Often considered one of the greatest of the horror movie boogey men, Candyman probably would have been a swing and miss were it not for the gravitas that Tony Todd exudes with every performances he takes on. “Candyman” is one of the more genuinely eerie and gruesome ghost stories of the 1990’s that also doubles as a gory slasher. It’s a great fit for a decade where horror was mostly a serious affair and audiences were looking for more novel, entertaining fare to get lost in. “Candyman” is one of the few genuine slasher icons of the nineties that was able to keep the horror genre mostly afloat. While the sequels leave a lot to be desired, it’s hard to top what sense of terror the original from Bernard Rose brings to the table.
Graduate student Helen is doing a thesis on urban legends and folklore and makes friends with Anne-Marie Coy, who is also committing to research centered on superstitions. The research leads them to a rundown housing project on Chicago’s North Side, and the pair begins digging deep in to the dark history of the neighborhood. While trying to uncover the truth behind a mysterious murder, Helen learns the murder is not just folklore, but an incident in line with the neighborhood boogeyman known as Candyman. Candyman is an enigmatic hook wielding being who holds a mysterious presence in the neighborhood of Cabrini Green, and the deeper Helen gets in to the mystery of how his legend was born, the scarier her life soon becomes.
“Candyman” is not just a ghost story but a look at the power of folklore, and how many legends often have a trickle of truth in their very core. With Candyman, it’s a very relevant and gruesome tale of a slave lynched and consumed by bees, doing everything in his power to wreak vengeance beyond the grave. Todd only appears for a few scenes here and there, but the character of Candyman is so well established thanks to Todd’s sheer intimidating presence and gruff voice that makes every bit of dialogue sound like some kind of demonic incantation. Candyman is never really a villain nor a tragic figure, but a twisted amalgam of so many forces and bad energy that once he’s been conjured, it’s impossible to beckon him back to his realm. Director Rose explores the meaning and inherent truths of urban folklore, as the stain that heinous crimes can have on us and the legacies of certain groups of people.
It’s never outright stated but the heavy implication is that Candyman and his entity is a plague on the neighborhood he haunts and it has slowly rotted not only the complex, but the people seeking some kind of normality. That, of course becomes impossible the deeper Helen becomes entrenched with the myth, and becomes an unwilling target of the entity. Rose’s direction is dripping with suspense and tension, making Helen’s descent in to the world of Candyman dark and incredibly violent. “Candyman” is a great, stand out horror film of its decade. It’s an incredibly creepy and engrossing mystery about the weight of urban legends, and the stain that terrible crimes can leave behind. And let’s face it, Tony Todd as Candyman is in a class all his own.
Scream Factory packs this new edition with a ton of features as well as two cuts of “Candyman.” Disc one features the theatrical cut, along with various commentaries. There’s a commentary with Writer-Director Bernard Rose and Actor Tony Todd, a commentary with Stephen Jones and Kim Newman, a commentary with Director Bernard Rose, Author Clive Barker, Producer Alan Poul and Actors Tony Todd, Virginia Madsen and Kasi Lemmons, and a commentary with Director Bernard Rose, Moderated By The Movie Crypt’s Adam Green and Joe Lynch. “Sweets To The Sweets: The Candyman Mythos” is a twenty four minute retrospective and mini-doc on the making of the film with insights and anecdotes from director Bernard Rose, producer Alan Poul, executive producer Clive Barker, actors Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd and Kasi Lemmons. It very quickly discusses the sequels. “Clive Barker: Raising Hell” is a ten minute interview with Clive Barker, who discusses his life, and inspirations for his creations.
“The Heart of Candyman” is an interview with Tony Todd from the 2014 interview for the Blu-Ray release of “Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh” by Scream Factory. There are Bernard Rose’s storyboards, the original theatrical trailer, TV Spots, a Still Gallery, and finally the original script on BD-Rom. Disc two features the Director’s Cut along with the ten minute “Be My Victim,” an interview with Tony Todd who admits they were originally going for an “Eddie Murphy Type” for Candyman. “It Was Always You, Helen” is an interview with Virginia Madsen who goes in to detail making the film, her admiration for it then and now, her working with bees, and how she ate a lot of pizza since the producers wanted her heavier for the role. “The Writing On The Wall: The Production Design Of Candyman” is a six minute interview with production designer Jane Ann Stewart who explains her challenges with finding the right person for the job and working toward impressing people with the movie.
“Forbidden Flesh: The Makeup FX Of Candyman” features interviews with special makeup effects artists Bob Keen, Gary J. Tunnicliffe and Mark Coulier, who went to this movie directly after working on “Hellraiser III.” There’s “A Story To Tell: Clive Barker’s “The Forbidden”” a discussion with writer Douglas E. Winter who discusses Clive Barker’s “Books of Blood” and the source story for “Candyman” called “The Forbidden.” There’s “Urban Legend: Unwrapping Candyman” a critical analysis of the film with writers Tananarive Due And Steven Barnes, both of whom dive deep in to the racial perceptions and connotations of the film both positively and negatively. “Reflections In The Mirror With Kasi Lemmons” is a ten minute interview with the film’s co-star, who discusses her career achievements, and how she considers the movie revolutionary for its time. Finally there’s “A Kid In Candyman With Dejuan Guy,” a discussion with the actor, his auditioning process, and the limitations of child acting with the movie. It’s a lengthy but great interview.