While each iteration of the Candyman legend has, its own perspective on what exactly Candyman is, and where he gets his frightening powers of suggestion, invisibility, and immortality from, the 1992 horror masterpiece stays true to Clive Barker’s short story, suggesting Candyman gets his power from those who believe in him. His power comes directly from the urban legends of his gruesome murders.
In both Barker’s short story and Rose’s adaptation, Candyman comes for Helen because she doubts him: “Your disbelief destroyed the faith of my congregation.” We see this theme repeated throughout the other “Candyman” films, although each film has its own twist on the legend. Candyman might be the only movie slasher who asks for consent, saying, “be my victim,” raising the question, does Candyman need his victims to believe in him to have the power to kill them?
In the short story and first film, Candyman explains to Helen the liminal space he inhabits, saying, “Why do you want to live? If you had learned just a little from me, you would not beg to live. I am rumor. It is a blessed condition, believe me. To be whispered about at street corners. To live in other people’s dreams, but not to have to be. Do you understand?” Explaining to Helen that his form of immortality allows him to exist without the pain of living. In Barker’s short story, Helen understands Candyman’s offer is to make her “Immortal in gossip and graffiti.”