Clive on Candyman

Helen leaves the elevator and walks towards her car. She vaguely notices the Man, a tall dark silhouette, standing as if waiting for something, but she pays him little attention.
Helen arrives at her car and searches in her bag for her keys.
A dark shape crosses the foreground.

MAN : Helen...
She turns at the sound of her name. The Man stands a short distance away, silhouetted against a pool of light in the gloomy parking structure. His voice is rich and sonorous.
HELEN : (friendly) Yes?
MAN : I came for you.
There is a buzzing sound, the sound of a sleepy afternoon far from here.
HELEN : (still friendly) Do I know you?
MAN : No. But you doubted me.
Helen opens the car door and is about to get in.
HELEN : I'm sorry. I have to go.
He speaks, murmuring so softly that seduction might be in the air.
MAN : No need to leave yet.
HELEN : (wary) I'm late...
He moves towards her and light falls on his face. Helen freezes. The fine cheekbones, the sparkling eyes. She has seen this face before.
MAN : You were not content with the stories, so I was obliged to come...
He is finely dressed, his dark suit an antique cut. His right hand hidden in his coat pocket.
He pulls his hand out of his pocket. The hand has been crudely sawn off. A butcher's hook rammed into the bloody stump.

CANDYMAN : Be my victim...

By Bernard Rose - May 1991 draft

"[Candyman] was Bernard Rose's baby from the beginning. We shared an agent at CAA and I'd enjoyed Paperhouse - I thought it was tremendous, a smashing picture. Adam said "you know, Bernard really likes your short stories and there are two or three he's interested in and would like to get going. Bernard had worked at Propaganda as a [music] video director and he'd also done a couple of shorts for the Playboy channel; Propaganda produced this kind of compendium series for Playboy, shortish sexy vignettes, and Bernard did a couple of really tremendous ones. Anyway, his favourite story was The Forbidden, because he wanted to deal with the social stuff. He like the idea of taking a horror story with some social undertones and making a movie of it. This was while I was still living in London, and we sat down several times and talked it through. We agreed that it needed to be relocated to the United States because it was American money and they weren't going to be interested in a story set in Liverpool. But the Cabrini Green setting [a real housing project in Chicago] I think worked perfectly well. He took the thematic material in the story and expanded it and turned it into something that was very much his own. I watched over the thing and worked with him and story conferenced with him and did all those things, but at the end of the day it's Promo poster Bernard's movie and I think he did a tremendous piece of work."

A Kind Of Magic

By Maitland McDonagh, The Dark Side, No 45, April/May 1995

"I remember at the first Candyman [test] screening, Bernard Rose went as drunk as a skunk."

The Conjuring of Lord of Illusions part 5 - The Last Interview

By Anthony C. Ferrante, Fangoria, No 146, September 1995

"I love the fact that material that originated from the same mind can result in pictures that are stylistically so different: 'Hellraiser III is a brightly coloured, special-effects heavy gross-out, which I had a good time with. 'Candyman' is the reverse of it - very low on special-effects and high on shock ad sub-text. I've always loved variation. It's one of the few things that makes life worth living. I trusted him [Bernard Rose] on the basis of 'Paperhouse', and that trust was completely justified, since he's made a very intelligent movie... .There was no way I was going to lay down the law as to how he should make his movie, and we worked together with nary a cross word."

Barker Looks Back

By Anthony C Ferrante, Bloody Best of Fangoria, No 12, September 1993

"I don't understand why this hasn't come out yet because nobody made it a secret particularly. Bernard [Rose] hypnotised Virginia [Madsen] for certain key scenes, for example, the sequence with the bees. Virginia is susceptible to stings and was very nervous. So the whole set was cleared while Bernard spent ten minutes putting her in a Bernard Rose's storyboards trance. She got through the exacting scene woithout any hitches as a result. Yes, I was as cynical as your face at this moment suggests you are! But watch that scene carefully and you'll see what I mean."

Carnival Barker

By Alan Jones, Film Review, March 1993

"As a kid, I was told a lot of these stories and they were represented to me as the truth. That's the point about urban legends. They are told to you as something that happened to a friend - that's a very important element to their veracity."

Candyman - Liner notes

Laser disc, 1992

"I've watched over the various drafts of the screenplay which Bernard has been writing and I'm in contact with them regularly. I will almost certainly be able to see the dailies and of course I hope my voice will be listened to. As I've said before, such as when Hellraiser II came out, film is a directors and writers medium, and then its an actor's medium and then, way way down the line is the executive producer. Therefore the real creative choices are made moment by moment, day by day by the people who are there on the set shooting the picture. I could be retroactively involved as producer, ie. you can see the material, comment on it once it has been shot, but basically that is a long way ahead of us now. Hopefully I'll be able to help out in the editing room once in a while. I'm certainly watching over the project with an eagle eye, but there are a lot of people who are going to be a lot more influential in the way the movie ends up."


By Jon Gregory, Hellraiser, No 2, 1991

"I still prefer the short story to the movie, though I am still a great fan of Candyman. Film is the collaborative art. In that case, it was a story created by Bernard Rose and myself based upon the short story. In other words, a marriage of minds."

AOL Appearance - Opening Night Of Lord Of Illusions

Transcript of on-line appearance, 23 August 1995

"Books and movies are two different media, and I've even changed my own material with Hellraiser and Nightbreed. Yet adaptations like Rawhead Rex were disappointing, because the filmmakers didn't give a shit about the underlying psychology. They just wanted to make monster movies. But when I saw Bernard Rose's Paperhouse, I knew he could direct The Forbidden with style and believability. Not only has he given my narrative an underlying intelligence, but Bernard's shown a capacity to scare people that's even startled me!
"Candyman isn't going to change people's opinions of me, especially with audiences who don't like horror. It's an intimidating story and movie.
"Candyman is less florid and baroque than Hellraiser. You don't have to believe in Lament Configurations to enter its world. Bernard has made something that's less supernatural and broader in its appeal. Though Candyman will be coming out at the same time as Hellraiser III, the two films couldn't be more different. Candyman is a new style of Barker, and it's going to be the scariest film of the year."

Candyman : A Nightmare Sweet

By Daniel Schweiger, Fangoria, No 117, October 1992

...other comments

CANDYMAN : The pain, I can assure you will be exquisite... as for the beyond... there is no permanence for us in death. Our deeds will be on a hundred walls and ten thousand lips. Should they doubt us again we can always be summoned with sweetness...
He scoops her up in his arms and leads her to the slab. He lays her on it.
HELEN : I don't want to be remembered that way. I want to be forgotten...
Candyman slides his hook along her leg and thigh. His hypnotic presence and his silky voice seducing her.
CANDYMAN : Helen... Helen, have you never lain awake at night sweating with terror at the thought of oblivion, of ceasing to exist... and felt that dark expanse of nothingness overwhelm you. That is indeed a thing to fear.
He has struck a chord in her.
CANDYMAN : (continuing) Come with me and be immortal.
The hook slides up her skirt. Helen is aroused.
CANDYMAN : (continuing) We shall give them something to be haunted by. That, and a story to tell...
He bends down towards her. He strokes her inner thigh with his hook.
CANDYMAN : (continuing) Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness.
Helen's hand slides into Candyman's jacket. And then withdraws as if stung by something.
Candyman's jacket flaps open and she sees - the contents of his torso have been eaten away. The hollow is now occupied by a nest of bees. They swarm in the vault of his chest, encrusted in a seething mass in the remnants of flesh that hang there. Helen screams.

CANDYMAN : Sweets to the sweet.
His mouth is close, about to kiss her. His mouth is filled with bees!
HELEN : Noooooo!!!! Noooooo!!!!
The bees suddenly swarm from his mouth, covering her.
She writhes in agony as the bees cover her; moving on her, searching for morsels of wax in her ears. Sucking at the sugar from her lips. The bees are stinging. The noise deafening.

HELEN : Get off me!!!
His mouth presses to hers. Her tongue forced into the hive. Candyman stares at her. He is saddened by her obvious repulsion. Helen blacks out...

By Bernard Rose - May 1991 draft

Bernard Rose : "After Chicago Joe, I met Clive Barker, who wrote the short story Candyman was based on, and he agreed to option it to me. I was completely broke then, but I took it to Steve Golin, head of Propaganda Films, and he didn't know I hadn't written films and hired me to both write and direct. So I wrote the script, and he found out I hadn't written before, and he got mad - but I'd already finished the screenplay of Candyman. He was going to replace me as writer, but he grudgingly read it, did like it and agreed to produce it. That film was very successful, so I then had a career as a writer as well...
"It was like writing in a foreign language, because I was a Londoner writing a film set in Chicago. I went there and did quite a bit of research, talked to people and learned how people would speak, since I wasn't familiar with those speech patterns. When you are unfamiliar with how people sound, sometimes it makes you work harder to make them sound right. People are often very nervous about going into an unfamiliar background, but I believe that's the wrong thing to worry about. If the story is good and the scenes are good, you can find out how people speak and get that right. But it's important not to just write generic-sounding dialogue...
"While waiting for Propaganda to finance Candyman, I wrote several Inside Out segments for Alan Poul, for Playboy. They didn't care what you did, as long as someone took their clothes off. That gave you lots of freedom. These were fun, 5-6-minute pieces."

Interview With Independent-Minded British Screenwriter/Director Bernard Rose

By Alan Waldman,, June 2002 (note - full text online at

Bernard Rose : "The Candyman is a romantic character, the dark, handsome lover who demands total surrender. If you love the Candyman, Bernard Rose's storyboards then you'll die. But while all horror films are about sex, I wanted Candyman to get away from the rape fantasies that one associates with slasher movies. Helen deals with her desires when she summons the Candyman. She's like a priest who's always asking for God. But what would happen if God appeared and said, 'Here I am'? That might be what the priest wants, but it would also drive him mad."

Candyman : A Nightmare Sweet

By Daniel Schweiger, Fangoria, No 117, October 1992

Virginia Madsen : "Most horror films just go for the gross-out, and always combine sex and violence. As soon as someone is getting it on, their head is chopped off! But Bernard immediately takes out that scene of 'getting punished for your sins' which is so exploitative of women.
"Our traditional role has always been as helpless victims. But now we've had the Alien and Halloween films, where women get chased but still remain strong. Helen never allows herself to be a victim in Candyman. Horrible things might happen to her, but she fights back."

Candyman : A Nightmare Sweet

By Daniel Schweiger, Fangoria, No 117, October 1992

Bernard Rose : "Candyman is a horror film in the real sense of the word - it deals with the elements of dread and death, not just a man with a big knife. Candyman invokes our primal fears more than simply the fear of dismemberment. This is modern Gothic horror, a genre which traditionally deals with the romantic horror of death."

Candyman - Liner notes

Laser disc, 1992

Tony Todd: "I think that to the disenfranchised who've felt that they've had a travesty enacted upon them, any time they see somebody like Candyman, who has had violence done to him - it's that old revenge thing, it's the Carrie thing, it's the kid in high school who gets picked on and, if only in his dreams, beats the living shit out of everybody. What are heroes, other than people who stand up for their beliefs? What makes Candyman insane is that he is killing people. Obviously, killing is bad; there are other ways. But then again, it is a horror film, so the thing is, what if a person had this thing done to him and what if he had the opportunity to come back and say, 'Watch out!' to the world that created this person and the conditions?"

Carving Out A Niche

By Abbie Bernstein, Fangoria, No 140, March 1995

Bernard Rose : "Candyman's thrust is metaphysical instead of political. My element of social criticism asks how people can be expected to live in squalor, because the housing authority has allowed Cabrini Green to rot instead of trying to maintain it. But Candyman really poses the question that if God exists because we believe in him, what would happen to him if the worship ceased? Would there be a five-minute period where God is running on belief, and would he try to win his followers back?
"People have a deep need to believe in something beyond themselves, especially when they're living in an appalling place like Cabrini Green. They could be shot at any time, but a creature like the Candyman could do something far worse to them.That belief allows the people to dodge bullets in the stairwells."

Bernard Rose's Demons Of The Mind

By Daniel Schweiger, Fangoria, No 118, November 1992

Bernard Rose : "I hired Tony [Richmond] to shoot Candyman, and the only reason I hired him was because of his relationship to Nic [Roeg].
"There is a kind of grandfathering that happens in the camera department – at least that’s how it was in the old days. Camera teams used to stay together for entire careers – operators, focus pullers, loaders, and then they would move up. They would get promoted, but it would take time. So Nic promoted Tony, and then whoever was Tony’s assistant would become… It would go on like that. So you could get the information from whoever they’d been working under, and it would be a filtering down from all those cameramen to you.
"I wanted Tony, because I wanted to know everything that Nic knew, as a DP, and it was a good way of finding out. I found out that Nic only uses direct light, I found out how he would do that thing where he would shadow it in on the eyes, which he did in Dr Zhivago a lot, because Tony did that in Candyman. I didn’t even ask him to, but I knew that he would, and I knew where he had been taught to do it from."

Mystic Nic: In Praise Of Nicolas Roeg

By David Thompson, Sight & Sound, 24 November 2018
NB: Interview took place in 2014 for BBC Arena portrait: Nicolas Roeg: It’s About Time

Alan Poul : "No film had ever been shot in some of the tightly gang-controlled sections of Cabrini."

Candyman - Liner notes

Laser disc, 1992

Tony Todd : "I tried to come there with no expectations, but I still felt fear. Anybody who didn't belong there was subject to danger. The cops told me to keep my eyes on the rooftops for snipers, and then I ran into a black woman and her two children. They were hustling back from the grocery store before it got dark, and thought the film security people were cops. She asked us when we were going to clean the projects up, which really got to me."

Candyman : A Nightmare Sweet

By Daniel Schweiger, Fangoria, No 117, October 1992

Tony Todd : "I'm fascinated with giving characters a back life. I rely on motivation, because it's wrong when the audience has to guess where your part is coming from... I did dissertations on Candyman's internal angst, and had a mental photograph of where my character was at and what he wanted.
"There's a certain saint-like quality about him, since it was rare for a black person to become an artist in 1860. But the same society that made Candyman ends up rebuking him when he falls in love with a white woman. So Candyman's not supposed to be a little pissed off? He suffered a wrongful death, just at the point of becoming a dominant creative force, and now he's going to make a different contribution to society."

Tony Todd: Hooked On Terror

By Daniel Schweiger, Gorezone, No 25, Winter 1992

Tony Todd : "I needed the backstory because I didn't want him to be just another general scary figure. I wanted there to be a concrete reason for his existence. So between Clive, Bernard and myself, we were able to piece together a wonderful backstory.
"It was Bernard's idea to transpose it to Chicago. And once he did that, he tapped into, not the romanticism, but more the mythology of gang law and what that means when you live in the projects. Of course, there are projects in the UK as well, but American projects are almost like prison colonies.
"Once we had that, we were off to the races and then we shot the first two weeks in Chicago. Bernard and I would bond, going to blues bars. Our favourite was Kingston Mines on North Halsted Street. And that's where the genesis is. Whenever I go to Chicago, I make a pit stop in the Kingston to see my boy Frank Pellegrino, who runs the joint, and share how this is where the origin came about.
"In terms of Candyman's appearance, I made a decision that he was clean shaven, and then we had a wonderful wardrobe person, Leonard Pollock, who came up with the beautiful coat; it was sort of reminiscent of the turn of the century. And once we had that and the herringbone pants, that was it. Once I got into those clothes, I knew that was it."

Be My Victim!

By Howard Gorman, Scream, No 76, January / February 2023

Bernard Rose : "I decided to set it in America because I felt it would make it more accessible to a world audience. I chose Chicago because I went there for a film festival and felt it was extraordinary looking in terms of its architecture. The film is about modern architecture. Cabrini Green has got the highest murder rate per square foot in the world. It's a very, very, very scary place... What's also true is the series of murders committed by coming through the backs of medicine cabinets... a murder was committed in Cabrini Green in exactly that fashion.
"I'm rather bored with happy endings. They reduce the sense of danger. It's like having the absolute feeling that however complicated or convoluted the problem any character may be going through in a movie, you feel so confident in most movies that at the end there is going to be a deus ex machina that's going to solve everything. There is almost no suspense to the story anymore.
"It's a romance of death, like 'The Tomb Of Ligeia' - a 19th century idea of lovers dying together being the ultimate consumation of some kind of sex act. I saw the relationship between Candyman and Helen in those terms, a doomed love affair where death is the ultimate love act. Candyman only goes after people he loves. He's not going after people for the joy of killing. First you've got to call him, and second there has to be some kind of connection. His relationship to Helen is very complicated."


By Dan Scapperotti, Cinefantastique, Vol 23, No 4, December 1992

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