Whenever you watch a movie or read a book about someone achieving greatness, the story rarely involves that person intentionally trying to be great. The hero goes into it looking for one thing and ends up in an entirely different and more wonderful place than they ever imagined they could be. This is very much the story of Tony Todd, an actor who never set out to become a B-movie icon but has, over the last 30 years, become a renowned celebrity in the horror and sci-fi/fantasy genres. Standing proudly in the ranks of contemporaries like Bruce Campbell, Sid Haig, and Robert Englund, Tony Todd is best known for his fearsome and ominous presence as the Candyman in the 90’s film series and Bludworth in the Final Destination movies. Tony Todd’s film career began in the mid-1980s with bit parts and small roles in films and television including roles in Platoon, MacGyver, and Night Court but it wasn’t until the early 90s that he found his niche in cinema. In 1990 he starred as Ben in the remake of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead alongside another notable B celebrity Patricia Tallman. I’m not a big fan of remakes. In fact, I go out of my way to make that clear every time I talk about a remake of anything but the 1990 Night was a phenomenal update to the 1968 original with a cast led by Todd and Tallman that only served to expand and enrich what Romero had started 22 years earlier. No one could have brought this new Ben to life any better than Tony Todd. It wasn’t until 1992 that he solidified his place forever in the pantheon of horror movie villains with his role as the titular Candyman. Candyman -based on Clive Barker’s The Forbidden (part of his Books of Blood collection)- is the story of a grad student named Helen who begins a thesis on graffiti and urban legends, coming across the story of a former slave turned wealthy merchant and painter who is brutally murdered by locals upset over his mixed-race romance. His painting hand is cut off, replaced by a hook before he is beaten and covered in honey. As bees consume his body, the lynch mob chants the name Candyman at him to taunt him as he dies. Burning his body, they spread the ashes across a field that will eventually become the Cabrini-Green housing project and site of the spirit’s murder spree. Initially discrediting the story as folklore, the Candyman appears to Helen and forces her into reinvigorating his legend by going on a killing spree that will ultimately result in her own death and her addition to the terrifying folk story. And I just realized that I said his name five times. Hopefully, I’ll get through this article before he comes for me. Anyway, moving on. It’s not surprising that a character actor like Tony Todd has created a long string of memorable characters in the wake of his career and, with the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek this year I couldn’t write this article without mentioning another of his memorable roles from the 90’s. As Kurn, a Klingon warrior and Worf’s (Michael Dorn) brother first in Star Trek: The Next Generation and later in Deep Space Nine, he brings light to the ongoing Klingon drama at the center of Worf’s character. His attempts to reclaim the family’s stolen honor and return them to their former social standing eventually lead him to being dispelled from the high council and into a failed suicide attempt that results in his memory being erased and being sent off to live his life under an assumed name. While anyone who isn’t a big Star Trek fan may overlook this, for those of us Trekkies here at Psycho Drive-In, Tony Todd was an important part of our favorite Klingon’s life story. Not surprisingly, one of my favorite X-Files episodes also stars Todd as the villain in a somnambulist’s nightmare called “Sleepless” from season two of the series. Playing the role of Augustus Cole, a victim of a Vietnam era experiment to remove the need for sleep from soldiers in the field, he goes on a final mission of revenge causing hallucinations in the minds of other experiment victims and doctors responsible for his own fate. The episode has some phenomenal imagery and a great story, not to mention the introduction of Krychek and a hell of a job done by Tony Todd. Now, we’ve all seen at least one Final Destination movie. At the very least we’ve hit up YouTube to watch the greatest hits compilations of people tragically killed by the increasingly Rube Goldbergian mechanisms of death. It seems only fitting that Tony Todd would make himself a lasting part of yet another gruesome, horror related franchise. As William Bludworth, coroner/funeral director and the man who knows more about death than any of the hapless teens being slaughtered and shares with them his theory of how death will track down any who try to cheat its icy hand. There are lots of great fan theories online about the character, including the belief that he is, in fact, a physical embodiment of death itself warning the characters of their impending doom. Like Keith David or Sid Haig, he’s been in so much and played so many iconic roles that it’s really hard to pick only a handful to talk about it one short little article. From Candyman to Bludworth, Kurn to himself in one of the best episodes of the short-lived Holliston, he’s spent the last 30 years getting into our heads and our hearts through our television screen. Do yourself a favor as we round the corner towards Halloween and check out some of his best roles. You can find most everything on Netflix. Seven for Tony Todd: Night of the Living Dead (1990) Candyman (1992) X-Files / Sleepless (1994) Final Destination (2000) Masters of Horror / Valerie on the Stairs (2006) Hatchet (2007) Holliston / Candyman (2012) Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.