Clive Barker’s Candyman was one of the best horror movies of the 1990s, and while there were a number of sequels that suffered from the curse of diminishing returns, it looks like Nia Da Costa’s upcoming reboot/sequel may be about to put the franchise back where it belongs. However, there is another Candyman movie that no one ever got to see, and that the was the original sequel planned by Candyman screenwriter Bernard Rose, which looked set to break open a whole other pathway for what the series could have become.
Bloody Disgusting’s Jason Jenkins spoke exclusively to Rose who went into great detail about the sequel he was given the go ahead to write after the success of the first movie. His brainstorm for the film saw him arrive at a story that was not a direct follow-on from the story of its predecessor, but instead looked at the idea of what the origins of a bogeyman were, who in history was really the first bogeyman, the person who would kill mercilessly without remorse. That thought process led Rose to an idea involving Jack the Ripper.
“I wanted to make something that basically would be about, as it were, the ghost of Jack the Ripper in modern London. The idea that he was this sort of mythical figure that kind of haunted … the East End. We’re talking about the London of the early 90s [which] still had these really soot-stained, really derelict areas where prostitutes would hang out on the street corners. No different from the 1880s. It still had that almost kind of Hogarthian feel about it, that was kind of disturbing.”
The writer went on to confirm a long-standing rumor that Rose’s movie would bring in the story of another Barker story, The Midnight Meat Train. “Basically, my story [titled Candyman II: The Midnight Meat Train] – the idea was that the [Jack the Ripper] murders start to happen [again]. And whereas the first Candyman was about race, the idea was to make the second Candyman about gender. It was to be about the idea of this faceless, brutal killer who only attacked women, in a horrific sexual manner. And whose primary objective was to stop ‘whores’ – his weird, moralistic take to it. That’s also very perverse, at the same time.”
The movie would have seen a policewoman start to investigate the string of murders, and in the process uncovers more and more bizarre occurrences while an ominous threat gets closer and closer to her.
Rose continued, “It had a very, very extreme but rather wonderful denouement which was somewhat based on ‘The Midnight Meat Train‘. I took the central gag of a train, which is basically a meat wagon with all the dead people hanging from the straps, bleeding on the floor. In my film … there was a secret railway station under Buckingham Palace, which led to a banquet hall where some members of the Saxe-Coburg family were feasting on naked women. Cannibals. I kid you not, that was how the film ended! All these stories about the Ripper were all just bullshit. All the conspiracy theories, it was all a fantasy to hide the real objective – which was that the rich, the ruling classes, were going to dine upon the poor. And the climax, the denouement, the gag was – she gets right to the bottom of it. And one of the things the Masons do, they did to all the people who knew something, was they cut the tongues out of anybody who could tell the story. She’d gotten there, she found out the truth, so they cut out her tongue. The end of the story was that she became the Ripper.”
However, the notable absence of Candyman as an actual character in the movie meant that when Rose handed in the idea it was immediately shot down and a few years later a completely different Candyman sequel arrived with Farewell to The Flesh, which very much did keep the Candyman character front and center. If Rose had been allowed to continue with his sequel, it was not the only idea he had, and would have wanted to incorporate other stories of Barker’s, creating something of an anthology series of movies with the central theme of “the bogeyman.”
“That was my idea!” he said. “I wanted to expand the idea of what could be considered a sequel. Here’s the problem with the horror sequel – once you know who the fuckin’ bogeyman is, he comes on and starts killing more people, or starts telling jokes. Because that’s what happened to Freddy. And that’s it. There’s no other way to go. That’s just how it goes.”
Sadly, Rose doesn’t have a copy of the script he wrote anymore, although he did point out that “these things are always photocopied.” So who knows, one day Candyman II: The Midnight Meat Train may be seen by the public in some way, even if just in written form.
The reboot of Candyman is released on August 27 after several Covid related delays.