‘Candyman’ star Todd sees film as morality tale despite slasher
Actor, director hope to redefine horror film images
By Philip Hong
Horror films like Psycho and Nightmare on Elm Street have
created a collection of actors seemingly forever trapped in
But with the release of Candyman II: Return to the Flesh, actor
Tony Todd insists that his portrayal of Candyman will not typecast
him in Hollywood and defends the movie as an intelligent horror
However, slashing victims with a stainless steel hook and
leaving a trail of honey and bees as a mark of one’s dirty work
presents a danger of typecasting similar to Robert Englund wearing
Freddy Kreuger’s leather glove and razor-sharp fingertips or
Anthony Perkins in Norman Bates’ shower scenes.
"I’ve been told that there is a cult following for the Candyman,
I’m not ashamed of it," Todd says. "But I’m worried if no other
projects come in. Currently, though, I have a lot of scripts being
sent to me. But I know I’ll always be associated with the
Typecast or not, Todd prefers to think of Candyman as different
from the killers in other horror films. In preparing for his role,
Todd "studied a lot of art at all the great museums in New York. I
really wanted to make sure he came off as a human more than a
The character of Candyman, is based on the tragic tale of Daniel
Robitaille, a black slave with a gift for artistry, who falls in
love with and impregnates a white landowner’s daughter. Once their
love affair is discovered, a mob beats him senseless, smears him
with honey to be stung by thousands of bees, chops off his hand and
leaves him to die.
Robitaille’s last vision is his own tortured complexion in a
hand mirror, capturing his soul in the mirror for all eternity.
Kids, don’t try this at home, but if you say "Candyman" into the
mirror three times, beware, you might have a hook-wielding,
6-foot-5-inch, Tony Todd ripping through your guts.
However, Todd’s former experience on stage allows him to see a
thespian flair in Candyman. He believes his character is "more
closely identified with the Hunchback of Notre Dame or the Phantom
of the Opera."
"Those villians do things with a sense of remorse. Candyman just
wants to sleep the eternal sleep but he can’t die because he has to
be acknowledged. Where most villians goal is to stay alive,
Candyman wants to die," he continues.
Because of this concept of a villain with a "sense of remorse,"
Todd sees the film as a morality tale. No matter how much you
emphasize with the villain, he has to die, you have to show the end
result of his actions. For this reason horror films can be the best
primers of American culture, by clearly showing what is good and
what is evil," he asserts.
Director Bill Condon agrees. that Candyman addresses more issues
than other horror films., "This is not a typical slasher film, It’s
the first horror movie to be about the black experience with racism
and it’s a gothic love story."