An urban legend comes to life after a grad student gets a little too academic with his mythology. And now that Jordan Peele has completed filming and will be releasing a new version, we felt it was time to finally tackle this iconic horror franchise. We couldn’t believe how well this 1992 film held up.
Episode 255, 2 Guys and a Chainsaw
Todd: Hello and welcome to another episode of two guys and a chainsaw. I’m Todd.
Craig: and I’m Craig.
Todd: And today we are doing Craig’s pick, which was 1992’s Candyman, requested by no one but Craig, and also I believe because this is one of the few horror franchises we haven’t touched outside of leprechaun, and we’re not super excited to touch the leprechaun yet.
Although I’m really vying for Leprechaun in Space, you might be working towards Leprechaun in the Hood. I don’t know. Well, your preference is when we get around to that one, we’ll get to it. Yeah. Candyman, I think is, is coming up, uh, with a reboot or a spiritual sequel, I believe directed by none of none other than Jordan Peele.
That’s supposed to come out this August. So it’s fairly timely for us to be doing it right now. And I think it was a great choice. I remember when I was growing up in high school, we watched this movie. I came out in 1992, as I said, I started high school in 1992, and this was something that we rented a once at least.
For stupid movie nights or scary movie nights with my friends. And we all kind of talked about it. I remember it as being kind of an iconic film even at the time. Yeah. You know, it’s, it’s funny because I, it still holds up. I think that right now people still talk about it. Obviously they’re making a new one and it’s probably Tony Todd’s most famous role.
He playing the star, the titular character. And so I think we’re going to have a lot to talk about today and I’m really excited to go and see it again. After watching it this time around, I realized I didn’t remember it at all. Like, I really had not seen this since like 1990, two 93. And, uh, sadly, I, I was pleasantly surprised to see what kind of a film it was.
And, yeah. So how about you, Craig? When did you first see this movie?
Craig: I had to have seen it around the time that it came out. I don’t think that I saw it in the theater, but like, you you’re older than me
Todd: one year.
Craig: So I was still in middle school, but I’ve, I’ve been into a. I’ve been into horror since I was like eight, so I don’t remember specifically, but I feel like it was kind of a big deal. Like it was a big movie. And so I saw it, uh, and I remembered really liking it and thinking it was really scary. That’s what I remembered.
But like you, I hadn’t seen it probably. I don’t know. I probably rewatched it at some point in college, but it’s been a really long time. And I did remember it. I remembered the basic story and I remembered, um, Tony Todd, who I think is great. He’s great. And horror, he’s tall and imposing, and he has an amazing haunting voice.
So he’s, he’s good. And he’s really good in this, even though I had kind of forgotten that he’s barely in this movie, like if you. Super cut. All of his scenes. He maybe is in this movie for like 10 minutes, maybe it’s true, but he’s very good and haunting and I remembered Virginia Madsen. Uh, this was the first thing that I remembered her from.
And she says that from all of the movies in her career, this is the movie that she’s most recognized from. That certainly holds true for me. I remembered her and I remembered liking her. She’s young in this movie and she’s a very pretty, but she has a very kind of deep raspy kind of sexy voice too. It may have to do with the fact that she smokes 3000 cigarettes in this movie.
I don’t know.
Todd: Back when we smoked in movies. Yeah.
Craig: Everybody was smoking in every scene of this movie. Yeah. Um, but I, I remembered liking her and, and so going back and watching, it was an interesting experience because I don’t think that I enjoyed it as much as a horror movie, but I did think that it was really interesting and that there were some really interesting things to talk about.
So I’m looking forward to talking about it too.
Todd: W as I was watching it, I was thinking, God, this is like a better version of urban legends. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s funny. Yeah, because when I was in college, I started a research on urban legends and the term urban legends and the internet was, was becoming popular at that time.
Of course we just surfed web pages. We didn’t have social media, so it was kind of a novel thing, but I felt like I was kind of on the cutting edge back in like, you know, 97, 98 doing this English paper on urban legends and about this brand new site that had come out a couple years before called snopes.com.
That was, that was, I’m trying to sort of. Research he’s legends and putting it online. And it all sounds so quaint right now. And then when the movie urban legends actually came out the year after my paper, I was like, dang, it’s like, I’m right on the edge. But no, like this movie 1992, I’d forgotten was about an urban legend and they talk about it as they use the term urban legend at some point in the movie though, not throughout it is so good at that at, at really not just being a exploitative horror film, but it seems like it has a lot of different things to say about not just class and race relations, but about the nature of myth and legend and its place in our society.
And then. And then in, in a way it takes a bit of that. Um, I can’t remember which came out first, but West Craven’s new nightmare aspect to it where, you know, a bit of the premise of West Craven’s new nightmare is that these things exist as long as we believe in them. Right. Right. And then if we don’t believe in them or we stop believing in them, not only may, might they cease to exist, but perhaps these entities which have been created by us in, in a way will fight for their survival.
Seems to be what Candyman is doing in this movie is sort of fighting for his survival against us, a skeptic, somebody who’s gonna, you know, kind of put an academic twist and research this whole legend and, and neuter it, you know, in a community where it’s actually being held very much alive and very much taken seriously.
So, I mean, it’s interesting, like I think the idea that we’ll probably talk about in this, you know, it’s a kind of a chicken and egg thing, right? Is it the, the legend that is being kept alive by the people that always existed? Or is it the people that have created the legend and caused it to exist? I don’t, I’m not sure exactly.
The movie’s based on a Clive Barker short story called the forbidden and was originally the story is placed in.
Craig: London, Liverpool, I think actually, Oh yeah.
Todd: Liverpool, Liverpool. You’re right. Liverpool. Um, the director, I believe approached a Clive Barker because he was working on his own little version of Nightbreed and a Barker had just come off a hell raiser and was apparently a little upset that it had been Americanized a little bit.
Uh, and this director talked to Barker. Barker, gave him a free option on the story, the forbidden, and he chose to just go ahead and rewrite it so that it took place in America. From what I read, uh, from his words in an interview online, he said he chose Chicago because, uh, it was just the, the place in America he knew about.
And he called up, uh, the Chicago. Land place and said, what’s the worst neighborhood that you can think of the worst development in Chicago and without a doubt, without hesitating, they said Cabrini green. So, uh, I was kind of shocked actually, when I was researching this movie to find out that this was an actual place that really does exist, did yeah.
Exist. And historically was, sounds like it was every bit as bad. If not worse, then what is portrayed in this movie? So. Wow. What a, what an interesting like movie and interesting time capsule as well. Cause some of this was actually filmed on location in these places, right? It seems like the director and his name was Bernard Rose.
Um, really tried to do justice to this and, and even involve the NAACP when he was, uh, working on the script and working on the movie just to make sure that because he was diving into this race stuff that, uh, he wasn’t getting in over his head and being too insensitive to, to things. And his, his real goal was to show that, you know, even though in this, in this bad neighborhood, there are people living there just trying to get by.
Yeah, there are people living there just like the rest of us that we should be able to relate to if we’re going to be able to be scared by this movie and relate to the characters in it. So I feel like he did a pretty good job of that, to be honest, even if it’s a little hokey at times.
Craig: Yeah. Well, I mean, gosh, you said a mouthful, there, there are so many things I want to respond to, but though yes, they did.
Um, actually filmed that, uh, Cabrini green and, um, par uh, stipulation for them being allowed to do so was that they cast some of the actual residents and they also had to, I don’t know, negotiate with the local gangs, um, for their own protection and cast some of them, uh, as extras as well. And because they did that, they didn’t really face a lot of trouble.
There was one shooting incident, very near the end. Of filming where a production van was shot at by a sniper, but nobody was hurt beyond that. There wasn’t really any big deal. Um, it went pretty seamlessly, but yeah, I lived in Chicago very briefly and I love Chicago. Chicago is a great city and amazing city, but it does have a pretty sorted history of red lining.
Um, and you can see that still today. When I lived in Chicago, I lived in the Ukrainian village, which was a very nice area, reasonably priced, but there was one street. I don’t remember what street it was. It was very near where I lived and directly on the other side of that, I believe was the Puerto Rican village.
And, uh, it, you know, I went over there and ate, they had great restaurants and stuff. But it was a very different, it was just amazing to me, a rural farm, not farm boy, but a rural boy living in the big city for the first time, how distinct those lines were, uh, between neighborhoods in between areas. Um, and it’s still that way.
Todd: It’s crazy. Yeah. And not just in Chicago, but in a lot of American cities, that’s like this on one side of the street, you know, you can walk down the sidewalk more or less without fear you cross the street and suddenly you’re in the danger zone. It’s
Craig: well, and that’s something that they were trying to capitalize on too.
In this movie, they were trying to capitalize on the fact, you know, gosh, I don’t remember what I read, but the, the director wanted to set it in a scary area. And he felt that for most of his audience being placed somewhere where they were uncomfortable, not necessarily. Because it’s a bad place and the people who live there are bad, but because we have these preconceived notions that we just, we are fearful about stepping out of our comfort zones and into areas where we are less comfortable.
And though, Hey, you know, the intention. I think was good. He did also face some criticism from certain factions of the black community who said that this was perpetuating perpetuating stereotypes about black people, that black people are inherently dangerous. And the places that black people populate are inherently dangerous.
And I don’t think that that was his goal at all, but I could see how it could be interpreted in that way. To me. I see it as not being an issue of color or race though. That’s obviously something that is tied up into it, but it’s really more about, more about socioeconomic concerns. And, you know, I, I have.
I studied this in literature. Like if you read, um, Oh, native son, it takes place in Chicago and deals with this same kind of thing. And you read about the history of it. Uh it’s it’s, it’s sad because it was racist and discriminatory, but these black neighborhoods were subpar in terms of quality of living, um, standard of living.
But. The cost of living was also higher than in many of the neighboring white neighborhoods that were just across the street. And so it’s an unfortunate part of American history that sadly it has not gone away. Um, but, but I think that this shines an interesting light on that. And I, and I don’t think it’s perfect.
I don’t think that it’s a perfect study in racial divide or anything like that. But I do think that it’s an interesting look at it, especially from a 1990s perspective. One of the other things that you talked about was like the idea of urban legends. And I took a graduate course in oral tradition. Um, and it was just fascinating to hear about, you know, How stories are passed down and are changed and modified and reflective of the times, but they maintain still kind of core elements.
Uh, and that’s, what’s going on here too. The other thing though, and, and I read this, I’m not taking credit for this, but I read, and it resonated with me that this is also very much kind of like a Gothic romance, much akin to like Dracula where the bad guy is the bad guy, but almost in a romantic. Kind of way.
Um, there’s definitely romantic is in the terms of lovey-dovey romantic is maybe not the right word, but there’s definitely a connection between Candyman and Helen. The main character here that is very reminiscent of Dracula and Nina from the Dracula story. And I really liked that element. This is ultimately a slasher movie, but it’s more than that.
It’s more than just TNA and a bunch of 20 somethings getting slashed up. That’s not it at all. There’s, there’s a lot more to it. And in that way, I think it’s ambitious how successful it is. I don’t know. I. I mean, ultimately I enjoyed the movie. I found it to be a little bit too long. I don’t want to say that there were parts where I was bored.
I just felt like get sped up a little bit, but maybe that’s just my attention span because they do a lot of, um, plot building in the first part. And Candyman doesn’t even show up until halfway through the movie he’s central to the plot throughout, but the actual character doesn’t appear until 45 minutes into the movie.
And I think that having seen the movie before, I just like, Oh, come on, like get Tony Todd here. You know, I, I want, I want to get to the Tandy man. Yeah. I don’t know already. We’ve thrown out all of these things and we’ve barely gotten into the plot. Virginia Madsen is a graduate student. She plays, uh, Helen.
Her husband is a professor. Named Trevor. And she’s working with, um, another graduate student Bernadette, and they are doing their graduate thesis on urban legends. So they are interviewing students specifically freshmen and asking them about urban legends that they’ve heard. And you know, all these freshmen are telling them these stories that they’ve heard.
And it’s exactly the way that oral tradition and the urban legends work. You hear it. It’s like the game of telephone. You know, my cousins, brothers, sisters, husband knew this guy, and this is what happened. And so they hear, you know, they talk about the alligators in the sewers and a couple of other very popular ones, but they also hear this legend of Candyman, which is really a combination of.
Two urban legends, the bloody Mary story, where you say somebody, you say bloody Mary in the mirror five times and bloody Mary appears and kills you. And also the urban legend of the hook, which there are variations of. But the one that I always remember is like, it’s like a couple, like it make out point and they hear scraping on the car.
And then depending on the version you hear, like they drive away and then later they find the hook attached to the car door or something. It’s a combination of those two, the director slash writer who adapted this from Barker’s story faced criticism, because. They, or maybe it was Barker. I think it was actually Barker who faced criticism for profiting off of a black, urban legend.
And in response, he was like, I made this up.
Not or appropriating anything here. I’ve made this up. But, uh, yeah. So, so they’re researching that, which eventually Helen is listening to a audio cassette of her interview with somebody who was talking about Candyman and a campus. Cleaning lady, a black cleaning lady over here says, Oh, is that about Candyman?
I know all about him. He lives in Cuba, Cabrini green, and then another, she calls in another housekeeper who tells her this? I think her name is Ruthie Jean. And she heard this banging and smashing, like somebody was trying to make a hole in the wall. So Ruthie called nine one one. And she said, there’s somebody coming through the walls and they didn’t believe him.
They thought the lady was crazy. Right. So she called nine one one again. And they still didn’t believe it. But when they finally got there, she was dead. Was she shot? No. Um, she was killed with the hook. Yeah, it’s true. Yeah, it is. I read it in the papers, Candyman killed it. And that’s where it all starts.
Then these two women start investigating what they believe. You know, they believe that like, this is an urban legend. In progress and they feel like that will give them an edge on their thesis. Like they’re not just regurgitating a bunch of things that have already been discussed and written about, but they can actually immerse themselves in a culture that actively believes in this.
And, uh, they do. And that’s when they get in trouble,
Todd: two girls or Helen is played by Virginia Madsen, as we said, and a woman named Bernadette, or they call her Bernie and she’s played by Cassie lemons and she is actually black and. I’m sure that, you know, that helps a little bit right. To have this, this white woman and this black woman also kind of working together on this thesis project when you’re, you know, trying to kind of navigate those boundaries of trying not to be too exploitative or trying to, you know, be sensitive to races and things.
And I just have to say Cassie lemons, the first stole my heart as, as a Nina Blackburn and fear of a black hat, which I have called out once before on this podcast, when we did tales from the hood, um, which is a movie that rusty Conda who directed and, uh, had a role in that movie, uh, also directed and had a role in fear of a black hat.
She’s great. Also in this movie, I think it’s interesting, the way that they play the dynamic of the university, you know, you and I are both very intimately familiar with the university. We both went to the same one. Your mom works at one. I worked at that university for awhile and it’s a little silly, right?
That there’s this sort of implied rivalry between their graduate professors and them. Yeah. And Helen does dating. No. Helen is
Craig: married to, I think
Todd: a guy who, I guess the ideas that is, is the notion supposed to be that he’s a bit older than her because he is a professor and she’s still a graduate student, but they both look about.
I don’t, I don’t know if this was implied to be a thing where she was a student of his at one time, and then, you know, they kind of had a relationship and then they got together. What do you think? I, I
Craig: don’t know that that’s necessarily implied, but that’s easy to deduce deduce based on what happens later, but you know, Helen, um, it’s funny cause she’s playing a graduate student, but she actually looks like a graduate student.
Like in most of these movies, she would look like a coed, you know, she would be, you know, the big busted, uh, long blonde hair co-ed she actually looks like a graduate student. She looks like she’s in her. Right. Early twenties, but she looks like a grownup. Uh, but her, her husband, yeah. He doesn’t look like he’s probably that much older than her.
Probably a little bit older than her, but not that much, but yeah, he plays this smarmy guy and like, he just, this guy just looks like a smarmy guy and you can tell from the beginning that he’s like flirting with his students and she even calls him out on it. And she it’s almost to the point where she’s naive.
Like we, as the audience are like, Oh, come on. Like, he’s obviously screwing around with his students, but she chooses to. Believe him and she chooses to ignore it.
Todd: It’s more than implied throughout the movie. I mean, there’s a moment where she tries to call him and he’s not home at like 2:00 AM and there, as the phone is ringing in his, in their empty bedroom, the, the camera’s panning over photos of them and marriage and things like that.
And they’re moments where they really lay heavy hand, like, like he puts his hand on hers and you kind of see both of their wedding rings there and you just know at some point, okay, he’s messing around. Totally. Right. I mean, it’s, it’s so obviously projected from the beginning, but this guy’s played by a guy named Zander Berkeley, and he’s one of those names that you don’t even know, but when you see his face, you’re like, Oh yeah, he’s in like a ton of movies, right?
Like, he’s that he’s like the cab driver or he’s like the Colonel or something in the military, or he’s the clerk behind the counter or he’s the guy holding up the liquor store. I mean, he is in, so. Many big movies, like the rock air force one, like this movie, I mean, this guy’s got 242 MDB credits to his name.
Craig: yeah. And still working. I mean, he’s got lots of stuff like in production and post-production he’s yeah, he’s working a lot, I think. And, and he’s good. He’s fine. All of the performances in this movie are good, but you talked about, you talked about her best friend. Uh, Bernadette Bernadette also played Clarice’s best friend in the silence of the lambs.
Initially, uh, Virginia Madsen was cast as Bernadette and the director’s wife who is also an actress, but not as big name. She was cast in the lead. Well, I think for a couple of reasons, first of all, the director’s wife found out that she was pregnant, that played a role, but also I think. That they decided that the character of Bernadette should be African-American I think because they wanted a different representation of an African-American person as well, to just the villain, the Libris green and the villain.
Right. Um, which makes sense. I think that today, It would be far more effective it’s hell it. And were played by an African American. Like that would seem to make a lot more sense if you were concerned about representation, but in 1992.
Todd: Yeah. True. But, but then again, the story kind of begs it right now. My understanding is that Tony Todd made up the backstory for his character.
That’s what the director said. Oh, I didn’t know that. At some point when the two graduate students meet with they’re having dinner with, I guess, their thesis head, or I don’t know, one of, one of their smarmy or professors, uh, than her husband and her husband. And again, it’s so hilarious because they’re like, he’s like, well, what are you working on?
And they’re like, we’re going to bury you. Thesis, you know, it’s like, guys, this is not how a university works. It’s a very collegial, it really is generally speaking kind of encouraging environment. People. Aren’t like, you know, cutthroat about the papers that they’re writing,
Craig: but at least at the, at the college that we went to, I,
Todd: I don’t know, maybe if you’re going to like science and technology, something or whatever, and you know, you’re engaged in deep.
I don’t know.
Craig: Well, I didn’t go to an Ivy league school. Maybe that’s more cutthroat, but you’re right at the small liberal arts university that we went to, it was very familiar. Like you were friends with your professors, you hung out with them. You weren’t, you know, like it wasn’t a rival
Todd: or yeah. Well, it probably at the university of Illinois too, which is where this is done.
But, um, but yeah, like, um, when they talk about what you’re doing and they’re like, well, we’re, we’re talking about Candyman and we’re investigating this murder that took place. He was like, Oh, well then you should read the paper that I published on it, you know, 10 years ago, which is a convenient device for him to give us the full backstory and the Candyman legend.
And what the candy main legend basically is this, there was this freed slave, uh, who was an artist who very quickly Rose into aristocratic society and was very well known as a portrait painter. And he was hired to paint a portrait of this woman, um, a white woman. They fell in love. She got pregnant. And of course this being at that time, nobody liked that this guys hired a bunch of goons to go out, find him and they cut off his right arm.
Craig: this was just the beginning of his ordeal nearby. There was an apiary, dozens of hives filled with hungry bees. They smashed the hives and stole the honeycomb and smeared it over his prone. Naked body.
Handyman was stunned to death by the bees, banned his body on a giant Pyre and then scattered his ashes over Cabrini-Green.
Todd: And so he is the candy man, and he comes back to enact his vengeance upon people. Uh, when, uh, you look into a mirror and you say his name five times, which is like you said, it’s the bloody Mary.
Urban legend that we grew up with and they play with that in the movie. Of course, people look in the mirror, they say his name, but they don’t get quite get to five because they’re too scared to do that. Actually earliest in the movie. I think the movie kind of opens with the telling of the tale. Yeah.
Craig: It’s like, it’s like scream, you know, it opens up with like an expository, like where we see what can happen, but it’s not really connected to the direct story. It’s just some woman in some guy and she dares out some guy, Ted Ray,
playing, playing this bad boy or whatever. And, uh, they of course, you know, they say it and there’s a big kill right at the beginning, which is nice because it establishes for us what can happen. Um, and I think that it was smart to do that because then it takes quite a while. To get to any more
Todd: of that.
Right. And he’s not even visible that that happens kind of just, yes. Right in the background. And he’ll cut you with a hook from crotch to throat or shoulders basically lays out the legend for us, but she is basically doing a lot of the library research about this actual murder that the may told her about.
And she decides to go to Cabrini green. With her friend, Helen and, um, Bernie go to Cabrini green and instantly, you know, this is a rough place. It’s extremely rundown, it’s a project development. And, uh, they go inside and they’re harassed by people downstairs who are very distrustful of anyone white who comes walking through and they think they’re police, they go up and they actually find the hallway.
And then the room, the, the apartment that this woman was in, which has basically been sort of abandoned and graffitied over since the murders. And there’s graffiti on the walls leading in called sweeps to the suite. Yeah.
Craig: One of the things that I found to be kind of contrived is that Helen somehow realizes that her building, the building that she was, that she lives in was meant to be project housing, but somehow they like.
Got messed up with the red lining. Like they were on the wrong side of it. And so instead they turned it
Todd: in, they needed a barrier. Yeah. That was what they said. So they quickly made
Craig: those into luxury apartments, but her luxury apartment, which is amazing, like gorgeous has the exact same feelings. Yeah. But it somehow has the exact same layout as this apartment that this woman who is supposedly killed by Candyman lived in.
And because of that, she knows in the bathroom, there is no wall between apartments. It’s just the medicine cabinets. So if you take the medicine cabinets out, there’s just a hole. Into the next apartment and the police believe that that’s how the killer got in and killed this woman. Of course, they’re not considering anything supernatural.
They just think it was a murderer. And apparently that’s based in truth. Like this really happened in Chicago. I think. At the time. Um, and there was a story within the last few months of some woman finding that to be true in her apartment. Like she took her medicine cabinet out to a remodel or whatever, and there was just a hole into the next apartment.
And then in that case, in this recent story, it was just an abandoned apartment. But, uh, I just thought that was kind of silly, like, okay, your luxury apartment is the same as this project apartment. Um, I did like the design now. I don’t know because though I lived in Chicago. I, my experience was very limited.
I don’t know if those, you know what, and of course when I lived there, it was like 2003. So the last building in kolibri green was torn down in 2011. So it did exist when I was there, but I didn’t go there and. It may be, I just don’t know. Maybe it’s authentic. Maybe it’s stereotypical. My limited experience doesn’t inform me, but I did like the design of this area, and I know that they did film some things actually in these buildings, but covered in graffiti and the graffiti, you know, graffiti has a negative connotation, but at its root, it is art and it is, looks really cool.
Yeah. She gets into that apartment. Lots of interesting graffiti. For some, for some reason, there are tons of holes in the walls. Like she’s not using doors. She’s like walking through holes in the wall and she’s taking pictures. And at one point she looks through a hole and she’s taking pictures and we hear that her film runs out and starts rewinding kids back in the day, back in the day, our cameras actually had rolls of film in them.
And when you ran out of film, it would automatically, at least in my day back in my parents’ day, you had to rewind it yourself. But in my day it would automatically rewind. And that’s how you knew you were out of film and you couldn’t take any more pictures. So that happens as she’s looking through this hole, then we see her from the other side.
So we’re looking at her in the hole and it’s a huge portrait of Candyman. Face and the whole is his mouth open. So when she comes through, she sees it, but she can’t take a picture and she seems immediately affected by it. Like she almost gets like a little dizzy or something looking into its eyes. Um, and just the aesthetic, like whoever was the set designer for this, it looked amazing.
It was designed to look like a rundown Gothic church that the people of kolibri green, who believed in Candyman had designed almost as like, I don’t know, a shrine or something, but. It looks great. It is an excellent set piece and, and very atmospheric. Um, and I really liked it.
Todd: Well, I think it’s a kind of, um, paying respects to the gods kind of thing, right?
Like you have this shrine built to him and we kind of preserve this area and we kind of respect his name and keep his legend alive, then he’s not going to bother us. Right. Right. And so that’s interesting. She meets like a little kid outside too. Who, uh, what’s his name? I can’t remember. What’s his name?
Craig: Yeah. And I don’t remember the actor’s name, but everybody on set, loved this kid. Like they called him like one take Jake or something because he just nailed it every time. Um, and he is this super cute little kid, and this is really where the action gets started because she talks to him and she says, if you show me where Candyman is, it will be our little secret.
And so he takes her to this free standing concrete, outdoor. Bathroom. He tells her this story about this little kid who, um, he describes what the R word that I don’t like, but, uh, a mentally challenged little kid. And, uh, he was with his mother at the store across the street, but he was bored and causing a scene.
So his mother told him to go to the bathroom outside this little free standing place. And then they just heard screaming and the mother tried to get to him, but everybody else held her back and eventually some big tough guy went in and he was only in there for a couple of seconds and came out and had been so effected that his hair had turned white.
Helen says was, he did was the little boy dead. And he says, no, apparently what had happened was Candyman had ripped this little kid’s Dick off with his. Hook and left him there to bleed to death. And we see it. I mean, not in great detail, like it’s quick and it’s not super up close, like it pans through the bathroom, but the bathroom is just covered in blood.
And so she, of course this was before this is a flashback. So she goes in there, she sees that suites for the sweet graffiti. Again, she opens up one of the stalls and there’s an arrow painted an excrement, I think, pointing down to the toilet and she opens it and it’s full of bees. But then these four or five guys from, I don’t, I can never remember if I’m saying the name right from this neighborhood.
Kolibri green come in. And one of them is in a long coat and is holding a hook like he is the epitome of Candyman. And he says, you were looking for Candyman where you found him and he hits her in the face with. The hook and knocks her out and she is terribly injured. Like it looks like her ocular cavity was probably shattered.
Like it’s, she, she looks awful. Um, but she survives and then she’s able to pick that guy out of a lineup. She then talks to Jake and she’s like, Candyman is not real. He’s just this guy who’s capitalizing on this legend that now he’s gone and now people don’t have to be afraid anymore. And that is what gets her in trouble.
She, she removes. The fear. And that is when she is approached by the actual Candyman. I don’t know, time goes by because her face is healed. Bernadette, uh, gives her some pictures that she was able to recover from the smashed camera from, from the attack. And right after that, she’s in a parking garage and the real Candyman, Tony Todd, who is dressed in a long flowing coat with fur cuffs, not at all on reminiscent of like blaxploitation character look.
Um, so he
Todd: can exploitation Dracula in a way.
Craig: Yeah. Yeah. Not at all. Unlike black ULA. Um, very much like that in fact, but he confronts her and he talks to her from a distance. And most of the time when Candyman speaks in this movie, it’s voiceover he’s present, but his mouth doesn’t move. And he says to her in a very.
Theorial voice you doubted me. You were not content with the stories. So I was obliged to come. I think
I am the writing on the wall through whisper in the classroom without these things. I haven’t nothing. So now I didn’t let shit with me. You’re right. I mean, it’s very much like new nightmare. Like by removing the fear, she has taken away his power. And so now to regain his power, he has to give them a reason to be afraid again.
Um, and he’s going to do it through. Her. And right after that, she wakes up not knowing where she is. She’s on a floor somewhere she’s covered in blood and she hears screaming. And she goes out into this apartment, which we N we immediately recognized because she had befriended a woman in kolibri green who lived next door to the other woman who had been murdered.
And this woman had a baby and a dog, a Rottweiler. And the first thing that she sees is this Rottweiler’s head decapitated, surrounded in blood. And she goes in and the woman is standing over her baby’s crib, which is also covered in blood, but there’s no baby. And the woman because, uh, Helen is holding a meat Cleaver, like she found one next door and she thought covered in blood.
That it would be a good idea. I mean, I guess you want to protect yourself, but what’s somebody going to think if they come into their house and everybody’s dead and they see you holding a meat Cleaver. So obviously this woman attacks her. And she to protect herself to be fair, like cleaves the woman in the arm, but then the police come in and arrest Helen and think it was
Yeah, she’s totally set up.
Craig: She has no memory of it. So she doesn’t know what to do. And she had worked with this detective at kolibri green to put away the guy that they thought was responsible for the murder. So she thinks she’s going to have an ally in him, but no, like everything points to her, nobody is at fault for thinking it was her like, who else would it be?
But that’s, you know, and then it goes on from there and he continues to use her to that purpose from there. And I thought it was really effective. And the other thing that I thought was really effective that I know that I didn’t consider the first time I saw this, there is a strong possibility when you’re watching this movie, that Helen is just crazy.
Todd: Yes. And I was thinking about that the whole time as well. And it’s interesting because this movie sets up one thing I really like about this, it’s so different from a lot of other horror movies. Is it, this, this emo of his he’s basically setting her up again and again, as she refuses more or less to be, be his victim.
And so then suddenly she passes out and she wakes up and she’s in this situation that presumably he’s concocted, but maybe really she has actually done this was apparently the director. Talked about how he wanted to avoid this cliche of people, just women, just screaming and horror movies. And so he wanted to establish more of a hypnotic thing.
Like you said, when she first sees that image of the eyes and the big mouth in that, and the hole in the wall, in the abandoned apartment, she seems kind of entranced by it and hypnotized by it. In fact, they use this very old movie trick of Oh, oftentimes where like the rest of her face will be in shadow, but her eyes have like a kind of a brighter streak across them.
Yes. In a lot of shots that that’s very no
Craig: R isn’t it it’s
Todd: super new are, it’s also a little corny, but, you know, whatever, it’s, it’s cool. Like that’s what they do. So there’s this notion that she’s hypnotized by him that, uh, th that’s part of the sort of Dracula, right. The sort of sexual hypnotic power that Dracula has.
And so then therefore, There is this possibility that he’s not just, you know, murdering these people and then dropping her in the spot, but that he is hypnotized her to actually do these things. And then when she wakes up, you know, she’s, she’s been broken from the trans well, I
Craig: feel like that this is an interesting place to mention that they did hypnotize Virginia Madsen for a lot of these scenes, um, to the point like when she’s interacting with Candyman and in the aftermath, um, she was under hypnosis and they had trigger words and phrases that would break the hypnosis.
And they did this for a while to the point that it made her so uncomfortable that she asked that they not do it anymore. Um, and I, I thought that that was really interesting. And Tony Todd said the same thing, like. His character for whatever reason is, well, I it’s because of his backstory, because he was killed with bees.
Like he’s often surrounded with bees and there are bees all over him, which is all real, there’s even a scene when his mouth is full of bees, all real. And I don’t know if they intentionally also hypnotized him, but he said that he fell like he was in a hypnotic state. Like that was kind of the only way that he could do it.
Yeah. I just find that, you know, I don’t know what else I’m going to be able to bring it up. So I’m just gonna bring it up. Now, the fact that they use real bees, uh, the, the bee handler. The bee handler was the same, the handler that worked on my girl and that worked on fried green tomatoes. They specifically bred these bees for the production because they had to be a certain age because apparently young bees are far less likely to fly and far less likely to sting they’re capable, but they’re far less likely.
And so Virginia Madsen originally refused the role. Cause she said they, she was allergic to bees and the director’s like, uh, go get tested. She did. And it turned turns out that she was mildly allergic to bees, but she went ahead and took it anyway. And both of these characters had to be covered in bees and.
They would put a queen bee pheromone on them so that the bees would just be attracted to them and stay on them. And then they would suck them off very, with a very gentle, uh, vacuum that didn’t harm the bees. And Tony Todd said that he did it, but that he had an excellent lawyer and it was negotiated.
That he would get a thousand dollar bonus for every time that he was stung over the course of the three movies. He was stung like 26 times. I think 23 of those times were in this movie. I don’t know what they did in the other movies. Maybe they used more fake BS in the other movies. I don’t know. And like when they were in his mouth, like he wore a dental dam to keep them from going down his throat.
But all of those scenes with them in closeup with bees, those are real bees. They also do special effects with like bee swarms and stuff, but all of the close-up stuff is real. Uh, and it looks great night. Yeah. It’s just so cool. You know, they would, I just feel like nobody would, would ever do that now just because they don’t have to.
Then now we’ll just see GI at the fact that it is real and you’re watching it and it looks real and you know, it’s real, it just ads. Something to the movie. Um, it does, but I don’t know where you were getting close. You know, like you said, he just keeps setting her up. Trevor brings her home from the hospital and she’s at home.
Candyman appears to her again, like he bursts through her medicine cabinet and scares her, which she didn’t know was going to happen. And, um, really did frighten her, her reaction is real. And he, he, I say he chases her around, but that’s not true. He’s supernatural. He can just appear wherever he wants and he’s scaring her and, and he just keeps telling her, you just have to surrender to me.
That’s it. And, and he’s also told her, the baby in question is still alive. And if you. Submit yourself to me, if you, uh, surrender, I’ll let the baby go. But then he keeps appearing to hurry. He appears, and Bernie, the best friend shows up. He kills her. She gets set up for that. She gets taken to a mental hospital where unbeknownst to her she’s, um, sedated for a month before she wakes up and is questioned by a, uh, psychologist and the psychologist.
You know, she, she’s trying to tell him the truth and he doesn’t believe her. It’s like, I can prove it. And so she summons Candyman in the mirror, in his office and Candyman shows up and kills that guy. But before he leaves, he releases her from her restraints. So it’ll look like she did it. She escapes and goes home where she finds that Trevor is already shacking up with that.
Grad student, but she ends up back at kolibri green, where she has decided that she is going to sacrifice herself. I mean, what choice does she, she had, he basically says to her, you’ve lost everything. The only thing that you have left is my desire for you. She says, all right, as long as you promise to let the kid go, I’ll do it.
And he asks if she’s scared and she says, yes. And he’s like, are you scared of the pain or what comes after? And she says both. And he says, well, I promise you, the pain will be exquisite, but when it’s all over. You and I will be legends and we will live on in rumors. We will be the writing on the wall. We will be the stories that kids tell around the campfire.
We will be the, the, the fear that causes lovers to hold each other tighter in the night. Um, it’s very seductive. It’s super seductive and kind of sexy.
Todd: It’s sexy. And it’s also, uh, again, it’s like that, that dragon Kyla thing, the thrall,
Craig: it’s the thrall
Todd: kind of thing. It happens in this location. That’s like this Gothic church, like you said to him.
And so it’s full of this imagery and there’s the alter, you know, that she’s on and everything. And that’s when they do the big exchange, right. That he’s got the, he opens up his chest and their bees in there, and then their bees coming out of his mouth. And then he kisses her and their bees going into her mouth and she’s covered with bees, but she’s under a trance and he seems, you know, kind of out of it too.
And he carries her way. It’s it’s really. Great. And at this, it was probably at this moment that I was like, God, I did not expect, I didn’t remember this movie being so sophisticated, you
Craig: know? Yeah. Well, and it’s interesting, like they, uh, I assume it was the director had Tony Todd and Virginia Madsen take ballroom dance class together so that they would have like this kind of grace with one another and it shows it really does.
I mean, you can see their comfort in movement together. It’s very sensual. And, um, I also read that they ended up cutting quite a lot of it because in 1992, they were concerned about the repercussions of. The interracial relationship. That’s hard to believe which today seems so silly and offensive, frankly.
Um, but, uh, interesting for the time, but what we do get is graceful and I mean, it does feel. Gothic, uh, it feels like out of a different time, you know what I mean? Um, well, the score and I just really liked it. The score adds a bit of
Todd: a score. Right? We got to talk about the score. Phillip, Phillip freaking glass.
Craig: I know. Oh, my God, this score is amazing. Like I could listen to it all day. It’s fantastic. And,
Todd: and apparently he was, you know, Philip Glass is just, I mean, he did a ton of composing for films, of course, but he’s also just, he’s an very established composer and respected in his own, right. In the field of opera and classical music and stuff like that.
Uh, but this was a, I don’t know, he’d done a handful of scores, quite a few actually before this, apparently when he first scored this heat and he hadn’t read the final script, he had read the, the, the short story forbidden. So he thought he was doing the score for this story that kind of took place in England and was, seemed like kind of somewhat Gothic romantic to him.
And then he apparently, when he saw the movie, his first reaction was he was a bit appalled by. What he considered a very schlocky, low budget slash or Lasher, but it’s perfect for the movie. And the movie does have that Gothic flare to it. It’s it all works really, really well. And it probably wouldn’t work as well, you know, honestly.
Craig: don’t think so at all. I mean, there are so many things like that. Like, so it happens. We talk about it all the time. It’s just when the right elements come together, like, and here, you know, if, if you didn’t have this score, if it were. An inferior score. I don’t think the movie would have worked nearly as well and other things too, like Virginia Mattson.
I like her. I’ve seen her in many things. She, I like her as an actress. Tony Todd. I’ve seen him in many things. I like him too, but they just work really well together in this movie, especially when you consider that this could have been Eddie Murphy and Sandra Bullock. Nah,
Todd: imagine Eddie. Oh my God. Yes. Oh my God.
Craig: He was concerned for this role. They deemed him too short and that’s why they went with Tony. Todd. The director said that had it not been Virginia Madsen, it probably would have been Sandra Bullock. Like what a different movie that would have been. And I seriously doubt we would be talking about it. I don’t know, we talk about all kinds of things.
Todd: Maybe not in such glowing terms. Let’s put it that way.
Craig: I mean, anyway, whatever kismet, fate, whatever it all came together and it does end up being a quality film. I think it, it does rise above your typical slasher, even though ultimately that’s what it is. It’s also really the only horror movie that I can think of.
The only horror slasher that I can think of that has a black antagonist. Um, now there may be some obscure movie that I have missed, uh, but when we’re talking mainstream movies, um, and it really Tony Todd’s career, he had been working before this. Um, but this really bumped, uh, his career, especially in the horror genre.
He he’s a staple in the horror genre now, but anyway, she does succumb and, um, she wakes up. And at some point in his layer, she has picked up a hook. Like there are a bunch of his hooks, like hanging on a chain or something. So she’s carrying that around and she hears the baby crying and she looks out the window and she realizes that it’s coming from this enormous pile of rubble that they have set up for a bonfire that the kid just says, Oh yeah, that’s for a party.
It was in the original source material. It was for guy Fox night, which I don’t know a whole lot about, but apparently bonfires are a tradition of here. It’s kind of out of place, but whatever, um, So she hears the crying coming from there. So she goes there, she starts climbing it. She finally hears where the baby is, so she starts descending into it.
And that’s when Jake sees her. And when he sees her descending into it, the last thing he sees is the hook. So he thinks that Candyman is in there, which he is. Um, but, uh, but she, that she and the baby are also in there. Um, and so all of the residents of kolibri green, um, gather around this pile of rubble and set it on fire.
Um, and as it turns out, it appears that Candyman had lied to Helen. He said that he would let the baby go if she succumbed, but it looks like that’s not going to be the case. The fire starts raging all around them. And she, um, grabs a burning piece of, you know, something sharp, a board or something and stabs Candyman, and he’s an agony and can’t get to her or whatever.
So she grabs the baby and starts crawling out. And, you know, it’s a great set piece. It’s a huge bonfire. I have no idea if it was real or not, but the, you know, tons of people of this neighborhood gathered around watching cheering, because they think that they’re finally burning up Candyman, but she comes crawling out with the baby.
She crawls right up to the baby’s mother. I don’t think that she hands the baby off. I think somebody takes it from her and gives it to the mother. But the mother obviously knows that Helen pulled her baby. Who’s been missing for months, which also doesn’t make any sense like that. Baby’s just been hanging out in candy man’s apartment next door to its apartment, and nobody found it there.
Okay. Whatever. Um, but, but Helen is terribly burned and dies, but we also see, and the residents of kolibri green, see that Candyman is burned up in there. And presumably dead. And the next thing we see is Helen still burned, but kind of made up a little bit in her coffin and the at her funeral when they are lowering her into the ground.
And the only people there are her husband, his mistress, jeez, get some taste, people leave the mistress at home. And those smarmy professors that they had had dinner with, those are the only people there. But then in a big parade, all of the residents of kolibri green come marching in led by Ann Marie, the baby’s mother to pay their respects and Ann Marie hands, Jake, the kind of burnt up.
Hook candy man’s hook and he throws it in her grave. Um, and I think that that was like a tribute, like a thank you. Like you, you did this, you got rid of him for us and we’re here to pay our respects. And I really liked that moment and I suppose it could have ended there, but I also kind of like the,
Todd: yeah, the end cap is interesting.
Trevor, the husband is back at home with his. Student now they’re still living together, but she’s clearly pissed off because he’s still distraught about Helen. And, uh, he’s basically in the bathroom crying and he looks in the mirror and he ends up saying her name in his crying five times. Into the mirror and she shows up behind him, she’s got a great
She had said it earlier, when she bust out of the hospital, once a man of Trevor scanned of something,
Todd: just really funny and, you know, Hear him being gutted. And then the, you know, there’s a little bit of voiceover and the camera is back in that urban chapel, if you will, to Candyman, but it’s been changed.
And it actually has, is now attribute to Helen just slowly kind of focuses in kind of pant and dollies in, on her face, on as it’s painted on the walls, just like, and it’s
Craig: angelic, it’s angelic like, like she’s floating, but also it’s, it’s, it’s like there are flames behind her. It’s actually quite beautiful.
I wish we had gotten a better look at it because we, we view it through the rolling credits. There are some breaks where we get to see it, but it looks really good. The other thing I liked about the end cap was that the student girlfriend had been making dinner. So when she finds him, she’s holding this great big, nice.
I liked the, I liked the implication that maybe she would be implicated in his murder. I thought that that was. It’s
Todd: fine. I mean, it’s so great because it plays right with this, this whole urban mythology in that and where these real life events can spawn these supernatural tales and these legends. And so, you know, you know that the legend is now, okay, you say Helen’s name five times in the mirror.
Right. You know, this incident happened and they say, this girl killed him, but really it was Helen who came back and, you know, so the legend goes on, but now Candyman has been completely defeated and he’s been replaced by her.
Craig: I know. And you know, what’s, what’s, it doesn’t bug me. It’s fine. But there are sequels, there are two sequels to this movie and Tony Todd reprises his role in both of them.
And that’s great. I want to see the hell and see, like, I want the CQL to be it’s Helen’s movie. Now. That would make sense. Yeah, it would make sense. Like in, um, in Hellraiser, the original hell raiser, it was intended that there was going to be a sequel and Julia. Was going to be the antagonist, pinhead was so popular that they just brought him back.
I don’t know. I don’t know if they plan to sequel or, or whatever, and it makes sense. They brought Tony Todd back. He did a great job. He’s great. You know, he has become, uh, an icon in horror and Candyman though. He doesn’t get at, I, I feel like he’s not as talked about. He really does have a place in the Pantheon of horror icons.
Um, so that’s all well and good, but it was a perfect setup for a hell and SQL. And I want to watch the shit out of that movie.
Todd: That’s the one you’ve seen this equals that. Right. Have you seen, I mean, is one of them a pre-qual or are they truly sequels to this? I
Craig: think they’re both SQLs, but I can’t really say because I know that I saw the second one. Um, I don’t, I don’t remember anything about it. I don’t remember if I saw the third one.
I don’t remember. I know
Todd: that I haven’t seen either of the sequels, but I’m really pretty excited about seeing what, you know, the hands of Jordan Peele are going to do with
Craig: this. Oh my gosh. What they can do with it now. And, and Jordan Peele is so good about being socially relevant and culturally relevant.
I feel like he can really do something great with this or. If he just wants to make a good slasher movie, that’s fine. He’s not under any, he’s not under any obligation to provide social commentary. I have a feeling that he will. Um, and yeah, I’m, I’m really excited about it too. It was supposed to already be out, but of course, pandemic.
So hopefully we’ll get it in August. We’ll see. And yeah. I insight and you know, there’s been a lot of talk. Is it a sequel? Is it a reboot? And as is often the case, they’re kind of keeping hush hush about it. Now, Tony Todd is tied to it somehow. So, uh,
Todd: apparently Virginia, Madison’s got a role in there too.
Craig: Oh, does she? Yeah,
Todd: maybe, maybe it will all be pumped and it’ll be the Helen sequel that we’ve been looking. I don’t know.
Craig: I mean, if I do hope that there is a tie, even if it is, you know, small, I would love to see both of those characters again, even if you know, Tony Todd’s Candyman is. Passing the torch to somebody else.
That’s fine. But I would love to see Tony Todd, I would love to see Virginia Madsen. I love Jordan Peele. I’m excited about it. I think it’ll be really good. It
Todd: should be, well, it was great talking about this movie. Like I said, I just couldn’t believe it. My recollection was not that it was so deep and sophisticated as it turned out being for a slasher movie, it was really impressive.
I really enjoyed it. Well, thank you again for listening to another episode. If you enjoyed it, please share it with a friend. Of course you can find us online just by Googling two guys and a chainsaw podcast. Find our Facebook page, our Twitter feed. And of course our website, you can leave us a comment at any one of those places.
Let us know what you thought of this film and give us some suggestions for any films that you’d like us to do coming up until that time. I’m Todd and
Craig: I’m Craig
Todd: with Two Guys and a Chainsaw.
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