THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
"CANDYMAN: FAREWELL TO THE FLESH"
The 1992 horror film Candyman, based on a Clive Barker short story, was a creepy, smarter-than-average variation on the slasher flick. It did well enough at the box office to spawn two sequels, the more notable of them being 1995's Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, which now comes to Blu-Ray from Scream Factory with some fun bonus features included.
Kelly Rowan plays Annie Tarrant, a New Orleans school teacher whose father was murdered years ago. Her brother, Ethan (William O'Leary), believes Candyman (Tony Todd) may be the culprit. Annie doesn't believe in the urban legend, and to prove it to one of her students, she speaks his name five times into a mirror – an act that is supposed to summon him. The hook-handed killer does indeed arrive eventually, leaving a path of destruction in his wake. Trying to find a way to make him go away again causes Annie to discover some shocking family secrets, as well as the truth about her father's death.
The most interesting thing about Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh today is that it was directed by Bill Condon, who would go on to make such acclaimed films as Kinsey and Dreamgirls, in addition to the popular, but far less acclaimed, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Parts 1 & 2. He gives the film a deliberate, eerie tone, while also attempting to put the traditional horror elements within the context of a story. This certainly isn't one of those films where it's just non-stop killing. Condon also works well with actors, and Kelly Rowan gives a fine performance under his direction, playing a strong character who is the opposite of the typical “helpless” female lead you often find in the genre.
In spite of these strengths, Farewell to the Flesh really can't live up to its predecessor. The story of how Daniel Robitaille, the son of a slave who was tortured to death after impregnating a white woman, became Candyman was explained in the original. It's dramatized here in flashback, which has the effect of making the killer somewhat sympathetic. That's a huge mistake in a movie that's supposed to have us dreading the moment the character shows up to impale someone with his hook, and subsequently, this sequel isn't very scary.
The plot is, at times, pretty muddled, as well. There's a lot of stuff about Annie's family history that gets shoehorned in at the last minute, when some more expansion of it would deepen the story. And while it's nice to have more than just Candyman attacks, he's almost a supporting character in his own film, and so it's easy to become impatient for his return. Despite some good things around the fringes, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh is an admirable, but not quite fulfilling, follow-up.
Scream Factory's Blu-Ray boasts excellent picture and sound. The extras are nice, too. Condon provides an audio commentary, sharing memories of making Farewell to the Flesh while also touching upon special effects, location shooting, and music.
Tony Todd is the subject of a 25-minute interview. He discusses his entire career and how the Candyman franchise impacted it. (The character is, as far as I can recall, the only African-American horror villain to have his own series, which makes him groundbreaking.) Veronica Cartwright, who plays Annie's alcoholic mother, sits down for an 11-minute interview. She has many kind things to say about her co-stars, and offers some thoughts about having worked on a variety of horror flicks, including Alien and The Birds. She humorously recounts filming her character's death scene at the hook of Candyman. These interviews are candid and open, which makes them great fun to watch.
The theatrical trailer is also included.
For more on this release, please visit the Scream Factory website.
Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh is rated R for violence and gore, and for some sexuality and language. The running time is 1 hour and 33 minutes.
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