Picks and Pans Review: Candyman

updated 11/02/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/02/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd, Vanessa Williams

Victims of horror-movie monsters rarely resemble rocket scientists. But in this too tidy urban nightmare, they really ask for what they get.

First, the monster-the spirit of a former slave's son who was lynched—appears if someone looks in a mirror and chants "Candyman" five times. Then he goes around muttering things like, "Believe in me; be my victim." "Thanks, Mr. C, but I'd rather not" would seem a sensible response, but the victims just keep piling up. So Madsen, as a grad student interested in urban myths, starts prowling around a gang-infested housing project where Candyman has materialized.

Before you can say, "Smart move, Ginny," she is being stalked by the myth himself, who has a hook in place of one hand—the afterlife being notoriously deficient in the prosthetic appendage department.

The glowering Todd makes an imposing fiend, but the only real acting gets done by Williams as a terrified resident of the housing project. Madsen just does a prefab monster-hunter number, resolute and foolhardy.

The rest of the tale, adapted by director Bernard Rose from a short story by Clive Barker, is similarly routine. And while Candyman has a standard ration of supernatural powers, the movie's effects are tame.

Nor does Rose exhibit any sense of humor—not even thinking to introduce a snatch onto the sound track of the Sammy Davis Jr. hit about the dew-sprinkling confectioner. Save the good stuff for the sequel seems to have been this movie's credo. (R)

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