Wednesday, October 17, 2012

REVIEW: Candyman (1992)

I apologize in advance for the excessively gory images that you are about to see. But if they stop even one person from watching this horrible movie, then I've done my job well.

Urban legends are like the modern oral folklore. One could say they are simply a passing-down of the traditions from times before man had the written word to convey expressions and stories. If that’s the case, then Candyman is the modern equivalent of stories back then told by dumbass 15 year olds trying to scare their little siblings with tons of tasteless gore.

Director: Bernard Rose
Starring: Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd

I really don’t know where to begin with this. It’s not like the movie has absolutely nothing going for it…they have a cool setting and they start off with a decent build up. But after that? Nothing. Even worse than movies that are all-out bad from the start are the ones that have something going but then do nothing with it, like a cool looking car that peters out on you after twenty minutes on the freeway without even hitting 80 mph. And to top it all off, this is another tale “inspired” by the “brilliance” of that lovable Clive Barker…my heart can barely contain its joy…

Well we start off with some idiot telling a story about a girl who cheated on her boyfriend while babysitting with…Joseph Gordon-Levitt from Looper?

Well, as long as Bruce Willis didn't come back trying to kill a bunch of little kids, I think it's OK that he's in this house where his girlfriend is babysitting.

And they have a rather bizarre method of foreplay…telling stories about a supernatural serial killer called Candyman who appears when you say his name five times in a mirror and then guts and disembowels you with a bloody meat hook. They even start groping one another and the girl even takes off her shirt while they’re talking about this! How perfectly insane!

"Oh baby, talking about people getting murdered with a rusty hook and disemboweled really turns me on! Almost as much as picking each others' noses or talking about our embarrassing bowel movements after eating Chipotle!"

Anyway, they get killed and we get introduced to the real main characters – Highlander 2 survivor Virginia Madsen and her best friend, Token Intelligent Sophisticated Black Woman. They’re doing a study on urban legends for a graduate school class, and throughout the first half hour we get a lot of different people telling stories to them, sometimes when they don’t even plan it, about various urban legends they hear of, including the Candyman story. It’s kind of hokey, but it actually does create some suspense…suspense that the rest of the movie will fail to live up to.

Madsen’s husband is a dorky looking professor at the same school, because that happens so much! And their marriage is so good that she immediately gets jealous whenever a young girl even looks at him the wrong way…yeah, I’m sure she’s a great catch…pfft.

Madsen and her friend discover an interesting fact about their apartment building; that it was actually built the same way as another building called Cabrini Green where everyone apparently lives in fear of the Candyman who was mentioned before. So they hatch a plot to go break into Cabrini Green while dressing like they’re going to experience a winter in Russia.

Off for a Siberian winter in ghettoville...

Inside, they find some pictures and graffiti on the wall that all points toward the larger-than-life Candyman myth that has taken hold of Cabrini Green – I really like the setting here, and more movies should utilize this kind of ghetto urbanized city setting for a horror movie plot. Again though, the movie will eventually even throw this out the window and replace it with overwrought hokey nonsense masquerading as something “deep.” Doesn’t that sound fun?

We also get the story of Candyman told by a fat guy who looks like Ben Franklin’s loser cousin…apparently he was a slave who fell in love with a white noblewoman and got her pregnant, so a bunch of villagers killed him with bees.


Trouble strikes, however, when Madsen talks to a little boy who tells her to go look in the public bathroom where some other little kid allegedly got his balls cut off by the Candyman. She goes inside, finds some bugs using the toilet, and gives them some privacy:


After that, she’s confronted by some gang members who give her a black eye for using their favorite bathroom…because a black eye is always the WORST thing a whole group of violent thugs can do to a vulnerable white woman who they have cornered! I’m totally convinced!

But seriously, THIS is what I mean when I say the movie had potential! We could have had a very interesting take on urban legends by having the whole thing end up a hoax perpetuated by gang members who want to rule the neighborhood. Maybe some slight supernatural leanings would have been OK if they were really vague, but if I was re-doing this story, I sure wouldn’t have gone full-out Nightmare on Elm Street mode after this. Ugh. What could have been a great commentary on poverty and believing in myths reduced to a third-rate slasher horror movie with as much imagination as a pet rock. That’s great, guys. Just great.

OK, back to the review, back to the review…so after telling on the gang members, Madsen is confronted again in the parking lot by the real Candyman! He talks in a cool voice and…that’s really about it. If you thought Pinhead was too white, or the guy from Lord of Illusions was too lame, well Candyman is for you!

The Lord of Disappointingly Boring Scenes cometh!

I’m not going to lie…after this scene, the movie just gives up. It doesn’t even bother to try anymore. The movie just turns into a really bloody slasher movie with nothing good about it. Disappointment, thy name is Candyman…I’ve seriously rarely ever seen a movie just up and stop dead in its tracks like this, just cease to be relevant or meaningful on any level beyond hey, look at our cool special effects! Well, not since The Dark Knight Rises, anyway.

But I digress again…do you like severed dogs’ heads and screaming, crying women and lots of blood all over the place? Is that your idea of what constitutes real fear? Well then you’ll love this scene.

OOH, A DOG'S HEAD! LOOK AT ALL THIS GORE!!!
And there's some BLOOD and KNIVES and SCREAMING and oooh, just so creepy, right?! WE ARE THE EDGY ONES! LOOK AT US AS WE BREAK SOCIAL TABOOS! So violent and gross!

Apparently Madsen has been framed for the murder of a dog, the kidnapping of a baby and the smearing of a ton of red paint all over the walls…amazing…and the cops who were previously very understanding to her plight are now total jackasses without even one inch of any kind of humanity towards her!

After another scene in which the Candyman brutally murders her best friend for no reason...

This just pisses me off. I know characters die in horror movies, it's just part of the territory, but this was just SO BADLY DONE of a scene! There's a difference between adding kills to scare the audience and just being straight up cruel, which is what this is. Needlessly, relentlessly cruel. Why did this character deserve to be murdered in such a brutal, undignified way? What was her crime outside of being dumb enough to take a minor role in a Clive Barker film? Fuck you, Candyman.

...Madsen is institutionalized and kept there on drugs for a whole month. The doctor calls her into his office one day seemingly at random, and to prove that the Candyman is real, she decides to look into the randomly placed mirror on the wall and say his name five times. Even though she KNOWS HE’S GOING TO POP UP AND KILL THE GUY…she just does it anyway! What, did the drugs addle her brain so much that she forgot he was a killing machine? Did she think he was just going to sit down with them for a polite discussion about how he framed her for all the murders so far? Oh well, who cares…GORE!

Killing off a random doctor who was just trying to help? Great job, Virginia Madsen...great job...you deserve a Darwin Award at this point. If she had just SHUT HER DAMN MOUTH and NOT summoned him from the mirror, this whole thing could have been avoided. 

Then she finds out her husband is shacked up with one of his much younger students, but really Madsen herself was already a student to begin with…so really, he just moved from one nubile young woman to another. What a pedophile. I bet he and that weird priest from Pinocchio’s Revenge would get along fine.

"I actually listen to his confessions every week..."

So she runs off to look at the ocean while Candyman intones some more pseudo-intellectual poetry over the scene, because that’s really all he’s got besides framing random young women for murder. He should look into other hobbies, like doing movie trailer voice-overs, since that one deep-voiced guy who used to do them has sadly passed away – I think Candyman would be a great substitute personally. He has just the right amount of dramatic deep-toned grittiness in his voice...hey, wait, what was I talking about again? The movie is so dull that I actually completely went off topic.

How is a film with this much admittedly decent gore effects so BORING anyway? It's practically the eighth wonder of the world. By all human logic, there should at least be some kind of enjoyment out of how ridiculous and tasteless the gore is, but the tone of the movie is so suffocatingly serious and somber that I can't even enjoy the gore! It just comes off as mean spirited, ugly and unpleasant.

But what the hell is Candyman's plan, anyway? Kill everyone who can help Virginia Madsen until she goes so crazy that she has to love him? That’s stupid. Almost as stupid as this scene:

Yeah, maybe a better dental plan is in order.

He forces her to come die with him in a big bonfire conveniently happening that night, only she stabs him with a big burning stake and saves herself and the kidnapped child. After that, we get a scene of her husband and his new fuck-buddy hanging out in his apartment as he cries in his room about how Madsen is dead…how are we supposed to feel bad for the scumbag who just ditched the woman he married in a time of need to start dating someone probably not even 21 yet?

"I'm looking in a mirror while wearing a sad expression...aren't I so deep and tormented?"

The movie doesn’t know either, because after that, he says Madsen’s name five times and she somehow appears to him in ghost-form and kills him with a hook! The film then ends on a “shocking” gore sequence, which maybe would have been shocking if we hadn't seen the same effects like 12 times by this point...

Aw, man, now she'll have to clean the bathroom and everything!

Are you surprised? I’m not! Why would anyone be at this point? I can think of painful surgical procedures more enjoyable than this movie. How did anyone ever find redeeming qualities in this? All the decent ideas in the beginning are just thrown in the garbage in favor of tastelessly done gore that adds nothing to the atmosphere or overall story. The Candyman himself is dull as hell and doesn't do anything half the time besides just intone boring monologues at a snail's pace, and the whole thing is just a drag to watch, too, as it tries so hard to be all deep and profound, with all its deep-voiced narrations over wide-panned shots of the city, when really all it is is a stupid slasher movie huffing and puffing to try and make itself look cooler and more serious.

Candyman is a very nasty, stupid, unpleasant movie with nothing at all to say and no real value to anyone who wants more out of a film than gore effects Tom Savini could do better on one of his off days. It doesn't even work as a gore flick because the whole thing tries so hard like I mentioned – the people who want some over the top gore will be bored by the attempts at being all artsy and atmospheric, which are as clumsy and hamfisted as I've ever seen. It pleases neither audience.

This is one of the worst movies I've ever reviewed on this site, and I feel very confident in saying I cannot see what anyone finds appealing about it. As a straightforward horror flick it’s a boring plod-along, but as an attempt at being anything else – anything with more atmosphere or cerebral satisfaction to its scares – it's just sad and a total waste of brain cells from everyone involved. Candyman can go right to hell and I am glad I will never have to sit through this crap again!

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