When people think of horror movies from the ‘80s, their minds undoubtedly jump to the likes of Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Pinhead, and, if they’re one of the cool kids, Ash from the Evil Dead movies. But if we’re talking ‘90s horror, then I think it’s safe to say that the two leading icons from the Bill Clinton era were Ghostface from the Scream series, and Candyman, from the, er, Candyman series.
So, of course with the new Candyman coming out soon, I thought it appropriate to discuss the character himself, played by the iconic and haunting, Tony Todd. There have been three Candyman movies, with the most recent being 1999’s Candyman: Day of the Dead, and I’m going to try and pull information about the character from all three of them. Thankfully, there are now only going to be four Candyman movies, because if there was a fifth movie, then I would have to say Candyman five times. And true fans know what would happen if I had to do that, especially in front of a mirror.
Oh, and spoilers up ahead. Obviously.
The Character Originated From A Clive Barker Short Story And He Wasn't Originally Black
Writer of spooky tales, Clive Barker, first created the character of the Candyman in Volume 5 in his Books of Blood series (Which is a series, I might add, that also included The Midnight Meat Train, which also became a great movie starring Bradley Cooper). The short story in question containing the Candyman is called “The Forbidden,” and it is very similar to the first movie. The story is about a college student writing a thesis on graffiti who then notices graffiti referring to somebody named the Candyman. But there’s one big difference. The Candyman isn’t Black in the short story.
Actually, the race of the Candyman isn’t quite clear in "The Forbidden". He’s described as having “waxy yellow” skin and eyes shining like “rubies”. He’s also supposed to have “jaundiced cheeks,” so he definitely has more of a yellow tinge to him and is certainly not Black. This is a pretty substantial difference given how much the Candyman movies are very much about race, which I’ll get to next.
Candyman Was An Artist In His Time
One reason why I love Candyman is because of his backstory. We learn in the first movie that Candyman was once the son of a slave and named Daniel Robitallie. Unlike his father, he was afforded the education he deserved since this was post-Antebellum times. Of course, that didn’t mean that racism didn’t still exist, but it did mean that Daniel could become a painter and work for white families and be paid for it.
Well, Daniel became a rather successful painter for rich white families, and they would hire him to paint family portraits. And while he was great at it, his art would ultimately lead to his downfall.
Candyman Was Murdered For Love
So, as mentioned, Daniel would be hired by rich white families (emphasis on white) to paint portraits for them. Well, one day, Daniel fell in love with one of his subjects, and he even had a child with her, which, I don’t know if you know this, but was like, a big no-no back in the 1800s.
Once it was found out, a lynch mob found Daniel, cut off his painting hand, which he retrofitted with a hook once he came back as a spirit, and then they put honey all over him while bees stung him to death, which explains why he has bees living inside of him in the present. But he manages to stay alive long enough to have his soul transferred into a mirror, which is why people can call upon him in that way. Oh, and about that.
You Have To Say 'Candyman' Five Times In A Mirror To Make Him Appear
I’ve talked to a lot of people who think that Candyman appears when you say his name three times in a mirror, but that is totally incorrect. They’re thinking of Bloody Mary, which is where Candyman kind of gets his inspiration from. In truth, you have to say Candyman’s name five times in front of a mirror, and you learn more about his whole relationship to mirrors in the first sequel, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh.
We actually learn a lot more about Candyman’s backstory in the second movie, such as who set up the lynch mob that killed Candyman, and also why he actually got the moniker in the first place, which seems kind of obvious, but it’s made clearer in the sequel.
Candyman Got His Name From A Little Boy
One thing that’s really great about the second Candyman movie is that we learn a lot more about the incident of how Daniel was murdered. In the first movie, we get to see snippets of how he became the character, but the second film goes all Evil Dead 2 and really expands what we knew in the first film. We learn who ordered the murder, as well as the significance of the mirror, but we also get a better sense of how he got the name.
Now, it was pretty obvious that he was the Candyman because of all the honey and the bees, but in the second movie, it’s made more explicit when a little boy tastes the honey and then calls him the Candyman, and then the lynch mob started chanting the name, which followed him into the afterlife. And thus the legend started about the character. And he would just remain a legend if people didn’t keep summoning him, which brings me to my last little tidbit of information.
The Fear Of Candyman Is What Sustains Him
You know how Pennywise the Clown basically feeds off of fear? Well, Candyman is pretty similar, but he lives off of the urban legend of him, and that’s what keeps him coming back. In fact, if people just stopped saying Candyman in front of mirrors, then that would pretty much just kill his character! Like, poof! Problem solved.
We see a lot more of this in the third Candyman movie, Candyman: Day of the Dead, where characters are essentially trying to get rid of the myth in general so Candyman can’t come back. It’s not my favorite movie in the series, and thankfully, the new movie is kind of retconning all of this, as it’s a direct sequel to the first movie like 2018’s Halloween and the upcoming Exorcist trilogy, so that’s kind of cool, I guess.
In the end, Candyman is one of the greatest horror characters ever, which is why I can’t wait to see this new movie. By the way, what's your favorite Candyman movie? I'd love to hear your answer in the poll below! And if you want to know some of the best horror movies ever or about upcoming horror movies, then make sure to swing by often.
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Lover of Avatar (The Last Airbender, not the blue people), video games, and anything 90s, he will talk your ear off about Godzilla, so don't get him started.
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