Viewed – 30 October 2018. Blu-ray
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.
(the movie) 3 /5
(the Blu-ray) 4 /5