Monday, April 17, 2017

There Was No Candy in This Movie, or Thoughts on Candyman

Not for the melissophobic (which is regrettably not the fear of girls named Melissa), the movie adaptation of Clive Barker’s Candyman (1992) moved the setting from Liverpool to Chicago and inadvertently set off a race debate with the casting of black actor Tony Todd as the titular one-armed urban legend with the hook hand and the mouth full of killer bees. 
Based on the Clive Barker short story The Forbidden (Books of Blood, 1985), Candyman features Virginia Madsen, Michael’s sister, as Helen Lyle, a grad student investigating urban legends when she comes upon a variation of Bloody Mary in a Chicago projects straight out of New Jack City (1991).  The haunting soundtrack however, is by American modern classical composer Phillip Glass, which creates an odd juxtaposition with the 90’s hip-hop aesthetic that permeates the film.
Even in 1992 the role of a black man in a horror movie as the monster and not the victim was considered controversial, though Tony Todd was no stranger to the horror genre after starring as Ben in the 1990 Night of the Living Dead remake.  Director Bernard Rose’s most current movie is Frankenstein (2015, the one with Carrie-Anne Moss).  Also with Xander Berkley as Helen’s professor husband, and if that name sounds familiar it’s because you probably remember him as Jack Bauer’s boss in 24.  And watch out for Vanessa Williams as one of the residents of Cabrini Green, the Chicago project where the Candyman dwells.






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