Tuesday, December 31, 2013

CANDYMAN (1992) movie review

Candyman (1992) d. Bernard Rose (USA)

Chicago grad student Virginia Madsen is working on her “urban legends” thesis and uncovers the tale of Candyman, a wrongfully murdered black artist with a hook for a hand, who appears if you say his name in a mirror five times. Of course, Madsen tries it out for herself, only to find that the avenging spirit is all too real and that his hook is all too sharp. Several gory slayings ensue, all of which seem to implicate our heroine, who slips further and further into madness.

More straightforward horror than suspense, writer/director Rose crafts an intelligent thriller movie that disgusts as often as it chills, remaining in the viewer’s mind long after the credits roll. As our heroine, Madsen avoids all virginal final girl clichés, inhabiting a strong, resourceful, mature, deeply frightened yet determined woman.

Even more impressive, she and writer/director Rose employ several scenes of nudity not to titillate, but rather to show vulnerability and humanity – a rare feat in this beloved genre of ours.

Highest marks also go to the impressive accomplishment of introducing an original character into the already overcrowded boogeyman pantheon. Atypical of the silver screen’s myriad masked maniacs, Tony Todd’s Candyman possesses a fierce strength and elegance combined with savagery, making him one of the more complex villains of the past several decades.

Long before the day and age of ubiquitous CGI, many of the practical effects executed by makeup wonderboys Bob Keen and Gary Tunnicliffe chart well on the kickass chart, not to mention the enormous cojones displayed by Madsen and Todd as they make the intimate acquaintance of dozens of live bees.

Chicago’s Cabrini Green housing project is put to excellent use, as is Philip Glass’s haunting, choral-inflected musical score. Exec-produced by Clive Barker, based on his short story “The Forbidden,” and followed by two sequels.

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