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Tuesday, August 24, 2021

‘Candyman IV’: Tony Todd Revisits the Winter-Set Sequel That Was Never Made [Phantom Limbs]

phantom limb /ˈfan(t)əm’lim/ n. an often painful sensation of the presence of a limb that has been amputated.

Welcome to Phantom Limbs, a recurring feature which will take a look at intended yet unproduced horror sequels and remakes – extensions to genre films we love, appendages to horror franchises that we adore – that were sadly lopped off before making it beyond the planning stages. Here, we will be chatting with the creators of these unmade extremities to gain their unique insight into these follow-ups that never were, with the discussions standing as hopefully illuminating but undoubtedly painful reminders of what might have been.

With this installment, we’ll be taking a look at Candyman IV, the intended fourth film in the Candyman franchise that was developed in the early aughts but was ultimately never made. Joining us to discuss this unproduced sequel is Candyman star Tony Todd, who had personally originated the story for this particular follow-up to his signature franchise. Though the details are scant given that the project never advanced beyond the story stage, Mr. Todd does offer some tantalizing, never-before-revealed plot points below.

Five years after the critical disappointment of 1999’s Candyman: Day of the Dead, the second sequel in the Candyman franchise, the possibility of a potential fourth film in the series was raised in interviews with series star Tony Todd. Speaking with Fangoria’s Calum Waddell, Mr. Todd noted: “Right now we’re prepping a fourth Candyman film. It’s going to be big-budget – we’re looking at $25 million. There have been a lot of successful horror films made since we did the last movie, and Clive and I have had three or four meetings about the film, talking about storyboarding ideas.”

Later on in 2004, Todd elaborated on the possibility of Candyman IV with Mike Hodge for Milenko 500: “Yeah, I’ve been meeting with Clive, his representatives, and the production team. I know there was a rumor when the whole Freddy vs. Jason film came out that Miramax wanted to do a Candyman vs. Hellraiser. I think Clive wisely opted against that. He didn’t want either of those two characters to sell out for a commercial gain. He is very strongly interested in Candyman IV. That problem that is going on much like many backstage workings, is determining who owns the Candyman franchise … I know it will take place in New England. It will take place in a woman’s college. I know we’re going to use the seasonal elements such as snow. We’re just waiting for the Go-Ahead to move forward. Hopefully it will be shot sometime next year…”

Tony Todd as Candyman in ‘Candyman: Day of the Dead’ (1999)

Unfortunately, another half decade would pass before the project would be mentioned again. In an interview with Heather Wixson for Dread Central, Todd revealed that he had been working with a rising filmmaker to further develop Candyman IV. “This is the third time I’ve worked with Deon [Taylor], and I definitely think he’s an up and coming talent in the horror industry. We’ve been talking recently about some of our ideas, including wanting to revive the Candyman franchise and keep the legend moving forward … Deon and I have some tricks up our sleeves, too, for Candyman so just sit tight for that because you never know what will happen…”

Candyman IV. That was when I had an idea that they liked, initially,” Mr. Todd recalls for this exclusive chat with Bloody Disgusting. “This was around twenty years ago. It was going to take place in New England during a snow storm, because I just had this image of Candyman in a blizzard. Because I’m from New England, and I knew the power of having that mythic character in a snowstorm being undeterred by the elements. We had gone so far as to establish him as a professor at a girls’ college.”

Candyman was going to be a college professor?! Mr. Todd explains: “He had submerged himself into a human capability with a missing arm. He had tried to end the curse by amputating his arm. It was his way of trying to end the curse, by cutting his hook arm off. A little self mutilation.”

So he would have cut off his arm to suppress his murderous urges? “Yeah. Or his sense of revenge. I don’t like the word ‘murderous’. It’s not like he wakes up thinking, ‘I’m going to go kill some people tonight.’ His killing is specific.

“See, ‘Candyman’ wasn’t a curse. Or he was a curse, but – he wasn’t burned, he isn’t scarred, except for what’s inside. He is the epitome and representation of people that have always been displaced. Or loved the wrong person at the wrong time.

“He was going to end up being a one-armed Candyman. He’s trying to teach without becoming personally involved. It was kind of like the Hulk. If he gets too close, the curse would continue. Because it’s not like he chose to be a villain. If people remember correctly, he was lynched. His [hand was] cut off under mob sanction.

“People also have to realize that at the core of the original Candyman was a great love story. That’s why I wanted him in a female environment, trying to keep his temperament in check, until something happened. Something horrific happens to some of the students, and his inner compulsions return. We hadn’t fully decided what that triggering event was.”

Tony Todd as Candyman in ‘Candyman’ (1992)

With Candyman’s two sequels, Farewell to the Flesh and Day of the Dead, the leads were women ultimately proven to be descendants of Daniel Robitaille, the 19th century artist who became Candyman when he was murdered by a lynch mob. Would the family line have carried over into Candyman IV? “Yeah, it would have been one of those students digging into the past and confronting him with his history. But the triggering event would be somebody that he’s avoiding being close to getting harmed. Because he feels that he wasn’t there. Because Candyman is sort of a detached persona. He’s like a shark, right? You don’t want that … particularly in a university setting.”

Was Candyman drawn to the college because of the student he has a link to? “No. I think he just did that … remember, he was an artist to begin with. He knows a thing or two about art. And somehow, supernaturally (because he’s a ghost), he’s able to allow himself to be seen. Then the more he’s being seen, the more the past comes back to haunt him.

That’s as far as we had gotten. Snowstorm, girls’ college, plenty of victims. Plenty of professors that are well-hated that needed to be taken out. That’s all we had. It never got fleshed out further than that, partly because the third one didn’t do as well, and people had moved onto other things like Final Destination.”

Was there a collaboration with others? Previous reports from back in the day had mentioned the potential involvement of Deon Taylor, who was recently announced to be rebooting Blacula. “There was talk, but then it just went away. It went away in terms of making films, but it stayed alive in the heart of fandom.”

Ultimately, why didn’t Candyman IV happen? “I didn’t have enough juice to fight the fact that the owners were feuding. There were three factions that owned the film, and they all hated each other, and nobody would give power to the other people to do anything. That’s what held it up, pretty much. For twenty years.”

Tony Todd as Candyman in ‘Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh’ (1995)

So is there any chance we might yet see Candyman IV some day? “I haven’t written it, but I’m open. We’ll see where it takes us. But since this next one is so heavily mounted in Chicago, I don’t really see them moving out of there, and I don’t really look forward to standing in a Chicago blizzard. Which are different than any other blizzard, anywhere else! In case you don’t know, kids, it gets brutally cold in Chicago.”

In wrapping up our talk, Mr. Todd reflects on Candyman’s legacy, and the follow-up the original franchise will be getting in the form of this year’s Jordan Peele-produced, Nia DaCosta-helmed reboot. “I hope every actor out there who works in the horror genre that has a beloved project and they want to continue it, I hope they get the same opportunity to have somebody as passionate as Jordan come along and say, ‘Let’s do this again.’ And not just a quickie. We gotta get rid of these quickies. There’s a lot of good horror out there, but there’s a lot of gnarly horror out there. There’s some people that like gnarly horror, without plot, purpose or point. But we need more films like Rosemary’s Baby, and less…I don’t want to name drop anything.

“With Jordan’s success, Universal was able to offer him his choice of intellectual properties, and he was always a fan of Candyman. They – Jordan and Nia – reached out to me. I was actually shooting something in South Africa, and I hadn’t heard anything. They sent me a lovely letter. Jordan, in particular. There’s a hot dog stand in New York called Gray’s Papaya. He told me, ‘I actually saw you there, but I was too shy to come up and say anything.’ ‘You should have! We wasted thirty years!’ It always stuck with him. You know, if you have your choice of intellectual properties, and you choose that one, I’m highly honored. Hopefully, in the best world situation, it goes through the roof. And I’m pretty sure it will.”

Candyman in a Blizzard – Artwork by Connor Lynch:

Very special thanks to Tony Todd for his time and insights.

Catch more of Connor Lynch’s work on his Instagram page – @mageinblue.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on June 24, 2021.

Works Cited:

Hodge, Mike.  (2004, October).  M500 INTERVIEW WITH TONY TODD AKA CANDYMAN.  Retrieved June 21, 2021 from Milenko 500 website (archived):

Waddell, Calum.  (2004, March).  Tony Todd Talks Candyman 4 and Final Destination 3.  Retrieved June 21, 2021. via Revelations: The Official Clive Barker Website:

Wixson, Heather.  (2009, December).  Exclusive: Tony Todd Talks Dark Christmas, Hatchet 2, and Candyman IV.  Retrieved June 21, 2021 from Dread Central website:


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