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By Patrick Samuel • July 24th, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
Universal Pictures

Original release: October 16th, 1992
Running time: 99 minutes

Director: Bernard Rose
Writers: Bernard Rose, Clive Barker (short story)
Composer: Philip Glass

Cast: Virginia Madsen, Xander Berkeley, Tony Todd, Vanessa Williams


Before the horror genre was injected with new blood in the later half of the 90s, the earlier half saw the last great moments in a dying breed of movies. Along with The Silence of the Lambs (1991), John Carpenter’s In The Mouth of Madness (1994), David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) and Misery (1990), Candyman ranks up there as one of the final scares.

My first encounter with it came in 1993 when my older brother rented it on video and asked me if I wanted to watch it with him. I was already used to horror movies by then, having grown up on an unhealthy diet of them by the time I was 10 years old, so Candyman didn’t seem like a big deal.

To my surprise and horror though, I was only able to watch about 30 minutes of it, I found the suspense and tension, coupled with the eerie Gothic music, too much to take. It wasn’t until 1995 I was able to watch the film again in its entirety, and I was glad to finally be able to do it – although I couldn’t sleep that night.

In the film, we meet Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen), a graduate student researching for a thesis on urban legends. While out interviewing students about stories and urban myths she hears about the Candyman (Tony Todd), who appears when you call his name five times in front of a mirror.


As Helen starts to investigate the story further she finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into Cabrini Green, a run down part of Chicago famous for its poverty, violent crimes and murders. At the same time her own personal life begins to spiral beyond her control. Candyman starts to become a little too real for her, especially when she inevitably stands in front of the mirror and summons him. Unsure of what is real or a hallucination anymore, Helen loses her grip on the world – and her mind – as Candyman tightens his grip on her.

Candyman is a terrifying, gritty and tragic fairytale, but one that is rich in the world it portrays and the characters who bring it to life.

I guess what scared me so much about it was that it felt a little bit too close to comfort. As a young teen, I was growing up on a housing estate in East London that didn’t look too different from Cabrini Green and I had heard of similar legends too.

An important thing to remember about urban legends is that it never happens to anyone you know – it’s always a friend of a friend’s or a cousin’s girlfriend’s brother or something of that effect. CandymanThat’s the main identifying feature of an urban myth and that’s what the film taps into; the ambiguity of it and not being sure if the killings are being done by a mortal or a monster from beyond the grave.

Candyman was one of the last great horror movies of the early 90’s, in the years before the post-modern slasher movies, the reality TV show angle and the post 9/11 movies we saw in the following decade.

While it spawned 2 sequels, it goes without saying that the original is by far the best. The second movie is worth seeing though; it takes place in New Orleans and manages to take the story a little further, explaining more about Candyman and what happened to his family after his death. It paints a very vivid picture of life during colonial times and of New Orleans pre-Katrina, as much as it did with Cabrini Green and I think that is the strongest thing about these movies; they show you how these horrors are created, and not just Candyman, but the real horrors such as poverty, crime and violence.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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