Dir: Bernard Rose
Star: Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd, Xander Berkeley, Kasi Lemmons
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 1992
Format: DVD R2

Whilst researching a final thesis for University, college student Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen and her friend Bernie (Kasi Lemmons) stumble across a much feared urban "legend" of The Candyman. According to the myth, should anyone look into the mirror and say his name 5 times the Candyman will appear behind them and with his metal hook for a hand he will rip them from their groin to their gullet. Intrigued and captivated by the tale which is consistently related from several sources seems to be based around a local tenament block called "Cabrini Green". This strange legend begins with an artist called Daniel Robitaille (Tony Todd) who is commissioned by a wealthy landowner to paint a portrait of his daughter. Daniel and the girl become involved and she falls pregnant. Enraged the girls father has Daniel chased down by an angry horde who beat him and cut off his right hand, not content with this as a punishment they then smother his naked and lascerated body with honey which drives the nearby colony of bees into a frenzy that causes them to sting Daniel to death. Not long after this brutal slaying, in 1890 a series of strange murders were comitted around that region which later became Cabrini Green, where the victims were torn apart from groin to gullet apparently the work of Robitaille's restless spirit, now known as "The Candyman". Helen becomes more involved in the legends and gets drawn deeper and deeper into the strange almost dreamlike world of the Candyman as he soon asks her to...... "Be my victim"

Candyman is directed by Bernard Rose who also wrote the story which is actually based upon "The Forbidden" which was a typically spine tingling short story by Clive Barker. Being honest, Candyman isn't the typical "slasher" fare that you would expect. Far from the usual mindless machinations of the "hack n' slash" killer, the titular character has far more depth and quite a distinct purpose. Hardly high intellectual content but certainly not your typical offering. It could be construed as a romantic tragedy almost as much as it could a horror film.

Every culture has it's urban legends and myths of boogeymen and other dark terrors to scare the weaker minded amongst us. That said, this is one of the films strong points as it does briefly touch upon a couple of urban legends before it settles into the fictitious tale of the Candyman (or is it?.....). In typical Clive Barker fashion the film's main protagonist or bad guy endures a horrific ordeal which subsequently results in his death and / or transformation into something dark and powerful, which of course results in plenty of bloodshed i.e: Hellraiser and Nightbreed. Don't make the mistake of assuming that this is just another of those slasher / killer movies, because it isn't. The concept of involving a mirror isn't a new one but in this case it does carry a definate spook factor which is mostly played down here but is no less effective. There are bound to be some viewers that want to try it out...... just in case.

Rose directs quite nicely. Nothing excessive or far reaching just a nicely contained package which has the occasional burst of delightful photography. The opening sequence is a little nauseating and vertigo inducing but it soon calms down and only occasionally forces the viewers perspective into a birds eye view again. The film doesn't have much gore and mostly relies upon atmosphere for it's chills and thrills but to be honest the atmosphere isn't particuarly impressive. and the film is mostly a little two dimensional and not particuarly scary at all, however I would have to admit that I did find it a charming and mildly stimulating horror flick.

A small ensemble cast provide some reasonable performances but nothing especially oustanding as the script is prone to degeneration into cheese hell as some terrible dialogue is thrown into a generally ingenious and occasionally sardonic script. Virginia Madsen has a few outstanding scenes (compared to her co-stars) but just lacks any real weight or power and is at times just a screamy wench, which does little to engratiate her character. Very cool performance by Tony Todd as the Candyman, who despite looking like a dodgy pimp from Starsky & Hutch at times, manages to provide yet another creepy movie boogeyman. Todd has a certain prescence that is most welcome in this offering as he is easily the best thing in the film. The scene where he is covered with bees is a little unpleasant to watch as it quite effectively makes your skin crawl. His performance stands out amongst a generally collective dross as some poor performances by Xander Berkeley as Helen's philanderous husband Trevor and Carolyn Lowery as Trevor's "outstanding" mistress Stacey. Those really are some awful performances.

Unfortunately this is neither a horror classic or a generally scary film but it does have a certain quality to it that you can't help but like. Possibly not as good as you remember it but certainly worth watching again at least.


"They will say that I have shed innocent blood. But what's blood for, if not for shedding?"

"All you have left is my desire for you...... Be my victim"

Rating: 2 out of 5

Picture 1:1.85 Sometimes grainy image
Audio Dolby 2.0 Occasionally atmospheric but needs 5.1
Features Couple of talent profiles / filmographies
Theatrical trailer
Verdict Not a particuarly captivating disc really. Minimal extras and a bland stereo soundtrack don't make this a disc to rush out for. Pity really because the film deserves better.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home