Film Title: Candyman
Release Date: 1992
Rating: R & UNRATED
Runtime: 99 minutes
Region Coding: Region A
Studio: Scream Factory (Shout! Factory)
Audio Format: DTS-HD MA 5.1 & 2.0
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Formats Available: Blu-ray
Version Reviewed: Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Release Date: 11/20/18
Director: Bernard Rose
Cast: Virginia Madsen, Xander Berkeley, Tony Todd, Kasi Lemmons, Vanessa Williams, DeJuan Guy, Marianna Elliott, Ted Raimi
“Candyman” was a psychological thriller / horror film from 1992, written & directed by Bernard Rose. The story for the screenplay was adapted from a short story (“The Forbidden”) written by Clive Barker that can be found in volume 5 of his “Books of Blood“ series.
The protagonist here is a grad student at the University of Illinois named “Helen” (Virginia Madsen) that is researching urban legends, with her fellow grad student “Bernadette” (Kasi Lemmons). As the film starts out we are listening (along with Helen) as one of the student volunteers is telling her a story about an urban legend she has heard of. The story she tells involves a teenage girl babysitting, her boyfriend arriving, and her deciding to get a scare out of him by saying “Candyman” five times into the mirror, which is supposed to summon him. The female student telling Helen this story ends basically saying that the girl was killed because she decided to say his name the fifth (and final) time. This leaves Helen very intrigued, so she tells Bernadette about the story.
Helen is married to a professor at the college, “Trevor” (Xander Berkeley), and it’s become quite obvious that he may be sleeping with on of his female students. So, it’s safe to say that the relationship between Helen and her husband isn’t really all too good. Helen seems determined to find out more about this urban legend called the “Candyman” and manages to get another story from one of the cleaning ladies at the college. Yet another horrifying tale is given, and a location of where it happened as well. This is one rabbit hole that our protagonist is about to dive down, and starts to leave her feeling like she’s gone “through the looking glass” so-to-speak.
I will not go into complete detail here of what all exactly happens, as to avoid dishing out “spoilers” for those who have never seen the film, but let’s just say that this boogeyman type of urban legend turns out to be real. The tortured soul is the result of a man who died a tragic death and was known as the “Candyman” (Tony Todd), that (now in his summoned form) has a hook for his hand. He’s a pretty damn angry guy and with reason to be, to say the least. It’s lastly worth noting that the film was executive produced by Clive Barker and features memorable performances from Vanessa Williams (as “Anne-Marie”), DeJuan Guy (“Jake”), Marianna Elliott (“Clara”), and Ted Raimi (“Billy”).
Movie Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
According to the technical specifications listed on IMDb this was shot on 35MM film using Panavision cameras. The movie is presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, as originally theatrically intended. The 2-Disc “Collector’s Edition” set includes both the theatrical cut and the UNRATED cut, with each presented on a separate Blu-ray Disc.
“Candyman” has received a 2K restoration from a new 4K scan from the original negatives for both the theatrical cut and the unrated cut. However, ONLY the restoration of the theatrical cut was supervised and approved by the film’s writer/director (Bernard Rose) and director of photography (Anthony B. Richmond). Also, the unrated cut includes some scenes that were taken from another source, a rare print of the film and are seamlessly blended together with the restored footage. So, there is just a tiny bit of difference on the unrated cut, since that additional footage (not found in the theatrical cut) is taken from a different source here.
I’ll be primarily covering just the theatrical version in this review, and discussing the unrated cut video & audio quality further below in the bonus materials section.
First thing you’ll notice visually here is an incredible amount of detail to be found in this restoration, just the opening credits and first bit of the film should leave you very impressed. The amount of detail found in closeups is at times incredible. Shots of the bees early on can show that off, as do close ups of actors’ faces. The film grain has been left fully intact, remaining nicely visible throughout. In terms of preservation, it is very nice to see how a film of this age and popularity has been treated.
The color palette definitely can be vibrant at times with brighter colors like red and blue coming across very nicely, as well seeming correct. Flesh tones also appear accurately here, and the black level seems to be solid. There are some occasional tiny bits of dirt or light scratches that have been left on the film print in a few (very short) scenes, but it does not at all prove to be bothersome. In fact, this gives it more of the natural feel it should have.
My first impression of this was that of a jaw-dropping reaction. It looks great, and I do mean great. To get really technical here, this Blu-ray runs almost constantly around 37Mbps in terms of video bitrate (using the AVC codec) – which is rather impressive. They certainly have done this 1992 film justice, as it delivers an absolutely impressive high definition presentation, worthy of a perfect rating for video quality.
Video Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)
Audio here is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio Stereo for both versions. During its theatrical run this received a Dolby mix, so it translates well over to a surround (5.1) lossless mix. It’s very much worth noting, as it is audio related, that the writer/director actually discusses how limited he felt that they were with just a Dolby sound mix while talking on the new audio commentary included on this release.
I’ll being only covering the 5.1 mix and strictly the theatrical cut here in this review, unless otherwise noted further below. The film’s hauntingly creepy original Score, done by Philip Glass, gets nicely delivered from primarily the front left and right channel speakers, with a nice amount of rear channel presence and occasionally enough bass to give the subwoofer some play. Dialogue here gets a spot-on delivery from the center channel speaker.
When the intense moments arrive, as the film progresses, you will appreciate this lossless 5.1 mix. It can really have some downright wild bits to the overall audio presentation we get here (via theatrical cut) of the film. It’s enough to do not only the film but also the genres of horror and psychological thriller justice as well, in terms of audio quality.
Early on in the film I could tell that this 5.1 mix can be quiet at times but then build all the way up to something that gives you the chills, and that is much thanks to the original Score being delivered so nicely. The director was right that they were limited by a simple Dolby mix, and now we get a nice lossless 5.1 mix that proves to be much more solid, and offers up some oomph at times it wants to build a scare. For instance, when “Candyman” talks his voice is downright creepy as hell and also seems a bit larger than life, much thanks to use of the subwoofer and center channel together. His voice can get presence not just in the center channel at first, but at times his voice echoes throughout rear, and then front channel speakers. A decent amount of bass can be heard during said sequence.
Things start to get a bit more intense during the latter half of the film. The first half of the film doesn’t really come across as the best part to go rating the audio quality based on. Psychological thrillers (like this) can actually do pretty well in surround, and this is no exception. In terms of audio, this 5.1 lossless mix is overall very solid, and does a great job in delivering some climactic moments that might help to offer up a fright. It’s not the most intense mix that I have ever heard, admittedly, but it has its moments where it can be somewhat impressive.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
Bonus materials on this release are all presented in 1080p HD video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound (unless otherwise noted below) and span across the 2-Disc set.
Disc 1 bonus materials include:
- Theatrical Cut of the film Supervised and Approved by Writer/Director Bernard Rose and Director of Photography Anthony B. Richmond
- NEW Audio Commentary By Writer/Director Bernard Rose and Director of Photography Anthony B. Richmond
- NEW Audio Commentary With Authors Stephen Jones and Kim Newman
- Audio Commentary With Bernard Rose, Author Clive Barker, Producer Alan Poul And Actors Tony Todd, Virginia Madsen and Kasi Lemmons
- “Sweets To The Sweet: The Candyman Mythos” (23:49 – HD) includes interviews with: Alan Poul (Producer), Bernard Rose (Director), Virginia Madsen (“Helen”), Clive Barker (Author / Executive Producer), Kasi Lemmons (“Bernadette”), and Tony Todd (“Candyman”). We learn here how the original short story by Clive Barker (“The Forbidden”) was adapted into a film. There’s a lot of discussion of making the film and such. For instance, the director actually had the lead actress go to a real hypnotist, where they gave her a trigger word. On the set during filming the director would use the trigger word (from that hypnosis) on the actress, which caused her to go into an actual trance. That’s why Virginia Madsen looks so much in a trance during scenes with “Candyman” (Tony Todd). They also discuss all the work involving the bees, which proves to be informative. This 2004 featurette finally ends on discussion of the film’s theatrical premiere and its popularity that would follow.
- “Clive Barker: Raising Hell” (10:46 – HD) features the author discussing his love of horror, and how he likes to “scare the hell out of people” with his stories. This featurette comes from the 2004 DVD. A job “creating weird” shit like Barker has can prove to be fun, as you’ll see. Not just an interview can be found here, as you even get footage from the 2003 ceremony where he was honored with an award. He talks a bit about his childhood and early life as well. This is a must-watch interview for anyone that happens to be a fan of Barker’s work. There’s talk of the “Books of Blood” series and how Stephen King’s praise for it came. Finally Barker discusses working on his directorial debut “Hellraiser“ (1987), as well as “Nightbreed“ (1990) and “Lord of Illusions“ (1995).
- “The Heart of Candyman: An Interview with Tony Todd” (7:07 – HD) is pretty much self-explanatory, thanks to the subtitle. The interview was recorded recently it seems as it features footage from it and Blu-ray Discs sitting behind Todd on a shelf. There is no date or copyright at the end though, nor indication that it is new.
- Bernard Rose’s Storyboards (5:22 – HD) are very cool and feature some excellent music to set the mood that is very similar to that in the film. This originally appeared on the 2004 DVD.
- Theatrical Trailer (2:05 – HD) is presented in a 4×3 aspect ratio, sadly. It appears to be the trailer that was used for VHS and later DVD promos.
- TV Spots (1:36 – HD) look horrible in terms of video quality, and even sound bad. Still, it’s nice to see them included for nostalgia.
- Stilly Gallery (5:19 – HD) actually will play on its own, but you can use the next and previous (chapter skip) buttons on your remote to skip through the still photos. This includes poster artwork, promotional art, behind-the-scenes on set photography, and of course studio stills.
- Original Script to the film is included on this Blu-ray Disc when you insert it into a computer with a compatible drive, which will read it as a BD-ROM. Look for it on your computer as a drive and then open the drive up and you’ll find the script.
Disc 2 bonus materials include:
- UNRATED Cut of the film has a 1 hour, 39 minutes, 18 seconds runtime, and features almost entirely the same 2K restoration from a 4K scan of the original negatives, but does include a few scenes that come from another source: a rare print of the film. These scenes found only in this unrated cut are presented in HD, just inserted (somewhat seamlessly) in with the restoration footage from the theatrical cut of the film.
- NEW “Be My Victim” (9:47 – HD) is an interview with Tony Todd (“Candyman”), discussing working on the film as well as his personal life, and acting career. This interview, newer than the one featured on the first disc, proves to be well worth the watch. Todd also discusses his life a bit more this time, as well as the city of Chicago where it was filmed. One very interesting fact that you learn here is that some of the gang members in the film were actually real gang members, during some scenes in the projects. No joke. Also we get some discussion of a scene that was removed (from the theatrical cut) because of some controversy seen by the studio. Tony Todd says he only got stung 26 times doing the scenes with the bees. Yikes!
- NEW “It Was Always You, Helen” (13:11 – HD) is an interview with Virginia Madsen (“Helen”) discussing her role in the film, and looking back on the film all these years later. Madsen starts off letting us know that originally the film’s director (Bernard Rose) had planned to do the film with his wife in the lead role but instead. She was originally going to play the part of “Bernadette” but the other actress became pregnant, and in turn she got the gig. The coolest part about this interview is hearing Virginia discuss how the director actually had her hypnotized, and used a trigger word (on set) to get her to have a trance-like performance for some scenes. She attributes making this choice to being a young actress willing to try different things, and mentions going to a real hypnotist. This hypnosis method wasn’t something she really enjoyed after a while, as she didn’t remember doing some things, and eventually asked to stop doing this. She says she will never do this again, on any film.
- NEW “The Writing On The Wall: The Production Design Of Candyman“ (6:22 – HD) includes an interview with Jane Ann Stewart (Production Designer).
- NEW “Forbidden Flesh: The Makeup FX of Candyman” (8:02 – HD) includes interviews with special makeup effects artists Bob Keen, Mark Coulier, and Gary J. Tunnicliffe. The guys discuss working on the film, including making the hook – which proved to be a difficult process, as they explain. All of the major special effects scenes are discussed and we get details on how they were created.
- NEW “A Story To Tell: Clive Barker’s The Forbidden“ (18:39 – HD) features author / critic Douglas E. Winter discussing Clive Barker‘s “Books of Blood” and the story (“The Forbidden”) that this film’s screenplay is based on.
- NEW “Urban Legend: Unwrapping Candyman“ (20:41 – HD) features and interview with Tananarive Due (Lecturer / Author) and Steven Barnes (Author / Screenwriter) discussing the film and its lasting impression on horror fans, as well as the genre. There’s also some discussion of how the film focuses on race and the original story by Clive Barker did not. The topics discussed here prove to be very enjoyable and informative. These two get pretty deep into the discussion of the true psychology of horror films and the racial elements.
- NEW “Reflections In The Mirror With Kasi Lemmons” (9:48 – HD) has the actress who played “Bernadette” in the film discussing working on this film, and the other films she has worked on during her career – like “Silence of the Lambs” (1991).
- NEW “A Kid in Candyman With Dejuan Guy” (13:36 – HD) features an interview with the child actor that played the little boy “Jake” in the film. He discusses how he’s still recognized by fans to this day, how he ended up getting the role, the film itself, the projects where they shot the film, and his career.
Overall the bonus materials that you get here prove to be extremely impressive. Not only do we get all the previous DVD extras ported over (an hour in length), but we also get loads of new interviews (over an hour and a half in length) and two new audio commentary tracks as well – for the theatrical cut. This a damn near perfect set of supplemental material. Getting the unrated cut of the film included is just the right touch. This is going to leave “Candyman” fans very happy.
Bonus Materials Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)
Candyman … Candyman … Candyman … Candyman … Candyman …
Okay, I’m fine: nothing happened. It’s just urban legend afterall, or is it? Oh, wait, I wasn’t looking into a mirror. Joking aside, in closing: looking back on this 1992 psychological horror film, it’s safe to say that it has developed a large fan base over the past decades, and this release will only help further. Sorry, Tony Todd, but a whole new generation of horror fans are going to be calling you this character now, if they aren’t already. Is that such a bad thing? I don’t think so.
This long-awaited “Collector’s Edition” of the film on Blu-ray comes in a 2-Disc set that includes both the theatrical cut and the unrated cut of the film, with each presented on a separate Blu-ray. The theatrical version gets the best video transfer, as it was supervised & approved by the writer/director of the film. The unrated cut has a few points with different source material for some scenes, but it still proves to be worth the watch for fans and offers up a very impressive video presentation itself.
After you’ve finished watching the film you’ll have a whole lot of new bonus materials to keep you entertained, as well as a lot of the original DVD extras and such ported over. It’s become something that we expect on Scream Factory “Collector’s Edition” Blu-ray releases: absolute quality bonus materials, excellent new artwork, slipcovers, and the reversible cover art. It’s A-OK in terms of supplemental materials on the discs in digital form and with the physical bonus materials, as described.
This is a MUST-HAVE Blu-ray release for any fan of the film. You’re getting two versions of the film and a whole lot of extras, most of which are new and were specifically created for this release.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
5 (out of 5) for video quality
4.25 (out of 5) for audio quality
4.75 (out of 5) for bonus materials
Blu-ray Disc Screenshots: