Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Bernard Rose|
|Screenplay by||Bernard Rose|
|Based on||"The Forbidden"
by Clive Barker
|Music by||Philip Glass|
|Cinematography||Anthony B. Richmond|
|Edited by||Dan Rae|
|Running time||99 minutes|
|Budget||$8 million|
|Box office||$25.7 million (US)|
Candyman is a 1992 American horror film written and directed by Bernard Rose, based on the short story "The Forbidden" by Clive Barker, though the film's scenario is switched from England to the Cabrini–Green public housing development on Chicago's Near North Side. It stars Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd, and Xander Berkeley. The plot follows a graduate student (Madsen) completing a thesis on urban legends who encounters the legend of "Candyman" (Todd), an artist and son of a slave who was murdered and his hand replaced with a hook.
Helen Lyle, a graduate student, conducts research on urban legends, and, in the process, learns of a local legend known as Candyman. The legend contains many elements similar to the most well-known urban legends, including endangered babysitters, spirits who appear in mirrors when fatally summoned, and maniac killers with unnatural deformities. The legend claims that Candyman can be summoned by saying his name five times while facing a mirror, whereupon he will murder the summoner with his hook-hand. Later that evening, Helen and her friend Bernadette jokingly call Candyman's name into the mirror in Helen's bathroom but nothing happens.
Helen discovers that Candyman was the son of a slave, whose father became prosperous after developing a system for mass-producing shoes during the Civil War. Candyman grew up in polite society and became a well-known artist, sought after for his talent in producing portraits. After falling in love with a white woman whom he impregnated, he was set upon by a lynch mob hired by his lover's father; they cut off his painting hand and replaced it with a hook. He was smeared with honey stolen from an apiary, prompting the locals to chant 'Candyman' as the bees stung him to death.
With her colleague Bernadette, Helen enters the notorious gang-ridden Cabrini–Green housing project, the site of a recent unsolved murder, linked to Candyman. There, she meets Anne-Marie McCoy, one of the residents, and a young boy named Jake, who tells her the disturbing story of a child who was castrated in a public restroom, supposedly by Candyman. While Helen explores the run-down restroom, a gang member attacks her: he carries a hook, and has taken the Candyman moniker as his own to enhance his "street cred". Helen survives the assault and is able to identify her attacker to the police.
Helen later faces the apparent real Candyman, who explains that since Helen has been telling people he is just a legend, he must prove he exists. Helen blacks out and wakes up in Anne-Marie's apartment, covered in blood. Anne-Marie, whose Rottweiler has been decapitated, and whose baby is missing, attacks Helen; in the midst of defending herself, the police arrest Helen. Trevor, Helen's husband, bails her out of jail, but Candyman appears to Helen again and cuts her neck, causing her to bleed unconscious. Bernadette arrives at the apartment, and Candyman murders her. Helen is sedated and placed in a psychiatric hospital pending trial.
After a month's stay at the hospital, a psychologist interviews Helen in preparation for her upcoming trial. While restrained, Helen attempts to convince the psychologist that the urban legend is true by calling Candyman. Candyman appears, murders the psychologist, and Helen is able to escape. She briefly confronts Trevor but he is now living with one of his female students. Helen then flees to Cabrini–Green to confront Candyman and locate Anne-Marie's still-missing infant. In an apartment's attic, she encounters the words "It was always you, Helen."
Candyman predicts that Helen will help carry on his tradition of inciting fear into a community and promises to release the baby if Helen sacrifices herself. However, Candyman, intending to sacrifice them to feed his own legend, attempts to immolate them all in a community bonfire that the residents light when they believe Candyman to be hiding in it. Before she dies, Helen rescues the baby. After Helen's funeral, in which the residents of Cabrini–Green pay their respects, Trevor stands before a mirror in the bathroom of their former apartment. He chants Helen's name in grief, summoning her vengeful spirit. Helen kills Trevor with Candyman's hook, leaving Trevor's new lover Stacey with his bloodied corpse as Helen becomes the embodiment of the urban legend. In Cabrini-Green, a painting of Helen with her hair ablaze on a wall shows that she has now entered folklore.
- Virginia Madsen as Helen Lyle
- Tony Todd as Candyman
- Xander Berkeley as Trevor Lyle
- Vanessa Williams as Anne-Marie McCoy
- Kasi Lemmons as Bernadette 'Bernie' Walsh
- DeJuan Guy as Jake
- Bernard Rose as Archie Walsh
- Gilbert Lewis as Detective Frank Valento
- Stanley DeSantis as Dr. Burke
- Ted Raimi as Billy
- Eric Edwards as Harold
- Rusty Schwimmer as Policewoman
Candyman had its world premiere at the 1992 Toronto Film Festival, playing as part of its Midnight Madness line-up. It was released on October 16, 1992, in the United States, where it made $25.7 million. It was released on home video in February 1993 by Columbia Tri-Star Home Video. A special edition DVD was released in August 2004.
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 70% of 40 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating was 6.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Critics Consensus: Though it ultimately sacrifices some mystery in the name of gory thrills, Candyman is a nuanced, effectively chilling tale that benefits from an interesting premise and some fine performances." Allmovie praised the film, calling it "haunting, intelligent and poetic" and "the finest Barker adaptation ever committed to film". Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "Elements of the plot may not hold up in the clear light of day, but that didn't bother me much. What I liked was a horror movie that was scaring me with ideas and gore, instead of simply with gore." Janet Maslin of The New York Times compared it to "an elaborate campfire story" with an "unusually high interest in social issues". Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called the film Clive Barker's "worst to date"—an ambitious but pretentious film that "quickly becomes as repellent as it is preposterous." Variety called it "an uppper-register horror item that delivers the requisite shocks and gore but doesn't cheat or cop out."
The character Candyman came in at number 8 on Bloody Disgusting's "The Top 13 Slashers in Horror Movie History" and ranked the same on Ugo's "Top Eleven Slashers". The actor who played Candyman, Tony Todd, made #53 on Retrocrush's "The 100 Greatest Horror Movie Performances" for his role.
- "Candyman (1992)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
- W. Scott Poole, Monsters in America: Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting (Waco, Texas: Baylor, 2011), 53–54.
- Wilner, Norman (August 13, 1992). "Midnight Madness at the movies". Toronto Star. pp. B4.
- Wheeler, Drew (1993-02-06). "Marquee Values". Billboard 105 (6): 60.
- Bovberg, Jason (2004-08-04). "Candyman: Special Edition". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2014-12-10.
- "Candyman (1992)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-12-10.
- Binion, Cavett. "Candyman (1992)". Allmovie. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
- Ebert, Roger (1992-10-16). "Candyman". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2014-10-28.
- Maslin, Janet (1992-10-16). "Candyman (1992)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-12-10.
- Thomas, Kevin (1992-10-16). "MOVIE REVIEW : Ambitious 'Candyman' Serves Large Doses of Repellent Gore". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-12-10.
- "Review: 'Candyman'". Variety. 1992. Retrieved 2014-12-10.
- 100 Scariest Movie Moments at the Wayback Machine (archived October 30, 2007)
- Bloody Disgusting - "The Top 13 Slashers in Horror Movie History"
- Ugo - "Top Eleven Slashers"
- Retrocrush - "The 100 Greatest Horror Movie Performances"
- Filmsite.org - "Greatest Scariest Movie Moments and Scenes"
- Filmsite.org - "Greatest Movie Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings"
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills Ballot