DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Candyman Special Edition

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Nestor_Ramos, Aug 13, 2004.

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  1. Nestor_Ramos

    Nestor_Ramos Stunt Coordinator

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    [​IMG]

    CANDYMAN SPECIAL EDITION


    Studio: Columbia Tri-Star
    Year: 1992
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 99 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Standard
    Audio: DD 2.0/Pro Logic encoded
    Color/B&W: color
    Languages: English, French, Portugese
    Subtitles: English, French
    MSRP: $19.95


    The Feature

    I was reluctant to review Candyman, as I remembered seeing and hating the film as a child. How wrong I was.

    Candyman is, strictly speaking, a horror film. It follows a number of horror genre conventions. At the same time, though, some of its themes and subjects successfully transcend its genre – it’s not quite enough to elevate above the horror genre, but it’s close.

    Based on a Clive Barker story, Candyman deals with urban legends in a way that lesser horror films (say, uh, Urban Legends, for example) would never dare to attempt. The urban legend in question was totally invented by Barker, and weaved into a story that tackles issues of race and inner-city poverty head on. Try to imagine the next Freddy Kruger movie tackling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and pulling it off. Not easy, is it?

    Ironically, the racial subtext (towering black villain, angelic white heroine, obviously sexual relationship between the two) would be more controversial today than it was at the time, when advocacy groups didn’t have the voice they do today.

    The housing projects, as the commentary track points out, are the haunted houses of today. The Chicago project in the film serves that purpose, and barely manages to keep from making the residents therein into villains as well.
    The genius of the screenplay is its ambiguity. There’s the lingering suspicion that the whole thing is a put-on; that the heroine is inventing an alternate reality in order to hide herself from her homicidal tendencies, a la Fight Club. It’s a subtlety that is rarely found in the horror aisle.

    Video

    First the good news: for a film from the early nineties, this is a fine transfer. The image is very detailed and punchy. Skin tones are very lifelike, and the fine lines in Virginia Madsen’s hair are stunning. Overall, it’s a very pleasing image.

    The few flaws, though, are pretty obvious. Some reds and blues are oversaturated to the point of distraction, and blacks crush to blobs of screen acreage with no discernable contour. I’m no familiar with the original release of this disc, but I assume it was a mess. If that was indeed the case, and you’re a fan of this movie, you probably won’t be disappointed.

    Audio

    The brilliant – brilliant – score, by Philip Glass, is one of the soundtrack elements that make Candyman as moody and atmospheric as it is. Glass – who had to be practically tricked into scoring a horror film – uses a minimalist approach consisting mostly of choral arrangements. Though inexplicably only a Pro Logic mix, the sound field is stable across the front, with good dialogue clarity. The aforementioned choral arrangements are wonderfully euphonic, as is the organ or electric piano on the score.

    The other is the voice of Candyman, played by Tony Todd. Even in the special features, with his voice unaltered, Todd’s voice activates my subwoofer (cutoff: 60 Hz). Digitally enhanced, his voice is like a physical presence. Imagine what could’ve been done in 5.1.

    Special Features

    Sweets to the Sweet: The Candyman Mythos is a very well made making-of documentary including interviews with the director, writer, producer and stars – virtually every key player in bringing Candyman to the screen.

    The commentary track includes all of the same players from the documentary above, and is another fine example of its kind. It helps that most of the key players are good talkers with a good sense of what’s interesting. This is one commentary track not to miss, with details on everything from casting decisions (Sandra Bullock, unknown at the time, was considered for the lead) to concerns the filmmakers had about the script’s racial context. Each of the participants has a drastically different voice, from Todd’s baritone to Barker’s rasp. Still, they say their names before every comment. If only we could get people to do this when we actually need it.

    Clive Barker: Raising Hell interviews the legendary horror maestro. I didn’t find it at all interesting, but then I don’t particularly care about Clive Barker.

    A storyboard montage runs through a few climactic scenes as director Bernard Rose envisioned them, set to more of the Glass score.

    Conclusion

    Candyman was a pleasant surprise for me, and should placate fans and win over newcomers. The transfer is very strong, and thought the omission of a new 5.1 mix is glaring, it’s not a deal-breaker. The special features provide everything a fan would ever want to know about the film’s inception and production. Except this: why did Virginia Madsen look exactly like Gillian Anderson?
     
  2. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

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    This is the same transfer and sound as the original 1999 issue. Good, but far from great. I wish as much attention was paid to the image and sound (which SCREAMS for a 5.1 remix-- come on Sony, you're the people who've given DTS tracks to much more mediocre films) as the special features.

    But this is one of the weaker reviews I've read here-- no offense, but if you "don't particularly care for Clive Barker," what are you doing reviewing this film? BTW,Barker sounds like he either has laryngitis or has been gargling a glass-and-bourbon mixture for days.
     
  3. jason:g

    jason:g Stunt Coordinator

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    No, it's a "HD remastered" picture (which means squat). It just so happens that the original 1999 issue is fine, and there is no difference. [​IMG]
     
  4. Nestor_Ramos

    Nestor_Ramos Stunt Coordinator

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    I said I don't particularly care ABOUT Clive Barker, and so wasn't interested in the short documentary about what a brilliant renaissance man he is. That doc had nothing to do with the actual film, which I obviously thought was quite good. I felt that "Clive Barker: Raising Hell" added nothing to an otherwise good disc.
     
  5. Jeff B.

    Jeff B. Stunt Coordinator

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    I thought the review was very well written, thanks Nestor. You let me know everything I wanted about the sound mix and transfer, making my dvd purchase much easier.
    I haven't seen this movie since I was a kid either, so I am very interested to watch it again paying close attention to the racial themes you mentioned.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. JeffMc

    JeffMc Supporting Actor

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    Wasn't the source they used for the original DVD (and apparently this re-issue since it's the same print) slightly edited? I recall reading that Columbia accidentally used a master (possibly a slightly cut UK version) which was missing a little bit of gore that was present in the original R-rated US version. I don't know the film by heart so I can't verify if this is true or not. DVDaf's listing of the original DVD also indicates it was "Edited".

    It's hard to get too excited over this new "SE" disc if it's the same edited print and they also dropped the excellent trailer that was on the original release. And that terrible new cover artwork, too. Sounds like a slapdash release to me.
     
  7. CoreyII

    CoreyII Second Unit

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    Hey Nestor great review but I must disagree with your assesment of the film, I don't know exactly what you meant by saying Candyman never rises above the horror genre.

    Are you saying Candyman isn't quite as good as Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Old School Version),Halloween, Pyscho, or Alien , just to name a few.

    Honestly I don't even know if you like the previously mentioned horror movies but since those films are almost always typically mentioned as some of the greatest horror films ever made, I feel Candyman can stand among those films.

    Candyman is a very well done horror film and like David Cronenberg's The Fly, is quite often overlooked by many horror fans, myself included. Reading your review has renewed my interest in the film. I remember seeing it in the theaters and really enjoying it. I never saw the sequel so I don't how it compares to the original.

    Honestly I feel Candyman and Nightbreed are the two best Clive Barker films I've seen, although I must admit I haven't seen the Lord of Illusions. Never cared for the Hellraiser films.

    Anyway just sharing my four cents and once again a great review.

    Hey by the way are you the same Nestor that advised King Agamemnon in Troy. [​IMG]
     
  8. jason:g

    jason:g Stunt Coordinator

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    Candyman spawned several crappy sequels, and it seems that Clive Barker wants to do yet another one. Ugh [​IMG] They should let it be. The first one was great.

    BTW I watched the trailer on the original DVD. It's presented in 1.33:1 and not very good. The main feature, however, has a very good transfer. There is really no necessity to upgrade to the S.E., unless the new version includes the extra bit of gore that was cut from the original DVD...
     
  9. Rolando

    Rolando Screenwriter

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    so is there confirmation it is the same edited cut?
     
  10. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

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    I've seen this movie many, many times -- including the full-frame LD -- and don't remember any gore edits in the DVD, either this version or the previous one.
     
  11. Nestor_Ramos

    Nestor_Ramos Stunt Coordinator

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    I think there was some ratings controversy about the blood spurt in one scene, but rest assured everyone: the blood is a-spurtin'. Maybe that's the editing issue you're thinking of?

    Hey CoreyII. I don't think Candyman is in the same league with any of the films you mentioned. Psycho and Alien are two that I feel really transcend the genre, whereas Halloween and Texas Chainsaw define it. Candyman, I think is a very strong film, but some of the secondary performances are too weak, and the ending is too dumb -- just dumb -- to reach the heights of those others.

    Oh, and the sequels are flat-out crap. Hey, I guess it does have something in common with Psycho.

    Thanks guys,

    Nestor
     
  12. Shawn_Sek

    Shawn_Sek Stunt Coordinator

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    im holding off on this until i hear more about whether this DVD is somewhat edited. anyone got any evidence and specifics about what was missing?
     
  13. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    For what it's worth, the original DVD matched my recollection of the cinema experience, so if it's the same edit as the original release, then I couldn't discern any changes. And that includes decapitated dog, violently killed psychiatrist, or bathtub death.

    I still consider my theatrical viewing of Candyman as one of the best theatrical horror experiences of my life. Wonderfully atmospheric and displayed a confidence to head in abstract and unexpected directions that I found very refreshing. The first time you hear Candyman's/Tony Todd's voice it comes across the audience just like it does Helen, as a powerful and oppressive and driven directly into the brain.

    The film is also quite able to escape the nicely diverting boogeyman opening by not making Candyman into just another "chase scene antagonist" but rather a very carefully woven development of a new mythology. It's continually fascinating to me, and in many ways succeeds the source story.


    I've got the original disc, but the extras sound like easily enough to validate a repurchase. I will express just how sad I am to not have a 5.1 mix, which is the only real regret I have anout the release. A sadly missed opportunity.
     
  14. JeffMc

    JeffMc Supporting Actor

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  15. Mathieu Lalonde

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    What really disapoints me here is that this film is being released by the same guys who put out Superbit editions of Spiderman, Bad Boys II and Underworld!!! Not that there's anything wrong with those films but they are brand-new films and allready look and sound great!

    Why not re-release superbit editions of films like Candyman, Ghostbuster or To Die For, older films that were released in the early days of DVD where the quality wasn't what it is today...

    Just a thought...

    mjl
     
  16. Will K

    Will K Screenwriter

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    I listened to the commentary last night and I couldn't help but be taken aback by Barker's very gravelly voice. I wonder if he had laryngitis at the time they did the supplements or if his voice is damaged from illness. I certainly hope he is not sick.

    The commentary is quite good and informative. I shudder the thought of Sandra Bullock as Helen, though!
     
  17. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    I'd like to pick this up this week, but... does anyone have a source for alternate cover art?

    (it's scarier than the movie!)
     
  18. Walt Riarson

    Walt Riarson Supporting Actor

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    Not quite as bad as Columbia's cover for Happy Birthday to Me.

    At least Tony Todd is actually IN the movie he's on the cover of.
     
  19. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

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    My copy arrived today (along with the Stir of Echos SE), and I can't wait to give it a spin. It's been a really long time since I've watched the film, and I definitely want to check out the commentary.
     
  20. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    I thought Barker had a problem with throat cancer or some such? I could be way off base.

    I'm curious to pick this up. I haven't seen this in a long time.
     

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