Tag Archives: Candyman

Saturday is Horror Day #47 – Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, Candyman: Say It

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions

Zoey (Taylor Russell) and Ben (Logan Miller) barely made it out of the escape room alive. Ben is more than willing to just move on, but Zoey is determined to make the Minos Corporation pay for what they did. She wants to go to NYC to confront them but is still fearful of flying. So Ben reluctantly agrees to drive her there. But when they arrive, the place is deserted, no sign of anyone.

Feeling somewhat defeated, they get on the subway, and that’s when things begin to happen. They quickly discover that the other people on the train have been through their own brand of hell in the form of escape rooms, and it seems that now Minos has assembled a Tournament of Champions to play their next hellish game.

I can’t go into much of the plot as that would involve too many spoilers. The action begins on the subway as they have to figure out how to escape – naturally.  Besides Ben and Zoey, we pick up some players who are new to us – Nathan (Thomas Cocquerel), Rachel (Holland Roden), Theo (Carlito Olivero) and Brianna (Indya Moore). If you’ve ever seen Pose, you’ll recognize Indya from there, as she plays Angel (I do love that show!)

Of course the whole plot hinges around escaping each room which are each beset with deadly traps,

figuring out the puzzles and getting the heck out of Dodge. While I did enjoy this film, it isn’t quite as good as the first one, the puzzles not as complex, at least not in my opinion or that of the friend I watched it with. The twist wasn’t entirely satisfactory either, and on the whole I found myself left with many unanswered questions. But if I’m not mistaken, there will be a third film, as was made abundantly clear by the ending of this one.

Altogether, it was a fun watch, and I would recommend it. I’ll give it 4 Stars.

Candyman: Say It

Up-and-coming artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is concerned that critics believe his career is the result of his relationship with his agent/girlfriend Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris). They live together in a gentrified area that was once the projects known as Cabrini Green. Anthony learns an urban legend that took place there back in the day – the legend of Candyman – and becomes obsessed with the tale.

Legend says that if you say Candyman’s name five times while looking in the mirror, he will appear. The more Anthony learns about the legend, the darker his art becomes. But what is even scarier is that people are dying in the same manner as Candyman was said to kill. Is art imitating life or what? Anthony is in for a bumpy ride and some difficult truths. Can he handle the truth? And what exactly is it?

This is a sequel to the 1992 film starring Tony Todd and Virginia Madsen.  Vanessa Williams briefly reprises her role as Anne-Marie McCoy, Anthony’s mother. I was excited to see this film and looked forward to it greatly, especially since Jordan Peele was involved with it. However I have to say I was disappointed with the outcome. What was originally a horror story has morphed into some kind of political statement having to do with the erroneous deaths of black men at the hands of white men in a position of authority (I read that theory, I didn’t originate it, but I can see where someone could get that out of it).

Anthony’s reveal comes late in the film (although I already knew it, having read about it before the film

ever came out). The pacing of the film is a bit slow, taking forever to get to the point regarding Anthony and the Candyman. But most disappointing of all is the almost non-existent presence of Tony Todd. Seriously? The premise was so completely changed that he was almost not in it, and he makes the first film. They squandered their greatest asset, and for what? I don’t really know, to be honest.

Abdul-Mateen wasn’t bad as Anthony, but I felt his performance was slightly lacking. I would have loved to see  him and Todd interact, but alas that didn’t happen. As a horror film, I found it unsatisfactory and rather disappointing. I wanted my Candyman and I didn’t get him. I’ll give this film a shaky 2.5 Stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #31 – Summer of Sam, Candyman (1992)

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Summer of Sam

It’s the summer of 1977, a long hot summer in New York City. Disco fills the air when a series of murders terrifies the inhabits of the city. A serial killer is on the loose, one who uses a .44 caliber weapon. And no one knows where he’ll strike next.




Vinny (John Leguizamo) is a young married hairdresser who loves his wife Dionna (MIra Sorvino). Even so,  Vinny has an eye for the ladies, including his wife’s cousin. When the cousin wants to go home, Vinny graciously offers to drive her, and they end up in carnal knowledge in the car, outside her house. Rudely interrupted by a driver leaning on his car horn, Vinny leaves, not realizing until later that he narrowly avoided becoming a victim of the serial killer.


Vinny has a group of friends he hangs around with, including Richie (Adrien Brody), Joey (Michael

Rispoli), Brian (Ken Garito), and Bobby (Brian Tarantina). Richie stands out in this group because of the way he dresses and acts, always reinventing himself. He’s an aspiring punk rock musician, but he leads a secret life that his friends would never understand – he dances in gay bars, and participates in pornos, and has sex with men for money.

As more and more people die, with no clues to the killer’s identity, New York is petrified with fear. Rising temperatures only serve to exacerbate the situation. Everyone is on edge and looking at one another askance, even the people they really think they know. How long can this situation go on before something has to give?
This film is Spike Lee’s commentary on that summer of 1977, although after an initial outcry from Son of Sam survivors who didn’t want to see the killer glorified, the director turned the film’s focus to the people and their perception of what was going on in their lives. It must have been frightening, to say the least. In the film, women began to wear blonde wigs, since it seemed he was targeting long haired brunettes. John Leguizamo is wonderful as Vinny. I’ve always liked him and think he is underrated as an actor. Adrien Brody, who I admit haven’t seen very much of, excels as Richie, who marches to the beat of his own drummer, and who becomes the brunt of his friends’ anxiety-fueled suspicions.
Just a side note, but look for a couple members of the Sopranos cast here – Michael Rispoli, who played Jackie Aprile, and Michael Imperioli, who played Christopher Moltisanti, and was one of the writers of Summer of Sam, besides playing a character named Midnite. I will say that although a good film, it could have been tightened a little bit and did drag a little at times. It ran almost two and a half hours. But it was worth it. Interesting glimpses of David Berkowitz. I think the film captured the feel of that summer pretty well. I’ll give it a solid 4 Stars.


Candyman (1992)

Grad student Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) and her friend Bernadette Walsh (Kasi Lemmons) are working on a joint thesis involving urban legends. To her dismay, she learns that her professor husband Trevor (Xander Berkeley) has been lecturing on that very topic to his students, despite her request that he not do so. But then Trevor seems to do as he wants, despite the fact that Helen is very devoted to him. When she drops in on his lecture unexpectedly, she senses a little something something between Trevor and a student named Stacy. A something Trevor is quick to deny.

Helen runs across a story of a man known as the Candyman, who has a hook where his hand should be, and terrorizes people to this day. According to legend, he can be summoned by looking into a mirror and repeating his name five times, which Helen does, although nothing happens. Deciding to delve into this myth, Helen discovers that the projects where Candyman is said to have been seen is a mirror to the apartment building she lives in. The difference, other than economics, is that a woman died n the projects, supposedly at the hands of the Candyman.


Being rather outspoken and bold, Helen persuades Bernadette that they need to investigate this new 

lead, despite the fact that these projects are more than a little dangerous. This fact is emphasized by the harassment they receive on their arrival. It doesn’t help that they are dressed like cops. Once inside, they find the empty apartment and look around in the hallway first, photographing some of the colorful graffiti that lines the walls, such as Sweets to the Sweet. Helen insists on looking behind the bathroom mirror. Against Bernadette’s advice, she enters the next apartment. Did she just see something?


The two women are caught red-handed in the apartment by a young mother Anne-Marie (Vanessa Williams) who lives next door. Helen takes advantage of this to question her. On returning later, she meets a young boy named Jake (DeJuan Guy) who is frightened of the Candyman, and doesn’t want to get into trouble with him.

About this time everything begins to go wrong. After an encounter with the Candyman in the parking garage, Helen finds herself in Anne-Marie’s apartment, covered in blood, next to the severed head of a dog. And the baby is missing! Anne-Marie is screaming at Helen, who has picked up a knife from the floor, and that’s what the police see when they break in.

Now that she has been labeled as not only a killer but crazy, who will ever believe that the Candyman is real?

I took a class on urban legends a few years ago (it was a fascinating class and actually fulfilled a requirement. Where else can you get to read and watch The Exorcist for college credit?) As I watched this, I wondered if Candyman was a variation on the urban legend of the Hook Man?. Just a thought.

At any rate, the theme of this film is definitely urban legends, in particular Candyman.  Candyman’s story is a tragic one. He was condemned for his relationship with a white woman, his hand cut off, then tortured and killed. Now he only cares about killing, and being feared by people, lest he cease to exist. 

The premise is interesting, but I wasn’t  overly impressed with Virginia Madsen in the lead role of Helen. In fact, she often got on my nerves with her limited range of expressions and emotions. And why is it that people, when they come upon a murder scene, insist on picking up the murder weapon?  Seriously? The best thing about the film is Candyman, played by Tony Todd. He is elegant and menacing, evil and yet almost human and it’s hard not to feel sorry for what happened to him, even though he takes revenge to a whole new level.

There is a second Candyman movie that came out this year, done by Jordan Peele, also starring Tony Todd. In this version, the baby is grown up, and I am guessing that Candyman enters his life somehow, maybe through his mother. Should be interesting. I recommend watching this one first, and I’ll give it a solid 3 Stars.