Scream Factory went deep on urban legends this week with three new releases including a beautifully loaded Collector’s Edition of Urban Legend (1998) — seriously, the feature length doc on here is aces — and a Blu-ray of its sequel Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000). Fans will be very pleased with both, but the label’s triumph this week is their Collector’s Edition of Clive Barker’s Candyman (1992). It features 2K restorations (from new 4K scans) of both the theatrical and unrated cuts of the film, and it looks stunning. Let’s dig in.
Helen (Virginia Madsen) is a grad student in Chicago preparing a paper on the subject and power of urban legends, and one name in particular has captured her attention. The crime-riddled housing project of Cabrini Green is a place police rarely visit, and the locals have come to blame (credit?) a figure named Candyman (Tony Todd) for the dread, misery, and bloody murders plaguing their lives. He reportedly appears if you say his name five times into a mirror, and in the name of research Helen does just that. Soon she’s seeing the hook-handed killer and finding herself trapped in his murderous scenarios, and soon she becomes the prime suspect in those killings.
Barker’s original London-set tale “The Forbidden” is transplanted to America to great and lasting effect making Candyman a literate horror film with heavy ideas and wet intestines. Writer/director Bernard Rose crafts a rare genre blend of beauty, social commentary, scares, and gore, and both sharp lead performances and a memorable Philip Glass score add to its power.
Todd’s character is more than just a hook-wielding killer. We learn of his tragic origin as an educated black man named Daniel Robitaille in post-Civil War America who dared to love a white woman. She loved him back, but the times and her father objected leading to Daniel’s gruesome torture and death and the hands of a mob and the stingers of angry bees. Pairing the character’s situation and demise with today’s poor, primarily black residents of Cabrini Green offers some not so subtle thoughts on racism and oppression. It’s occasionally clunky, but Rose’s sincerity along with the powerful visuals/score make it work despite the stumbles.
The film works as a terrific chiller even if you ignore the social commentary thanks to some grisly kills and terrifically atmospheric sequences. The legend of Candyman is built through references and the fearful words of believers, and by the time he actually appears on screen there’s a real power to his presence. Toss in some jump scares, some haunting production design, and some bloody bits and you have a modern horror gem.
Scream Factory’s new two-disc release is a stunner thanks to its absolutely gorgeous picture. Both cuts have the upgraded image, and both discs come loaded with extras. In addition to trailers, a still gallery, the script (BD-rom), we also get a ton of special features new and old.
- *NEW* Commentary with Writer/Director Bernard Rose and Actor Tony Todd
- *NEW* Commentary with Authors Stephen Jones and Kim Newman
- *NEW* Be My Victim [9:47] – Tony Todd talks about landing the role despite producers wanting “an Eddie Murphy-type” as well as how he and Virginia Madsen took lessons in ballroom dancing and fencing to help build the romance between them. He also says something interesting about director Bernard Rose — “I’m not going to make any excuses for his lack or depth of racial comparisons, but I know the man’s heart.”
- *NEW* It Was Always You, Helen [13:11] – Virginia Madsen was allergic to bee stings,wasn’t the first choice for the role, and ate a lot of pizza during pre-production because Bernard Rose wanted her to be “rounder.”
- *NEW* The Writing on the Wall: The Production Design of Candyman [6:22]
- *NEW* Forbidden Flesh: The Makeup FX of Candyman [8:02]
- *NEW* A Story to Tell: Clive Barker’s “The Forbidden” [18:39] – Writer/critic Douglas E. Winter talks about meeting Clive Barker,reading his Books of Blood collections for the first time, and the story behind Candyman.
- *NEW* Urban Legend: Unwrapping Candyman [20:41] – Writers Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes discuss the film in regard African American representation in horror.
- *NEW* Reflections in the Mirror with Kasi Lemmons [9:48]
- *NEW* A Kid in Candyman with DeJuan Guy [13:36]
- Commentary with Director Bernard Rose, Author Clive Barker, Producer Alan Poul and Actors Tony Todd, Virginia Madsen and Kasi Lemmons
- Commentary with Bernard Rose, Moderated by the Movie Crypt’s Adam Green and Joe Lynch
- Sweets to the Sweet: The Candyman Mythos [23:49]
- Clive Barker: Raising Hell [10:46]
- The Heart of Candyman [7:07]
- Bernard Rose’s Storyboards [5:22]