Release Date(s)1992 (May 24, 2022)
Studio(s)TriStar Pictures/Universal Pictures (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: A+
Challenging the norm of what a horror film could be during a time when there was a glut of mindless slasher films still being produced, Candyman, based upon Clive Barker’s story The Forbidden, is a genre-defiant blend of love story, race relations, and urban legends. Not only did the film give horror fans a new figure to fear, but it also reaffirmed to critics and audiences that horror could be more than blondes in tight t-shirts running from masked maniacs with machetes.
Stumbling upon the urban legend of Candyman, whose lore contends that saying his name five times in a mirror will allow him to appear and murder you, college student Helen (Virginia Madsen) and her friend and fellow student Bernie (Kasi Lemmons) follow up on the legend at a dangerous urban housing project. After they decide to put the legend to the test, Helen begins seeing Candyman in an almost trance-like state. Blacking out and waking up from the encounters, she finds herself blamed for the brutal and bloody murders that take place at the hand and hook of Candyman. But at the same time, Candyman has other plans for Helen.
Candyman is, without a doubt, one of the finest horror films of the 1990s. Nontraditional in every sense of the word, it’s less about a supernatural villain and more about a love story between two lost souls amid violence and bloodshed. Tony Todd is tailor-made to play the role of Candyman. With his deep, booming voice and handsomely regal look, he embodies the role with the greatest of ease. The beautiful but vulnerable Virginia Madsen is wonderful as the curious and troubled Helen, the potential object of Candyman’s undying affections.
Candyman is also a perfect blending of source material and director. Clive Barker’s original story, taking place in Liverpool, is not about race, but Bernard Rose’s interpretation takes place in Chicago and deals exclusively with it. Candyman was filmed in the infamous Cabrini-Green housing projects, well known at the time for the amount of gang violence that took place there. The icing on the cake is a breathtakingly beautiful choir/piano-driven score by Phillip Glass—one of the finest ever crafted for a horror film. Though sequels and an eventual remake were almost inevitable, the original film stands as a one-off masterpiece that, thankfully, wasn’t diluted by its follow-ups. The ending pokes fun at what could have been done with a traditional sequel (apparently ignored by the powers that be), but also ties the opening together thematically.
Candyman was shot by cinematographer Anthony B. Richmond on 35 mm film with Panavision cameras and lenses, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Scream Factory brings the theatrical and unrated versions of the film to Ultra HD in the US from a new 4K scan and restoration of the original camera negative by Arrow Video, which was finished as a 4K Digital Intermediate, and graded for high dynamic range (both Dolby Vision and HDR10 are available). Both versions can be accessed via seamless branching and the final grade was supervised and approved by Bernard Rose and Anthony B. Richmond.
The previous Blu-ray release from both Scream Factory and Arrow Video were major upgrades, but the new Ultra HD adds additional depth in the contrast and color palette. It’s much richer with extra dimension and subtle nuances, with the Dolby Vision having the obvious edge. The image is also sharper and tighter with a fine sheen of grain (outside of occasional opticals) and improved textures. The extended death scene of the doctor in the unrated version is now more integrated. It’s still sourced from another film element and grain spikes slightly, but the color timing now matches better from shot to shot. As Bernard Rose states in one of the audio commentaries, the color timing for the home video releases of the film has always been incorrect. With Scream Factory’s and Arrow Video’s collaborative efforts, scenes now appear accurate to the filmmakers’ original intentions. For many, this will likely be the definitive home video version of Candyman going forward, and for good reason. It isn’t a dramatic improvement over its 1080p counterpart, as so much progress had already been made, but this new presentation is spectacular.
Audio is included in a new English Dolby Atmos track (7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible) and English 2.0 LPCM with optional subtitles in English SDH. The new Dolby Atmos track improves upon the previous 5.1 option by allowing the subtleties of the sound design to breathe even more. Ambient activity, particularly during scenes in the housing projects, spreads further into the height and surround channels. It’s not necessarily an aggressive mix, but it broadens what’s already there. Dialogue exchanges are clear and precise, especially from Tony Todd whose low booming voice puts the subwoofer to work. The stereo track is just fine as a pared down option for those without surround sound capabilities, but the Atmos track is the clear winner.
Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition of Candyman on Ultra HD sits in a black amaray case with two other discs: Blu-rays of the theatrical and unrated versions in 1080p using the new 4K restorations, all three discs featuring their own sets of bonus materials. These Blu-rays also contain the previous 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks from Scream Factory’s original Blu-ray release, adding in the Dolby Atmos track. It should be noted that the Ultra HD disc is obviously an Arrow Video-sourced disc, right down to the menu. Everything is housed within a limited slipcover replicating the original US theatrical artwork (as does the insert). The following extras are included on each disc:
DISC ONE: UHD (THEATRICAL & UNRATED VERSIONS)
- Audio Commentary with Bernard Rose and Tony Todd (Theatrical Version)
- Audio Commentary with Stephen Jones and Kim Newman (Theatrical Version)
- Theatrical Trailer (HD – 2:04)
DISC TWO: BD (THEATRICAL VERSION)
- Audio Commentary with Bernard Rose and Tony Todd
- Audio Commentary with Stephen Jones and Kim Newman
- Audio Commentary with Bernard Rose, Clive Barker, Alan Poul, Tony Todd, Virginia Madsen, and Kasi Lemmons
- Audio Commentary with Bernard Rose, Adam Green, and Joe Lynch
- Sweets to the Sweet: The Candyman Mythos (SD – 23:49)
- Clive Barker: Raising Hell (SD – 10:46)
- The Heart of Candyman: An Interview with Tony Todd (HD – 7:07)
- Bernard Rose's Storyboards (SD – 5:22)
- Theatrical Trailer (SD – 2:05)
- TV Spots (SD – 3 in all – 1:36)
- Still Gallery (HD – 62 in all – 5:19)
- Original Script (BD-ROM)
DISC THREE: BD (UNRATED VERSION)
- Looking Back in the Mirror with Vanessa Williams (HD – 15:49)
- Be My Victim: An Interview with Tony Todd (HD – 9:45)
- It Was Always You, Helen: An Interview with Virginia Madsen (HD – 13:11)
- The Writing on the Wall: An Interview with Jane Ann Stewart (HD – 6:22)
- Forbidden Flesh: The Makeup FX of Candyman (HD – 8:02)
- A Story to Tell: Clive Barker's “The Forbidden” (HD – 18:39)
- Urban Legend: Unwrapping Candyman (HD – 20:41)
- Reflections in the Mirror with Kasi Lemmons (HD – 9:48)
- A Kid in Candyman with DeJuan Guy (HD – 13:36)
The audio commentary with Bernard Rose and Tony Todd is very entertaining, even though they barely talk about the film and just catch up on current events and recent movies. The audio commentary with authors Stephen Jones and Kim Newman offers up plenty of great anecdotes about the film. The vintage audio commentary with Bernard Rose, Clive Barker, producer Alan Poul, and actors Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd, and Kasi Lemmons has been patched together from different recordings, but still has plenty to offer in terms of content. The Ultra HD disc also includes a high definition, widescreen version of the theatrical trailer.
The last audio commentary with Bernard Rose, moderated by Adam Green and Joe Lynch of The Movie Crypt podcast, which is only included on the Blu-ray of the theatrical version, is merely fine. Sweets to the Sweet is a vintage featurette about the making of the film, featuring many members of the cast and crew; Clive Barker: Raising Hell showcases an interview with the author/producer/director about his career; The Heart of Candyman is a brief interview with Tony Todd carried over from Scream Factory’s previous Blu-ray release of Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (purportedly, much more was shot and left on the cutting floor); several minutes of Bernard Rose's storyboards for the film; a full screen theatrical trailer; 3 TV spots; a still gallery containing 62 images of posters, lobby cards, on-set photos, and behind the scenes shots; and the film’s original script, accessible via BD-ROM.
New to this release is Looking Back in the Mirror which features actress Vanessa Williams. It’s an excellent addition as she’s otherwise absent from the other extras and offers stories about her involvement with the film. The rest of the material includes Be My Victim, an interview with Tony Todd and It Was Always You, Helen, an interview with Virginia Madsen—both covering some of the same territory as the previous featurettes and commentaries, but with a recent look at both; The Writing on the Wall, an interview with production designer Jane Ann Stewart who lets us know that the restroom scene was a bit too much for her; Forbidden Flesh: The Makeup FX of Candyman, an interview with effects artists Bob Keen, Mark Coulier, and Gary J. Tunnicliffe who briefly go over their work for the film, including an amusing incident involving the creation of Candyman’s hook; A Story to Tell, an interview with critic/author Douglas E. Winter who expertly and passionately compares the film and the original story; Urban Legend: Unwrapping Candyman, an interview with lecturer/author Tananarive Due and author/screenwriter Steven Barnes which is a free-form discussion about how African American filmmakers might make the film today, and how they felt about the original when it was released; Reflections in the Mirror, an interview with Kasi Lemmons who is charming and happy to talk about her experiences making the film; and A Kid in Candyman, an interview with Dejuan Guy which is a definite highlight as he hilariously talks about how he got the role of the young boy in the film and what it was like working with the other actors at his age.
This is also being released concurrently with Arrow Video’s UK 4K Ultra HD release (as was done with the previous Blu-ray). Each release shares bonus materials with the other, but the Scream Factory release is missing a couple of things—the Bernard Rose short films A Bomb with No Name on It, The Wreckers, and Looking at Alice; The Cinema of Clive Barker: The Divine Explicit, an interview with Clive Barker; a double-sided poster; a 40-page booklet containing Bernard Rose’s storyboards; a 29-page booklet with an essay on the film by Michael Blyth; and 6 lobby card reproductions. It’s worth noting the German 4K Ultra HD release by Turbine also includes an isolated score track and an additional interview Ted Raimi.
Scream Factory’s second Collector’s Edition release of Candyman, now on 4K Ultra HD, offers a definitive presentation of the film and a large assortment of satisfying bonus materials. It’s an excellent film with a dynamite package to house it all in and, without a doubt, comes highly recommended!
- Tim Salmons