Behind the Monsters – “Candyman” is the second installment of Shudder’s horror documentary series, Behind the Monsters, that promises a guide to legendary horror icons. The second episode of the series tackles one of the biggest icons in horror for people of color, the Candyman himself, of the titular franchise.

The genre’s first black slasher showed up in 1992, rich with subtext about racial tensions in American history. In 2021, he’s coming back – and is perhaps the most relevant horror icon imaginable.

Shudder synopsis for Behind the Monsters – “Candyman”

So, where does this installment of Behind the Monsters land? Does it do the Candyman justice, or could it be a little sweeter on the icon?

A still from Behind the Monsters - "Candyman" from shudder featuring an illustration
The iconography of the franchise is on point.

What Worked with Behind the Monsters – “Candyman”

My chief issue with the first episode was the fact that for me, Halloween has been done to death. The film has been so extensively studied that there is little else to reveal and for some horror fans, there isn’t all that much to sink our teeth into. There is also the problem that the people behind the movie that you hope to hear from are also pretty much done with talking about it to a large degree, such as John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis. That is not the case with Candyman, however, a franchise that deserves far more scholarship. This special is a good step in that direction and doesn’t have the issue of not getting the talent fans want to hear from.

Tony Todd, Virginia Madsen, and director Bernard Rose are game to talk about the 1992 supernatural slasher and the iconic monster that is Candyman. The conversations are insightful and there is a lot of Tony Todd to be had, which makes for such an entertaining 36-minute runtime that I found myself upset that it was over. The episode does a wonderful job exploring the cultural impact of the film at release, and how it has an impact even today, getting into the recent 2021 incarnation of the film.

As a whole, this is a stronger episode than “Michael Myers,” at least for me, because there is still so much more to say about the character, franchise, and the contribution to horror film Candyman has left in its wake. Plus, Tony Todd’s comic-con story is very entertaining and insightful. It’s worth a watch for that alone.

Still of Tony Todd from Behind the Monsters - "Candyman" on Shudder
Tony Todd, one of the sweetest men in horror, pun-intended.

What Didn’t Work

As a whole, this was a stronger episode compared to the premiere, but there are a couple of things that concern me. First is the runtime. “Michael Myers” had a 45-minute runtime, but “Candyman” only clocked in at 36 minutes. Surely there would have been more to include. In a series that is marketing itself as a deep dive into these characters, no character should come up short.

My other concern with the episode came with the shift in discussion of the newest Candyman film. While I have yet to see it, some of the comments about the new film versus the original struck me as somewhat harsh and dismissive of the original. While I do appreciate the critical approach many of the commentators take to these franchises, something about the tone toward the original, as compared to the latest incarnation, felt a little too harsh and dismissive.

I feel like I learned a lot more with this special and it also helped that the key figures necessary for insight into the character were present. Not all franchises in this series will be that fortunate, surely, but it is beneficial to understand the appeal of Candyman. Now, if only the run-time was longer.

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Did you watch Behind the Monsters – “Candyman,” yet? Let us know what you think. Until then, catch new episodes on Wednesdays exclusively on Shudder and come to Haunted MTL for further coverage.

About the Author

David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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