Film / Candyman

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Candyman.
Candyman.
Candyman.
Candyman.
Candyman.

Candyman (1992) is a neo-noir / slasher film starring Virginia Madsen and Tony Todd.

Helen Lyle, a graduate student, is conducting research for her thesis on urban legends. While interviewing freshmen about their superstitions she hears about a local legend known as Candyman, the son of a slave named Daniel Robitaille, who was brutally tortured and murdered because of a love affair with the daughter of a local (white) plantation owner. According to the legend, anyone who looks into a mirror and chants his name five times will summon him, but at the cost of his or her own life, similar to the Bloody Mary urban legend. Helen believes that Candyman cannot exist and jokingly calls his name in the mirror in her house.

Little does she know her innocent joke will set in motion a terrifying series of events that will cause her to question what is real and what is legend...

Candyman is based on the short story "The Forbidden" by Clive Barker, and was followed by two sequels, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995) and Candyman 3: Day of the Dead' (1999).

No relation to The Candy Man.


This movie contains examples of:

  • Adult Fear: Seeing the blood-soaked crib of Anne-Marie's baby would send the chills down the spine of any adult. Even more so when it turns out he's okay, but is almost burned alive when Candyman puts him inside a bonfire heap.
  • A God Am I: Thanks to his nature (requiring belief to continue existing), it is hinted that Candyman has this attitude about his "congregation."
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: By the end of the film, Helen's trials and tribulations turn her into a murderous urban legend just like Candyman.
  • Animal Motifs: Bees.
  • Antagonist Title
  • Arc Words: "Sweets for the sweet."
    • "Be my victim."
  • Artistic License – History: The backstory given by the first movie claims that Candyman was lynched in Cabrini Green around 1890. Construction didn't begin on Cabrini Green until 1942.
  • Asshole Victim: Trevor. Not only was he cheating on Helen with a student, but it is implied that he was going to let her rot in the asylum while he would set off for a new life with his lover. He is shown grieving for Helen after she dies, but by then it is too late for him.
  • Badass Boast: Candyman has plenty, but this one is the most well known.
    Candyman: I am the writing on the wall. The whisper in the classroom. Without these things I am nothing, so I must shed innocent blood.
  • Badass Longcoat: Candyman's attire, which is used to cover his bee-infested ribcage.
  • Bee Afraid: Candyman was tortured by having his hand hacked off with a saw, then being covered in honey, which attracted bees that stung him to death.
  • Bee Bee Gun: When the Candyman opens his coat he's revealed to be little more than a skeleton wreathed in the many thousands of bees that killed him.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Subverted. Helen rescues a child from beneath a raging bonfire and she is horribly burned, later dying from her injuries. While her face is left intact, her scalp becomes a charred mess with only bits of hair left. When we see Helen in her coffin and then as a Candywoman, it's clear the mortuary wax didn't begin to hide what happened to her.
  • Berserk Button: When Candyman kills you it's either because you summoned him, got in the way of him trying to kill his summoner, or know how to stop him. However, if you happen to be related to him and bitterly deny his relation to you, he'll brutalize you. Octavia learned that the hard way.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Helen manages to save the baby from the fire and defeat Candyman only to die from the burns, and become a murderous urban legend herself.
  • Broken Pedestal: After Helen becomes a murder suspect, the attitude of Det. Frank Valento, who initially acted as an ally to Helen to help her investigate the murders and aided her after her assault, turns cold and hostile towards her. Justified given that Helen was found carrying a meat cleaver at a bloody crime scene and has seemingly murdered an infant.
  • The Can Kicked Him: Why summon the Candyman from a bathroom mirror? Because bathrooms are scary.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: The Candyman was created by people's belief in him.
  • Crapsack World: Cabrini Green, a Real Life housing project that in its day was infamous even outside Chicago for its crime problems.
  • Daylight Horror: The film has plenty of day scenes that are every bit as frightening as many night scenes in other horror movies. In fact, the Candyman's first full appearance is in broad daylight and it's still very shocking.
  • Deceptively Silly Title
  • Disgusting Public Toilet: Not only is the men's room in Cabrini Green a great place to get attacked, it's also filthy, smelly, and broken-down.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Being played by Tony Todd means Candyman has a very deep voice.
  • Fan Disservice: Helen is arrested and stripped by the police. The fact that the beautiful Virginia Madsen is naked is quite overshadowed by the fact that she is crying and covered in blood. Ten minutes after this scene, however, there's a scene of her taking a bath that is so blatantly Fanservice that it seems like an apology.
  • Fantastic Noir: The first film plays out partially like Film Noir.
  • Final Girl: Subverted in the first film, but played completely straight in the second and third.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: The biggest threat to Candyman's existence in the movie is that people will stop believing in him, and the situation's quasi-religious nature is played to the hilt.
  • Groin Attack: A very disturbing example happens in the original to a kid in a park restroom.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: After Helen dies, Trevor seems to feel pangs of guilt for how he treated her. Then he chants her name in front of the mirror...
  • The Hero Dies: Helen herself at the end of the first film. It also partially counts as a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Helen Lyle, due to being suspected for the murders.
  • Hook Hand: Candyman's weapon of choice.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted with the child in the men's room, but played straight with the baby Helen saves at the end.
  • Kill It with Fire: The way they deal with Candyman at the end.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Partially how Candyman came into existence. The original "Candyman" was a young, well-to-do black man who fell in love with a white woman (who is implied to have borne a striking resemblance to Helen). Her disapproving father hired some thugs to hack off his right hand and cover him in honey, attracting bees that stung him to death. Legend did the rest.
  • Magic Mirror: Candyman can be summoned from any mirror.
    • And of course he has his own magic mirror that harbors his very soul, previously owned by the farm plantation's daughter.
  • Mirror Monster: Saying Candyman's name five times in front of a mirror will summon the killer who will slay you with his Hook Hand. At the end of the movie, Helen has become a vengeful spirit who can be summoned by saying her name five times while facing a mirror.
  • Missing White Woman Syndrome: Referenced.
    Helen Lyle: Yeah, but y'know what bugs me about the whole thing? Two people get brutally murdered and the cops do nothing, whereas a white woman goes in there and gets attacked and they lock the place down.
  • One Phone Call: Played with. After Helen is arrested by the police and informed of her Miranda rights, she asks for a phone call to contact her husband, but it's never stated that she has any rights to one or that it's the only one she'll get.
  • Race Lift: The Candyman in Barker's original story had been described as an imposing white man with an unruly red beard.
  • Scary Black Man: Tony Todd as the Candyman... and, you know, in general.
  • The Scottish Trope
  • Shout-Out: To Shakespeare: "Sweets to the sweet" is taken from a line from Hamlet.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Of course.
  • Speak of the Devil: Saying Candyman's name five times into a mirror will summon him, in a nod to the Bloody Mary legend.
  • Spooky Painting: The giant graffiti of Candyman's screaming face that Helen sees in the semi-abandoned projects.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Mortality: As stated above, averted. Among Candyman's many victims are a child, (attempted) a baby, a dog, and (indirectly) the white female protagonist.
  • Tempting Fate: Go Ahead: Say the curse and visit previous murder sites. What Could Possibly Go Wrong??
  • Trigger Phrase: Saying Candyman's name five times in front of a mirror is what summons him.
    • And Helen at the end of the movie.
  • Truth in Television: Even though the method of killing may have been more "creative" than real life, Candyman's story, minus the supernatural elements, tragically happened many times in U.S. history. From until the time of slavery until well after the turn of the century, a black man involved with a white woman would often find himself on the receiving end of mob 'justice'.
  • Villainous Breakdown: At the end of the film after Helen escapes Candyman's clutches and leaves him to perish alone in the flames.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Candyman became an undead monster after he was murdered by a lynch mob because he was a cultured black man who fell in love with a white woman in the 19th century.
  • Wretched Hive: Cabrini Green, much as it was in Real Life. Helen's thesis is about how the residents use urban legends like Candyman to deal with the constant horrors of living there. Candyman feeds off of their fear to survive, and is vanquished when they burn him in a bonfire.
  • The Worm That Walks: See Bee Bee Gun.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Candyman does not discriminate when choosing victims.

Farewell to the Flesh has examples of:

  • Asshole Victim: Detective Levesque, who seems to be more interested in nailing a perp from the elite crowd than actually finding the real killer. Ties in with Tempting Fate, since he forced the Ethan's face against the reflective interrogation mirror as he did the "Candyman" chant as a means of breaking him.
  • Continuity Snarl: Purcell's exposition in the first movie stated that Candyman died at Cabrini Green, in Chicago. The sequel then establishes that he really lived and died in New Orleans.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The events of the film take place during Mardi Gras.
  • Lady Drunk: Annie's mother Octavia is dying from cancer, and she spends her days drinking liquor and being unpleasant to anyone who isn't part of her family.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: After the mirror containing Daniel Robitaille's soul is destroyed, his manifestation on front of Annie turns into glass and shatters into pieces.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Annie discovers that she is the great-great-granddaughter of the Candyman.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Paul dies, but not before leaving his girlfriend a parting gift.
  • Soul Jar: Annie comes to learn that on the moment of his death, Daniel Robitaille's soul transferred into a mirror that was being held by his lover Caroline. In order to stop Candyman, that mirror must be destroyed.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Phillip Purcell is first to meet his doom after he defies the Candyman myth by reciting his name on front of reflective surface five times.

Day of the Dead has examples of:

  • Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: After Candyman has been dealt with once and for all, Kraft appears, intending to kill Caroline with a hook. Once he is dealt with also, all the previous killing are pinned on him.
  • Hooks and Crooks: Annie destroys the painting containing the last piece of Candyman's essence with a hook.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Candyman anews his terror around the time when Mexico prepares to celebrate Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos).
  • Spooky Painting: Candyman's good side is held within a set of paintings, notably his own, and as everybody knows evil can't exist without good, so Caroline has to destroy the paintings to kill him.


Alternative Title(s): Candyman Day Of The Dead, Candyman Farewell To The Flesh

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/Candyman