This is adapted from the story The Last Illusion. It’s the story of a private detective Harry D’Amour (Scott Bakula) who gets drageed into the middle of a battle between two magicians called a Swann (Kevin J. O’Connor) and Nix (Daniel von Bargen) and when I say magicians I mean in the casting spells and calling up demons kind. Nix taught Swann magic and gave him some of his power but Swann realised how evil Nix is and decided he had to stop him so with few friends he binds him with a magic iron mask then they bury him deep in the ground.
Nix won’t stay buried thank to the efforts of one of his loyal followers Butterfield (Barry Del Sherman) who has an undead skinhead with shark’s teeth helping him. Thirteen years have passed while Butterfield taught the himself the skills to resurrect his master. D’ Amour gets involved when he accidentally comes across Butterfield torturing and murdering one the people who helped Swann. Swann is now a very rich famous illusionist with a Criss-Angel-style show. Swann’s wife Dorothea (Famke Jansen) is worried when she reads of the man’s death and hires D’Amour to watch her husband but that job doesn’t last long when Swann appears to be killed in an accident on stage the next night. When D’Amour tries to investigate he comes up against the problem that no-one will tell him anything about Nix so he goes to the Magic Castle, the not very subtle illusionist club-house. There he finds out about Nix and his relationship to Swann
D’Amour discovers that what everyone thought they saw is another illusion and Swann is alive and faked his death trying to protect Dorothea from Nix’s vengeance. This is futile because Nix knows the truth and Butterfield has kidnapped Dorothea as a gift to Nix on his resurrection from the grave forcing, Swann and D’Amour to confront him for the last time.
This film is expanded quite a lot from the short story and Nix is a really great character. The special effects have not dated very well but the rest of the story is good enough to forgive them
This film has grown to be one my favourite films and that is thanks to fantastic performances from Virginia Masden and Tony Todd, the score by Philip Glass and Bernard Rose’s direction that all make the film the hits well above the level of many other horror stories.
Helen Lyle is a graduate student who working on a PhD thesis with her friend Bernadette. Their subject is urban legends and they record a first year student telling a story about the Candyman – if you say his name into a mirror five times he appears and with his hook for a hand he rips you open. One of the cleaners hears it and gets her friend to tell Helen what she knows about Candyman. There was a woman called Ruthie Jean who was murdered in her apartment in Cabrini Green Projects by a killer who came through the walls but the locals all say it was the Candyman.
Helen manages to work out how the killer got into Ruthie Jean’s apartment and she goes to Cabrini Green with a terrified Bernadette to check it out. Cabrini Green looks like a genuinely dangerous place to visit but an even worse hell to live in. The local gangs mistake them for cops which has the benefit of making sure they are left alone to explore. In Ruthie Jean’s apartment Helen finds out that’s she’s right and the killer came through the bathroom wall through a medicine cabinet connected to the empty apartment next door.
Helen and Bernadette meet one of the locals Anne-Marie who is a single mother with a baby and a huge Rottweiler. Helen comes back to Cabrini Green alone to visit Anne-Marie but she’s out so she asks a boy called Jake about the Candyman. Jake shows her a disgusting public toilet where a young boy was killed. Helen goes inside to take pictures and is attacked by a thug carrying a hook who has his gang with him. The police response to Helen’s attack is to sweep the block which contrasts starkly with the lack of response to Ruthie Jean’s murder but the cop says it’s Helen’s willingness to testify that makes the difference.
Once Helen has recovered and is feeling good about putting the thug in jail she gets a visit from the real Candyman, the vengeful spirit of a murdered artist who exists on the stories told about him “I am the whisper in the classroom, the writing on the wall,” Candyman’s existence is threatened because Helen has damaged their faith in him and now he must take terrible action to resurrect his legend. Candyman wants Helen to choose to be his victim and promises that she too will live on in legend. Helen doesn’t accept his offer and isn’t even sure he’s real.
Helen wakes as if from a dream but what she wakes up to is a nightmare: lying on a kitchen floor covered in blood with a beheaded dog next to her and the sound of a desperate woman screaming for help. She is in Anne-Marie’s apartment next to her dead dog and the baby is missing from his bloody cot. Helen is arrested and quickly discovers that the police are much less pleasant to a suspected child killer than to a mugging victim. She gets released because there’s no trace of the baby yet.
Helen’s freedom doesn’t last long because when Candyman kills Bernadette in front of her and she tries to tell the police who did it she gets admitted to a psychiatric hospital. After a couple more appearances Candyman has left Helen nothing except him and she accepts his deal in exchange for freeing the baby. Candyman betrays her and she dies rescuing the baby from the flames of a bonfire. Her heroism has made her a legend just as Candyman promised and her unfaithful husband gets his comeuppance at the end.