Halloween Scene: Candyman (1992)

I have a pretty great story about how I saw Candyman 2: Farewell To The Flesh when I was in 8th grade, but I’m going to hold off on that one until I review that flick. It was the first real horror movie I saw all the way through so a few years later when I really got into the genre, I checked out the original and remember not liking. I don’t remember specifically why, but it does not hold a special place in my memory.

Having watching it again now some 13 or so years later, I understand why I didn’t like this film. I wasn’t as much a fan of the slow burn horror film back then. Now, I can appreciate such things, but back then I wanted to see the kills and the violence and then move on to the next one. Turning it on, I immediately thought it might have been a Clive Barker film I didn’t know much about only to discover it was based on a Barker story and he produced it, but a guy named Bernard Rose directed.

That being said, I’m not sure if this is such a great example of the slow burn horror movie. The more time this film gave me, the more I got to thinking about how it all worked and I wound up with a LOT of questions. Are the police really incapable of telling the difference between hook and knife wounds? Does Candyman make you think he’s killing people, but really you are? I assumed he was kind of a Freddy Krueger-type character, but if that’s the case, why does Virgina Madsen find him sleeping?

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s see how much of the story I can remember. Madsen plays a woman researching urban legends. She and her partner come across the one about Candyman, which says if you say his name five times in a mirror, he’ll appear, much like the Bloody Mary one. Because I’m the perfect age for this movie, I actually grew up knowing as much about the Candyman legend as I did the Bloody Mary one because some other kids had seen this movie (or their older siblings told them about it) when I was in grade school, so it instantly entered my local sphere of urban legend.

Anyway, the deeper she digs into the reality of Candyman, the more Madsen gets entangled in wild, supernatural events that she can’t really explain, like the deaths of people around her. It’s all part of some ellaborate plan of Candyman’s apparently, to make her look crazy so he can trick her into…running into a bonfire to save a baby. Yeah, I don’t know how much sense it makes and I just finished watching it, though I admittedly watched it over a few sittings and while doing other things, so I’m probably not the best judge.

So, while I’m not sure how effective the film is as a narrative that’s easily understandable, it is effective as a spooky horror flick. There were definitely a few moments where I got spooked by the scares in the flick. I also liked the basic way the film was shot with the cameras seemingly placed an appropriate distance away from the actors and them doing their thing. Sometimes with horror movies, the directors or editors get so wrapped up in quick, crazy cuts that it’s just disorienting. The simple style of the film also added a weird dimension to the proceedings that I noticed that’s almost entirely based on the weirdness of early 90s style. The movie takes itself seriously (not too seriously, but it’s definitely not a comedy) and then you see some really severe haircuts or the incredibly bright purple neon jackets worn by some of the hoods, some of whom were actual gang members. Today, these looks might seem like distinct choices meant to make the audience laugh or look at the character sidewise (like just about everything in Napoleon Dynamite), but it’s just an honest depiction of the reality at that time, funny as that may sound.

Okay, enough deep-ness. Do I recommend checking out Candyman? Nah, not really. I think Tony Todd makes for an awesome bad guy as Candyman, but overall, I don’t think the idea was handled all that well. If anyone reading this is a huge Candyman fan, drop me a comment and let me know why, am I missing something?

 

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