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?