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


Viewed – 31 January 2008  DVD

What makes a good horror movie?  Well for one, you hope its frightening.  If your a fan of gore – you want the claret to be flying, and well, how about a bit of imagination?  Screaming z-list actors? – check.  Deformed madman?  check.  Haunted woodland?  check (OK, its a swamp – same difference).  So where oh where does this go so horribly wrong?

Obviously we’re in low budget land here, which normally I’m fine with (to be honest, my much loved Dario Argento never has much money to work with)…whereas this director, well, he’s seen a few dodgy eighties horror movies…and learnt how to make a poor copy.  So there’s a back story involving some deformed guy (Friday 13th regular Kane Hodder) who was burnt to death many years ago, and now haunts the swamp – oh heck, cut the bullshit – the story is rubbish!  Even the gang of twenty-somethings are so annoying you cheer at the screen when one of them is killed (and the deaths are the only calling card this film has – they are uniformly over the top and lacking in any imagination…no build up, no tension, no panache whatsover…).  When you consider directors like Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi cut their teeth on this shit, and still managed to deliver excessively clever gore films (ala Bad Taste, Braindead, The Evil Dead)…then it begs the question – who gave this hideously untalented man the green light?  Was it the clever script…duh, no!  The heavy weight talent that it attracted?  Cameos by Robert Englund and Tony Todd justify nothing…and most insultingly of all, respected Internet critic Harry Knowles, who I would normally champion – says its the ‘next icon in horror’ – is he insane???  Or was he being Ironic??? Or paid the rest of this films meagre budget to sell a few copies before anyone found out?

“Kane Hodder creates a horror film icon that if all goes as I pray to God it does with this film… that will stand alongside Jason, Michael Myers and Freddy.” -Harry Knowles.

The movie even tries to be funny – and it so definitely isn’t – not for a second.  Not even unintentionally.  Ok, maybe slightly.  Oh well…at least its got tits and gore in it.  That’s something.  😛

Verdict:  2 /5