Horror films do not get much scarier than 1992’s Candyman. The film, which starred Tony Todd as the eponymous slasher villain, came to be a defining chapter of 90s horror and spawned two sequels, 1995’s Farewell to the Flesh and 1999’s Day of the Dead. While a third sequel was always planned, it was not until producer Jordan Peele joined the franchise that a new Candyman film began to be developed at MGM Studios. With less than a week until the release of the new film, Peele and the rest of the team behind the killer sequel recently sat down with reporters from the Los Angeles Times to discuss their love for the franchise and what they hoped to bring to the series.
Peele began by noting that the original Candyman film was highly innovative when it was released in 1992, particularly in the aspect of how it represented race. In addition to differing from most horror films by having a largely Black cast, Peele says that the original entry in the series altered his perspective on race in film by putting a Black character in the position of greatest power. Peele’s friend and the new film’s co-writer Win Rosenfeld was also enchanted by the original Candyman. Rosenfeld contends that the original film challenged tropes found in typical slashers, both through the tragic story of the film’s villain and its setting in a graduate school. Peele and Rosenfeld used their love of the 1992 film to develop what they term a spiritual sequel to the original which ignored the middle entries of the series. While Peele sought to keep many aspects from the original film, he also felt that it was important to bring new ideas to audiences. One of the ways Peele went about this was to focus on the character of Candyman through the eyes of Black characters. In doing so, Peele felt that the new film would resonate with Black audiences as viewers are left to ponder the history of racial violence and what horror they might find when they confront the trauma of the past. One of the film’s stars, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, adds that this approach sparks a discussion on empathy, not only for Candyman’s victims but for Candyman himself. While Candyman is a clearly defined villain in the 1992 film, in the new entry in the series, audiences learn of the tremendous acts of violence that brought about the killer’s current form. In exploring this part of Candyman’s history, Abdul-Mateen says that audiences will learn that he has a soul and there is more to the character’s past than just murder and horror.