MAY 11, 2008
I saw Candyman once, at a sleepover, when I was like 13. The only thing I remembered was that a female cast member had a great rack (the girl at the end). Strangely, I got inspired to revisit it while playing GTAIV, in which you have to take out a drug dealer who lives in the projects. Something about the building reminded me of the one in Candyman, so I opened the DVD I bought ages ago (this is nothing new, one of the very first DVDs I ever bought is still in shrinkwrap) and made it my movie for the day. And sure enough, the building in the game IS very similar to the Cabrini Green housing development that Virginia Madsen and her friend walk around in the film’s first act. I love how my memory works.
The movie itself is about as good as I remember. One thing that most certainly DIDN’T bother me as a kid was Candyman’s dialogue, which I now liken to the bad gothic poetry I would read a few years later in my high school newspaper. Stuff like “What is blood if not for shedding?” sounds cool to a kid, but now I find it incredibly corny. The film works best when Candyman is just a silent figure, graphically killing folks for no real reason and blaming it on Madsen (the part with the shrink kills me – he wants Madsen to escape, but does he need to commit another murder that will be pinned on her in the process?).
Also, any dialogue (not just Candyman’s) drowns out the incredible score by Phillip Glass, which is a shame. The score is up there with Halloween and Exorcist as instantly identifiable in the horror genre, and I even let the credits run to hear it one last time. I know Glass gets a lot of shit for his atonal nonsense, but his work here is quite melodic and wonderful, and the film wouldn’t be nearly as effective without it.
I also love how the movie used medicine cabinets as a way of explaining how Candyman got in and out of people’s homes. Horror movies have used the opening/closing of a bathroom mirror as a scare device for decades; it’s about time someone actually took the time to make the damn things part of the plot. Kudos to Bernard Rose (what the hell ever happened to him, anyway?*) and Clive Barker for this invention.
The extras are nice – and actually more plentiful than the disc would have you believe. Despite being listed as “Commentary with Bernard Rose”, it actually has just about everyone else on the track, including Barker and Todd. Xander Berkeley is the only principal who is absent. Sadly, they are recorded separately, and they keep reminding us who is who (ironic, since is the only track in history with 6 completely distinctive voices), but it’s still a good listen. Rose in particular is good to listen to, in addition to saying the exact same thing I’ve always said when people say they don’t like horror movies because they are too scary (“Would you dislike a comedy for being too funny?”), he also trashes PG-13 horror near the end, and this was recorded when PG-13 horror films were the exception, not the rule. A prophet! Another thing he reveals is that Sandra Bullock was up for Madsen’s role, and it’s a damn shame that didn’t happen, since the role required nudity. There’s also a nice retrospective piece (Todd’s simple description of Candyman 3 makes the whole thing worth watching) and an interview with Clive where he discusses his career. Good stuff.
And no, I haven’t read the short story. Other than Nightbreed and Lord of Illusions, I have never read any of the original Barker stories that the films have come from (or any other Barker material, for that matter). I keep meaning to check them out, but I read very rarely these days (I used to get all my reading done on my subway/bus commute in Boston; in LA I drive to work). Someday....
Finally, the best thing about the movie? Ted Raimi cast as a “town bad boy” in one of the flashback scenes. Ted is possibly the least threatening guy ever born, so this is just hilarious to me.
What say you?
*He went on to make some softcore nonsense, as well as the Beethoven biopic Immortal Beloved. Which is odd, because the director of Candyman 2 went on to make the film version of Chicago. Candyman films – the gateway to Oscar bait music related cinema**!
**Except for part 3. The director of that movie went on to write Wrong Turn 2. Which is, as far as I’m concerned, a better deal.