When I first watched Candyman, roughly 1994, I had no idea what housing projects were. I'd never knowingly seen them, heard of them, and certainly didn't understand the politics around them.
I was running around in a South Dakota prairie as an angry self-center teen, shoveling rotting fish guts into our crop soil at the time. I also don't recall that my schooling ever once introduced talks about the current inner city public well fare problems, demographic and industry changes, etc. That was a world I had sort of heard about from the news, a world still very far away from my physical, mental, and emotional view.
I think my adolescent ignorance played a very important role in my introduction to Candyman. In my head, segregation was a something that happened but was no longer a part of modern society. Slavery in all forms was abolished after the Civil War, and in all, everyone was better off because we were living in a better world being better to each other.
Ah. Yeah. Candyman pretty much tossed those rose colored glasses of mine right into a raging bonfire.
From the time the Cabrini-Green buildings were introduced in this film my mind was blown. WHAT ARE THOSE BUILDINGS? I had no idea housing complexes could be so big, so many, so broken. It took me a long time to wrap my brain around places like the Cabrini-Green neighborhood. I couldn't pull my eyes away from the TV.
I was so confused, so focused, so intrigued, and to a good degree embarrassed. What do you mean people still live in crippling poverty, segregation still exists, police won't even go to certain parts of town in an emergency, and simple sanitation is hard to come by in a public place? And to top all these thoughts and feeling off with one hell of an excellent horror movie?! Well, let's just say that I hold Candyman in very high regard, not only for the excellent horror story (in so many ways) that it is but also because it helped open my eyes to the world.
This post is not actually inspired by this movie but rather by a documentary I watched recently: The Pruitt-Igoe Myth. A lovely documentary that takes a long cold hard look at the sad politics behind pubic housing complexes and why they fail. The Economist also has a great article on the subject. This documentary about the St. Louis public housing complexes broke my heart quite a bit - and Candyman kept cropping up in my mind.
My Husband and I are active supporters on behalf of the under served, forgotten, treated less simply because they have less. In fact, our little home remains on a shoe-string budget and frankly one paycheck away from financial catastrophe. Like so many, so so many. Perhaps that is why Candyman scares and saddens me so much. The real monster in this film is not so much in the broken mirrors of Cabrini-Green bathroom mirrors, a version of it can be found in almost everyone's mirrors.
Simply, it's everyone's responsibility to contribute and take care of our neighbors, society, our future. It's a damn shame when we let any part of that go to the wayside. Doing so breeds fear, ignorance, and stalls successful development for everyone.
Okay - I know I'm talking a lot of politics with this movie but I find it to be a very political film as well as a very good moral lesson. I'll end this review with: I love this powerful piece of horror cinema.
Here's to all who continue to fight the good fight, despite all odds, for the betterment of everyone.