At this point in cinematic history – a time when the issue of lacking representation for people of color on the big screen and in Hollywood more generally has become a focus – it seems safe to say that there haven’t been nearly enough African-American horror icons.
Perhaps the biggest to date is Candyman, as played in three films by genre legend Tony Todd. The son of a slave, Daniel Robitaille grew up to become a famous artist associated with high society, that is before he fell in love with a white woman and was murdered by a lynch mob.
After death, he became the Candyman, an urban legend powered by the belief of his faithful. As he tells Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) after she attempts to debunk his existence “I am the writing on the wall, the whisper in the classroom. Without these things, I am nothing.”
While Todd has expressed a desire to return for a fourth Candyman film, a report earlier this month said that Get Out director Jordan Peele was set to produce (and possibly direct) a remake. Recently, Todd told Nightmare on Film Street how he feels about the new project.
I Didn’t realize that importance at the time, about how impactful Candyman was, particularly in the inner cities which had some of the strongest fanbase. But yes, he was that African-American representing, you know, us. So before that I was able to play the heroic character in Night of the Living Dead. So between the two, that was the stuff of HBO, you know back in Def Jam generation. So I’m honored. If Jordan wants to do it, do it. I know I’d rather have him do it, someone with intelligence, who’s going to be thoughtful and dig into the whole racial makeup of who Candyman is and why he existed in the first place. I know he’ll give homage and I know that if it gets made, I’ll have a plate at the table one way or the other.
Todd is rarely one to sugarcoat his opinions, so one assumes if he was against the idea of a remake, he’d say so. That said, one wonders if his thoughts would change if Peele ends up only producing the film, and not directing it. Peele would still be involved, but not as closely.
If a remake ultimately does happen – with or without Peele directing – it’s impossible to imagine Todd not being offered a cameo, at the very least. For now, Todd can be seen in the new slasher film Hell Fest, which sees bodies piling up in a horror theme park.