The original Candyman, released in 1992, was a smart, sharp and frightening movie that was based on a short story called Forbidden by Clive Barker.
Barker is a writer who has a lot to say about a lot of things: love, sex, death, racism, mixed race relationships. The list goes on.
For all his explored taboo topics, there is generally one constant – the central motif is wrapped up in a bloody and disturbing metaphor. Barker, after all, gave us the Cenobites – sadomasochistic monstrosities and their leader, the high priest of hell: Pinhead.
Between them, the leather-clad tag team ruled the shelves in VHS video libraries for a few short years and a few early instalments. Sadly, for Hellraiser and Pinhead the trajectory was however inexorably downward.
Before long Pinhead and his butchering chums had descended into the deepest catacombs of ridiculousness, repetition and creative exhaustion. Each instalment of the Hellraiser franchise was – after number three – worse than the previous. As the story, such that it was, clanked and squelched off in directions beyond Barker’s original making, the films suffered.
As you watch the later movies your suffering will be legendary, dear viewer, even in hell.
Sweets to the sweet
Like Hellraiser, the original incarnation of Candyman stands the test of time and remains a horror film that’s certainly frightening. It’s also one – like Hellraiser – that has a bigger story to tell. In this case, Candyman can be seen as exploring the enduring legacy of America’s racially divided past.
Sweet or sour?
And so, we have Candyman 2 – a film that’s another step removed from Clive Barker’s Forbidden. Is it a worthy successor? Does it pick up the hook that the original Candyman left behind and drive it deeper? In a word, no. But it does try very hard.
The second movie sees Candyman, the hook wielding serial killer – with his signature hoarse voiced monologues – dropped in New Orleans on the eve of Mardi Gras. There, he sets about talking to and then dispatching his descendants and a gaggle of unlucky people drawn into his orbit. Certainly, it’s a good-looking film and it has its moments, particularly if you like ‘the cat jumped out of the closet’ style horror.
More than just a slasher
There is also a real elegance to Tony Todd’s portrayal of Candyman. As the Bluray extras reveal, it’s a part he made his own though hard work, application and a genuine belief in the original story’s core concerns. Indeed, he laments the fact that fans see the Candyman movies as mere slasher flicks. This he says, is missing the point.
A different story
As an actor he’s taken by the overarching story’s central drama: the love story between Daniel Robitaille – a planation slave who is also a gifted artist – and Caroline the planation owner’s daughter. Daniel is hired to paint a portrait of a Caroline. Inevitably, they fall in love and she becomes pregnant.
Angered, the father sets a lynch mob on Daniel. It cuts off his hand, replaces it with a hook and finishes him off by smothering him in honey and setting a swarm of bees on him. Through some metaphysical fudging, Daniel becomes Candyman and he sets about revenging himself.
As a leading actor, Todd does his best. He throws in himself into each inevitable pre-execution speech about death, pain and the merits of suffering. Add in a musical score created by Philip Glass and the movie does incant moments of atmosphere.
The problem is, there’s not much of story wrapped around the second film’s regular and gruesome killings. What story there is just retells the original movie’s exploration of how Candyman came to be and why he’s knocking people off with such an impractical weapon.
As such, it all feels a bit like painting by numbers. Candyman himself – with all his vocal croaking and general swagger – is a solid slasher movie antihero. But he’s not in the premier league like Pinhead, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers. Add in a frankly ridiculous ending and you’re left with a movie that, at best, produces a few moments of style and quality.
Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh is out now on Blu-Ray in the UK, released by 88 Films. As is to be expected from the label, it boasts a solid transfer.
– Limited Edition O-Card slipcase [First Print Run Only]
– Limited Edition Collectors’ Booklet by Film Journalists Dave Wain and Matty Budrewicz [First Print Run Only]
– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
– DTS-HD MA 5.1 Soundtrack
– DTS-HD MA Stereo Audio
– Optional English SDH Subtitles
– Audio Commentary by Director Bill Condon
– The Candyman Legacy – Interview with Actor Tony Todd
– Down Memory Lane – Interview with Actress Veronica Cartwright
– Original Theatrical Trailer
It’s a solid selection of extras that fill you in on all the behind-the-scenes tidbits you’d ever want to know about the film.