Film: Candyman

Say my name three times like Candyman
And I'll roll on your ass like an avalanchenote 
Tupac Shakur, Troublesome '96

Candyman (1992) is a neo-noir / slasher film starring Virginia Madsen as Helen Lyle, a graduate student 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, similarly to the Bloody Mary folkloric tale. Helen believes that Candyman cannot exist and jokingly calls his name in the mirror in her house.

Little does she know that 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 Candyman.

This movie contains examples of:

  • And Then John Was a Zombie: At the end, Helen was a Candywoman.
  • Arc Words: "Sweets for the sweet." Also, "Be my victim."
  • Asshole Victim: Trevor in the end. 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.
    • Along with the cop doing the interrogation in the opening scenes of Farewell to the Flesh. Ties in with Tempting Fate, since he forced the guy's face against the reflective interrogation mirror as he did the "Candyman" chant as a means of breaking 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.
  • Bee Afraid: The torture inflicted on Candyman was that he had his hand hacked off with a saw and was stung to death with bees after being covered with honey.* 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: Averted. Helen rescues a child from beneath a raging bonfire and she is horribly disfigured by burns, later dying from her injuries. There is a blink-or-you'll-miss-it shot of Helen's body inside a coffin, and the mortuary wax doesn't begin to hide what happened to her.
  • Berserk Button: When Candyman kills you it's either because you summoned him or 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.
  • 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.
  • Daylight Horror: The first 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: Candyman's voice is really deep, because he is played by Tony Todd.
  • 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 first 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.
  • 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.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Annie, the protagonist of the second film, discovers that Candyman was her great-great-grandfather.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • In Candyman: Day of the Dead, 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.
  • 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.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Phillip Purcell in Farewell to the Flesh.
    • And Annie Tarrant in Candyman: Day Of The Dead.
  • Tempting Fate: Go Ahead: Say the curse and visit previous murder sites. What Could Possibly Go Wrong??
  • 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'.
  • Urban Legends
  • Villainous Breakdown: At the end of the original film after Helen escapes Candyman's clutches and leaves him to perish alone in the flames.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: The first two films deal heavily in this.
    • Candyman explores the concept of religion, specifically the idea that Man created God. When a local gang is exposed committing crimes and violence as "The Candyman", the being in question ends up actually showing up to reinforce the community's belief in him through Human Sacrifice. The Candyman's lair resembles a decaying, moulded church and he sleeps on a concrete bed reminiscent of an Altar. It overlaps with Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter, given that stupid people keep activating the summoning ritual in an effort to prove Candyman doesn't exist. It doesn't end well.
    • Candyman: Farewell To The Flesh sees the legend of the Candyman traveling as far south as New Orleans, where he was originally born a human and made into a monster. This time the exploration is of race, and The Candyman is seen less as a deity and more as a spirit of vengeance.
  • 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.
  • The Worm That Walks: See Bee Bee Gun.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Candyman does not discriminate when choosing victims.

Alternative Title(s):

Candyman Day Of The Dead, Candyman Farewell To The Flesh