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Candyman (1992)

Reviewed on 2008 October 20

Entertaining, gruesome horror movie from Clive Barker, spun around a Chicago myth and actually crafted to give our two women leads a reason to put their necks on the chopping block.

Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) is researching urban myths and legends with her colleague Bernadette Walsh (Kasi Lemmons). The women want to write the ultimate thesis. They want a different approach, since this topic has been hashed and rehashed by Helen’s professor husband Trevor (Xander Berkeley) and his smug friend Philip (Michael Culkin). They look to Cabrini Green (a low-income housing development in Chicago) to learn more about Candyman, a mythical hook-handed ghoul that can be summoned by saying his name five times in front of a mirror. (And no, I have not and will not.) One young woman named Ruthie Jean met an especially nasty and unsolved death attributed to him, and while one woman working at the university knows about it Helen is struck by how closed-mouthed she is.

Helen is more determined than ever to write the Holy Grail of papers, and wants to drive out to Cabrini Green and talk to the people who live in his stomping ground. Bernadette balks, but Helen talks her into it. The people here are also very closed-mouthed about Candyman, and Bernadette is very jumpy, smoking a cigarette and impatiently waiting for her crazy friend to crawl around the place where Ruthie Jean was murdered. This thesis statement is going to be amazing if they’re not killed by ganglords. Of course, Bernadette is probably jumpy on some level because the night before, Helen jokingly summoned Candyman.

Tony Todd was perfect for this, all 6′5″ of him. The dialogue was baroque-bordering-on-silly in some places, but when you stick a tall bruiser of a guy in proto-Edwardian garb, he can pull it off. This wasn’t exactly scary so much as a dark urban myth or fairy tale, and though it’s a little hoaky, it’s still a lot of fun at Halloween.


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