Saturday, June 1, 2013

MR:Quickies Candyman series

Time for another look at a slasher film series!

This time the sadly overlooked under-appreciated other series imagined by Clive Barker.

S L A S H E R S related reviews!

If most slasher films are actually B-movies, with all the cheesy stories and cheap wooden acting you'd expect for such films, this franchise has actually one foot in a much more serious category. And for a good reason, since it originally started as a proper horror story. Although by the end of the trilogy I wouldn't say the same...

Not unlike the Hellraiser series, Candyman is an horror film originally based on another Clive Barker's short story. To be precise, "The Forbidden" from 1984.

For the film the setting was changed from England to Chicago. But overall the general idea and tone were kept very much intact.

The story revolves around an urban legends turned a reality. Of the Candyman killer. But there is more to this legend than expected...

A slave. An artist. And now a slasher serial killer... The Candyman is coming..

It's a pretty original horror film series. More than your usual dumbed down slasher flicks, more of an horror tale.

Movie title: Candyman 
Directed by Bernard Rose
Release date 1992
Genre horror

The story follows Helen Lyle, a student who is currently writing a thesis on urban legends.

While doing some research on superstitions she come upon a local legend of the "Candyman".

What she unexpectedly uncovers appear to be several pieces from usual legends linked into this Candyman story.

One night with a friend she tries summoning "it" in front of a mirror (in a similar way to the Bloody Mary legend). She says his name five times, but nothing really happens...

She starts to dig some more information on this mysterious figure with a hook-hand. She discovers the Candyman was said to be the son of a slave who came up with a lot of money during the Civil War. This black man was then able to enter the richer "polite society" class. He became an artist. And fall in love with a white woman. She got pregnant. And that's when problems arose.

He was the victim of a lynch mob who took care of his beloved. They cut off his painting hand and dipped him in honey to have him stung to death by bees...

Later on, Helen's researches bring her to the Cabrini–Green housing project. She meets with some residents when they are interrupted by a gang. Their leader is actually going by the name "Candyman". Could this entire myth be false?

But when the real Candyman finally appears to Helen, it apparently looks real!

Candyman starts killing people one by one, the body count rises quickly.

He wants to use Helen to carry out his legend and thus bring back fear into the community.

In the end, Helen is able to kill him, put him on fire for good.

Some time passes. While fooling around, the Candyman is summoned, but it looks like Helen has now become an urban legend of her own..!? Armed with the killed hook, she is now also part of the folklore herself..!

Overall: It's definitively a classic!

The film was directed by Bernard Rose who only had the intriguing Paperhouse on his resume at the time.

To keep a certain quality (unlike some later Hellriser films), the film was produced by Clive Barker himself.

They originally wanted Eddie Murphy for the main role, but couldn't afford him.. and thank god for that! Instead the great Tony Todd got the role. Funny fact, even Ted Raimi appears in this film in a little role as "Billy".

It's not necessary a gory film like so many slashers rely upon these days. But a truly scary experience at its heart.

Philip Glass was asked to compose the music for this film by Bernard Rose directly. It's a fantastic score that perfectly suits the film. Glass went for a more gothic appropriate approach which really pays off in the atmosphere of the film.

Tony Todd did a fantastic job, I really think the entire film (series) rests on his shoulders. HE really personifies this lost soul, gives this unusual killer a great deep voice and some character that brought the Candyman to life.

It's a very grown up horror film. You won't find no silly parties nor cliché teens here. It's about a man resurrect through the myth he became. Changed into something else. Because the Candyman was a good man before, unlike the Micheals and other Freddies.

The movie proved to be a huge unexpected success back in the day. Easily one of the best intelligent horror films from the 1990s..

Truly one of the best of the genre.

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Movie title: Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh 
Directed by Bill Condon
Release date 1995
Genre slasher horror

This time the story is about a certain Annie Tarrant.

Her father was murdered in New Orleans. The way he was killed appear to be similar to the fashion the Candyman killer was said to strike his victims, but nobody would believe that theory.

A professor Philip Purcell is also killed in a similar way after telling of the Candyman legend to his students. Annie's brother is accused.

But when other students start to see the Candyman as well, Annie decides to investigate on her own to prove her brother's innocence.

On the eve of Mardi Gras, she calls him forth five times in front of a mirror. It works. Her husband is quickly killed.

The Candyman is revealed to be a Daniel Robitaille, the son of a slave on the Robitaille Plantation in New Orleans. We find out he apparently got the chance to paint the portrait of the landowner's daughter Caroline. Soon an affair began between them. The girl got pregnant. So Daniel was tortured by a mob and chased out of town. They cut his painting hand with a rusty saw. They dipped him in honey, which prompted a kid to shout "Candy Man!" at him. The landowner then tauted him in front of a mirror as Daniel ushered his last words. "Candy Man.."

The mirror became his spiritual medium, which allows his soul to now fight back people who call upon him.

But Caroline had a daughter, Isabel. Isabel was raised as a white person. Annie turns out to be a descendant of Daniel, the great great grandaughter of Caroline.

Which explains why Candyman has now decided to stalk her....

Overall: Farewell to the Flesh is not a direct sequel of the first film since it doesn't follow on the "Helen as Candyman" plot hinted at in the twist ending of the previous installment. Which makes it a nice stand alone film.

Candyman 2 expands upon the myth glimpsed in the original, and reveals more about the Candyman's origins.

It was directed by Dreamgirls' director Bill Condon, behind such classics as The Man Who Wouldn't Die and Gods and Monsters.

Tony Todd returned once again in the role of the titular character. Still as awesome and impressive as this boogeyman figure.

It's a tale that revolves around resurrection and the afterlife this time. (which are the overall themes of the whole series actually)

The music was once again signed by Philip Glass. The film actual uses the original score Glass composed for the first film which was rejected by the previous film's director and got remixed a bit. The original cues are still here, but as originally intended. With 4 new themes along. It's a great soundtrack.

Despite not being as good as the original, the film still has some great twists and surprises in it. It does feel a bit more straightforward this time.

The story still worked and was a nice addition in the end.

It's a pretty good horror movie, albeit it's more of a classic slasher sequel this time.

I liked how the Candyman wanted to have Annie's relation to his past revealed, to solidify his urban legend into a reality.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Movie title: Candyman 3: Day of the Dead
Directed by Turi Meyer
Release date 1999
Genre slasher horror

The Candyman is back!

The ghost of the Candyman comes back during the Day of the Dead.

This time, the story takes place in Los Angeles, in an art gallery. The owner Caroline McKeever  appears to be Annie Tarrant's daughter.

So the Candyman now wants to claim her soul.

Candyman starts killing various people associated with her, starting with her artist/boyfriend, and then her roomate.

The authorities think Caroline is behind these killings thinking her responsible of prejudice against minorities.

Caroline tries to tell everybody about the Candyman, but nobody believe her as you'd imagine...

Overall: This third episode was actually a straight to video, although this low budget sequel wasn't actually supposed to be at first. It was directed by some no-name director Turi Meyer (who is that guy?).

Although Candyman 3 had some good ideas, the problem is that it seems to recycle a lot of scenes from the first two films.

If only the screenwriters could have just gone back to what made the original Clive Barker a classic...

The music was composed this time by Adam Gorgoni. And it's probably the weakest aspect of the film to me, no doubt.

And they turned the Candyman into this Michael Myers wannabee by having the story revolve around his family. What a sad turn of events for such an original series.

Day of the Dead tries to by a gore fest.. It really doesn't suit Candyman in my eyes.

The film was - of course -Tony Todd's least favorite entry (but what would you expect?).

Candyman 3 is miles away from the first one.

The best part is probably the creepy cover art/poster on the DVD case.

I give this one a: 1.5 / 3 Score!

And that is all for the Candyman.

Candyman... Candyman... Candyman... Candyman... Candyman...!

It's only a short lived trilogy and never had as many episodes as most slasher film series, but I think it's for the best. The stories didn't strand to far from the original. And they're all pretty much watchable from start to finish (yes, even the third one).

The Candyman was immortalized as many of his horror monster-brothers in a series of McFarlane Toys and other NECA action figures memorabilia for collectors and fans alike.

Since then, the series has been kinda forgotten over the years. I wish more people could know about the Candyman.

Although horror remakes are quite a popular trend these days.. I only fear it would lose so much from the original 1990s sensibilities in a "modernization". Plus nobody could effectively replace Tony Todd in my eyes...

Thinking about it.. I would much rather prefer a stand alone 4th entry or even see no new film at all be made.

That's all for this time's Quickies!

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