(Bernard Rose, USA, 1992)


Candyman is an example of a weird cinema hybrid that emerged strongly in the ’90s – a glossy, mainstream horror-thriller made by someone with a highly intellectual sense of what makes the genre interesting.

Writer-director Bernard Rose – whose Paperhouse (1988) treated similar material in a far more discreet fashion – makes explicit the subtext pervading so many prior horror stories: elements of race, class and gender, plus a running argument about the reality of unconscious impulses.

Virginia Madsen plays with gusto the part of a psychology student obsessively investigating the truth behind the urban myth of Candyman – a vicious black killer in a depressed city district who returns whenever he is called up five times in a mirror.

Blacking out in a parking lot when rudely confronted by this sexy phantom, Madsen wakes to find herself in a pool of blood – and under police suspicion of being a crazed serial killer.

Any movie which stages the surreal encounter of a gruesome Clive Barker story with an arty Philip Glass score, evoking pleasant memories of Alfred Hitchcock and Val Lewton in the process, has to be at least intriguing.

Candyman may be too neatly constructed and self-consciously clever for some tastes, but it is certainly an experiment worth perusing.

© Adrian Martin October 1993

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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