Everybody enjoys a good antagonist, those with a tragic backstory can resonate doubly so. You can get multiple films, spin-offs beyond count, and countless merchandising opportunities if your villain can strike a chord with the public. In 1992, after the success of Pinhead in the United States, another villain from the mind of Clive Barker was adapted to cinemas across the nation, a villain that felt like he was there all along, in the tale of Candyman.
When University graduate of the study of semiotics and folklore, Helen Lyle, hears of the tale of Candyman, an apparition who appears when his name is uttered five times into a mirror, with deadly results. She thinks would make a great topic for her next paper. Her research on the legend takes her to a Chicago housing project, some spooky occurrences shake Lyle, yet she remains determined of a rational explanation. As Lyle comes to a head-on with the man behind the legend, determined to make a believer of her. She wakes up in a pool of blood and is charged with the murder of her research partner, Bernadette, and everybody convinced she committed it. As she doubts her sanity, Helen gets submerged into a netherworld, the realm of the Candyman.
The novel’s setting of Britain was changed to the states, and the book’s allegorical look at the class system has been changed to race relations. This is similar to when Hellraiser’s location got changed yet ties far more into the story. Like Hellraiser again, I have not had the pleasure of reading the book, though the adaptation is thought-provoking and gripping enough to keep the audiance entertained.
Tony Todd is in his element as the hypnotically charming but equally menacing Candyman. His characters fascination with Helen evokes the relationship between Dracula and Mina. Candyman’s wardrobe helps with this image too, with a stylish 18th-century outfit accented with a foreboding hook. Madsen makes a good protagonist, an academic, whose quests takes her into the heart of the projects, a world alien to what she is used yet home to every resident there. She helps conveys this well especially as the more supernatural elements kick in, and when her friends and relations practically give up on her.
While not being as visually distinctive as other slasher-Hall-of-Famers to warrant references in children’s cartoons or cereals. Along with his main gimmick is shared/inspired by another horror trope, Bloody Mary, Candyman is often overlooked over the flashier Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees, and even Pinhead. Yet Candyman feels deserving of a place in the popular culture pantheon, and his original appearance here stands as worthy as its other contemporaries. An enjoyable ghost story perfectly twinned with a tale of tribulation in the United States. Despite having a different name when ported to the big screen, Candyman is a rose that’s just as sweet.
If you want more positive reviews delivered to the e-mail box of your choice, you can click on that little text bubble at the bottom of the screen. Do you agree or disagree? or have a suggestion for another pop-culture artefact that needs a positive light shone on it? Leave a comment in the comment box below! But remember to keep it positive!