Lyle.
- On the DVD commentary, Alan Poul said that had Virginia Madsen been unavailable, the part of Helen would have most likely gone to the then unknown Sandra Bullock.