Candyman is an uppper-register horror item that delivers the requisite shocks and gore but doesn’t cheat or cop out.
Doctoral candidate Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) is studying neighborhood legends and learns that Candyman, the educated, talented son of a slave, had his hand cut off and was put to death by throwing him to a swarm of bees in revenge for impregnating a young upper-class woman.
Lyle’s investigation leads her to the site of the century-old outrage, Cabrini Green, now crime-ridden housing projects in Chicago. Supposedly, Candyman (Tony Todd) has committed 21 murders thus far, and it doesn’t take long for Lyle to discover his gruesome lair in the projects.
Working from a story [The Forbidden] originally set in Liverpool by horror meister Clive Barker, Brit helmer Bernard Rose provides plenty of jolts, both bogus and actual, along the way. Threat of Candyman bursting out from behind mirrors is ever-present, and his evisceration technique with his hook is particularly gruesome. Performances are unusually credible for this sort of fare.