Release Date(s)1992 (November 20, 2018)
Studio(s)TriStar Pictures/Universal Pictures (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: A+
Challenging the norm of what a horror film could be during a time when there was a glut of mindless slasher films still being produced, Candyman, based upon Cliver Barker’s story The Forbidden, is a genre-defiant blend of horror, love story, race relations, and urban legends. Not only did the film give horror fans a new figure to fear, but it also reaffirmed to critics and audiences that horror could be more than blondes in tight t-shirts running from masked maniacs with machetes.
Stumbling upon the urban legend of Candyman, whose lore contends that saying his name five times in a mirror will allow him to appear and murder you, college student Helen (Virginia Madsen) and a fellow student Bernie (Kasi Lemmons) decide to follow up on a claim about the legend at a dangerous urban housing project. After Helen and Bernie decide to put the legend to the test, Helen begins seeing the Candyman in an almost trance-like state. Waking up from these encounters, she finds herself blamed for the brutal and bloody murders that take place at the hand and hook of the Candyman. But at the same time, the Candyman has other plans for Helen.
Candyman is, without a doubt, one of the finest horror films of the 1990s. Nontraditional in every sense of the word, it’s less about a supernatural villain and more about a love story between two lost souls amidst violence and bloodshed. Tony Todd is tailor-made to play the role of Candyman. With his deep, booming voice and handsomely regal look, he embodies the role with the greatest of ease. The beautiful but vulnerable Virginia Madsen is wonderful as the curious and troubled Helen, the potential object of Candyman’s undying affections.
Candyman is also a perfect blending of source material and director. Clive Barker’s original story is less about race, even taking place in Liverpool, while Bernard Rose’s interpretation takes place in Chicago and deals exclusively with race, even filming in the infamous Cabrini-Green housing projects, which were well-known at the time for the amount of gang violence that took place there. The icing on the cake is a breathtakingly beautiful choir/piano score by Phillip Glass – one of the finest scores ever crafted for a horror film. And even though sequels were almost inevitable, the original film stands tall as a one-off masterpiece that, thankfully, wasn’t diluted by its follow-ups. Even the film’s ending pokes fun at what could be have been done with a traditional sequel, which was apparently ignored by the powers that be.
A long-awaited title to make the leap to high definition, Candyman comes to Blu-ray from Scream Factory with transfers for two versions of the film (R-rated and unrated), both taken from a brand new 2K restoration from a new 4K scan of the original camera negative, which was supervised and approved by writer/director Bernard Rose and director of photography Anthony B. Richmond. Needless to say, it’s a major upgrade. Grain levels are much more even with amazing depth and detail, even in darker sequences, while overall brightness and contrast is perfect. The image is incredibly stable with no obvious leftover instances of damage or debris. The color timing has been altered in several scenes compared to previous versions of the film. It’s dramatically different in one scene which is now made to appear darker than it was, but according to one of the audio commentaries, Bernard Rose insists that the color grading for the home video versions of the film have always been incorrect. It’s also mildly different in other places, and there’s a black frame that appears at the 1:35:15 mark (in both cuts). The unrated version of the film extends one sequence by only a few seconds, which has been taken from a lower-source print.
The audio for both versions comes with two options: English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH. Both tracks offer plenty of sonic goodness, with particular regards to the score, but the 5.1 manages to inject the experience with subtlety and rear speaker activity. Todd’s deep, bass-inducing voice is in full effect, giving your subwoofer a workout, while other sound effects have plenty of spark to them as well. Dialogue is clear and discernable all throughout, and there are no instances of distortion. It’s an excellent presentation.
This release also comes with a large amount of bonus material. Disc One, which contains the R-rated theatrical version of the film, features a new audio commentary with writer/director Bernard Rose and actor Tony Todd, which is fantastic as they barely talk about the film and just catch up on current events and recent movies; another new audio commentary with authors Stephen Jones and Kim Newman, who offer up plenty of great anecdotes; a vintage audio commentary with Bernard Rose, Clive Barker, producer Alan Poul, and actors Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd, and Kasi Lemmons, which has been cut together from different recordings; a fourth audio commentary with Bernard Rose, moderated by Adam Green and Joe Lynch of The Movie Crypt podcast; Sweets to the Sweet: The Candyman Mythos, a 24-minute vintage featurette about the film; Clive Barker: Raising Hell, an 11-minute interview with the author/producer/director about his career; The Heart of Candyman, a 7-minute interview with Tony Todd, which is a shortened version of a longer interview carried over from Scream Factory’s previous Blu-ray of Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh; a 5 1/2 minute video showcasing Bernard Rose's storyboards for the film; the full screen theatrical trailer; 3 TV spots; a still gallery containing 62 images of posters, lobby cards, on-set photos, and behind the scenes shots; and the film’s original script, accessible via BD-ROM.
Disc Two, which contains the unrated director’s cut of the film, is made up entirely of new material. There’s Be My Victim, a 10-minute interview with Tony Todd and It Was Always You, Helen, a 13-minute interview with Virginia Madsen, with both covering some of the same territory as the previous featurettes and commentaries, but with a recent look at both of them; The Writing on the Wall: The Production Design of Candyman, a 7-minute interview with production designer Jane Ann Stewart, who lets us know that the restroom scene was a bit too much for her; Forbidden Flesh: The Makeup FX of Candyman, an 8-minute interview with effects artists Bob Keen, Mark Coulier, and Gary J. Tunnicliffe, briefly going over their work on the film, including an amusing incident involving the creation of Candyman’s hook; A Story to Tell: Clive Barker’s The Forbidden, a 19-minute interview with critic/author Douglas E. Winter, who expertly and passionately compares the film and the original story; Urban Legend: Unwrapping Candyman, a 21-minute interview with lecturer/author Tananarive Due and author/screenwriter Steven Barnes, which is a free-form discussion about how African American filmmakers might make the film today, and how they felt about the original when it was released; Reflections in the Mirror, a 10-minute interview with Kasi Lemmons, who is charming and happy to talk about her experiences making the film; and A Kid in Candyman, a 14-minute interview with Dejuan Guy, which is a definite highlight as he hilariously talks about how he got the role of the young boy in the film and what it was like working with the other actors at his age.
Released concurrently with Arrow Video’s Region B Blu-ray release, Screan Factory's Blu-ray contains most of the same extras, but not all. It doesn’t include audio in 2.0 LPCM; the Bernard Rose short films A Bomb with No Name on It, The Wreckers, and Looking at Alice; The Cinema of Clive Barker: The Divine Explicit, a 29-minute interview with Barker; a double-sided poster; an insert booklet containing Bernard Rose’s storyboards; another insert booklet with an essay on the film by Michael Blyth; and 6 lobby card reproductions.
Scream Factory’s release of Candyman offers fans a gorgeous new presentation of the film with a mountain of extras to chip away at. It’s an excellent film with a dynamite package to house it all in and, without a doubt, comes highly recommended!
– Tim Salmons