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Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh

Review by: 
Head Cheeze
Release Date: 
Scream Factory
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Bill Condon
Tony Todd
Kelly Rowan
Veronica Cartwright
Bottom Line: 

1992's Candyman was one of the classier, sexier slasher films, with a conflicted antagonist who - thanks to Tony Todd’s whispery delivery and charmisma - was even, at times, seductive. Despite the first film’s Chicago locale, there was still a sense of the exotic injected into the proceedings, painting the city’s fabled Cabrini Green housing projects as something of a world apart – an impoverished and vaguely surreal  place where someone like the mythical Candyman would feel right at home. Of course, we eventually found out that Cabrini Green was merely but a pit stop on a very long journey for the Candyman, and that his true origins lay elsewhere. This is where Bill Condon’s underrated Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh came in.

In the days before Mardi Gras, an author is violently murdered after playfully “summoning” the killer during a lecture on his recent book about the Candyman myth. This draws the interest of Annie (Kelly Rowan), when paranoid brother, Ethan (William O’Leary) - who believes Candyman responsible for the death of their father many years earlier – is charged with the crime based on a heated exchange he’d had with the author prior to his death. Desperate to clear her brother’s name, as well as discover just what the connection is between her family and Candyman, Annie has no choice but to invite him into her world, where she learns not only of his origins, but of the horrible secret her family has harbored for generations.

Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor in terms of scares and substance, but it certainly doesn’t lack in style and atmosphere, thanks, primarily, to its haunting New Orleans locales which are gorgeously shot by veteran cinematographer, Tobias A. Schliessler. The city oozes life, becoming a character unto itself, and makes for the perfect backdrop for the tragic origin of the Candyman. Todd’s given much more screen time, here, and is really able to flex his acting muscles, especially during the admittedly hard-to-watch flashback scenes in which we see how his tortured antagonist came to be. While the chemistry between he and Annie isn’t quite as palpable as that which he shared with the first film’s Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen), there’s obviously a “history” here, and it’s handled with a deft hand by Condon.

If I’ve any real complaints about the film it’s that, while still somewhat compelling, the story isn’t nearly as captivating as that of the first film. I’m also not a fan of giving away too much in regards to a slasher antagonist as, for me, part of what makes them so terrifying lay in the mystery that surrounds them. Obviously Candyman isn’t a faceless, indiscriminate killing machine in the Michael Myers or Jason mold, so one has to expect a certain amount of backstory, but I still feel that revealing too much about a character like this robs them of what makes them so terrifying in the first place, and, by film’s end, Candyman becomes something of a tragic antihero rather than the conflicted supernatural being that sold me on the character in the first place. Still, as sequels go, it’s certainly better than average, and Todd brings his A-game, here, making it one of the actor’s best offerings.

Scream Factory presents Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh on Blu-ray in a solid 1.85:1 1080p transfer that retains the somewhat gauzy dreamlike aesthete Condon was going for, resulting in a mostly soft image that isn’t exactly teeming with fine detail, but is mostly pleasing and consistent with a warm and inviting color palette and no signs of any major print damage. Paired with a spacious and well-mixed DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, the film looks and sounds as good as one could expect.

Scream Factory includes a very nice collection of extras, including an informative (if not occasionally rambling) commentary from Condon (carried over from the MGM DVD), as well as a pair of new interview featurettes – the first being a lengthy sitdown with star, Tony Todd, as well as a short-but-sweet interview with Veronica Cartwright, who plays Annie’s mother (and the guardian of their family secret). Rounding out the extras is the film’s theatrical trailer. All bonus features are presented in 1080p HD.

While I still favor the original, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh is a logical next step in the franchise, giving fans all of the gruesome details behind the hook-handed killer’s transformation from man to murderous myth, while giving Tony Todd a lush and atmospheric Big Easy backdrop against which to flex his acting muscles. Scream Factory’s Blu-ray offers much-improved sights and sounds over its DVD predecessor, and the new bonus materials make it that much more of an essential upgrade for fans of the series. 

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