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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).
This movie contains examples of:
- And Then John Was a Zombie
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 during the day and it's still very shocking.
- Deceptively Silly Title
- Everything's Worse with Bees: 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.
- 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 Fan Service that it seems like an apology.
- 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-religion nature is played to the hilt.
- Groin Attack: A very disturbing example happens in the original to a kid in a park restroom.
- Hook Hand: Candyman's weapon of choice.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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: 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.
- 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?
- Urban Legends
- Villainous Breakdown: At the end of the original film after Helen escapes his clutches and leaves him to perish alone in the flames.
- The Worm That Walks