Tell me if this Rings true.
I found that when I ask someone, if they like, scary movies, I basically get one of two responses.
It’s either like no way.
I get scared way too easily, or it’s like scary movies.
I’m obsessed with scary movies.
I myself fall very much into the latter category.
There’s something weirdly addictive about the thrill of the suspense that feeling you get in your stomach when you’re like, oh no something bad’s about to happen.
And my favorite scary movies aren’t the ones about monsters just killing people for shits and giggles.
I like the ones where monsters are killing people for compelling.
Reasons, give me a back story.
Give me Twisted psychological motives.
Give me personal trauma as metaphor.
And for me, one of the movies that does, this best is the 1992 cult horror.
Now, the story, it hinges on an urban legend that if you look into a mirror and say the name Candyman five times.
The Candy Man himself thus ghost-like ghoul with a hook for a hand shows up and well.
When the film came out back in 92, it instantly took a spot and black Cinema Cannon and even inspired a slew of sequels the most recent one from 2021.
But as great as it is, there are some parts of the movie that just kind of make my skin crawl and not in a good way.
So I tried to understand that discomfort and what I learned taught me a whole lot more about who gets to tell these Tales of Horror.
From gimlet media.
This is not past it a show about the stories.
We can’t quite leave behind every episode.
We take a moment from that very same week in history and this month we’re telling you the stories that still haunt our world.
I’m Samantha Lannon 29 years ago this week on Friday, October 16th, 1992, the original Candy Man.
Today on the show, we’re exploring the legacy of the film.
Why it has such staying power, despite its flaws?
And what the horror movie genre can tell us about the cultural Reckoning were living through say it with me candyman, candyman candyman.
Dare to keep going.
One more after the break.
Do either of you feel inspired to say Candyman, five times while looking into a mirror.
I would never do that.
I don’t play that.
I would never ask.
I don’t step on cracks as my mom has one said she’s like, I don’t know any of that old magic, but I respect it to really get into why I love this movie so much.
But also white parts of it.
Make me feel icky.
I called up Brittany loose and Eric eddings.
They co-host the podcast for colored nerds.
Their horror Buffs.
And most importantly, their Candyman superfans is why one of my favorite horror movies?
What makes it one of your favorite?
Well, it’s just it’s a horror movie.
It is meant to be dark and Macabre and like feel very tense and unsettling like the entire time for sure.
Like tears point.
It’s like deliberately McCobb, but I love I absolutely love horror movies.
I love being scared.
At home or in the theater.
I think it’s just so much fun.
If you’ve never seen the 1992 film Candyman.
Well, first off, I recommend you change that immediately, but here’s what you need to know.
The film takes place in early 90s Chicago and follows the story of Helen, Lyle, a white graduate student at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
She is a white woman who’s dealing with sexism in Academia, where she is focusing on studying urban legends and there’s this one specific urban legend of Candyman that takes place in, you know, a black part of Chicago and it’s through her research.
Research that she learns about this one, local Legend, in particular, Candyman.
A boogeyman type figure who seen haunting the nearby housing project called Cabrini-Green.
We look at Cabrini Green.
You know, you see the graffiti that is everywhere in this house until you see how the like limited access to sunlight that people, you know, have in their homes.
It’s not Windows in their homes, really the story really takes off with a murder at Cabrini Green and the residents there.
Keep saying it’s candy, man.
Who did it, Helen descends from her Ivory Tower at the University and heads down to the scene of the murder and person, you know, Helen continues to basically force her way into These projects there are people at the entrance when she’s trying to come in.
Who are like, who are you here to see?
We know you’re not supposed to be here.
Like, who are you?
What like you’re dressed like a department?
Why are you here in the end?
Helen really should have listened to the residents at Cabrini Green because, okay.
Minor spoiler here.
The Candy Man.
The real candy, man.
He shows up and he haunts the fuck.
Out of Helen.
I know you but you doubted me.
The film is, well, made with Rich cinematography expert, pacing super effective sound design, but I like to thank Candyman endures to this day because of one performance, in particular from the titular Boogeyman himself.
As played by the incomparable, Tony Todd.
Tony Stark us, right?
Tony fucking tie, his voice his presence.
He’s like, My Factory.
It’s candy mans movie.
Maybe it’s also too because like Tony Todd was probably like 35 40 45, black man.
May be the ace.
I’m out now.
I’m like, how bad is it look like what can we do?
Well, if you’re looking for a horror themed fanfiction prompt, you’re welcome casting at all deep-voiced.
Black man as the monster you might be thinking.
That’s an iffy Choice politically.
But when it came out in 92, the film garnered, a lot of support from black audiences, it grossed almost 26 million dollars and reportedly the NAACP, even called the film, good fun.
And found it.
Progressive that a black actor.
Could join the ranks of iconic Boogeyman like Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger.
And I think in part that’s because Candyman isn’t some arbitrarily violent villain?
We come to understand the journey.
He’s been on.
On to become who he is.
I think one of the aspects of the film is the most exciting is how Candy Man becomes a sympathetic figure candy man?
Is, is the character that I sympathize with the most.
I understand why he wants Vengeance.
He died from an unimaginable Act of racist violence, that unimaginable Act of racist violence.
It complicates Candy Man, story from that of a senseless monster to a more sympathetic.
A character because before he was Candyman, he was just a man who lived in New Orleans in the late eighteen, hundreds, the son of a formerly enslaved, man.
He was a painter by trade celebrated for his talent and famous enough that he landed a commissioned to paint the portrait of a white woman.
The daughter of a local wealthy landowner, and the process of painting This Woman’s portrait.
The two fell in secret forbidden.
In love, but then she got pregnant and things quickly fell apart.
The painter left New Orleans and fled up North.
But the girl’s father hired a pack of men to follow the painter to what later became Cabrini-Green when the men found him.
They pinned him down and sawed off his painting hand.
And then they slathered honey all over his body and letting your by swarm of bees, sting him to death.
They burned his corpse but his Spirit remained vengeful murderous and full of Rage that Spirit became the monster.
We meet in the movie, The Monster with the bees crawling on his face and a hook where his hand used to be the one the locals.
The story of the painters journey to becoming candy, man, is reminiscent of a type of story.
That’s all too, common in America’s history of gruesome, acts of violence against black people at the hands of white people.
But in this case, that story was invented for the film.
You see Candyman was originally based on a short story searching out the class divides in poor, urban areas in Liverpool.
And while the race of the characters is never explicitly And the story is very specific to an English social context.
So this white British director Bernhard, Rose Reddit and knew he had to make the movie, but he also knew he could reach a larger audience if it was set in America.
And so he transported the story to Chicago and the Cabrini-Green Housing complex populated mostly by black American residents a place where I think the movie kind of like fails is that there is Like a gesturing at like any quality without explaining why that is.
I’m not saying that like candy man should have specifically had the phrase redlining in it.
But like I think that something that the film left unexamined was like, well, you know, we kind of get into the Badness of Cabrini-Green, but there isn’t really too much investigation into how it got that way or why Cabrini-Green exist the way it does in the film to begin with picture a no man’s land.
And with broken windows, dark, abandoned buildings, no law and order.
This is a CBS news report from 1989, on Cabrini-Green.
The real Cabrini-Green an actual public housing project in Chicago.
There are carefully demarcated areas controlled by rival, bands of armed, militia fighting over the rubble, nearly every night.
There’s sniper fire.
It sounds like Beirut, but in fact, it’s America in 1942 the Frances Cabrini.
Many homes were built to be this Chicago Utopia of affordable housing and additional public housing.
Units were built in the area soon after to make this giant complex, but funding for upkeep and Social Services, disappeared leaving buildings full of broken appliances and elevators with little oversight, the different buildings were Ward over by different.
Local gangs in 1982 study found that the Chicago Housing Authority was one of the worst managed.
Housing agencies in the nation, it exists unseen.
Except by those who live there a creature of State local and federal government the product of bad politics failed policy and official neglect.
And the depiction of Cabrini-Green that ended up on screen in Candyman has a lot of problems.
I think my hesitation is so much of it is a translation of perceived Blackness, whether it’s perceiving, as poverty, whether it’s perceiving, it’s like, far, and it’s trauma.
And it’s almost almost all filtered through the lens of a white woman, who is preying on them.
The film places Candyman, in Cabrini-Green to magnify the pain and Trauma that’s already there.
But not in a way that actually humanizes the black people carrying it because it chooses to focus.
More on how all the white people respond to it.
Would you call Candyman a black horror film?
That’s a good question, the answer to which requires a deep dive into the history of black horror, which we’ll get to after the break.
For a hook?
Before the break, I spoke with Brittany loose and Eric eddings about the 1992 film Candyman.
As much as we love the film.
There are few places.
It falls short, namely it features black people and their stories, but it doesn’t Center their experience in a way that Rings true.
I wanted to understand why a film like, this can feel like both a success and a failure.
So I talked to an expert and maybe the bravest person I’ve ever met.
I say, Candyman almost every morning in the mirror.
Really, I do.
Wow in my bathroom mirror.
How’s that going for you?
Look, we’re here together.
So I think it brings me luck.
This is dr.
Robin means Coleman.
She’s an avid Candy, Man.
Fan, professor of communication, studies, and vice president and Associate Provost for diversity and inclusion at Northwestern University.
Came to fame is that I wrote the sort of the book on black horror movies called horror Noir blacks.
In American horror films from the 1890s to present.
What I do is take a look at that entire historical trajectory of the ways in which blacks are are participating in the horror genre.
So, what we’re talking about is more than a 100 Year history, where black people Show up in horror films, not only did.
Dr. Coleman study over a hundred years of film history to put her book together.
She also watched over 3,000 horror films including the Candyman.
And in her research.
She found a lot of films that had the same problem that Candyman has were there black characters present, even in big roles, but the films themselves don’t really serve them.
It comes out of Of sort of the mind and Imagination of a white director out of whiteness whiteness is the city center of this story.
It isn’t Blackness.
These aren’t black horror films, not quite.
Dr. Coleman calls films.
Like these blacks in horror films.
Blacks in horror is really about the ways in which black people are either.
Parachuted into stories.
They may be used as vehicles to push the narrative forward, but it really isn’t about their history, their culture, their experience.
The original Candyman is based on a short story.
That’s not originally about black people.
It’s directed by a white man, and it’s about a white.
One entering a black neighborhood where she’s not necessarily welcome and the film, Praise on the anxieties of white audiences about impoverished.
All of these traits are Hallmarks of blacks in horror.
What’s complicated about this story?
Is that monster re-emerges, but in Cabrini-Green and terrorizes black folks.
One right across the tracks are sort of the descendants of those who have just meted out.
Such trauma, not only on him, but I’m really on the black community, too many black audiences watching myself and Cluded.
This is a major logical and emotional flaw.
We understand how Candyman becomes the monster that he is.
But his choices.
Make it make sense.
This is totally in contrast with the films that truly Center.
Those are what dr.
Coleman calls black horror.
This is horror coming out of the imagination of black directors who are featuring and Turing and starring black folks.
And black stories is it does it mean even that it has to be a 100% black cast?
But what it does do is that it speaks to Black experiences and histories and culture but it really does Center.
Dr. Coleman says an early example of true black horror as the 1972 blaxploitation.
Dracula’s soul brother.
I mean, we’re talking about a Vampire who’s kind of moving through the slave triangle, trade and ends up in LA.
And, and does kind of mini lecture on, on that Black Avenger rising from his tomb to fill the night with horror.
That’s black horror.
Yes, it’s campy.
Dracula’s soul, brother.
Coleman says, in this film.
We have the black experience in front of and behind the camera and in terms of representation that makes a difference.
In the mid-90s came.
Another classic black horror film, Tales from the Hood, your most terrifying Nightmare, and your most frightening reality are about to meet on the streets.
The film was executive produced by Spike Lee and set in South Central LA, which had just gone through the Rodney King beating the LA race riots, and the OJ trial.
And it’s black director, Rusty Cundiff made the setting an important part of the story.
Rusty’s intervening on these narratives.
He’s homing in on police brutality.
He’s also indicting our politicians where he’s also demanding that black people take some Accountability and sort of behave in the ways that protect the black community, that leads us to the black horror film, that Revitalize, the genre sink into the floor.
We wait wait, wait.
This to me why people are getting nervous.
I know, you know it.
No, no, no no, no, no.
I’m talking about Jordan.
Peels Masterpiece, get out.
I think that everybody’s talking about black horror because of Jordan Peele, not just because of the box office popularity and high quality of get out.
But it does.
This sort of crossover moment.
We’ve got a black horror film, that wins an Academy Award and four kind of mainstream viewership.
This moment and culture.
A black horror as taken, seriously.
So it makes sense.
He would want to go back and fix the problems with the movies that got him interested in Black horror and the first place including Candyman.
This was one of the movies that told me that the black people can be in horror.
This is Jordan Peele, from an interview with the movie times in August of 20, 21.
I was a horror fan.
We didn’t have a black Freddie.
We didn’t have a black Jason, but when candy man came along, it felt very daring, and it felt very cathartic like Brittany, Eric and me peel was bowled over by the commanding, Tony Todd as the original Candyman, and made the film distinctly special, but not perfect.
How and while is a bit of a fish out of water, to say the least, in the Cabrini-Green area, a lot of focused on her fear and therefore, Or the audience’s fear of this black space peel, saw an opportunity to update the story and the story that resonated to me now, is the story of my fear of the white space.
And to be able to explore the quote-unquote mirror image or the flip of the first one, we tried to bring out the connection with the, the fact that this this isn’t.
It’s an epidemic of violence on black bodies and this country.
And so peel teamed up with Nia Dacosta.
Also a black director and made a new movie in the peel.
Produced 2021 sequel to Candyman.
We follow the story of Anthony McCoy.
A young black artist in the Chicago.
Seen early in the film, Anthony learns that his roots aren’t in the south side of Chicago, where he spent his childhood.
He was actually born in Cabrini-Green and now he’s living in the luxury condos work.
A breeding green once stood, a detail that’s borrowed from the true story of the infamous housing project.
The last Cabrini-Green high-rise building was demolished in 2011 displacing.
Thousands of residents in the movie.
Anthony makes it his mission to understand the gentrification that swallowed this place.
And he talks about it explicitly.
What do you think makes the hood?
The city cuts off community and wait for it to die.
Then they invite developers in and say, Hey, you artists, you young people.
You white preferably more only.
Please come to the hood is cheap.
And if you stick it out for a couple of years will bring you a whole food.
Unlike the original Candyman, the 2021 film centers, Blackness not just by having a black protagonist, but by delving into the anxieties, and the fears that reflect the present realities of many black audiences watching.
Black horror is having a moment right now, which is great, but actually introduces another problem.
See, I feel like Hollywood does this thing where an idea is trending, right?
Really connecting with the public and they’ll take it and just kind of flatten it into the shape of a movie.
If you’ve got the right people involved, you can get something nuanced and thrilling and true.
But more often than not, you get something much clumsier.
Something that mrs.
What was special about the original idea and just reduces it to its most obvious most vulgar form.
There’s been a lot of investment by Hollywood in stories.
Featuring black people where the horror has something to do with police violence or police brutality.
Brittany loose co-host of the four colored nerds podcast who we heard from earlier has also noticed this unfortunate Trend.
I personally Actually have much interest in watching those kinds of movies, just because that type of violence is not new to me as a black person.
When it’s just sort of like that Relentless battery of violence against black people.
It just feels harmful and tiring.
In 2020, the black horror film Antebellum was panned for violent depictions of the treatment of enslaved.
People that felt gimmicky and exploitive lean away.
Little Marvin’s 2021 TV series called them was criticized for being a rehash of racial traumas for the sake of shock value.
Britney’s had the same experience.
A lot of us have had.
Every time we turn on our TVs or open Twitter.
We see real life violence constantly.
So when these images get reflected back to us on film and this ham-handed way, it’s like yeah, we know that Echo chamber thing of social media is I think what gets a lot of like film Executives to be like, oh we have to make a movie that’s gonna be Speaking out Against Racism and I think that might be where some of that sort of like message stuff is coming in and it’s a drain, the horror we watched does not exist in a vacuum.
And our understanding of what we’re seeing on our screens is changing, its like, our tolerance for trauma.
As entertainment is Shifting, as we’re confronted with the reality of what that trauma actually looks.
Like we’ve always seen this kind of black trauma in our entertainment media.
That’s what made black horror films, so popular, but in 2020.
And 2021, in particular.
This is a moment where our entertainment media are real.
Life lived experience are blurring and it’s too much.
We’re in right now.
It influences the way we experience violence against black people and movies and dr.
Coleman points out.
This even changes the way we watch.
It’s one thing to see been shot down by a militia at the end of Night of the Living Dead.
It’s another thing if we saw that moment in 2020 and then walked out of a movie theater and then saw George.
Floyd a mutt Aubrey Brianna Taylor.
That’s when it feels.
Like there’s no relief from these.
It’s real or imagined, and it feels like it ceases to be entertaining because it’s happening every day right in front of us.
Yeah, you said something at the beginning there that I’d love for you to expand on which is we are used to seeing black trauma in our entertainment.
And that’s part of the reason or that, that’s what makes the entertainment, so popular.
So I think black stories and not all of them are about trauma.
But to tell the story of being black in America, means to tell the story of the ways in which black people navigate this institution, right?
And its policies that are not Up for us.
It’s laws that are not set up for us.
And so to create narratives about being black, and in the u.s.
Means that, sometimes these stories reflect on those kinds of experiences.
And then 2020 happened and at I think in 20 and 20 21 it became fatiguing.
For me, the horror genre has been a space where I can explore these scary feelings like pain Terror, discussed Panic for from the safety of my seat in the audience, free of consequences, except for maybe sleeping with the light on for a few nights.
But that doesn’t work as well.
When what you’re watching is just the images of actual real-life horror reflected back to you with just better camera, work, and some ominous scoring.
What we’re demanding from the horror genre is what we’re asking from the rest of media stories that stay true to the people.
They’re conveying that.
Don’t just draw on the parts that are best for spectacle.
We want to be entertained.
Yes, but more than that.
Not, we want to see our Humanity on screen.
Not passed it as a Spotify original produced by gimlet and zsp media.
This episode was produced by Ramon.
Why Philip next week?
We visit the banks of the Haunted Lake Lanier.
We reach out in the dark and all of a sudden you feel an arm and a leg and it doesn’t move.
The rest of our team is producer.
Sarah Craig and our associate producer is Julie, Carly.
Laura Newcomb is our intern.
The supervising producer is Erica Morrison editing by moral Waltz, Andrea be Scott and Zach Stewart.
Ponte a fact-checking by Jane, Ackerman sound design and mixing by Matt bowl and Enoch.
Kim original music, by Sachs kicks, Ave.
Willie Green, Jay blasts and Bobby Lord, this Code included, super special original spooky music by Bobby, Lord featuring Natalia, paruz aka the saw lady.
It was recorded by Sam.
Bear at Relic room.
Our theme song is Toko Liana by Coco, Co with music supervision by Liz Fulton, technical Direction by Zach Schmidt show art by Elysee Harvin and Talia Rahman, the executive producer at CSP.
Media is Zach Stewart Ponte a, the executive producer from Is Abbie ruzicka special thanks to Brittany loose and Eric eddings who’s podcast for colored, nerds will be relaunching later.
You can subscribe to their feed, wherever you listen to podcasts and follow them on Twitter at For Colored nerds, for more updates and special.
Thanks to Lydia Pole, Green, Dan Behar and Clara Sankey Emily wiedemann list Styles and Nabil trollin pot.
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Shall we do it?
Let’s do it.
Let’s do it.
All right, candyman.
Candyman, candyman candyman.
Oh, man, I’ve walked right into that one.