Tooth Decay (Candyman 3: Day of the Dead, 1999)

candyman_3_posterCandyman picks up a couple of decades after the second film, where we meet Annie’s grown daughter Caroline (Baywatch actress Donna D’Errico) living in Los Angeles.  She is running an art gallery and allowing her friend to do a theme around her great, great grandfather.  She is frustrated that he chooses to focus on the legend of Candyman.

During the show, Caroline calls out to Candyman Five times, apparently, causing him to return into the picture.  She starts seeing visions of him, and he tells her she must believe.  While upset with her friend, she decides to visit him…inter-cut with her entering his apartment are visions of Candyman killing him and his girlfriend.

And so, Candyman starts offing Caroline’s friends, causing her to look like the prime suspect.  This has been an ongoing theme in the films, people keep suspecting the lead woman.  And it does not help matters that Candyman kills one of the cops.

All the films are kind of vague on Candyman’s rules.  While he has to be called by saying his name five times while looking in a mirror, he seems to get around and kill a lot of people who never called his name.  The film also establishes things like…bees can smash through windows.

The film reminds us of the backstory…with flashbacks that are in contradiction to the flashbacks of the previous film’s flashbacks.  In Farewell to the Flesh, he is stripped of his shirt, in this film he is fully clothed.  More noticeable, in the last film it all occurs in daylight, here he is killed at night.  The brief shots here have less of an impact than the ones created for Farewell to the Flesh.

This is not a particularly good film.  The script has D’Errico spending a tremendous (and ridiculous) amount of time screaming. And most of the acting is not particularly good, save for Tony Todd (as is expected).  In fact, the thing that really hurts this film is that anytime Tony Todd is not on the screen?  The film gets incredibly boring.

Not remotely entertaining, it is no surprise this film killed the franchise.

 

 

Family Values (Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh, 1995)

candyman__2_posterBill Condon (God’s and Monsters, Mr. Holmes, the upcoming Beauty & The Beast) took over the franchise with Farewell to the Flesh.  The setting moves from  Chicago to New Orleans just before Mardi Gras, and focuses on a young teacher Annie and her family.  Her father died the year before in what appeared to be a Candyman Murder.  Her brother gets in trouble when he threatens an author who wrote a book on Candyman and said author is gutted.

This film focuses heavily on the backstory of the Candyman as Annie starts to discover that her family has a deep connection to him.  Annie unwittingly calls him forth and he comes and speaks to her, killing those nearby.  He also seems to start influencing the children of her class.

There are some interesting ideas at play here, but  it does not always make a lot of sense.  Why exactly is the Candyman trying to kill his descendants?  Why is he seeking to destroy himself?  Does he not want his family line to continue?

Todd, as with the first film gives a dependable performance, imbuing the Candyman with a dark threatening and yet tragic nature.  But the film never comes together, and has a tendency to feel all over the place. While not a terrible sequel, it is not as good a follow up as one would hope.

Hooked (Candyman, 1992)

candyman_posterBased on a short story by Clive Barker called the Forbidden, Candyman is a film about urban legends.  Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) is a grad student who is doing a thesis on urban legends.  She discovers a legend within the tenements of Cabrini-Green of the Candyman.  Borrowing from the famous Bloody Mary, the belief is that if you look in a mirror and say his name five times, Candyman appears behind you and guts you with his hook.

As Helen becomes more obsessed with delving into the heart of the Candyman myth, she starts to miss signs that other parts of her life are falling apart…especially her marriage.  Her husband has an ongoing affair with one of his students.  Candyman seems drawn to Helen, and commits murders to frame her.

Candyman is a pretty unique film, as it focuses on black urban communities (as did Wes Craven’s The People Under the Stairs a year earlier).  The short story was set in England, but director Bernard Rose (Immortal Beloved) felt setting it in America would be a better and more appropriate choice.    And the setting of Cabrini-Green was a masterful choice.

The film is highly effective.  The backstory of the Candyman makes him and effective and tragic monster.  The son of a slave, the Candyman had grown to prominence as an artist.  He was renowned for his portraits.  He fell in love with and had a child with a white woman.  A mob chased him down, severed his hand, covering him in honey and replacing his hand with a hook.  As he is dying, he is covered in bees…ultimately dying from the stings.  This creates a powerful visual, as the Candyman is often covered in bees.

Much of what makes this film work is Tony Todd.  Todd plays the character as charmingly regal, yet very menacing.  Eddie Murphy had been considered for the role, but thankfully he was out of the price range.  Because Tony Todd makes the character work in a way few actors could have.  The film is definitely a gorefest, so the squeamish may wish to avoid the film.

Candyman adds to the pantheon of great monsters and is a solid fright film.

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