My Top 20 Scares of 2020, #5

We’re in the home stretch of 2020! You’re gonna make it!

So far we’ve covered a dizzying array of found footage films, a variety of scary houses, a number of idyllic masterpieces, and two excellent Christmas movies. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE.

My #5 favorite horror film of 2020 is clever, creepy, and uncomfortably sexy! It’s:

#5. CANDYMAN (1992)

See? Totally sexy.
Credit: Photo by Polygram/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5878137f) Tony Todd Candyman – 1992

CANDYMAN (1992) written and directed by Bernard Rose, is an environmental supernatural horror that’s also a bloody slasher and borrows elements from psychological thrillers. It’s based on a short story by Clive Barker, which maybe gives a sense of the level of cleverly freaky this movie attains. In it, the eponymous Candyman (Tony Todd) is a hook-handed man/ghost filled with bees who appears when you say his name three times in the mirror. An urban legend PhD candidate, Helen (Virginia Madsen), summons him as a joke and then he haunts the shit out of her as she slowly comes to realize that she’s the reincarnation of Candyman’s white lover from way back when Candyman was a free black man who got lynched after the Civil War. Terrifying and socially relevant!

CANDYMAN engages with race/class /gender in interesting ways, while also featuring fantastic music, lots of Chicago skyline, a satisfying revenge-against-the-fuckboy B-plot, and several highly effective jump scares. It feels like a precursor to a bunch of recent excellent horror that blends scary stuff with a study of the Black American experience. It’s a very welcome non-surprise that Jordan Peele co-wrote and is producing a forthcoming sequel, directed by Nia DaCosta. GET EXCITED PEOPLE!

How Did It Score
  • How scary was it? 3.5/5
  • How memorable was it? 3.5/5
    • I forgot a lot of what’s good about this movie until after I reviewed my notes, which is why it does not get full points. On the other hand: Bees.
  • Was it a Quality film? 4/5
    • Many points for being scary and also saying something. Not 100% of the possible points because at times the social message felt a little muddy.
  • How about those women? 5/5
    • Here is how CANDYMAN scores on each of the gender tests:
      • Bechdel-Wallace Test: Pass!
      • Sexy Lamp Test: Pass!
      • Willis Test: Pass!
        • Gender is important to the themes in the film, but if you flipped it none of the characters would be implausible human beings. Hot.
      • Ko Test: Pass!
      • Roxane Gay Test: Pass!
      • Carie-Burns Test: Pass! It’s a tribute to the quality of this film that multiple named female characters die and there are still more female characters left alive who pass the Bechdel-Wallace and Sexy Lamp tests in their own right. It’s almost like women are complex beings who make up 50% of the population!
  • Total points: 16/20

Published by Brandy N. Carie

Playwright. Director. Producer. Feminist Takes on Horror Films.

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