I don't know why, back when I mentioned cruddy film realisations of urban myths, that I didn't immediately think of the brilliant Candyman. It was one of the first horror films I ever saw and remains a firm favourite of mine.
Although not strictly based on a popular myth, it's an adaptation of a Clive Barker story with the addition of a "chanting in the mirror" theme, so favoured by teens at sleepover parties.
Reasons why Candyman is a great movie:
1. The opening aerial tracking shot of the Chicago suburbs, following the road in a dead straight horizontal line with the credits doing the same; scrolling on screen and locking in place before disappearing. It's all a bit Saul Bass goes nineties but it totally works and I totally totally love it.
2. Yes, okay, Virginia Madsen is a crush (I also love her brother :P). She is stunning and classy and cool. I will arguably never ever tire of looking at her face.
3. Tony Todd. His performance is almost entirely vocal: in the car park scene it is resonating, mesmerising and terrifying. His presence when on screen is powerful and perfect.
4. Philip Glass' score. Haunting, wonderful, right on the money. He didn't realise this was going to be for a horror film, isn't that amazing?!
5. Ted Raimi playing the bad boy love interest in a cutaway scene involving a frisky babysitter. Ted is great and due to the Sam Raimi connection I will always have a soft spot for the guy - awww, look at the last trivia fact here!
However, his role in Candyman is entertaining on two levels: the geeky "Yay Raimi!" recognition and... amusement. Because he really isn't the first person to spring to mind when you think of a leather-jacketed hunk, is he?!
6. The "WTF? Is this really happening or am I insane?" theme. I love shit like that. What is real, is the protagonist losing it or is all hell really breaking loose? Love it - and I think this film is what kicked off that love.
7. Seriously unabashed smoking. I'm not even a smoker myself but for some reason I like seeing characters puffing away. It looks cool all right? There, I said it. In this film, they chain smoke to the max...
8. How much of an utter prick Madsen's character's husband is. I don't think I have ever really gotten over it, and to this day still hold a grudge against the actor! (Good work by him then, I suppose).
He gets his comeuppance in a mega way. Him and his new girlfriend both. I just adore the scene in the second cap there; as Helen returns to find the young girl having been moved in already and completely freaks her out. The bitter delivery of "I hate the colour..." as she surveys the terrible shade of pink this silly bitch is painting Helen's former home is perfect. And who hasn't fantasised about gutting an ex who was a complete dick, right?
9. Not being able to shout for help/warn others because you have been hurt. This film was the first instance I saw of that and it freaked me out.
10. Many, many quotable lines.
11. The entirely uncomfortable but superbly acted strip search scene. A non-plussed female officer orders Helen to take off her blood drenched clothes, whilst Helen cries and pleads for a shower and to talk to someone who might be able to help her.
12. The story behind Candyman and the chemistry between he and Helen. As terrifying as he is, she feels overcome whenever she is around him. Her eyelids become heavy and we are given the impression she feels almost drugged by his presence. It is alluded that she is either the reincarnation of the plantation owner's daughter that got Candyman into trouble in the first place - or simply looks and awful lot like her. In any case, he takes great pains to harm her as little as possible, handling her gently when he has cause to. The paintings of them both are gorgeous, too.
The headless rotweiller is a downer...
...but, I can't believe I'm about to say this: I can forgive even that. Which, given my usual stance on dog-death, goes some way to illustrate my passion for this movie.