FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 14, 2006


Based on the Clive Barker story "The Forbidden", Candyman is the story of Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen), a graduate student in Chicago writing a thesis about urban myths, legends, and folklore. Helen's research takes her into the ganglands and the projects of Cabrini Green in search of "Candyman", a vicious killer with a hook for a hand. She finds out that Candyman is not only very much real, but is responsible for a series of grisly crimes for which Helen herself will be charged.

Ah, Candyman. I love this movie and I have since I saw it in the theatre during its original run in 1992. In fact, after seeing it the first time, my friends and I were all so scared we immediately went to a cemetery and dared each other to say "Candyman!" five times. Yes it was a silly thing to do, and no- no one would say his name five times. While the movie doesn't scare me as it did then, I still think it's a fantastic flick and far underrated. I'd easily put in near the top of the list for horror films of the last 15 years.

As a horror film, it holds up just swell. There's gore, there's terror, there's Tony Todd's booming voice. More than sheer visceral thrills, however, Candyman works so well because it's a film that's got something to say: it's a meditation on racism, classism, fame, inner city economics, crime, and the power of myth. It's a very smart movie.

I mentioned Tony Todd's voice- his deep baritone is absolutely chilling, and as he stands at about 10'3", he cuts an imposing figure when he finally emerges from the shadows. Virginia Madsen is fanfuckingtastic as Helen, and I'm glad to see that she's finally getting some recognition for her acting- talk about underrappreciated. And then there's the haunting score by Philip Glass- Philip Glass! Scoring a horror flick! The spare piano refrains and gothic touches are among the best I've heard in a horror movie, and prove exactly what John Carpenter proved with his soundtrack for Halloween: that less really is more. Who needs pounding, blaring heavy metal? It doesn't heighten anyone's fear...but a mere 10 notes played on a piano will stay with you and draw you in to the atmosphere.

I saw the second Candyman flick, and I know there's more in the series, but...they just don't have whatever magic it is that the first film has. They're all A-1 without the steak, you know? Hey, I'm hungry! On to flick #2...whatever shall I choose?


Anonymous said...

I <3 Candyman! Haven't watched it in forever though, time to dig it out!

Amanda By Night said...

I actually re-rented Candyman 2 after seeing it in the theater (it's a stinker) because the lovely Timothy Carhart stars in it! Otherwise, it's so worth skipping.

I love Candyman, although upon further viewings, it's kind of funny... mostly because one of my ex'es really thought Candyman looked like a pimp, and who whouldn't turn out Ms. Madsen? They'd make a million. I stood next to her once and she's simply beautiful in person. Unearlthy in fact.

Tony Todd hit on my once!

Amanda By Night

Amanda By Night said...

Whoops! I mean hit on ME once!

Des said...

Candyman I consider a masterpiece no one has seen. Beautiful.

You need to hear the 1931 Dracula score redone by Philip Glass and performed by the Kronos Quartet. Nice.

Stacie Ponder said...

You're right Amanda, Candyman is thisclose to being dated, but I still think it rises above. It's a fantastic film that's so...meaty for a horror flick. I really think it's one of the best- a classic. I wonder if it'll ever really be considered that way- I think it's totally underrated and, like Des says, no one has really seen it.

And yeah, Des...I think I'll have to track that down, stat.

And Virginia Madsen...I've been a fan of hers for a long time. She fucking rocks.