Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Candyman (1992)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Candyman (1992)

Director Bernard Rose's creepy, supernatural horror film was the first of a trilogy of films, followed by: Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995) and Candyman: Day of the Dead (1999). The story was based upon British author and filmmaker Clive Barker's short story novelette The Forbidden.

All three films referenced the title-character known as 'Candyman' - a legendary figure from folklore during the Civil War. The prosperous son of a slave was tortured and murdered by hateful racists in the last half of the 19th century for a romantic relationship with a white man's daughter, and acquired his nickname 'Candyman' from the nature of the torture inflicted upon him. Inquiries into many recent murders in a low-income Chicago neighborhood public housing project (Cabrini-Green) led to the discovery of the urban legend blamed for the deadly incidents.

After the credits, the chilling film featured the title character's ominous voice-over heard over a massive honeycomb of swarming bees that were unleashed over the skies of Chicago -- clues to the frightening individual: "They will say that I have shed innocent blood. What's blood for if not for shedding? With my hook for a hand, I'll split you from your groin to your gullet. I came for you." "Candyman" was coming for his latest 'victim' - now introduced.

Married Chicago anthropology graduate student Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) at the University of Illinois was researching superstitions, urban legends and mythic folklore with her friend Bernadette "Bernie" Walsh (Kasi Lemmons). Helen was unhappily married to cheating husband Trevor Lyle (Xander Berkeley), a university professor who was having an affair with one of his students. Helen's research included the "Candyman" - a one-armed, hook-wielding maniac haunting Chicago's Cabrini Green project, where dozens of murders had occurred.

Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen)

The Legend of Candyman - Told by Professor Purcell

During her studies, Helen had dinner with one of her senior professors, Professor Philip Purcell (Michael Culkin). He explained the historical development of the local legend - Candyman - a vengeful spirit who was summoned in a mirror. Historically, the "Candyman" was originally the son of a slave who was born in the late 1800s. The African-American named Daniel Robitaille prospered as a portrait painter who was raised in wealth and education in high society whose love (and impregnation) for a white woman (the daughter of one of his clients) led her enraged white father and others ("brutal hooligans" in a lynch mob to torture and murder him. His right hand had been amputated and replaced with a hook, and his body was smeared in honey (as the locals chanted 'Candyman' five times) and then he was stung to death by bees. His body was then set on fire in a pyre - on the site where the slum project now existed:

"The legend first appeared in 1890. Candyman was the son of a slave. His father had amassed a considerable fortune from designing a device for the mass-producing of shoes after the Civil War. Candyman had been sent to all the best schools and had grown up in polite society. He had a prodigious talent as an artist and was much sought after when it came to the documenting of one's wealth and position in society in a portrait. It was in this latter capacity that he was commissioned by a wealthy landowner to capture his daughter's virginal beauty. Well, of course, they fell deeply in love, and she became pregnant. Hmph. Poor Candyman. The father executed a terrible revenge. He paid a pack of brutal hooligans to do the deed. They chased Candyman through the town to Cabrini-Green, where they proceeded to saw off his right hand with a rusty blade. No one came to his aid. But this was just the beginning of his ordeal. Nearby there was an apiary. Dozens of hives, filled with hungry bees. They smashed the hives and stole the honeycomb, and smeared it over his prone, naked body. Candyman was stung to death by the bees. They burned his body on a giant pyre and then scattered his ashes over Cabrini-Green."

According to the legend, chanting the Candyman's name 5 times before a mirror would cause the Candyman to appear.

In one of the film's scarier scenes, Helen playfully chanted the name "Candyman" five times in front of a mirror. Hence, the film's tagline: "We Dare You To Say His Name Five Times!" - her incantation brought a confrontation with the fearful 'Candyman' (Tony Todd) in a concrete parking garage. The tall black man possessed a hooked right hand and wore a fur-trimmed coat. He continually entreated her from a distance: "Helen. Helen." She asked the silhouetted figure as he approached closer: "Do I know you?" with his response:

No, no, but you doubted me...You were not content with the stories, so I was obliged to come. Be my victim. Be my victim! I am the writing on the wall, the whisper in the classroom. Without these things, I am nothing. So now I must shed innocent blood. Come with me.

He was implying that Helen's testimony about an attack by a copy-cat, hook-armed 'Candyman' assailant (Terrence Riggins), a local gang leader, had discredited and ruined his reputation. The suspect was subsequently arrested for the previous murders that had occurred in the local Chicago area, in a low-income housing project (Cabrini-Green), previously attributed to the legendary 'Candyman.' Now, 'Candyman' was worried that the locals were no longer attributing the deaths to him, and would endanger his own existence: ("Without these things, I am nothing"). He kept repeating the words to her: "Be my victim." He threatened to kill Helen, to again embolden his own reputation and legend. Helen fainted and lost consciousness.

Soon after, Helen was suspected of the bloody decapitation-murder of the pet Rottweiler dog named Annie of one of the Cabrini-Green housing residents, a single mother named Anne-Marie McCoy (Vanessa Williams). She was also accused of wounding Anne-Marie with a meat cleaver, and kidnapping Anne-Marie's baby boy, Anthony - and subsequently arrested. Her husband Trevor bailed her out.

And then, in Helen's apartment, she was also accused of murdering her friend "Bernie" - she was seen holding a knife over Bernie's mutilated corpse. However, she had been set up by the "Candyman" who was the actual murderer. He wanted to possess Helen if she would surrender to him, and become immortal.

After a month of incarceration and heavy sedation in a psychiatric hospital, Helen dared to again repeat the name 'Candyman' five times in front of a mirror for doubtful psychiatrist Dr. Burke (Stanley DeSantis) (on her defense team), in order to prove her innocence ("I can prove it...I can call him"). Thereby, she again unleashed the incarnated spirit of the bloody, haunting and hook-wielding "Candyman" maniac with a deep gravely voice. The "Candyman" stabbed the unbelieving doctor at his desk from behind, and facilitated Helen's escape from the facility.

By film's end, the 'Candyman' again found Helen in his company in his Cabrini-Green lair as she was searching for the kidnapped baby Anthony. The 'Candyman' seduced her: "You came to me...Surrender to me now and you shall be unharmed." As the room spun around, he picked her up in his arms and promised her immortality:

We have a bargain...Do you hear the pain or what is beyond?...The pain, I can assure you, will be exquisite. As for our deaths, there is nothing to fear. Our names will be written on a thousand walls, our crimes told and retold by our faithful believers. We shall die together in front of their very eyes, and give them something to be haunted by. Come with me and be immortal.

The Candyman's Open Ribcage Covered in Bees: "Come With Me and Be Immortal"

Helen appeared to be the reincarnation of Candyman's lover from his past. He offered her: "Come with me and be immortal." He then revealed buzzing bees swarming on his chest and pouring from his mouth before he transferred the bees from himself to her when he kissed her ("Bee-Kiss"). However, he reneged on his promises and attempted to burn to death both Helen and Anthony.

By film's end in the shocking conclusion of the bloody film, both of them (Helen and the haunting, incarnated 'Candyman' maniac) were consumed in a bonfire set in Cabrini-Green. Helen tried to escape but was trapped under burning beams, suffered massive burns, and later died (although she was able to save an infant baby named Anthony).

Still mourning the death of his wife Helen after her funeral, her husband Trevor Lyle was in his bathroom when he called out Helen's name five times in front of a mirror, not knowing that he was invoking her return as a spirit that had replaced Candyman - she appeared in a bluish pulsating light and asked him:

"What's the matter, Trevor? Scared of something?"

Because he had been sleeping with another woman named Stacey (Carolyn Lowery) (who was in the kitchen with a butcher knife preparing dinner), she took spectacular revenge against him - Helen killed Trevor by stabbing him in the stomach with the Candyman's large hook, ripping him open from his groin up to his neck - and leaving him a bloody corpse in the bathtub. Stacey found him and reacted in horror: "Trevor... My God, Trevor? Trevor? Trevor?" In Cabrini-Green, a painting of Helen with her hair ablaze on a wall was seen under the scrolling credits - she had entered the folklore of the legend.

The Skyline of Chicago, Bees, and Helen's Face

Helen Repeated "Candyman" Incantation 5 Times in Mirror

The Appearance of Candyman (Tony Todd) - Helen's Confrontation with "Candyman" in Garage

Helen Incarcerated For Suspected Murder of Her Friend "Bernie"

Helen's Psychiatrist Dr. Burke Stabbed in Back by the "Candyman"

Bonfire Immolation Deaths of the Candyman and Helen in Cabrini-Green Housing Project

Helen's Cheating Husband Trevor Lyle (Xander Berkeley) After Helen's Death

Summoning the Spirit of Helen By Calling Her Name 5 Times

The Murder of Trevor

Stacey's Reaction to the Murder

Wall Painting of Helen with Flaming Hair


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z