To me, Tony Todd will always be Ben from the 1990 Night of the Living Dead remake. That was where I saw him first, and in that he was the hero, so I guess I might have avoided Candyman for so long because I didn’t think he could be a credible villain in my eyes. Alright, so I was sort of wrong about that, but I was also wrong to avoid the movie in general. It’s quite good!
Candyman is obsessed with the culture of urban legends. Candyman himself happens to be an amalgam of Bloody Mary and various hook-handed serial killers from campfire stories, but his legend is concentrated around the ghettos of Chicago where most of the film takes place. The filth, grime and graffiti is palpable enough to smell in these scenes.
Candyman is said to have been a freed slave who had the nerve to enter a relationship with a white woman, which resulted in him being tortured and murdered by the townsfolk. They cut off his hand and covered him in honey, then set a swarm of bees to sting him to death (my father went the same way). Today he appears as a malevolent spirit with a hook in place of the hand and, usually, swarms of bees, summoned by saying his name five times into a mirror. Like most famous slashers, Candyman’s power set is vague. He can definitely kill people in the real world, can both physically appear to certain people and remain invisible to others, and has powers of hypnosis. He can also apparently resist being summoned by the mirror trick if, you know, the moment’s just not right.
I always assumed Candyman was sort of an anti-hero given his backstory, but he’s much more brutal and hardcore than I expected. In this film he decapitates a dog and kidnaps a baby, later attempting to burn it to death. Because he’s an urban legend, he needs people to believe in and fear him in order to exist, much like Freddy in New Nightmare. I assumed this would tee up a lame ending where he is defeated by refusing to acknowledge him or something, but nope; there’s a proper showdown and absolutely bonkers conclusion.
Not much more to say about this one. I assume most of my readers have seen Candyman at some point (especially if they were teen or pre-teen in the 90’s). If not, check it out on Amazon Prime.