Horror is a sound you can’t stop saying

“The candy man. The candy man. The candy man. The candy man. The candy man.” Repetition is a summoning spell that repeats the past into the present. Horror is a sound you can’t stop saying.

1992 film by Bernard Rose the candy man it repeats its summoning spell like an echo that turns words into sounds and back again. Set in Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing project, the film features the protagonist Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen), a white anthropologist who studies urban legends. She becomes fascinated with the story of the Candyman, a black artist in the 1890s who painted a picture of a white woman, fell in love with her, and was duly murdered. His hand was cut off and replaced with a hook and his genitals smeared with honey and exposed to bees.

Candyman supposedly chases after Cabrini-Green, who is on the ground where he was killed. If you look in a mirror and say “Candyman” five times, he appears, whispering loving and terrifying promises. “I am the writing on the wall, the whisper in the classroom.” Tony Todd’s incredibly sensual voice drips with honey and blood. To say his name is to invoke a sweetness of sound and terror; pain, as he says, is “exquisite.”

Philip Glass’s soundtrack for piano, pipe organ and choir reflects the repetition in the summoning spell. The iconic minimalist iteration of it, drawing the same figure over and over again like pictures on glass, forms a backdrop for Cabrini-Green’s boxes, completely identical apartments, and stacked identical apartments. Glass’s insistent, gritty buzz collapses, at key moments, into the white noise buzz of bees en masse, the carefully ordered divisions of space and sound pressed together in a single trauma crawling up the ribcage, a hook of iron drawn through a honeycomb.

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