Candyman: Farewell To The Flesh [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Shout! Factory
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (6th January 2015).
The Film

While horror’s biggest names – Jason, Freddy, Michael, etc. - were having midlife crises in the 90's, trying to figure out who they truly were deep down inside, some of the less-notorious icons were sticking with what worked and delivering the fan-expected goods. If you grew up during the late 80's/early 90's, chances are pretty good you watched “Candyman” (1992) at an age far younger than you probably should have. Chances are also good that you found the film disturbing enough to prevent taunting fate and saying his name five times in the mirror. It’s ok, I’m still sort of hesitant to attempt it myself. Once again, we can thank Clive Barker for unleashing a cinematic demon upon audiences in hopes that it will inhabit their nightmares. He succeeded, so naturally it was only a matter of time before someone got a sequel on the hook (sorry, I had to).

The first film, “Candyman”, dealt mainly with the urban legend of the title character, investigating his violent appearances and only offering up a glimpse at that horrid past which led to his creation as the Candyman. Here, with “Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh” (1995), the story capitalizes on that brief bit of history by greatly expanding it, explaining who Daniel “Candyman” Robitaille was and uncovering much of the myth surrounding his legend. Fittingly, the action moves from the squalid confinement of Cabrini-Green to the streets of New Orleans’ French Quarter, former home to many a plantation. The one supporting character carryover here is Prof. Philip Purcell (Michael Culkin), the Benjamin Franklin-esque urban legend snob who has written a book on the Candyman lore and is performing a reading at a bookstore. Afterward, he is beset by Ethan (William O’Leary), a young man who blames Purcell for convincing his father Candyman wasn’t real just before his death under mysterious circumstances. Ethan challenges Purcell to call forth Candyman; when he does later on, the results are predictably messy.

Ethan is blamed for the murder, and his sister, Annie (Kelly Rowan), finds herself scrambling to uncover the truth about Daniel Robitaille and prove her brother’s innocence. The journey to clarity is lined with the bodies of those she loves, however, though it also makes clear why her father was so infatuated with the Candyman legend and what her family’s connection is to his brutal past. Armed with what seems to be a solid theory for destroying Candyman once and for all, Annie heads back to her old homestead for a final confrontation.

As far as sequels go, “Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh” is a good follow-up to a great film, something that definitely can’t be said for the DTV “Candyman 3: Day of the Dead” (1999). Most of this is due to Tony Todd’s intensely intimidating presence; it’s hard to imagine any other actor nailing it as he does. Todd’s velvety baritone voice and imposing stature make him the sort of villain you’d almost rather sit and listen to than run screaming from. It’s a great example of perfect casting. His appearances in the film have a real impact because they’re brief & brutal, with his gory stump-hook ripping and tearing flesh like something out of “Hellraiser” (1987). Few horror icons arose from the 90's, and Candyman is unquestionably one of them.

The New Orleans setting is itself a character here, adding an element of history dripping with eerie atmosphere. Having just recently spent nearly a week in the French Quarter, I can confirm there are at least two things they love down there: voodoo and fried food. The film’s voodoo angle is covered thanks to a cliché radio DJ who fills viewers in on the lore and etymology of things; he’s sort of like a Cajun Wolfman Jack. Although Candyman’s backstory isn’t exactly tied to voodoo, there are clear parallels the film draws. On a somewhat prescient note, it’s slightly chilling that the climax sees the city bracing itself for a massive flood due to a major storm.

I can’t complain much about the film’s cheap scares and rote plot elements because, frankly, as a serious horror fan these things are commonplace in a lot of films. Prolonged exposure to these dead horse beats has only dulled my need to point them out and pretend it’s a big deal. Adherence to convention is expected; the question is how well a director (and his cast & crew) can elevate the material in spite of those trappings. This film mostly succeeds, although the climax (and Candyman’s not-final death) feels a bit deflated given how grisly events leading up to it are handled. Once again, his love of blonde white women is a death knell, a theme also repeated for the third film. The film’s best moments are those when Todd is on-screen, romantically menacing would-be victims. Even though the man is pushing 60 years old, a return to his most popular role hopefully isn’t out of the cards; this is one horror icon that’s still got some juice in the tank.

Video

Why is it that so many 90's horror productions look dull? This film’s 1.85:1 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 encoded image is perfectly serviceable, in that the picture yields a fair level of detail, colors look natural, and grain adds a nice touch of cinema aesthetic. The print used for this release is in good condition, but there are still minor flecks and spots of dirt that pop up intermittently. Several shots look a bit on the soft side, too, and depth is very minimal. While colors do look accurate, the palette here is very earthen and dull, leaving few occasions for bright hues to pop – the Mardi Gras parade being one of them. Black levels are slightly hazy when they should be pitch, but at least the image holds up well under shadow. Nobody will be impressed by the picture here, though it’s certainly a step up from the old DVD.

Audio

Despite reports that he was unhappy with “being talked into” scoring the first film (apparently, he didn’t know it would be so violent), composer Philip Glass returns for the sequel and delivers another excellent score. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound track (48kHz/24-bit) allows Glass’ score to resonate appropriately thanks to a wide range. It’s ethereal and classic, imbuing romanticism during moments of horror. Dialogue comes through clean & clear, centered and balanced in the mix. The track relies heavily on stingers, which any horror fan knows can get old quickly. Rears don’t see much activity; the subwoofer has some minor moments. An English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo track is also included. Subtitles are available in English.

Extras

The extras here are typical for a Scream Factory release (not a complaint), featuring an audio commentary, new interviews with the stars, and theatrical trailers.

Director Bill Condon’s audio commentary track is a carryover from the previous DVD. He provides a lot of solid information & anecdotes, including changes the script underwent, how he sought out this gig, understanding criticisms, location shooting, and more. It’s not exactly a must-listen affair, but fans of the film will definitely enjoy his words.

“The Candyman Legacy with Tony Todd” (1080p) is an interview that runs for 25 minutes and 55 seconds. The film’s titular star sits down to discuss how he obtained the role, tales from the sets, his thoughts on the franchise, and even potential plot ideas. Todd is a well-spoken thespian with a strong understanding of his character, and it’s always a pleasure to hear him speak.

“Down Memory Lane with Veronica Cartwright” (1080p) is an interview that runs for 10 minutes and 44 seconds. The actress covers boilerplate topics, mostly related to her work here on this sequel.

The film’s theatrical trailer (1080p) runs for 1 minute and 54 seconds.

“More from Scream Factory” (1080i) includes bonus trailers for the following:

- “The Phantom of the Opera” (1989) runs for 1 minute and 53 seconds.
- “Dolls” runs for 2 minutes and 32 seconds.
- “Squirm” runs for 1 minute and 56 seconds.

Packaging

The single disc comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keep case, with cover art that is reversible.

Overall

While it might not be nearly as good as the first film, director Bill Condon’s sequel takes the Candyman story in an expected direction, with expected results, yet it manages to work well thanks to a ghostly setting, some nasty kills and Todd’s fearsome interpretation of a wronged man seeking vengeance.

The Film: B- Video: B- Audio: B Extras: C+ Overall: B-

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.