I revisited the original Candyman a while back, and although I still liked it I did find some the acting a bit poor. Yet it’s concept was certainly ripe for a new instalment and this re-imagining-come-sequel, which dismisses the other sequels, follows a struggling artist who stumbles upon the urban legend. Deciding to base his new exhibition on the myth, the artist unwittingly summons the ghetto ghoul in the process.
Produced and co-written by Jordan Peele (Get Out), this new instalment stays faithful to the events of the first movie whilst adding plenty ideas of its own. I especially liked how it explores the idea that Candyman is not just one person but several who had all died in horrible ways, the latest being a victim of Police brutality. Yes, clearly there’s a Black Lives Matter message here as well as an exploration of racism from both sides. Direction is very atmospheric and at times quite creepy but not all that chilling, yet this is offset by several well-executed kills (including a particularly shocking school bathroom scene).
The fact that only white people get killed in this however, feels problematic, and despite exploring similar themes to the first movie, it does seem to have an axe to grind. It also never really goes for it in the gore department. However such things don’t ruin what is generally an effective and imaginative follow up that has enough personality and stand out sequences to be worthy of your time.
Clive Barker had a bit of a short run of cinematic adaptations of his work, and few could argue that Hellraiser is a classic. This interpretation of his short story ‘The Forbidden’ may take a bit of artistic license with its source material but turned out to become a bit of a cult classic, and like Hellraiser spawned several inferior sequels. I recall liking it quite a bit, but how does it stand up 23 years later?
Virginia Madsen plays grad student Helen Lyle who whilst writing a thesis on urban myths, stumbles upon the story of Candyman after a local woman is found murdered in a run-down ghetto housing estate. Is he just the boogeyman or is there really someone committing grizzly murders?
Bernard Rose’s movie certainly has that 90s aesthetic and is hampered by rather weak characterisation and cheesy dialogue throughout.. The story is basic and attempts to add some depth with guff involving identical apartment buildings and a less than monogamous husband. However when the second half arrives and a key character is set up for murder, the movie elevates itself to another level entirely. I still really like the direction this movie takes and it turns a rather mediocre tale into something far more effective. For a movie with Clive Barker’s name associated, it’s occasionally gory and at times shocking but nothing all that disturbing. Rose’s direction is atmospheric though, and the cinematography is a lot better that this sort of movie usually gets. That theme is also still very haunting even all these years later. Candyman (Tony Todd) didn’t come off as iconic or as interesting as I recalled but he’s still an interesting creation. However why he’s called Candyman is anyone’s guess.
This new Arrow Video release comes in deluxe packaging that includes a storyboard booklet along with a poster. The movie itself is presented in two cuts, the r-rated u.s. version and the slightly gorier uk theatrical edition. However it’s only the u.s. version that gets the 4K restoration treatment, yet this doesn’t deliver much of a wow-factor image-wise with a very soft picture that whilst occasionally boasting vibrant colours is otherwise disappointing. The soundtrack fairs better and is punchy despite there being little to separate the 2.0 and 5.1 sound options, with no real use of surrounds other than to add a bit of depth. However we do get two new audio commentaries, firstly from the director as well as actor Tony Todd, and secondly from authors Stephen Jones and Kim Newman (sadly not Barker). We also get new interviews with lead cast members, behind the scenes crew members and production people. There’s also a retrospective on Clive Barker original story too. Again with Arrow exhaustive treatment that’s a treat for fans and collectors like myself. The movie itself is good entertainment but mostly not as memorable as I remembered.
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