Candyman (1992)

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Your friends will abandon you. So true. Clive Barker’s stories terrify me and The Forbidden in The Books of Blood series is a brilliant conflation of fairytale and horror, laced with social commentary about contemporary urban life in the parts of town you drive by pretty damn quick. Transferred by writer/director Bernard Rose to the Chicago Projects, this takes on a terrifyingly current resonance. Rose said when he recce’d Cabrini Green he sensed ‘palpable fear.’ The wonderful Virginia Madsen is researching urban legends with her postgrad colleague Kasi Lemmons while her sceptical lecturer hubby Xander Berkeley is carrying on with another student. The legend of Candyman exerts a hold over a ghetto building whose architecture mimics her own apartment block so she can forensically experience the way the idea literally infiltrated a drug-infested black community where vicious murders are taking place. She befriends a young mother and the graffiti pointing her to the origins of the story lures her back and she encounters the man whose name you do not want to say five times …. Bloody, sensual, exciting and a trip for the brain, this story of a tragic monster born of slavery is incarnated in the elegant, noble charismatic form of Tony Todd, blessed with a deep voice, a fur-trimmed greatcoat and a hook for a hand and boy does he use it to win the woman of his life, hypnotising her into his romantic history. Incredible from start to bloody  finish, this is a brilliant exercise in genre, tapping into primal fears and political tensions and putting the sex into bee stings. Thrilling, with great cinematography by Anthony B. Richmond – get that titles sequence! – and an urban legend of a score by Philip Glass. Poetic and fabulous. Sweets to the sweet!


Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973)

Invasion of the Bee Girls poster

Never mind all that DNA we share with bananas. Bananas? What can they do? Now bees, on the other hand … Genetics are the order of the day in this erotic sci-fi horror from that other-worldly era, the Seventies, where a man can’t safely have an al fresco nooner without being stung to death at the height of, uh, stimulation (there’s an irony there, somewhere). B-movie stalwart William (aka Big Bill) Smith has gotten off his motorsickle and donned a suit to become a G-man and he figures out that behind those huge Jackie O! sunglasses Victoria Vetri and Anitra Ford are doing more than having whizz-bang silicone facials in their lab and they are literally Queen Bees who – um – seduce their victims to death. There’s a handy documentary about bees in the middle of it all if you find it hard to keep up.  Nicholas Meyer was horrified at what was done to his screenplay and wanted his name removed, but hey, you can’t always get what you want. He went on to make two fantastic entries in the Star Trek big-screen spinoffs (2 and 6, if you’re interested.) It was shot by Gary Graver, who was Orson Welles’ last cinematographer and who himself directed a couple of ‘adult’ films under a pseudonym. Directed by Denis Sanders.