Actor, writer, and producer Jordan Peele directed two horror blockbusters in the last couple of years, Get Out and Us, as well as a number of other TV shows and films. His upcoming supernatural slasher film, Candyman, is a sequel to the infamous 1992 film of the same name.
The original Candyman was one of the most popular horror movies of the ’90s, and Peele has dubbed his film a “spiritual sequel.” Peele’s movie is also the fourth film in the Candyman franchise. If you’re a horror buff, then you need to check out some fascinating facts about the original film and the upcoming sequel.
The Creator of Hellraiser Came Up With The Story
In 1985, British horror writer and filmmaker Clive Barker wrote the short story The Forbidden, which is what Candyman was based on. Barker has written the Books of Blood anthology and is known for films including Hellraiser and Nightbreed, which are terrifying on their own.
The 1992 movie centers on Candyman, a son of a slave who was a 19th century businessman. After he struck up a relationship with a white woman, her father hired a mob that attacked him and covered in honey. Bees then stung him to death. Seeking revenge, Candyman is easy to conjure by simply saying his name five times while looking into a mirror.
Candyman Became One Of The Decade’s Greatest Horror Films
British filmmaker Bernard Rose directed the 1992 film, which starred Virginia Madsen as Helen Lyle, a sociology student who researched the Candyman legend. Tony Todd played the titular character and became of the horror genre’s most terrifying villains.
The original film failed to impress at the box office, but it turned into a cult classic and wound up being a huge influence in the science fiction arena. The chiller also went on to become one of the decade’s greatest horror movies.
Barker’s Candyman Was Originally White
When director Bernard Rose adapted The Forbidden for the big screen, he made some big changes. In addition to relocating it from England to the United States, he also changed the character’s race. In Barker’s story, Candyman is a white man with blonde hair who wears patchwork clothing.
Rose made the change because he wanted to mix in some social commentary. Barker was fine with the changes and said the movie was "Bernard Rose’s baby."
Then-Unknown Sandra Bullock Almost Landed The Lead Role
Madsen nearly didn’t appear in the film. She revealed during an interview in 2012 during the film’s 20th anniversary that Alexandra Pigg, the director’s wife, was supposed to play Helen. Madsen was initially cast as Helen’s friend Bernadette.
Film execs then decided to cast an African-American as Bernadette; however, Pigg got pregnant right before production began. She recommended Madsen take over her role. Filmmakers also considered casting then-unknown TV actress Sandra Bullock. Madsen ended up landing the part.
Cast And Crew Were Accompanied On Location By Police Escorts
While the film uses Chicago as a backdrop, Barker’s original story wasn’t set in the United States. Instead, The Forbidden was based in the author’s hometown, Liverpool, England. Years earlier, Barker’s film Hellraiser encountered some issues when a good chunk of the dialogue was re-dubbed using American accents, so that’s why America was selected.
The Illinois Film Commission recommended using the Cabrini Green housing project when Barker inquired about the worst public housing facility in the city. When cast and crew visited, they were escorted around the area by police for safety.
Eddie Murphy Was Considered For The Title Character
While today it’s hard to imagine someone other than Tony Todd playing the villain, at one point producers considered Eddie Murphy.
By that point, the actor/comedian had starred in popular films such as 48 Hrs., Beverly Hills Cop, and Trading Places. However, he was so popular that he commanded a lot more money than producers had the go-ahead to spend. Another rumor is that he was too short to play the part, since he was only four inches taller than Virginia Madsen.
Many Cast And Crew Members Got Stung By Bees
In the film, Candyman has the ability to control bees. On set, over 200,000 honeybees were incorporated into filming. Crew members were required to wear protective suits; however, that didn’t prevent people from getting stung.
Tony Todd told the Guardian that he made sure he was compensated for each and every bee sting he sustained: "I negotiated a bonus of $1,000 for every sting during the bee scene. And I got stung 23 times. Everything that’s worth making has to involve some sort of pain."
A Blacksmith Backed Out Of Making Candyman’s Hook Due To Religious Beliefs
Candyman is renowned for his disgusting hook hand just as Leatherface is known for his chainsaw and Freddy Krueger is known for his bladed glove. But finding a hook to use as a prop wasn’t exactly easy for the special effects team, Image FX, which also worked on Clive Barker’s Hellraiser.
The team found a blacksmith to do the work, but once he discovered the movie was an adaptation of a Clive Barker story, he backed out for religious reasons. He was a devout Christian and opposed Barker’s hellish inventions, which were the opposite of his beliefs.
The Fire Scene Was Massive And Locals Played Extras To Placate The Gangs
At one point in the film, the residents of Cabrini Green create an enormous bonfire in order to burn Candyman’s corpse. It was quite a production to build the fire on set. The crew who worked on the hit firefighter film Backdraft the previous year also worked on Candyman.
They used 1,500 gallons of propane to start the blaze, which wound up being 70 feet wide and 30 feet high. Filmmakers also decided to hire locals as extras in order to appease the gangs in the area.
Madsen Was Hypnotized For The Film
Director Bernard Rose revealed in an interview while promoting the film that he thought the scream in most horror movies was a "horrible noise." He wanted to mix things up a bit, so he decided that the character Helen would enter a trance-like state instead of scream when she encountered Candyman.
Rose and Virginia Madsen consulted a professional hypnotist in order to make the scenes more realistic. On set, Rose incorporated the same techniques to trigger Madsen’s trances.
Racial Tension Was A Concern Prior To The Film’s Release
Racism and the deprivation in the black community are underlying themes in Candyman. According to the director, producers were concerned there would be some criticism about these issues, so he set up a meeting with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) prior to the movie’s release.
The NAACP was okay with the movie. In a 1993 interview, Rose commented: "What they said to me when they’d read the script was ‘Why are we even having this meeting? You know, this is just good fun. Their argument was ‘Why shouldn’t a black actor be a ghost? Why shouldn’t a black actor play Freddy Krueger or Hannibal Lecter?’"
One Scene Was Inspired by a Real-Life Chicago Crime
In the movie, Helen and Bernadette visit Cabrini Green to investigate deaths possibly attributed to Candyman. While investigating, they discover that the criminal had entered a victim’s apartment using a bathroom cabinet. The cabinet was connected directly to the apartment next door, and there was no wall between the two.
This event actually occurred in real life. The director found out about this flaw while researching Chicago homicides, including one involving a woman named Ruthie Mae McCoy in 1987. He then named the movie’s victim Ruthie Jean.
Madsen And Todd Took Fencing And Dancing Lessons To Build A Romantic Connection
While Candyman is certainly a creepy, villainous character, ultimately he’s a romantic figure, according to Tony Todd and director Bernard Rose, who once liked Candyman to Dracula and called him "very seductive." Todd described him as "my own personal Phantom of the Opera."
The undead bogeyman wanted to make Helen just like him so they could spend eternity together. That’s why Todd and Virginia Madsen took fencing lessons and ballroom dancing classes together. Rose thought it would help them build a romantic connection they could use on screen.
One Particularly Gruesome Scene Was Re-Edited For U.S. Audiences
Candyman isn’t known for its gore and violence like some other horror films of its time; however, producers were forced to re-edit a death scene toward the end of the movie because it was simply too grisly for U.S. audiences.
Specifically, they had to alter the death of Helen’s doctor. The scene was left as-is for U.K. audiences, but it was too extreme to get an R rating in America. Producers combated the issue by showing more of Helen’s reaction as opposed to the doctor’s bloody death. The good news is the edited scene is available on unrated DVD and Blu-ray releases.
The Film’s Composer Felt He Was Tricked When Making The Score
Composer Philip Glass created a surprisingly classy score for the slasher film. Glass, who is known for his classical operas, symphonies, and concertos, has written several film scores. Yet he apparently didn’t know what he was getting into when he worked on Candyman.
The composer was reportedly furious after viewing the final cut. He thought the film would be more artful and not as gory as it turned out to be. Overall, he felt he was misled about its content. Glass later acknowledged that it was a classic and that he still made residuals from the work.
There Were Talks of Making a Candyman and Leprechaun Crossover Film
Put this in the "bad ideas" trash bin. After 2003’s Freddy vs Jason became a huge hit, film execs tossed around the idea of making a Candyman vs Leprechaun film. Warwick Davis played the Leprechaun in the 1990s films, most of which went directly to video.
While Bernard Rose met with the studio to talk about the crossover idea, actor Tony Todd wanted nothing to do with it. At the same time, there were discussions in Hollywood of making a Pinhead vs. Michael Myers film. Fortunately, neither of these films were made.
Jordan Peele’s Sequel Got A Thumbs-Up From Tony Todd
Jordan Peele revealed in 2018 that he was making a sequel to the iconic horror film. Tony Todd’s reaction was positive. He told Nightmare on Film Street: "I’d rather have him do it, someone with intelligence, who’s going to be thoughtful and dig into the whole racial makeup of who Candyman is and why he existed in the first place."
The movie will once again take place in Cabrini Green, where the old housing projects once existed in Chicago. However, the area will be gentrified instead of run down.
Tony Todd Is Reprising His Role In The 2020 Film
Universal Pictures will release the sequel in the United States on June 12, 2020. Tony Todd and Vanessa Estelle Williams are reprising their roles from the original film. The 2020 sequel also stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, and Colman Domingo.
Much of the film’s plot has been kept under wraps. The working title was revealed on social media as Say My Name, which was used in scripts and on set to keep things "flying under the radar."
Two Previous Sequels Failed To Live Up To The Original
The original film had two sequels, which were also released in the 1990s. Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh was released in 1995 and was followed up by 1999’s Candyman: Day of the Dead. Neither of the films were as good as the first one.
However, Farewell to the Flesh is notable because the director was Bill Condon, who later went on to make films such as Chicago, Dreamgirls, and the Beauty and the Beast live-action remake.
Actress Kasi Lemmons Starred In Silence Of The Lambs And Became A Successful Director
Actress Kasi Lemmons played Bernadette, who was Helen’s friend. Helen was played by Virginia Madsen. Lemmons appeared in several films in the nineties, including School Daze, Vampire’s Kiss, The Silence of the Lambs, Hard Target, Fear of a Black Hat, Gridlock’d and ‘Til There Was You.
Lemmons transitioned to directing in 1997 with Eve’s Bayou and followed up with Dr. Hugo, The Caveman’s Valentine, Black Nativity, and Talk to Me. She also directed 2019’s Oscar-nominated Harriet, which centered on abolitionist Harriet Tubman.