Candyman Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Written and directed by Bernard Rose
Based on a story by Clive Barker
1992, 99 minutes, Rated R
Released on November 20th, 2018
Virginia Madsen as Helen Lyle
Tony Todd as Candyman
Kasi Lemmons as Bernadette Walsh
Xander Berkeley as Trevor Lyle
Vanessa Williams as Anne-Marie McCoy
DeJuan Guy as Jake
Marianna Elliott as Clara
Ted Raimi as Billy
Helen Lyle is a graduate student in Chicago, working on her thesis on contemporary urban folklore. Working closely with her friend Bernadette, she comes across the story of Candyman, a legend that haunts the Cabrini Green housing project. A woman was recently murdered in her apartment there and police are unable to solve the case. The residents say Candyman killed her. Helen goes to investigate and is assaulted by gang members for her efforts. She tells young resident Jake that his fears are unjustified, as there is no boogeyman. Helen couldn’t be more wrong and is about to find out when the Candyman sets his sights on her. There is a new crime wave, only this time Helen catches the blame and is locked away in an asylum. Is she crazy or is she an innocent victim? Everyone has made up their minds about her and only Candyman can set her free.
Candyman is a lot of things; it is a gothic love story, it is a dark fantasy, it is a statement on American racism and most importantly it is a horror movie. This film is thoughtful and scary and lingers long after it is over. A modern day terror that takes place primarily during daylight hours, the Candyman can strike anywhere at any time – no place is safe. You can summon him if you dare by speaking his name five times while looking in a mirror. He is an alluring villain, quite charismatic and hypnotic. His appearance is regal as he wears a long black fur-lined coat and sports a large bloody hook where his right hand used to be. He is a commanding presence that overshadows the entire film even though he doesn’t appear until the forty-five-minute mark.
Written for the screen and directed by Bernard Rose (Paperhouse), Candyman has a lot to say about poverty, race and class in America. Based on the short story The Forbidden by Clive Barker (who serves as executive producer), the film is a horror picture that generates its scares through well-crafted suspense and shockingly brutal violence. In direct contrast to the gore is the haunting score by legendary composer Philip Glass, who fills the picture with piano and pipe organ themes that envelop viewers in the unfolding story with a confidence seldom found within the genre. Famed cinematographer Anthony B. Richmond (Don’t Look Now) works closely with Rose to deliver a gorgeous picture that is rich with atmosphere and striking in its beauty.
Virginia Madsen (Zombie High) stars as Helen Lyle, the confident and driven student who has her life turned upside down by a ghost. He comes for her, speaking haunting poetry, and places her in a deep trance whenever he is near. Madsen was hypnotized for real during their scenes together and her performance is quite believable. Tony Todd (Shadowbuilder) is the titular Candyman and brings an elegance to the role that is so very crucial to the story. His baritone voice wraps viewers in a soothing tone that renders his dark promises reasonable. Todd and Madsen share tremendous chemistry in this love story that unfolds in a series of compelling sequences that resonate with audiences.
In 1992, Barker was at the height of his popularity and Rose proved an excellent choice of writer/ director. The film introduced a new iconic villain that was actually scary and fresh. By setting the story in the crime-ridden neighborhoods of contemporary Chicago, the movie is unsettling and has a dangerous immediacy about it. It is fun to watch the picture from the perspective that there is no Candyman and we are simply watching Helen go mad. The film was an instant success and spawned two sequels, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995) and Candyman: Day of the Dead (1999). I dare you to say his name five times in the mirror, but if it delivers this new Blu-ray to your door, it will be worth the risk.
Video and Audio:
Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio and sporting a new 2K restoration from a 4K scan of the original camera negative, the film looks fantastic. There is a lot of small-object detail previously absent from earlier releases and contrast levels are sharp. Colors are bold and black levels are inky and this is the best the picture has ever looked.
An aggressive DTS-HD MA 5.1audio track is a welcome addition to a film that has only known 2.0 stereo mixes until now. The surround speakers get a healthy workout and music cues are robust. Candyman’s booming voice fills the room and dialogue levels are clear and free from distortion. A DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix is also available for those inclined.
Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
This is another fully-loaded special edition that spreads the extras across two discs. There is a combination of new and archival material presented and fans will be happy to discard all previous releases for this Collector’s Edition release.
Candyman comes with four audio commentary tracks, two new and two vintage, starting off with the 2018 recording from director Bernard Rose and actor Tony Todd. These two old friends have a lot to say about a great many things in this free-form conversation. Topics covered range from this movie to The Avengers, to politics, to the state of contemporary horror and even to the scandals of Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby and Kevin Spacey.
The second commentary features authors Stephen Jones and Kim Newman who provide a more academic look at the picture with their critical analysis that studies all aspects of the story. They compare and contrast the book to the film and point out many interesting facts about the picture.
The third track features Bernard Rose and Tony Todd joined by author Clive Barker, producer Alan Poul and actors Virginia Madsen and Kasi Lemmons. The participants are recorded separately and edited together to provide one solid narration.
The final commentary stars Bernard Rose, moderated by filmmakers Adam Green and Joe Lynch. This is a lively track, as Green and Lynch are huge fans of the picture and pepper Rose with tons of questions about the production and allow him the time to thoroughly answer in full.
Sweets to the Sweet: The Candyman Mythos (24 minutes) is a vintage documentary featuring Barker, Rose, Poul, Todd, Madsen and Lemmons, all eager to discuss the lasting legacy of the picture. There are lots of great stories here and it’s well worth checking out.
Author/ artist/ filmmaker Clive Barker sits down for the archival interview Raising Hell (11 minutes) in which he reflects on his time growing up in Liverpool and becoming a storyteller. He moves on to discuss his work as an author and working in the theatre and making short films before becoming a feature director with Hellraiser, and a producer on subsequent projects.
The Heart of Candyman (2014, 7 minutes) features actor Tony Todd discussing all things Candyman including the sequel. He talks about working with the bees and finding the character and life in Cabrini Green.
Bernard Rose’s storyboards (5 minutes) are full-color images detailing the shoot presented as a slideshow set to music from the film.
The theatrical trailer is included along with a series of TV spots.
A still gallery (66 images) begins with international poster artwork followed by a collection of lobby cards and publicity stills in color and black and white.
The original screenplay is included for those with BD-ROM capabilities.
This second disc holds the long-sought unrated cut of the picture that contains a few seconds of additional bloodshed during the psychiatrist scene. This is the only difference from the theatrical cut, but fans will be happy to have the viewing option.
Be My Victim (10 minutes) is a brief 2018 interview with actor Tony Todd that is overly padded with clips from the film. There’s not a lot of new information here, but Todd remains a gentleman and repeats a lot of the stories he has told in past interviews.
Leading lady Virginia Madsen sits down for the all-new interview It Was Always You, Helen (13 minutes) and has a lot to say about this beloved project. She admits to being hypnotized during production and shares her thoughts on working with the bees. She reveals the difficulty in shooting the fire make-up sequences and talks about the joy of working with Tony Todd. This is a nice segment that fans will enjoy watching.
The Writing on the Wall (6 minutes) finds production designer Jane Ann Stewart sharing tales of her work on the film. She focuses on the apartment sets as well as the titular villain’s lair and the elaborate sets built. She also talks about the multiple locations used for the climactic bonfire sequence.
Make-up artists Bob Keen, Gary J. Tunnicliffe and Mark Coulier reveal secrets of their work in Forbidden Flesh: The Make-Up FX of Candyman (8 minutes). They share fond memories of the production and working with bees. There is discussion on the design of the iconic hook and the elaborate chest appliance revealing Candyman’s rotting torso.
Actress Kasi Lemmons sits down for the segment Reflections in the Mirror (10 minutes) in which she discusses her time on the project. She praises her director and co-stars and shares the difficulties of filming her death scene. She has nothing but nice things to say and seems genuinely happy to share her stories.
A Kid in Candyman (14 minutes) catches up with former child actor DeJuan Guy, who played young Jake in the film. He talks about shooting conditions in Cabrini Green, working with Virginia Madsen and some of the long hours involved in making the picture. He admits to being too scared to watch the film at the premiere and shares stories of his wide-ranging fan base.
Author Douglas E. Winter reflects on Clive Barker’s seminal Books of Blood and Candyman’s source story in this new segment A Story to Tell: Clive Barker’s The Forbidden (19 minutes). He points out the differences from book to film including characters, location and the importance of race. Winter also comments on Barker as an artist and his thoughts on Bernard Rose as a filmmaker. This is a thoughtful segment that is truly enjoyable.
In Urban Legend: Unwrapping Candyman (21 minutes) writers Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes provide a different critical analysis of the film and its lasting legacy. The intellectual discussion is fascinating and covers a lot of ground including diversity, classic themes of black on white crime, poverty and poor living conditions. They talk about what the film got right in terms of race relations and how it would be different if made in today’s environment. This is a nice addition to the package and definitely worth checking out.