Happy Birthday To Me (1981)
This has disco music, Mary Jane shoes and a throttling in a car. A killer wears black leather gloves, orange lipstick is sported and a switchblade is used to slash a throat. This is not a work of increasing seriousness. Matt Craven is in this sporting a bad perm. He is one of a group of popular jerks with bad hair. There is an Adam Driver lookalike in the group. This creates no persistent interest.
This is ‘V.I Warshawski’ bad. There is ramp jumping and a well lit graveyard and bad line delivery. Virginia is the vile heroine. There is no operatic brilliance or simple charms. Virginia shows obvious irritation with everyone. This was not creatively nasty or lingeringly sad or earnest.
Dare you say his name 5 times?
Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen of ‘Designated Survivor’) looks into the urban legend of Candyman (Tony Todd). Candyman appears when you say his name 5 times into a mirror. This was based on the iffy short story ‘The Forbidden’ by Clive Barker. Helen has a useless husband named Trevor (Xander Berkley of ‘Salem’) and a doomed BFF Bernadette (Kasi Lemmons). This was written and directed by Bernard Rose.
Helen and her BFF work on their thesis. Can 2 people do a thesis together? Helen and Bernadette visit Cabrini Green housing project. Helen has bloody mindedness and has a lack of recognition of the gravity of the situation. Trevor has a black heart. Is Helen mentally healthy? She faces the slow dawning certainty that Candyman is real.
The OST is all gothic choirs. Trevor has an unrelentingly haughty mistress. Gang bangers in neon lurk. Helen and Bernadette aren’t hypercautious. They wield dated tech. Candyman is a stately presence. Helen’s gritty determination leads to a bad reaction and tragic and unnecessary events. Candyman unleashes wildly brutality and Helen faces her desperate last days.
Helen is obsessed with personal ambition. People are perpetually scared of Candyman due to a legacy of hatred. Things come to a logical conclusion. Helen makes choices and she’s going to be so sorry she made them. Helen looks for provable facts and her dreams come true and they don’t look the way she imagined. This has no emotional driver. Helen sees graffiti and offerings in a very well lit abandoned apartment. This was followed by a crap sequel and a 3rd film I never bothered with. Bernadette and Helen smoke as do everyone else.
Trevor and his mistress are all know nothing vapidity. People in exalted positions sneer. Nobody has a moral and social responsibility. Trevor doesn’t seem to care for Helen or the demands she endlessly made on his time. He does little that is useful and much that is harmful. Helen invokes harm by disbelief and faces vitriolic condemnation.
As she is not an agent of her own experience Helen’s life goes down the crapper due to her unadvisedly not believing in Candyman. This has shattering consequences for her. People die around Helen with depressing regularity. Trevor is a stupid blowhard who is spiteful and petty. Helen loses all relevance to him. Helen does suspect behaviour. Candyman is a narrative made flesh. This has no breadth, depth or originality. Candyman has ill-intentions and causes nightmarish despair.
Helen is not self-willed and she attracts unpleasantness. Helen does an improbable loony bin escape. Trevor’s mistress is spectacularly irritating. One has inherent interest in Helen’s fate and seeing the mistress get what’s coming to her. This film isn’t scary but has the flinch factor. This promised so much and delivered so little. Helen becomes a monstrous villain as belated recompense.
“An entire community starts attributing the daily horrors of their lives to a mythical figure.”
“A woman died in there! Leave it!”
“Look like 5-0 to me.”
“It ain’t safe around here.”
“Scared of something?”