Candyman (1992)
By: Devon B. on December 16, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Universal (Australia). Region 2 & 4 PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0, French DD 2.0, Polish DD 2.0. English, French, Dutch, Polish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish Subtitles. 95 minutes
The Movie
Director: Bernard Rose
Starring: Virginia Madson, Tony Todd, Xander Berkeley, Kasi Lemmons, Vanessa Williams
Screenplay: Bernard Rose
Music: Michael Reisman
Tagline: Dare you say his name 5 times…
Country: USA
The first time I saw Candyman, I thought it was extremely intense. The second time, I was completely bored. The film no longer seemed tense as I knew what was coming. It's been more than a decade since my last screening, so I thought it might be time to revisit Clive Barker's take on the Hook Hand tale.

In Candyman, two students (Virginia Madsen and Kasi Lemmons) are researching urban legends. Hoping to do something really noteworthy, they begin investigating the local story of the Candyman, an ethereal being that many in a nearby ghetto credit with some very nasty deeds. Madsen think she's figured out what's really going on, but just as she believes she's laid the old tale to rest, she encounters something far darker than she ever could've anticipated.

Well before Urban Legend, Candyman sought to explore the word of mouth rumours that quickly become "fact" in the minds of those spreading and receiving them. The Candyman legend is so convincing, many thought it was a true urban legend Barker had borrowed from. While the way to summon Candyman, saying his name five times into a mirror, is taken from the Bloody Mary legend, the rest is Barker's invention.

With my third viewing, I found Candyman to be a very well crafted film. I was a relatively jaded viewer even back when this film was new, and it still had an impact. I obviously didn't find it tense this time around, but I was able to appreciate it, which isn't always the case with movies I liked when I was 14. Candyman also stands as testament that horror movies don't have to rely on humour extensively, unless you count Tony Todd's incredibly long stump arm as a gag, that is. While jokes and jumps have can go together very well, it seems filmmakers have gotten overly reliant on the laugh factor lately, so I always find a good, fully serious horror film a rare treat. Tony Todd makes for a superb, eloquent, empathetic "villain," and despite the undermining sequels, rightly deserves a place in the horror pantheon of memorable monsters.

Along with being an effective horror movie, I remembered Candyman as being very bloody, so was surprised to find it was only rated M. Admittedly, I saw Candyman before I saw Braindead, and that film has left everything before or since as "not really that gory" in my mind. Regardless, I'm not sure about the M rating, as there is some nasty, if not graphically violent, stuff on display, particularly a scene involving a young child's visit to a public toilet. It probably still won't rival Braindead, but there is a slightly stronger cut making the rounds on European DVD.

Watch for Henrietta himself, Mr Ted Raimi, in an early flashback scene.
Candyman is presented in a 16x9 enhanced 1.78:1 print. The film has some grain, spots, and dirt, but looks better than last copy I saw. The print is also a little soft in places, but is overall pretty good.
Audio is available in two-channel English, French, or Polish tracks, but the last one is just a guy talking over the English track. The mix is all fine, though some poorly synched ADR can distract, and I don't mean Tony Todd's voice, which is meant to be a bit disconnected from the action. It's too bad there wasn't a 5.1 remix, with bees swirling and Todd's voice echoing around the channels.
Extra Features
The disc comes with a commentary, storyboards, and two featurettes. The commentary features Barker, screenwriter/director Bernard Rose, producer Alan Poul, Madsen, Todd, and Lemmons. Despite being a cut and paste job, this is a really good track, with plenty to discuss, and not too much info repeated from the featurettes. Madsen does have a differing recollection of some historical events than I do, but I was 14 at the time, so was probably too busy leaping off tall things to take much notice of anything else. A 10-minute featurette about Clive Barker is also interesting, but fans of Barker probably know most of the things covered already. In a bizarre move, the overall DVD is rated M, despite this featurette having a clip from one of Barker's early films of a nude Barker spinning round and round with an erection. Granted, the shot uses a negative effect, but it's still pretty clear what it is, and I was able to identify it without having seen the full short. The extra I enjoyed the most was a featurette called Sweets to the Sweet, which runs over 20 minutes long. While there are certainly plenty of interesting elements of the story to discuss, such as Barker's inspiration for the genital removal bit, the thing I hadn't remembered was that Candyman was coming out just as the Rodney King riots were taking place. Obviously the film is very racially charged, but I'd forgotten it'd also debuted during a rather racially charged moment in recent American history. Even prior to that outbreak, there was some trouble with the race elements of the film, the most amusing of which was the idea that casting Todd as the villain caused concern that the film might become a campy throwback to earlier blaxploitation horror. While almost everyone involved says in both the commentary and the featurette that shooting in real life project Cabrini-Green wasn't as dangerous as they'd thought it would be at first, it is Lemmons who comments in both extras that in Cabrini-Green the crew just encountered families.
The Verdict
It would've been nice to get an uncut release, as I'm now curious as to what went missing. The R4 is still a nice release of the original theatrical cut, and a worthwhile addition to any horror DVD collection.
Movie Score
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