Horror’s Icons: Candyman
SWEETS FOR THE SWEET
Clive Barker is best known for being the man that brought us Pinhead and the Cenobites. But Barker has also brought us another iconic villain that may not have gotten as much attention, but is the blueprint for the perfect villain. The Candyman is scary as hell, tied into a classic urban legend, and has a backstory that almost makes the audience sympathize with him, no matter how many people he kills.
In 1992, Candyman was released and based off of Clive Barker’s “The Forbidden”. In the movie, Helen Lyle, a graduate student completing a thesis paper on urban legends, goes to the Cabrini-Green housing projects in Chicago after learning about the Candyman legend. She is told if you say his name five times in front of a mirror, just like with the Bloody Mary legend, that the Candyman will appear. Well, it is a horror movie so you know she has do it and what happens? Well the Candyman comes to life to kill Helen.
The Candyman’s real name was Daniel Robitaille. He was the son of a slave that became prosperous during the Civil War and was generally liked. He was also an excellent painter and was chosen to paint a portrait of a wealthy landowner’s daughter. The two began to have a relationship however and she became pregnant. After people heard of this, Daniel was tortured by a lynch mob. He had his right hand sawed off and then covered in honey. A child then called him the Candyman and the rest of the people began to chant that. Bees attacked him and stung him to death. But before he dies, he sees his reflection in a mirror that belongs to the landowner’s daughter and that is where his spirit would remain. The mirror is his medium and gives him the strength to kill when called upon. And that’s just what would happen.
The Candyman is different than most horror villains in that he doesn’t really die in the end. He does many horrific things in order to get to Helen, including kidnapping a baby from the housing projects and making it look as though Helen is the guilty party. He “burns” in the end, as does Helen. But Helen returns from the dead, the embodiment of the urban legend, and kills her husband Trevor, who is now with a new woman. She has become the Candyman herself. But the real Candyman would return and leave a bloody trail in other cities.
Candyman in NOLA and LA
After the events in Chicago, the hook-wielding killer would return in Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh. This time the Candyman would make his presence felt in a city that fits his past: New Orleans. After a few Candyman-like killings, a student summons the legend and he comes to life in New Orleans, right in the midst of Mardi Gras. If you have ever experienced Mardi Gras in New Orleans, you know that the Candyman would easily go unnoticed with all the people that pack Bourbon Street and the surrounding French Quarter. Once unleashed in “The Big Easy”, he sets his sight upon a young woman named Annie Tarrant.
Annie is the professor of the student. She already has a past with the Candyman. Her father was killed in Candyman fashion years earlier. Then, another professor is murdered in the same fashion and her brother is blamed for it. Once the story gets rolling, it is revealed that the landowner’s daughter mentioned in the previous film was named Caroline, and Annie is her Great-Great-Granddaughter. Everyone else in her family tries to deny the relationship or gets killed trying to learn the truth. Annie accepts the facts and fights the Candyman, defeating him and not allowing him to complete his plans. Failing again, the Candyman now has to wait to be summoned again to find a woman to live with in the afterlife. And he would get that chance in another city.
The Candyman reemerges in Los Angeles in Candyman 3: Day of the Dead. As the subtitle suggests, he is called upon on the eve of Day of the Dead, the Mexican holiday where people gather to pray for and remember those that have passed away. The Candyman returns and haunts an art gallery owner named Caroline McKeever. He begins to attack everyone associated with Caroline until he can get to her. Caroline is revealed as Annie Tarrant’s daughter, making her a distant relative of the Candyman. Making her look responsible for the grisly murders that he committed, the Candyman stalks Caroline to, as usual, have a partner in the afterlife.
However, determined to end the Candyman’s bloody reign, Caroline visits a woman named Abuela who tells her that evil cannot exist good and she must destroy his good, which is his paintings. After learning this, Caroline and the Candyman are at an abandoned warehouse where he is still trying to get her to walk with him in death. She refuses and destroys his paintings which cause him to be consumed by fire and explode. The Candyman was gone. But a crooked cop named Kraft, who still thinks it was Caroline that killed his partner, shows up to kill her. However, another cop, Detective Matthews, arrives and kills Kraft. He utters Candyman’s name as he is dying and Caroline pins everything on Kraft. Her mother once told her to “destroy the myth” and pinning the murders on Kraft will end the Candyman’s bloody reign of terror. And if the Candyman does not exist in the legend, then he can never return. The Candyman was sent back to the afterlife forever.
WILL THE CANDYMAN EVER RETURN
There have been numerous rumors as to whether the Candyman will return in a remake. The original film was released in 1992 so it is not that old, but we all know that never stops Hollywood from remaking a film. Sony, the studio that made the original, is said to have been talking about a remake, but nothing definite has come of it. Everything I have seen is just rumors and that is it.
One rumor though suggested that there were talks of changing the Candyman character to a white man, which I think would be a horrible mistake. This has nothing to do with race in my opinion. It is all about the character. He is a great backstory that is based in real history and that should never be changed. Part of what I love about the character is that the viewer can feel a level of sympathy for him because of the way he was unjustly murdered. He was killed because he was an African-American slave that fell in love with the plantation owner’s daughter. He was tortured because of his love for someone of another race. It is one of the best backstories for any horror villain and it should stay that way.
Another reason that that shouldn’t happen is because of the man that played the Candyman. He is the only Candyman and no one can play the role like the man that brought him to life. The only Cadyman there should ever be is the great Tony Todd.
Tony Todd is the Candyman
Tony Todd is an actor that has mostly had small roles in films but can carry any scene that he is in. Before Candyman, Todd played small roles in Platoon and Lean On Me and was the main character in the color remake of Night of the Living Dead. He is probably best known as Candyman and as William Bludworth, a mortician that knows a lot about death, from the Final Destination films.
Besides those movies, he has been featured in films such as The Crow, The Rock, Wishmaster, Hatchet and Hatchet 2. More recently, he lended his voice for The Fallen in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. He also has starred in a number of television series such as The Young and the Restless, Hawaii Five-O, 24, Chuck and Smallville. Along with being a talented actor on screen, Todd’s voice has been used in a few video games including Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Half-Life 2: Episode Two. He has over 100 film and television appearances and has his voice featured in multiple video games.
Todd has become an respected member of the horror community after his numerous appearances in horror films and how seriously he has taken the characters he portrays. He is the only person to have played Candyman and, in my opinion, it should remain that way. He is seen as one of the faces of the slasher era. With all the slashers and madmen that came to the big screens, not very many of them were portrayed by one person or by a person with respect for how the character is viewed. Todd is respected for that by people in the horror community and deservedly so.
And now that Candyman has gotten his Blog 4 Dat “shout out”, the next Horror’s Icons will feature another character that had only one man to bring his villainous crimes to life. That is until he was replaced for the inevitable remake. Next time, we will look at Springwood’s most famous dream master, Freddy Krueger. Thanks people…and see you next time in Horror’s Icons.