CANDYMAN: FAREWELL TO THE FLESH
Director: Bill Condon
Year of release: 1995
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 91 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Both
Also known as: Candyman 2.
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Professor Philip Purcell briefly seen in the first film has written a book about the legend of Candyman. At a book signing event he claims not to believe in the rumors of the monster himself instead claiming it is a smokescreen used by nefarious types to cover their own crimes. To illustrate he is not afraid he says the name five times whilst looking into a mirror in front of his audience. This proves to be his undoing as later we see him gutted in the bathroom of a bar. Though we know it is Candyman responsible suspicion falls on a guy named Ethan who attended the signing and had an altercation with Purcell in the bar shortly before the body is found. After having been arrested Ethan's sister Annie, a local school teacher goes about trying to prove his innocence. This is a task that proves increasingly difficult after she summons the figure of Candyman herself while trying to disprove the legend to her students. As people around her begin to meet their demise at the hands of the ghostly menace Annie begins to find out that her late father was himself obsessed with the legend of Candyman. Prior to his death her father may have found the secret to the Candymans power, a hand mirror last seen in possession of his lover Caroline.
Good points: Visually this looks really nice and it is immediately apparent that there is a healthy budget behind it. With a vivid glossy look throughout the production values never waver. The impressive special effects are particularly evident towards the end in the scene where something/someone turns to glass and begins to shatter.
I enjoyed how they went into a lot more detail this time about the origins and history of Candyman and what happened to him when he met his fate at the hands of the angry mob. We only heard briefly about it in the original from Purcell but here we actually see it play out in flashbacks. These scenes look really good and might be the best parts of the whole film. They show a slightly different version of things in number 3 but I think it is at its best here.
Moving the story from Chicago to Louisiana was a good move I thought and lent to a much different atmosphere than what we had in the first film (which was more urban and gritty). So this ones feels fresh and different and I liked the cinematography in the establishing shots at the start plus for the Mardi Gras party scenes.
The music remains quite effective carrying over from the original. Essentially it is the same recycled Philip Glass tune of course so nothing new but it still sounds very fine and enhances the film. I class it as the Candyman theme in a way and I felt like something was missing a little bit in part 3 where they completely removed this piece of music.
There are good gore effects and use of the bees. In this franchise the deaths do tend to be a bit similar, ie people getting gutted with the hook from behind and this is the case again here but the murders of Annie's husband and Purcell are well done and suitably bloody. Also the scene with Candyman disposing of Thibideaux is pretty creepy.
Bad Points: I find it a bit confusing when it comes to what Candyman is actually trying to achieve and what his goal is in his killings and tormenting of Annie. I'm not sure if he just wants to hurt her and make her suffer first by killing those around her just because he is nasty by nature as a result of what happened to him or if he is in love with Annie and somehow wants to be with her in the afterlife. I had the same feeling in the original as I was never totally sure what he was trying to achieve there either. Maybe it was explained in both films and it just went over my head but I generally find Candyman doesn't give anyone a straight answer when quizzed about his intentions and just answers in riddles.
There were a number of other things that left me a little confused with the film. Near the end when Annie finds the mirror I was unsure of where the action is supposed to be taking place. There seemed to be a lot of water as if she was in the sewers or some sort of river but I think it was supposed to only be a flooded basement, possibly the basement of the slave quarters which is where Candyman started out in his normal life years before. It looked more like the sewers to me though or an underground cavern. It threw me a bit so maybe they could have done a better job of clarifying exactly where this was supposed to be and why there was so much fast flowing water. It was also unrealistic that Annie managed to find the mirror so quickly after first hearing about it whereas apparently her father had been searching for it for ages prior to his death and not discovered it. I think they indicated he had been looking for it for ages anyway though maybe I'm wrong.
Another sloppy thing was how the kid Matthew one of Annie's students who goes missing half way through ties in with the whole thing and why he seems to enthralled by the Candyman. I know he was present in the classroom when Annie does the name summoning thing but it seems like he was fixated and deeply troubled by Candyman long before that. Think they may have said he was plagued by dreams of the monster but it was never elaborated on or explained any further. When Annie meets his Reverend father it was hinted that this fixation began around the time of his mothers death (or maybe she just disappeared I can't recall) but again we didn't learn anymore about his mother or if she had had dealings herself with Candyman. Also Matthew just seems to randomly show up at Annie's old house near the end without any explanation. Speaking of the house again where were the homeless people at the end? If they were there in the day they would be even more likely to be there at night wouldn't they?
Verdict: Although from a general critics point of view this sequel is considered to be far inferior to the 1992 original in some ways I actually preferred it and it seemed to have a bit more of a slasher feel to it whereas the original had more trappings of a ghost story at times. I'm not a huge fan of this franchise largely as I'm not overly keen on how the Candyman looks. Though it is cool to get a black killer as this is very seldom seen I don't feel he looks that menacing and I don't like the clothes that much though I do like the history behind the figure and the sound of Tony Todd's voice. Incidentally as with the original Tony Todd once again does a top job here. As far a sequels go I'd say the film was a entertaining entry and though it could have done with a bit more clarity and tightening up storywise in some areas it remains a very fun ride.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1) Professor Philip Purcell: Gutted from behind with hook in the bar toilets.
2) Annie's husband: Also gutted from behind with hook as he brought breakfast to Annie.
3) Thibideaux: Attacked by a swarm of bees and then his head shoved through the wall/window.
4) Detective Levesque: Attacked at the police station and thrown through a high window.
5) Ethan: Shot by police as he tried to flee the station.
6) Octavia: Gutted from behind with hook in her apartment.