Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Candyman (2021, Nia DaCosta)


First off the new Candyman movie is a sequel, not a remake. I’m not sure if the advertising campaign made that clear, yet if one views the new flick l they will witness obvious connections to the first movie. I also slightly prefer the new one over the original, although I do also love the original. Both are fantastic and contribute to modern horror cinema, although I’ll grudgingly admit the 1990s are now three decades ago. Time sure flies.

Nia DaCosta does a fine job of linking Candyman to the horrors of the past, as showcased in extremely freaky puppet show display flashbacks. According to the latest movie, Candyman is powered by victims of extreme brutality and hatred, yet of course also relies on people foolish enough to say his name. Those who don’t believe in his legend do so at their own peril.

In the case of young artist Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and his girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Parris), they discover that Candyman is very real. Anthony becomes obsessed with the urban myth, even going so far as to interview a local man (Colman Domingo) about Candyman and also creating paintings inspired by his research. The new Candyman works by mostly walking the fine line between social commentary and being really creepy, and is mostly successful.

Some parts are too heavy handed-one scene happens in a bathroom and it doesn’t take a genius to guess what happens next. Also the last act is a bit sloppy in that regard, and I’m not sure that’s how I would have ended the movie. However I chucked at Brianna refusing to go down into a dark basement, and one kill scene begins with a fantastic mirror shot. I will admit this film deserves a longer review, possibly an essay.

Hang around for the credits, that’s for sure. I remember Shudder’s Twitter account bravely asserting that horror is political, and they have a point. Some of my all time favorite horror movies are political and deal with social economic issues. Candyman (2021) is a fine addition to that line of work, and I’m glad I saw it on the big screen. It’s nice to support modern horror sometimes.

It’s Hammer Time Presents: The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958, Terence Fisher)


I’m not quite sure how this film’s title makes any sense, although perhaps Frankenstein achieves revenge by living, I guess? Cleverly escaping being executed for his horrible crimes and for creating a monster that killed people in the first installment, the good Baron takes up a new practice in England. The local doctors are jealous of his talents, so Frankenstein must plan ahead and try to remain a step up above the usual people hounding him, and of course the authorities too. Hans, a long doctor (played by Francis Matthews) figures out who the Baron is and forces him to become his mentor. I actually like Peter Cushing best in this installment, as he expertly goes from being kind to his typical madman, a doctor who treats the poor but is also using them as parts for his experiments. What Frankenstein achieves this time is taking a hunchback, Karl-who helped Frankenstein escape-and transform him into a normal man by transplanting his brain. The experiment is a success, and yet the new Karl (Michael Gwynn) refuses to go along with the main plan, with disastrous consequences.

What surprised me is that this film is equal to the first installment, and that Fisher manages to equal his previous grand achievement, giving birth to a sequel that is one of the best sequels ever made in my opinion. Revenge is creepy, thrilling, and rather dark, as poor Karl becomes a tragic figure damned by man and by the Baron, cheated out of a happy life. In a way he is even more pitiful than the famous creature that Christopher Lee and Boris Karloff previously embodied, for he is a normal looking man and yet due to circumstances beyond his control his life is ruined. The Baron never looks back or shows remorse, and this is aptly showcased in The Revenge of Frankenstein.

How the film ends I will not reveal, but I will say that with this installment Frankenstein becomes something akin to a slasher villain: its not possible to defeat him, even with the authorities in hot pursuit. The final shot is rather chilling, and this film has all the grace marks of a good Fisher Hammer Studios movie. So far I have not viewed any other movies that come close to matching Revenge or Curse of Frankenstein, and I doubt I will. They have style and elegance, proper intelligence and excellent pacing.

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