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Candyman: Farewell To The Flesh (Blu-ray Review)

Candyman-2One of my absolute favorite horror films of all time is the original Candyman.  Its quite possibly my favorite thing that Clive Barker has ever been associated with when it comes to film.  That film still works today, and is an absolutely engaging and terrifying endeavor.  When I was a kid I had trouble looking in mirrors for a while after seeing that movie.  The film also created one of the last great and iconic horror villains before the Scream era, in Tony Todd’s Candyman.  I still find it this way, but back in the 90s when the sequel was announced, I had found the original film so perfect, that I was against this follow up as that I thought it would taint the legacy of the original.  So, I didn’t see it til later on VHS when it came out for rental.  My only memory of it was that it was nowhere near as good as the first one, but I found further respect for it once they dropped that third one years later.  Scream Factory has given me the opportunity to revisit this follow-up to the my perfect original, and I couldn’t think of a better guide.

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Film 

Professor Philip Purcell is murdered in a pub bathroom by Candyman after mockingly summoning him during his book signing and presentation, Ethan Tarrant is accused of the murder (since his furious public confrontation of Purcell over the subject due to his father’s murder possibly being Candyman related).  Ethan’s sister, Annie has one of her students start to see the Candyman. In order to disprove to herself that the Candyman exists, she says his name five times in front of a mirror, summoning him to New Orleans on the eve of Mardi Gras, where the killings begin.

Candyman’s sophomore outing manages to be a more genre-esque tale, recreating some of the goods from the original, less artful and more pulpy.  It gives the character a new and different environment to use as his playground.  The most important thing about the sequel is that it has a story that seems to give itself a purpose and reason to exist aside from cashing in and keeping the character alive onscreen.  While Farewell To The Flash gives us new kills that are a bit more blunt than the first, its new characters have a nice tie and reason to be around and we also get to take a look further into the backstory of our monster.

Tony Todd returns and is once again great as the titular character even if the material feels a little bit of a step down from the predecessor.  Todd is asked to speak and deliver more exposition this time around.  He works in the same way as that of a Dracula would, seducing his pray and being compelling enough for the characters onscreen not to attack him, but to be intrigued by what he’s offering.  Hell, I’d love to see Tony Todd play Dracula now thinking about it.  He’s who you come to see these movies for, and he’s picked up right where he left off last time.  The only thing that was off was his change of costume, which I don’t know why they didn’t try to replicate the coat from the first one, but it looks like the sort of “hip” change that happened to Snake Plissken from NY to LA.

This movie came out in 1995, which clocks it in as one of the last pure horror films (slasher, whathaveyou) before Scream came and changed the game the following December in 1996.  I’m not being any sort of exaggerative when I tell you horror was in the shitter at this time.  It was on its last legs, and things were looking toward straight to video for most of the genre.  Most of the films at the time’s quality was even reminiscent of that too.  While I’m going to come out and say, that for its time and where horror was at, Farewell To The Flesh is actually a pretty quality release, it does look and feel very much like  straight to video sequel and not like something that debuted at #2 at the box office its opening weekend.  Horror during 1989-1995 was very much in the dumps, but this many years removed from it has proven and interesting time period to revisit and study and figure out what just wasn’t working and also on the positive side, finding things that were maybe misunderstood at the time or ahead of their time.

There’s a pretty solid mystery developing here in Farewell To The Flesh, even if it does lean in the realm of being a tad predictable.  I found it actually cool to see the origins of the killer and sort of dig his ties to the main character.  This isn’t the outright masterpiece the first film was by any stretch of the means, but as a B-grade horror film from the 90s, its actually pretty entertaining material and good enough to suffice as worthy to the canon.  Many horror franchises were rock bottom at this juncture, but Candyman was able to at least put out somewhat of quality product, even if it really only is something for hardcore horror fans.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail: This one looks just fine.  It has that look that many 90s films tend to carry over to Blu-ray when you can’t put an overload of work in them.  The picture is impressive, but not outright gorgeous or jaw-dropping as we come to love about the format.  Its not this film’s fault, its just that the era it came from doesn’t tend to lend itself that way a lot of the time, especially for lower budgeted affair.  Having said that, Candyman 2 is rather nicely detailed and looks well above average on Blu-ray.

Depth: There are some nice looks at New Orleans here, and some interior shots that reflect a good amount of 3 dimensional appeal.

Black Levels: Blacks are pretty rich and a little consuming.

Color Reproduction: Colors are very natural feel sort of muted.  Aside from blood, there’s nothing really vibrant or striking about them.

Flesh Tones: Natural, with plenty of detail, including bee stings, cuts, scratches and stubble.

Noise/Artifacts:  Some light specs throughout and a thin layer of grain.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  The 5.1 track on Farewell To The Flesh is a bit of an eye opener with how detailed it is.  There’s plenty of detail and you can’t sit and compare it to some modern action fare like a Transformers movie, but for what they’re dealing with, Candyman 2 sounds really impressive.  There’s a good approach and delivery of the score and a great balance in place for the sound, vocals and music.  We’ll go into it in the other sections, but the finale here is outstanding to experience/listen to and is one of the highlights of ANY Scream Factory audio track ever produced.

Low Frequency Extension:  Crashing, jumps, jolts and some extra bass-y love on the Gothic score.  Also the sound of water pumping through gets an extra push.  It also adds to the menace of the house crashing down in the end.

Surround Sound Presentation: Let’s just skip to the climax.  Holy wow, there’s some really intricate work going on here throughout all 5 channels.  Different water flowing sounds and crushing and crashing is coming from all over and it actually is accurate to the environment displayed onscreen.  The end of this movie was a fantastic and impressive experience to sit through.  I did not expect this, and was pretty impressed.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Clean and center-focused.

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Extras 

Candyman: Farewell To The Flesh comes with a reversible cover featuring an alternate poster image.

Audio Commentary

  • By Director Bill Condon

The Candyman Legacy With Tony Todd (HD, 25:55) – Tony Todd’s interview is worth the price of this release alone.  He talks a great bit about the Candyman series, but also delves into his early beginnings as an actor and also what its like to be such an iconic horror character (He does his grocery shopping at night because of it).  Tony is a great man, one I’ve always admired and enjoyed talking to, and this interview really captures his essence perfectly.

Down Memory Lane With Veronica Cartwright (HD, 10:44) – The legendary actress discusses a little bit on her work in Alien and with Hitchcock (The Birds).  She talks about how she met Bill Condon, shooting in New Orleans for the film, her character and shooting her death scene with Tony Todd.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:54)

More From Scream Factory – Trailers for The Phantom Of The Opera, Dolls and Squirm

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Summary 

Some of you may be bummed that you can’t get the first Candyman on Blu-ray…but you actually can as it has a Region-Free UK release.  Scream Factory’s release of Farewell To The Flesh is pretty great without being of the “Collector’s Edition” series as it features most of what you’re truly wanting from those anyway.  The movie looks good and impressively sounds fantastic in its 5.1 mix.  The Tony Todd interview on the bonus materials is reason alone to purchase this release, if not just for the film itself.  I actually found myself enjoying the film much more than I did back int he 90s (Still doesn’t even come within 4 states over of being as good), and for the era it came from, its a pretty good horror movie.  You definitely need to take this journey to Candyman’s past with this release!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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