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Let’s Talk About Jordan Peele’s Candyman

Candyman 2021

Say his name


The long awaited Candyman has hit streaming sites and theaters and I for one, could NOT WAIT to watch it.  As a Peele fan, I couldn’t wait to see his take on the infamous Urban Legend classic!  Written by Peele and directed by Nia DaCosta (Little Woods 2019 and she’s been slated to direct the upcoming Marvels)

Please note: Contains spoilers

This is the fourth film in the Candyman franchise and is based on the short story, The Forbidden, by Clive Barker. 

It’s 27 years after the events from the first installment.  Artist Anthony lives with his girlfriend, an art gallery director, and her brother in Chicago.  Looking for inspiration he ends up at the now abandoned Cabrini-Green.  Meeting a local laundromat owner, Billy Burke, he learns of the legend surrounding a hooked man (Sherman Fields) that police believed was responsible for placing razor blades into candy.  The candy makes its way to a little white girl causing an uproar in the community.  Burke relates his own horrifying encounter with Fields.  When he was a child, after witnessing a grisly event at his own home, he accidentally alerted police to Fields’ hiding place in the tower blocks, leading to ‘the killer’s’ demise upon being beaten to death.  The legend- as we know- is if you say Candyman five times into the mirror, it will summon the spirit of Fields who will then go on to brutally kill the summoner.

A scared young Billy Burke

Anthony’s inspired piece consists of a mirror on the wall.  When you open the mirror it shows what the old dilapidated Cabrini-Green looks like now.  He challenges gallery patrons to try to summon the Candyman.  No one dares.  Until that night when one of Brianna’s friends and his girlfriend get dreadfully slaughtered after saying his name in the mirror after gallery hours.  The murder, although ghastly and affecting his girlfriend personally, boosts Anthony’s career much to his delight.  As the news spreads, more and more people try the ritual, including an art critic and a group of teenage girls resulting in one very bloody bathroom scene.

A summoning in the girls’ bathroom goes horribly right

Anthony starts undergoing unnerving physical changes in his body beginning in his hand from a bee sting making its way up his face.  It’s at this point, we as the viewer, understand there’s a co-relation to the artist and the legend.  Is he turning into the Candyman?  What’s Anthony’s connection to this urban legend? (Watch and find out!)

Anthony transforming

I did notice an ongoing theme of oppression throughout the film.  Anthony feels oppressed by the white critics, Brianna feels oppressed by her relationship with a brilliant artist. We learn that the generations of men possessed by the spirit of the Candyman, going all the way back to Daniel Robitaille, (Enter Tony Todd) were all victims of social injustice.

“They like what we make, they just don’t like us.”

I found the juxtaposition between the newly gentrified neighborhood and the original slum notable as lower income neighborhoods are being replaced by over-priced freshly painted dwellings for the wealthy.  More subtle socially relevant commentary.  Even though the cast consists of successful strong black educated characters, the class and social struggle is still very noticeably discernible. At one point, one of Anthony’s friends says, “They like what we make, they just don’t like us.”

Without giving too much away, Anthony eventually accepts his fate as the next chosen one to become the next incarnation of the Candyman.  Keeping the legend alive almost lends hope to the black community dealing with generations of; and ongoing- injustices, maltreatment, persecution and oppression.  This also lends itself to a possible sequel. 🤞

Keeping the legend alive

I really enjoyed this movie.  It was a fun and exciting watch from beginning to end.  It was the right combination of nostalgia, (just enough to remind viewers of the original story seeing how it’s been 29 years since the story began) and current relevance.  The kills were gory but not over the top or lingering to the point of torture.  The acting was great and the writing superb, as always. Peele and DaCosta took a fan favorite/cult classic, and wove it into a tight, scary, pertinent fresh tale. 

It was scary, but I could have used a little more fright.  So I’m giving Candyman 4.5 🔪🔪🔪🔪 knives/Five.

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Candyman movie poster

Anthony transforming

A Scared young Billy Burke

Keeping the legend alive

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Let’s Talk Horror in Non-Horror Movies

Sometimes horrific moments happen in movies outside the horror genre. Moments that stick with you forever. In this three part series I’m going to talk about horror within non-horror movies. I’ve asked around and came up with a list of only the most dark and disturbing.

Let’s explore!

Part One

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)

  1. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)

This cult classic seems innocent enough. A contest with golden tickets won by five children across the world who become lucky enough to visit and tour the elusive Willy Wonka candy factory; PLUS a lifetime supply of chocolate. It’s a fantasy movie, a musical even. I watched this the first time at school in our gymnasium as a fourth grader.

What we expected was a whimsical musical. What we got was a terrifyingly creepy acid trip that left all the little kids at school screaming. Little girls turning blue and blowing up? People who hadn’t left their beds in 20 years? Devious little minions who sang songs of doom and life lessons. I didn’t know what the hell I was watching! I knew I liked it though. Needless to say the movie was never screened again at school. It remains one of the only musicals I’ll actually sit through to this day.

I mean, convince me Wonka WASN’T a child murderer. I dare you.

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

2. Full Metal Jacket (1987)

It was around this time that movies and TV shows about the Vietnam war were ubiquitous. Platoon took home the Oscar but I always go back to Full Metal Jacket. Sure, I may be biased as a Kubrick fan and the latter half of the film doesn’t maintain the same pacing as the first half. But man, that first half! Watching the sadistic drill sergeant single out the slow witted Leonard Lawrence who the sergeant nicknames Gomer Pyle is heartbreaking. Flawlessly portrayed by Vincent D’Onofrio, the character suffers some horrific abuses at the hands of his platoon at the encouragement of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. Hartman thinks his brutal methods will bring out the toughest in his soldiers but what he doesn’t count on is the erosion of Leonard’s sanity. Being pushed too far he takes his frustrations out on the hard-ass drill sergeant and then ultimately himself. This scene stands out as one of the most shocking and violent scenes I had scene up until that point.

Another note: Everyone talks about Nicholson’s Kubrick stare… I’m sorry, but Vincent D’Onofrio NAILED it. Chillingly.

Transpotting (1996)

3. Trainspotting (1996)

How many times have you watched this one? You know the scene I’m going to talk about don’t you? This movie outlined the consequences of ignorance, addictions and overall reckless behavior. An instant cult classic, this film went places no other movie dared to go. The climbing out of the nasty toilet scene, the accident in the sheets scene. The neglect and ultimate death of an infant due to heroin addicted parents. The horrific, and preventable death of Tommy. So many awful scenes made this a raw and honest movie. Still one of my all time faves. One of, if not THE most ghastly scene many of us were left traumatized by was “the baby scene”.

As Renton forces himself to detox at his parent’s home, he falls into painful withdrawals, fevers and hauntingly chilling hallucinations. Everything Renton feels guilty about from the addiction itself, to how he’s treated others, to how he stood by and watched a neglected baby die at the hands of his “friends” unravels. Still reeling from the unexpected and tragic death of Tommy, his many regrets make for an uncomfortably disturbing scene.

The Detox Scene

Next week we’ll look at few more examples of horror scenes in non-horror movies. I hope you’ll join me!

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