Candyman Blu-ray Review
Seductive, hypnotic, visceral
Candyman Blu-ray Film Review
Candyman... Candyman... Candyman... Candyman...When Helen Lyle, upon researching her thesis on urban legends, hears of a serial killer called the ‘Candyman’ she unwittingly releases a monster into the world who is determined to make her part of his dominion.
Such is the one line synopsis for tonight’s feature, Candyman, but it doesn’t encapsulate writer-director, Bernard Rose’s own treatment. Embellishing on the source short story, The Forbidden, by Clive Barker, by adding a backstory to the titular character, changing the location to the projects of Chicago, thus bringing in degradation, swapping class for race, and filling out the themes of desire, notoriety and lust, while adding additional elements of supernatural (the chanting of the name); Candyman, the film, is, along with Hellraiser, perhaps the best interpretation of Barker’s dark writings.
As effective today as ever it was
Playing the lead of Helen is, Virginia Madsen, who was famously hypnotised during her seductions by the Candyman; the look she gives during these scenes is one of serene acceptance; no-one has looked as absorbed in the moment as Madsen does here. Candyman, himself, is played by the incredible Tony Todd, whose seductive voice and mannerisms so encapsulate the beast that it is difficult to imagine the monster; that is until you see the hook for a hand!
The story unfolds at a loving pace; just as Helen is being hypnotised by the Candyman, so too are the audience being seduced into sudden horror. The unseen killer, the gallons of blood, the inevitable race to destruction covered with some of the most wonderful imagery committed to film. And accompanying it all is that score. That seductive, hypnotic, incredible, score by Philip Glass, so out of place for horror, but so perfect for this film. When that score and those visuals combine, the result is cinematic art.
Despite being somewhat sullied by the two sequels, neither of which should ever have been made, the original Candyman is unadulterated horror and perfect in its execution. As effective today in terms of its themes, visuals and ability to shock. It truly is … sweets to the sweet.
Candyman Blu-ray Picture QualityThe disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 1.85:1 1080p/24 image using the AVC MPEG-4 codec and is a “2K restoration from a new 4K scan of the original negative, supervised and approved by Bernard Rose and DoP Anthony B. Richmond.” We reviewed the Blu-ray on a Panasonic 65DX902B Ultra HD 4K TV with a Panasonic DMP-UB400 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
The new scan is really quite good; there is tremendous detail on show, from the fine lines in Helen’s face, to the matted fur on Candyman’s coat, to the graffiti on the walls, to the many overhead establishing shots. Edges are held very well, with any occasional softness being part of the original filming process.
Colours are rich and bold, with all the primaries coming off extremely well, check out the reds of the blood – sickening in their deepness! The greens of the graffiti and the blues of the skies are equally as firm. You can actually tell Candyman’s coat is purple, I’ve only ever seen this as black before.
Brightness and contrast are, for the most part, terrific: there is nice depth to the frame, more than I have seen before, while the white end is bright without clipping. There is the rare occurrence of the blacks greying slightly, but normally they are deep, inky and holding just enough shadow detail to entice.
Digitally, there are no issues and the original source is clean and rigid with a nice organic grain structure. The best I’ve ever seen the picture.
Candyman Blu-ray Sound QualityTwo tracks to choose from, the original LPCM 2.0 mono, but I went with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround. First thing to say is how wide the separation of the frontal array is, giving rise to some terrific layering in the mix. I have to mention Philip Glass’ evocative, hypnotic and enigmatic score, which adds so much to the film, and is reproduced here with loving attention; the opening credits with their organ and chorus are simply wonderful – deep, organic and penetrating. The surrounds are used to place you deep within the well of the sound environment; it’s awesome.
Effects are taken care of with precision, the stingers are loud and energetic, while dialogue is clear, precise and held at the front. There are some nice ambient effects, such as the other diners in the restaurant, or the echoes around the cavernous lair, as well as the crackling of fire in the burning pyre, while bass it natural and deep - nowhere near as deep as some of the more bombastic titles, but strong nevertheless. It’s also great to have access to the original track as well.
Candyman Blu-ray ExtrasDisc 1
Audio Commentary - With writer-director Bernard Rose and actor Tony Todd; oh dear – it’s like two old men discussing the state of the world. There are only passing comments about the film, the pair discuss subjects as diverse as the state of celebrity, to which actors are dead and why Tony is bald; it’s quite a slog.
Audio Commentary - With Stephen Jones and Kim Newman, is by far better value; both have a genuine enthusiasm for the film and horror genre and their discussion is lively, varied and compliments the film at every turn.
Be My Victim - A brand new, ten minute, interview with Tony Todd, where he talks about his experience on the film, how he got the part, and all the bees.
It Was Always You, Helen - A brand new, 20 minute, interview with Virginia Madsen, who talks about her time on set, being hypnotised, working with the crew, her love for the film, and the bees.
The Writing on the Wall: The Production Design of Candyman - A brand new, five minute, interview with production designer Jane Ann Stewart, who talks about her inspiration, the size of the sets, how she got the job, and the bees.
Forbidden Flesh: The Makeup FX of Candyman – Brand new, 10 minute, interviews with special makeup effects artists Bob Keen, Gary J. Tunnicliffe and Mark Coulier; these three brits talk about their love of the craft, their affection for the film, the various ‘gags’ they made, including the Christian blacksmith who refused to hand over the hook he made for the film, as well as the chest cavity holding the bees.
A Story to Tell: Clive Barker’s The Forbidden – A 20 minute chat with writer Douglas E. Winter on Clive Barker’s seminal Books of Blood and Candyman’s source story, The Forbidden, who tells of his first meetings with the author, his interpretations, the differences between the source and film and its place in cinema history.
Urban Legend: Unwrapping Candyman – A 20 minute, critical analysis of the film with writers Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes, who ramble on and on about black culture and how the film is both different and the same regarding the treatment of black characters; what starts off as an interesting analysis soon devolves into a vocabulary war.
Bernard Rose short films – Three rarely seen early films, newly restored in HD: Looking at Alice (30 mins, 1978), A Bomb With No Name on It (3 mins, 1976) and The Wreckers (5 mins).
UK Theatrical Cut – A real coup, this! A slightly different cut of the film, originally passed by the BBFC for showing in UK cinemas and different from the US cut R-rated version presented on the other disc; the main difference is to the death of the psychiatrist by Candyman, which has a couple of different angles and is much gorier and visceral (it also has a drop in picture quality for the actual murder sequence).
The Cinema of Clive Barker: The Devine Explicit – A 30 minute interview with Clive Barker, looking like one of his own monstrous creations, as he discusses his contributions to cinema as well as other interpretations of his work.
Also as part of the Limited Edition release
Exclusive packaging featuring newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin.
6 Lobby Card reproductions.
Reversible, fold-out poster featuring two artworks.
Fully illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writings on the film by festival programmer Michael Blyth.
Limited Edition, perfect-bound booklet reproducing the original hand-painted storyboards by Bernard Rose.
Candyman Blu-ray VerdictRarely do films hold up against their literary source, but Bernard Rose’s treatment of Clive Barker’s The Forbidden is about as good as it gets. By altering location, giving backstory, heightening the tension and introducing new themes and ideas, Candyman is that most rare of horror films – it makes you think. Drawing on the basis of Barker’s ideas, that there is a hidden world of darkness just out of human view, and pulling an unwitting individual, in this case, Helen, into this world; we are drawn deeper into horror. With striking visuals, an utterly awesome score and a tangible sense of horror, Candyman is as effective today as ever it was.
Must have set for fans
This Limited Edition Blu-ray from Arrow is a real winner. The new 2K image is terrific with tremendous detail, strong colouring and terrific blacks, while the DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track is evocative, produces a deep surround field and has good bass. The extras package is magnificent; not only are there plenty of new interviews and features filmed specifically for this release, but there is a second disc with the original, gorier UK theatrical cut of the film, as well as booklets and images. For fans of the film, this is a must have set.
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