Candyman (1992)

I figured it was high time to give Chicago some Scenic Route love. Not only is it one of the most photogenic and varied urban landscapes in the country, captured in its many distinct eras as much as any of the cities covered in these pages, it's also the Dog Star Omnibus Base of Operations. So here's some hometown love, courtesy of:


I'd always intended to cover Candyman for the Scenic Route, but my first choice for tonight's entry was Cooley High, the 1975 coming-of-age film written by Eric Monte. But the print I have is too muddy for effective Scenic Routing.


You can get a good idea, though, of what that Cooley High blog might've looked like with a crisp transfer here. Which brings up something I wanted to mention: the whole Scenic Route schtick (celebrating the fashions, landscapes, cars, and vibes of a bygone age via the cinematic record) is explored much more comprehensively in a surprising number of blogs out there. The one immediately aforelinked is one of them; here's another. I occasionally think I should spruce this series up - get out there and take pictures of my own if the film was shot in Chicago, research the history of architecture and development in any other city, read the critical literature about gentrification, track down the location scouting notes of any of these things, quote Tom Wolfe's From Bauhaus to Our House more, throw around Baron Haussman's or Daniel Burnham's name, etc. Then I google it and see these other blogs and breathe a sigh of relief - they're all so good that it'd be redundant of me to even try. Sweet! I can focus on what I really want to do, which is to just screencap at will and not worry too much about the other stuff.

"The Candyman, a murderous soul with a hook for a hand, is accidentally summoned to reality by a skeptic grad student researching the monster's myth."

Shot on location at Cabrini-Green, mostly demolished now. Candyman is one of the last films to capture it.
What are these machines?
Giant paper-clip decor never really caught on, in the 90s or anytime, really. (High-waisted jeans were ubiquitous, of course, but thankfully no more.)

I somehow never saw Candyman until 2010 (ditto for Cooley High, actually, and I have my wife to thank for showing me both). Rogert Ebert has a thoughtful review of it here. It's not bad - it makes little sense, but a) neither does Freddy Krueger or Chucky, and b) like the Nightmare on Elm Street or Child's Play movies, they're (mostly) entertaining. 

Speaking of not making sense: 


At movie's end (spoiler I guess), the entire Cabrini Green community turns out for Virginia Madsen's character's funeral. Least they could do after she died saving one of their children, right? But then, the two that benefited most personally from her self-sacrifice / know the real reasons for the supernatural terror, for some reason toss the killer's hook into the grave.

Thus ensuring her ghost will wander angry between the worlds, ready to be used as a spirit of vengeance against any who say her name into a mirror.

I mean, from a sequel/ horror-movie-twist-ending POV, it makes a modicum of sense. But from no other POV.


So, so much.

Was this Virginia Madsen's last leading role? 

I mean, she's starred in a hundred things since Candyman and is or was definitely an A-lister, I just mean as a lead. I'm sure I'm forgetting something big - please feel free to correct/ abuse me in the comments. On the strength of this performance, though, she should have gotten more. (She was a great Queen Hippolyta in the underrated Wonder Woman animated movie.)

Worf's brother / Adult Jake Sisco as the title character.
Jodi Foster's FBI buddy from The Silence of the Lambs.
Also an accomplished director of her own.
This guy. Man! I had that sweater. Never that haircut, though.
Xander Berkeley, last seen in these pages in my 80s Twilight Zone overview.
RIP, Stanley DeSantis.
Steve Sanders' young friend from that one episode of Beverly Hills 90210.
Vanessa Williams (not the "Saved the Best for Last" singer).
And Carolyn Lowery, who never went on to too much else, but hey, now she has achieved Scenic Route immortality.

"Candyman ain't real. Come on, people." 
- Dawn Byrd McMillan, 2010 (and ongoing)



  1. (1) Oh, man ... haven't seen this in probably fifteen years. Great movie, though, for sure.

    (2) Those "Cooley High" screencaps are perfectly acceptable, provided you don't click on them. Even then, hey, not everything can be pristine.

    (3) "The Candyman, a murderous soul with a hook for a hand, is accidentally summoned to reality by a skeptic grad student researching the monster's myth." -- You'd (or, at least, I'd) never guess this movie is worth a flip based on that description. Well, I'm sure the inevitable reboot will be tripe, so hang onto it for that, I guess.

    (4) Man, you outdid yourself with these screencaps. I'm gonna poach every single one of them.

    (5) I believe Dawn is probably right about Candyman not being real, but I'm going to keep assuming he is. It seems safer that way.

    (6) Among its other virtues, I am a fan of the score by Philip Glass.

    1. (2) It's an underrated film.

      (4) Glad you enjoyed! Any film set in Chicago has the advantage of basically just pointing a camera anywhere and so long as it's in focus, it's a cool shot. That's about all this damn city has going for it: its easy photogenic-ness. (And the Art Institute.)

      (5) I forget what initially occasioned said comment, but to this day every now and again one of us will remind the other that Candyman ain't real. Still makes me laugh. I can't remember why, exactly, but those are the best jokes sometimes.

      (6) Oh yeah! Totally didn't mention the score, my bad. Certainly a memorable feature of the film.

    2. I always forget this is based on a Clive Barker story. One of these days, I'm going to read me a bunch of Barker. I read a few of his novels back in the day and enjoyed them.