Candyman found new victims in 2021
The latest Candyman landed in theaters last August. The R-rated slasher–called a “spiritual sequel” to the original–brought new terrors to horror fans everywhere.
The History of Candyman
Released in 1992, Candyman introduced us to the murderous, hook-handed villain by the same name. Based on the book The Forbidden by master of horror, Clive Barker, and screenplay by Barker and Bernard Rose, the film went on to gross over $25 million worldwide.
When young Helen Lyle, played by Virginia Madsen, assists her friend with a master’s thesis, she become embroiled in the legend of the Candyman who haunts Cabrini Greens in Chicago. The myth revolves around a well-off black artist who was murdered for his love affair with a white woman in the 1800s. Helen summons Candyman by repeating his name five times in the mirror, that’s when chaos ensues. Portraying the title role was Tony Todd, man who would become synonymous with Candyman.
The plot of Candyman had many layers outside of the standard gore, there were very human elements to the film. Whether it was Helen’s personal and marital problems to the complicated relationship between Helen and Candyman, there were very emotional and realistic elements to the film. Helen was a very strong female lead and not exactly what people think of as a “scream queen.” She’s very smart, empowered and in the end, becomes the one to fear. Back in 1992, Madsen discusses her legendary role a not the typical horror victim.
“No, the typical female horror victim runs upstairs to the attic, where she’s obviously not supposed to. Since I was a child, I’ve always been a fan of the genre, and was never able to find a good role, especially for a female. I loved that she was smart, and a strong independent woman, yet the power of love could weaken her. It’s hard to find a very strong female character in general when you’re young and blonde, not many are three dimensional. This was great, I got to cut off my hair, Bernie made me put on 10-15 pounds to, as he said, ‘look like a normal woman.’ So, I didn’t have to be a vixen, I got to be a real leading lady.”
Candyman as a villain also was a bit different than many other genre movies of the time. He wasn’t necessarily a monster per se, and had more human qualities. Todd carried the role with ease and grace being fierce and violent, but then gentle and loving to Helen.
Following the success of the now horror classic, two more Candyman films followed. In 1995, Candyman: Farewell to Flesh was released, followed by 1999’s Candyman: Day of the Dead. Madsen did not return stating in the same 1992 interview, “The sequel that Bernie wanted to make was a prequel where you see Candyman and Helen fall in love, etc. It was turned down because the studio didn’t want to do an interracial love story. I mean seriously! I guess it was a different time.” Tony Todd, returned for both of the sequels and to this day remains a genre mainstay.
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