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Candyman Beat Sheet

By on February 28, 2019 in Beat Sheets, Monster In The House with 0 Comments

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February’s Monster in the House beat sheet celebrates Black History Month with a chilling supernatural horror film, Candyman, starring Tony Todd (The Crow, Night of the Living Dead, Hell Fest) as the eponymous mythical figure with a hook for a right hand. The film, based on Clive Barker’s novella, The Forbidden, was released on September 11, 1992. It also stars Virginia Madsen and went on to success and cult movie status, as well as garnering two sequels, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995) and Candyman 3: Day of the Dead (1999).

Candyman is featured prominently in Shudder’s Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror. The classic horror film will have a “spiritual sequel” made from Monkeypaw Productions, a company founded by Jordan Peele, who wrote and directed the Oscar®-winning Get Out (you may find that MITH beat sheet here), with a release date in June, 2020.

Candyman has a distinct sin committed by Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) which brings the Monster (Candyman) into her House (literally), and that makes it a perfect Monster in the House movie. Now watch out for that hook!

Written and Directed by Bernard Rose
Based on the novella The Forbidden by Clive Barker

Genre: Supra-natural Monster

Cousins: The Witch, Hereditary, The Haunting, The Shining, The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, Candyman 3: Day of the Dead, Hellraiser, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Nun, The Evil Dead

Opening Image: A wall of buzzing bees. “They will say that I have shed innocent blood,” the sinister voice of Candyman says. “But what’s blood for if not for shedding? With my hook for a hand, I’ll split you from your groin to your gullet.” Then the bees, like a dark, deadly cloud, swarm the Chicago skyline. “I came for you.”

If you dare to call Candyman’s name five times in the bathroom mirror with the lights dimmed, he will appear—and murder you!

If you dare to call Candyman’s name five times in the bathroom mirror with the lights dimmed, he will appear—and murder you!

Set-Up: Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) interviews subjects about urban legends. One girl relates the story of Candyman—a vengeful spirit that can be summoned when you look in a mirror (preferably a bathroom mirror with the lights dimmed) and call his name five times. An unscrupulous teen girl of the popular fable does just that and meets her fate at the end of a bloody hook. Helen, a graduate student, is collecting as much research as she can for her thesis. Her husband, college professor Trevor Lyle (Xander Berkley), doesn’t take her too seriously though and messes around with his female students. One he seems to have his eye on is Stacey (Carolyn Lowery).

Helen Lyle hopes to hook the academic world with her graduate thesis on urban folklore as well as best her inflated and straying husband, Trevor.

Helen Lyle hopes to hook the academic world with her graduate thesis on urban folklore as well as best her inflated and straying husband, Trevor.

Catalyst: As Helen transcribes her recordings, a custodian overhears the mention of Candyman and comments. Helen, always the investigator, asks her what she knows. She doesn’t know much, but her friend, another custodian does. The friend talks with Helen about a woman, Ruthie Jean, who was killed at Cabrini Green, a Chicago project building. She was allegedly sliced with a hook—Candyman’s murderous calling card.

Helen finds someone willing to talk about Candyman, which is the catalytic moment that changes her future forever.

Helen finds someone willing to talk about Candyman, which is the catalytic moment that changes her future forever.

Debate: In the library, Helen does some microfiche research. Yep, there’s Ruthie Jean. And over two dozen other people murdered by a “serial killer” in the Cabrini Green area. What happened? Who’s the killer? This raises the stakes for Helen as what she’s now reading isn’t some campfire ghost story; this “urban legend” has a body count and a specific location.

Helen and Bernadette playfully call for Candyman. An unwise choice.

Helen and Bernadette playfully call for Candyman. An unwise choice.

Later, Bernadette “Bernie” Walsh (Kasi Lemmons) comes over to Helen’s condo. Helen uncovers some research. Her upscale condo compound was originally built as projects; however, that idea was scrapped and Cabrini Green was built where the highway and the el train would intentionally cordon it off from the rest of the city (racial discrimination in urban planning). Yet the layout of the buildings are the same. The Cabrini Green killer apparently came through the bathroom mirror as there’s easy access from the adjoining apartment through that mirror. Then Helen and Bernie chant “Candyman” four times in the mirror. Bernie holds her tongue, not uttering it a fifth time. Helen, however, still believing that Candyman is just a myth, utters the forbidden name a fifth time.

Kasi Lemmons as Bernadette Walsh, Helen’s collegiate colleague in Candyman research.

Kasi Lemmons as Bernadette Walsh, Helen’s collegiate colleague in Candyman research.

Theme Stated: The next day, Helen and Bernie drive to the gang-controlled Cabrini Green to check it out. It’s a dangerous place where people are shot every day. Bernadette is freaked out. Helen says, do you just want to do something boring and regurgitate the usual crap on urban legends or do something fresh?

Helen needs to prove herself to Trevor and her peers, and she’s willing to throw out caution to do it. “An entire community starts attributing the daily horrors of their lives to a mythical figure,” Helen says to rationalize the legend. Ignoring the danger and downplaying the lore of Candyman is her “sin” that’s going to bring the “monster” to her “house.”

Helen ignores the warnings and dangers about Candyman, which is her sin that will bring the monster calling.

Helen ignores the warnings and dangers about Candyman, which is her sin that will bring the monster calling.

Break into Two: Helen and Bernie brave their way through the decaying Cabrini Green, and some gang members who hassle them, up to Ruthie Jean’s apartment. It’s now a derelict space. Helen climbs through the hole behind the bathroom mirror and snaps some pictures. She finds graffiti that says “Sweets to the Sweets” and an effigy of Candyman, as well as bloody razor blades in chocolate treats strewn out all over the floor.

Helen enters the upside-down world of Act Two when she enters Candyman’s lair at Cabrini Green.

Helen enters the upside-down world of Act Two when she enters Candyman’s lair at Cabrini Green.

A resident who knew Ruthie Jean, Anne Marie (Vanessa A. Williams), says that everyone’s scared of Candyman and she just wants to protect her baby, Anthony, from the dangers surrounding her.

Anne Marie lives in Cabrini Green and wants to protect her baby from the horrible murders.

Anne Marie lives in Cabrini Green and wants to protect her baby from the horrible murders.

B Story: At a dinner with Trevor, Helen and Bernie have to endure advances and condescending comments from her husband’s snooty, academic, faculty friends. Trevor is the B Story character for Helen. She doesn’t get much romance or help from him as most B Story characters do—he’s more like a false mentor who spurs her into action. Helen ironically loathes the academic set that she’s trying to impress with her research and graduate thesis. Trevor has his own sin that ties into the theme and will bring the monster in the end.

Fun and Games: One of Trevor’s academic friends at the table, Philip Purcell (Michael Culkin), discovers that the grad-student duo of Helen and Bernadette are working on Candyman, his favorite subject. He relays the story of Candyman, who was the son of a slave in the 1890s. His father had invented a device that helped mass produce shoes after the Civil War, which made him wealthy. Candyman attended all the best schools. He was a gifted painter, and it was in this capacity that he was hired by an affluent landowner to capture his daughter’s virginal beauty in a portrait.

Candyman and his subject fell madly in love. Enraged that his lily white daughter loved a black man, the vengeful father hired some ruffians to teach Candyman a lesson. They cut off his right hand and then, employing the bees from a nearby apiary, covered Candyman’s naked, prone body with the buzzing insects. Candyman was stung to death and his corpse was burned alive in a funeral pyre. Witnesses watched but no one stepped in to help the young black man. His ashes were spread in what is now Cabrini Green.

Helen and Bernadette at a stuffy academic dinner, ironically, a group they hope to one day be included.

Helen and Bernadette at a stuffy dinner with academics — ironically, a group they hope one day to be a part of.

Helen returns to Cabrini Green to snap some more photos of what appears to be Candyman’s lair next to Ruthie Jean’s old apartment. She stops by to visit Anne Marie to ask more questions. Anne Marie’s monstrous Rottweiler barks at her from the other side of the door. The young Jake (DeJuan Guy) tells Helen that Annie Marie isn’t home. Helen pries the Jake with questions about Candyman and he reluctantly shows her a closed and grimy public bathroom where Candyman had allegedly castrated a young boy while his mother was shopping across the street.

Jake shows Helen where some of the mythical skeletons of Cabrini Green are buried.

Jake shows Helen where some of the mythical skeletons of Cabrini Green are buried.

Helen checks out the bathroom and finds SWEETS TO THE SWEET written in feces in the bathroom. And a stall, where the castration had taken place, swarms with bees in the toilet. A man in a long black coat, “Candyman” (Terrence Riggins), and his tough-looking entourage show up and menace Helen. The man in the long coat produces an iron hook, says he’s Candyman, and strikes Helen.

Helen meets “Candyman” but it’s not the disturbing man of her dreams as she’ll later learn.

Helen meets “Candyman” but it’s not the disturbing man of her dreams as she’ll later learn.

Later, at the police station, she identifies her assailant. The police detective, Frank Valento (Gilbert Lewis), says that they’ve been wanting to catch “Candyman” for years, but nobody would testify. The gang member had adopted the moniker to lend street cred to his peers and enemies. Now Ruthie Jean’s killer has been found, right? Wrong.

Helen learns that going the extra distance for a story can leave you black and blue.

Helen learns that going the extra distance for a story can leave you black and blue.

In a parking garage, Helen runs into Candyman. The actual Candyman. He’s displeased. She had doubted him (her sin). The menacing, long-coated specter with a bloody hook for a right hand says his legend is “the writing on the wall, the whisper in the classroom.” And because she has caused doubt of his existence, he must spill innocent blood.

Tony Todd as the eponymous Candyman.

Tony Todd as the eponymous Candyman.

Helen wakes up covered in blood. She’s in Anne Marie’s apartment. There is a meat cleaver next to her. Annie Marie is screaming. Helen discovers the Rottweiler decapitated (the source of the blood) and baby Anthony missing from his crib. The distraught mother attacks Helen. Fighting back, Helen strikes Annie Marie in the shoulder with the cleaver just as Chicago’s Finest burst through the door. It doesn’t look good for Helen…

Helen attempted to “cleave” her way through the usual academic folklore stuff by exploring uncharted territory—and it ends badly.

Helen attempted to “cleave” her way through the usual academic folklore fare by exploring uncharted territory—and it ends badly.

Midpoint: … who’s arrested. She’s strip-searched and interrogated by Detective Valento. With baby Anthony missing—the stakes are raised and the clock is ticking to find the infant alive. It’s a false defeat with the scoreboard reading: Candyman 1, Helen 0. Helen makes her one phone call to Trevor at 3 AM, tying A and B stories together. He’s not home. Later, the absent husband shows up and a mob press and photographers are there waiting, a gone public moment, also raising stakes.

Helen’s under interrogation for the abduction of baby Anthony.

Helen’s under interrogation for the abduction of baby Anthony.

Bad Guys Close In: Trevor leaves Helen alone to go get some paperwork (a likely story). She goes through her Cabrini Green photographs on the slide projector. In one eerie revelation, she snapped a photo of the bathroom mirror in Ruthie Jean’s apartment. Behind her: clearly the form of Candyman. When she visits her bathroom, Candyman’s bloody, hooked hand plunges through the open medicine cabinet. Escaping her apartment, he is there, waiting in the hall. She runs back inside and he’s already there. He tells her: “Your disbelief destroyed the faith of my congregation. Without them, I am nothing. So I was obliged to come. And now I must kill you. Your death will be a tale to frighten children. To make lovers cling closer in their rapture. Come with me and be immortal.”

Candyman shows up at Helen’s apartment to bring his own brand of treats.

Candyman shows up at Helen’s apartment to bring his own brand of treats.

Bernadette shows up at the wrong time. Candyman lets her in and slams the door behind her. And then the terrible sound of slashing. Trevor discovers Helen on the floor, covered in blood, a butcher’s knife in her hand.

Helen mesmerized by Candyman’s influence over her.

Helen mesmerized by Candyman’s influence over her.

All Is Lost: When Helen awakens, she’s handcuffed. Police are combing the condo. Helen makes a run for it, looking for Trevor. She discovers the slain Bernadette, ripped from groin to gullet in typical Candyman fashion. A whiff of death moment. It also parallels the Catalyst beat where the death of Ruthie Jean at Cabrini Green began this dark journey—and now it’s Bernadette right in Helen’s own condo.

Bernadette meets the same fate as Ruthie Jean at the hook of Candyman.

Bernadette meets the same fate as Ruthie Jean at the hook of Candyman.

Dark Night of the Soul: Helen’s taken to a psychiatric ward. In her mind’s eye, Helen sees the baby, alive, being held by Candyman, but for how long? “Why do you want to live?” Candyman asks her. “If you would learn just a little from me you would not beg to live. I am rumor. It is a blessed condition, believe me, to be whispered about at street corners, to live in other people’s dreams, but not to have to be. Do you understand?”

Candyman’s spiritual influence affects Helen’s sanity.

Candyman’s spiritual influence affects Helen’s sanity.

She meets with Dr. Burke (Stanley DeSantis) and learns she’s been slapped with some heavy Thorazine and been in the psychiatric ward for a month. She’s being charged with first-degree murder for Bernadette. Helen denies that she’s capable of murder and says she can prove it. And in a moment literally mirroring her actions in the Debate, she calls Candyman once again, saying his name five times.

Candyman doesn’t disappoint—he shows up, dispatching poor Dr. Burke with his bloody hook, spattering the office in a new coat of paint: red. “You’re mine now,” Candyman says. “Tonight our congregation shall witness a new miracle.” Then Candyman crashes through the window, flying off like a gigantic bat. Helen follows him out, climbing along the ledge, and entering another room. After she knocks out a nurse and steals her uniform, she escapes the hospital and has a return to the ordinary, her condo she shares with Trevor.

There, she finds Stacey, the shy student from Act One, painting the condo pink. Helen surprises her and Trevor. They’re terrified. Trevor was all she had left and now she has nothing. They want to call the hospital to report her, but are too afraid.

Girl, interrupted: Stacey stops painting when she discovers boogeyman Helen has returned from the mental hospital.

Girl, interrupted: Stacey stops painting when she discovers boogeyman Helen has returned from the mental hospital.

On a bridge, contemplating suicide, Helen hears the voice of Candyman. “They will all abandon you,” the sinister voice says. “All you have left is my desire for you.”

Break into Three: Helen returns to Cabrini Green. This mirrors the Break into Two, but things have changed. She’s fully, uh, committed, to rescuing baby Anthony from Candyman’s villainous clutches. Like Alice going through the looking glass, Helen climbs through the medicine cabinet mirror in Ruthie Jean’s abandoned apartment once again.

Five-Point Finale:

1. Gathering the Team: Helen discovers an iron hook and crawls through the decayed labyrinthine structure. There, she encounters a murals that depict Candyman’s torture and death.

Murals of Candyman’s death and origin.

Murals of Candyman’s death and origin.

2. Executing the Plan: And then she discovers Candyman, apparently asleep on a slab. She sidles up to him and plants her iron hook in his neck. He arises, happy that she finally came to him, exchanging her life for that of the baby. Helen is afraid of the pain that will come to her, and death. “Our names will be written on a thousand walls,” Candyman assures her. “Our crimes told and retold by our faithful believers. We shall die together right before their very eyes and give them something to be haunted by. Come with me and be immortal.”

Helen, hook in hand, finds Candyman resting—it’s her time to hook him!

Helen, hook in hand, finds Candyman resting—it’s her time to hook him!

3. High Tower Surprise: Candyman reneges on the deal and takes Anthony, placing the baby on a pyre to be burned by the Cabrini Green residents. When Helen awakens, she finds her image among the history of Candyman. Was she originally Candyman’s love and then reincarnated 100 years later? It says: IT WAS ALWAYS YOU, HELEN.

A kiss from Candyman always ends up with the receiver being stung.

A kiss from Candyman always ends up with the receiver being stung.

4. Dig Deep Down: Helen rushes to the funeral pyre to save baby Anthony. Hearing his cries, she climbs through the mess, hook in hand, searching for the baby. Jake awakens and peers out, only seeing a familiar hook in the pile of garbage. He calls the other residents of Cabrini Green, telling them that Candyman is here—in the debris. They douse the trash heap with gasoline and torch it. It erupts in an inferno that reaches into the Chicago night sky. Inside the structure of garbage, Helen attempts to get the baby to safety. Candyman shows up and tries to stop her, wanting them all to burn together.

Hooked: Candyman tries to prevent Helen from saving baby Anthony.

Hooked: Candyman tries to prevent Helen from saving baby Anthony.

5. Executing the New Plan: Angry that Candyman lied to her about their agreement, Helen strikes the mythical creeper with a burning log and then takes baby Anthony from the pyre. She’s cooked taking the infant away from the searing heat. Candyman immolates in the bright flames. In her final efforts, Helen delivers the child back to Anne Marie. Then dies.

Helen’s last efforts are to save baby Anthony and return him to mother Annie Marie, atoning for her sins.

Helen’s last efforts are to save baby Anthony and return him to mother Annie Marie, atoning for her sins.

In the cemetery, Helen is put to rest with Trevor, Stacey, and his academic friends in attendance. Then a throng of Cabrini Green residents, led by Anne Marie and Jake, arrive. Jake drops Candyman’s hook onto Helen’s lowering coffin, returning her lover and nemesis’ calling card to her.

Final Image: Trevor has locked himself in the bathroom. Stacey, who’s annoyed, wants him to come out. Trevor makes excuses, wanting to be alone with his thoughts. He’s haunted by Helen. Then, in the bathroom mirror, saying her name, he realizes that he’s said it a few, why not five times? He turns out the lights and does so. Burned and macabre, Helen answers the call—Candyman’s bride!

Helen, now with hook in hand, answers Trevor’s call which will seal his fate.

Helen, now with hook in hand, answers Trevor’s call, which will seal his fate.

With her lover’s hook, Helen slashes Trevor from groin to gullet. Stacey finds him gutted and screams.

Stacey discovers Trevor’s eviscerated corpse. Will she be blamed for the crime?

Stacey discovers Trevor’s eviscerated corpse. Will she be blamed for the crime?

Back at Cabrini Green, we see a new mural of Helen, looking angelic, rising from the flames, her hair on fire. Her transformation, from skeptic of legends to a legend herself, is now complete.

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Don Roff

About the Author

About the Author: Award-winning author Don Roff has written nearly 20 books, primarily of a scary nature, for children and adults. His bestselling books include Werewolf Tales, Terrifying Tales, Ghost Hauntings: America’s Most Haunted Places published by Scholastic, as well as Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection published by Chronicle Books/Simon & Schuster UK, and Snowblind from Brambleberry Books (currently in pre-production for an adapted film). His book, Clare at 16, will be available September 2019; the adapted film will star Madelaine Petsch (Riverdale) as the eponymous Clare. He has won several awards for his screenwriting, including the 2006 PNWA Zola Award for Screenwriting. He first discovered Save the Cat! in 2008 when he wrote Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection, which he attributes to its ongoing success. Roff served in the 3rd Ranger Battalion in Fort Benning, Georgia. He currently lives in the Pacific Northwest. His darkly humorous and suspenseful radio anthology, Darkside Drive, is available as a podcast on iTunes. Visit him on his website, on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook -- and buy Snowblind on Amazon. .

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