What’s Blood, If Not For Shedding

You were not content with the stories, so I was obliged to come.

– Candyman

For the fourth day of Halloween my true love gave to me sweets for the sweet. Not really, of course, because my wife has the same reaction to horror films that I have to any form of reality television that doesn’t involve baking, sewing or pottery, i.e. a strong distaste.

Regardless, I persevere. And today’s perseverance took the form of 1992’s Candyman. Right at the outset, I have to say I prefer Bernard Rose’s cinematic version to the original Clive Barker short story, “The Forbidden”, heretical as that might sound. While I enjoy Barker’s story – and his writing in general – I think the film does something more interesting with the concept.

Of course, that might be down to the principals. Tony Todd owns the screen even before we get our first full look at him. His voice, his walk, his chest cavity full of bees, it all combines to create one of the most memorable screen villains of the modern era of filmmaking, at least for my money. And Virginia Madsen’s Helen Lyle is right up there in my top 5 of horror heroines, alongside Jaime Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode and Marki Bey’s Sugar Hill.

The film is a wonderful exercise in tension, as Helen’s world simultaneously expands into impossible vistas before narrowing into a single, inevitable path that can end only in destruction. Todd’s Candyman is at once sensual and repulsive, wooing his victim as one might a lover. Though I know I’m probably preaching to the choir at this point, it’s one of my favourite films and I definitely recommend it to any horror fan. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favour and check it out.