4. Candyman – Candyman Franchise

Both the original Candyman and Nia DaCosta’s 2021 sequel (also titled Candyman) cover many of the same themes. The first established the story of the titular urban legend, while the second expanded upon it in a way that makes the central themes of the franchise all too clear. Primarily exploring the ideas of remembering even the most uncomfortable elements of the past and how reminding people of their own brutality can often be interpreted as a violent act itself, Candyman taps a rich cultural well, particularly in its approach to Black history and Black stories.

This being part of Candyman‘s charm is key, because it’s exactly what makes its villain so compelling. Though the Candyman himself is seen as a menacing figure, he’s a relic of racial violence that refuses to be forgotten, and therefore, he represents an exaggerated form of justice for the past. Candyman may be ultra-violent and entirely unforgiving, but that’s exactly the point: he’s not actually wrong.

The original Candyman (played by Tony Todd) was Daniel Robitaille, the son of a slave who fell in love with a white woman, leading to his being horrifically tortured and lynched. This makes Candyman a vengeful spirit of history’s injustice, with his anger about being largely forgotten transforming him into a legend spoken of in hushed tones. Because Candyman’s own actions seem tame in comparison to the centuries of violence fueled by racial prejudice, it makes him seem far more justified than almost any other horror movie villain.