AFI Movie Club: CANDYMAN – American Film Institute
Candyman Film Still - Tony Todd



Produced by AFI Conservatory alum Steve Golin (Class of 1981), CANDYMAN is a psychological slasher film that explores terrifying outcomes of America’s systemic racism that will leave you questioning the bad taste in your mouth and forever fearing honeybees.

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CANDYMAN – Reelgood

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Movie Trivia about TODAY’S FILM

DID YOU KNOW? CANDYMAN is based on Clive Barker’s short story “The Forbidden.” The location was changed from Liverpool, England, to Chicago. Filming also took place in Los Angeles.

DID YOU KNOW? Actress Alexandra Pigg brought Clive Barker’s short story “The Forbidden” to the attention of her husband, writer/director Bernard Rose. Pigg was initially slated to star, with Virginia Madsen in the supporting role. Madsen lost the part when Kasi Lemmons was cast instead, but when Pigg discovered she was pregnant just before filming began, Madsen replaced her in the lead role.

DID YOU KNOW? CANDYMAN marked writer/director Bernard Rose’s feature film debut. Following in the footsteps of the “Master of Suspense” Alfred Hitchcock, he also made a cameo appearance in the film ¬– appearing as Archie Walsh.

DID YOU KNOW? Roughly 200,000 bees were used during filming. A professor of entomology, who was hired as a bee wrangler, bred batches of baby bees that were unable to sting in the first 48 hours of life. These bees were used in the seduction scene between Virginia Madsen and Tony Todd, in which Todd was required to hold hundreds of living bees inside his mouth.

DID YOU KNOW? The filmmakers hoped to cast comedian Eddie Murphy in the title role, but the low budget of the film did not meet the star’s salary requirements.

DID YOU KNOW? At the time of its opening in October 1992, horror films were not performing well at the box office, particularly in smaller markets ¬– but TriStar deliberately opened the film wide on an impressive 1,251 screens. The strategy paid off, with CANDYMAN grossing over $5 million in its opening weekend alone and a total of more than $25 million.

DID YOU KNOW? Writer/producer Jordan Peele and director Nia DaCosta teamed up for a “spiritual sequel” to CANDYMAN – originally slated for an October 2020 release, but delayed due to COVID-19.

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The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

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-Describe your response to the representation of race in CANDYMAN. How does the film make connections between slavery, racism and today’s challenges with disenfranchisement, violence and sexism?

-As stated in Rolling Stone Magazine: “Helen and Candyman are the demonic answers to the unspoken question rumbling inside the movie: What happens when the people only want to believe the worst about you?” How are Helen and Candyman objects of prejudice, fear and ridicule, and what are the similarities and differences in their responses?

-What was the scariest part of CANDYMAN for you, and what was it about the scene that made it so frightening?

-What types of cinematic devices did the filmmakers use to put you on the edge of your seat?

-What were your expectations about Helen? Were you surprised by her transformation?

-According to an interview with Virginia Madsen in a Horror News Network interview, writer/director Bernard Rose was disappointed by the lack of conversation about racism at the time of the film’s release. She noted: “It was almost like people hide from those discussions.” Do you think the reception of CANDYMAN would be different today than it was in 1992? What has changed in our world?

-How would you rate CANDYMAN?

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AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

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