Candyman (1992)

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Released 15-May-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Trick or Treat; The Step Father;
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 94:29
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (60:56) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Bernard Rose
Studio
Distributor
Propaganda Films
Madman Entertainment
Starring Virginia Madsen
Tony Todd
Kasi Lemmons
Xander Berkely
Vanessa Williams
Case Click-Coloured
RPI $28.95 Music Philip Glass


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Candyman is a classic horror movie of it's day. I remember watching it around ten years ago, and being genuinely horrified in places so I was keen to see how it had withstood the test of time. Many horror movies these days (the good ones at least) tend to focus on a more psychological "thriller" type approach, with Scream being the last of the decent slasher movies I can remember. Based on the short story The Forbidden by Clive Barker, Candyman is a blend of ghost story and stalker movie - and a fairly robust one at that. There are no screaming, virginal teens in this tale - the main protagonists are well educated, intelligent adults, and the audience are generally treated as such throughout the movie.

    Virginia Madsen (the sister of Michael from Reservoir Dogs) plays Helen Lyle, the wife of a University of Illinois lecturer. Whilst her husband is lecturing on the origins of urban legends, she is completing her thesis on the same phenomenon. With her friend Bernadette (Kasi Lemmons), she begins to investigate the tale of the Candyman. Reputed to be a supernatural killer from the turn of the century, he was an artist who fell foul of the local gentry after falling in love with the beautiful young daughter of one of his patrons. Outraged by the (inter-racial) affair, local thugs chased Candyman, beating him and cutting off his right hand with a rusty saw. This was not punishment enough however, and the mob smothered his naked body in honey, stolen from local apiaries, and had him stung to death by swarms of bees before finally incinerating him. The suburb of Cabrini Green was obviously not a very nice neighbourhood - unfortunately nothing much has changed since 1890.

    Helen and Bernie visit the modern-day Cabrini Green slums to follow up on the story of Ruthie Jean who, according to local newspapers, was murdered by a serial killer, but according to local folklore was another victim of Candyman. Locals believe that he still lives in one of the derelict apartments and can enter your home by breaking through walls. Through her research, Helen discovers that the design of her own trendy apartment was based on the same blueprints as those in the ghetto housing projects of Cabrini Green. Worryingly, a cost-saving design feature means that apartments interconnect via mirrored medicine cabinets which can be removed to give free passage between the condominiums. The urban legend has it that Candyman can be summoned by saying his name five times whilst looking in a mirror. His breath can be felt on your neck before he impales you with his hooked right hand and rips your body open from groin to neck...

    The story takes an horrific turn when the the sceptical Helen shows her scorn of the urban legend by looking into a mirror and repeating the name five times...and of course, Candyman does indeed appear. Cunningly, rather than killing Helen, he opts to slaughter those around her - carefully setting her up as the murderer. Helen becomes hopelessly trapped in a waking nightmare, where she is believed by the police to be a deranged serial killer and the Candyman just a figment of her imagination. Committed to a mental asylum, Helen begins a desperate quest to demonstrate the existence of the Candyman, thereby proving her own innocence.

    With some truly gruesome imagery including a severed dog's head and various eviscerations, the visual effects in Candyman remain disturbing even by today's standards. The plot is overall quite believable, with some professional acting put in by Madsen (looking remarkably like Gillian Anderson) and Lemmons in particular. The role of Candyman is well cast and the towering Tony Todd looks every inch the part. With its setting in the modern urban ghetto, the film manages to develop a sense of fear on several levels - both Candyman and the drug dealers who populate Cabrini Green allow plenty of opportunity for us to empathise with Helen during her perilous investigation. The cinematography in the depressing slum environment provides an ominous backdrop such that the physical setting is just as scary as the supernatural premise, and this generates a wonderfully tense ambience. There are several jump-out-of-your-seat moments associated both with the local gangs and Candyman himself.

    This is still a truly scary film. The "wrongfully accused" plot device and a cheating husband allow the character of Helen to develop a depth that was so often neglected in the horror genre at the time. An atmospheric musical score with haunting choral passages fits the film beautifully. Definitely worth a watch for those who may have missed it, and well worth a re-visit from those who have long since forgotten the genuinely frightening tale that is Candyman.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The overall video transfer of this disc is fairly good, but whilst there are no major defects it is not as sharp as I would have liked.

    The film is presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.78:1, which is very close to its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

    The transfer is a little soft in places, particularly the many indoor scenes. Grain is not a major problem, but does crop up frequently giving a generally fuzzy feeling to the image. Black levels are generally solid with little low-level noise, however shadow detail is occasionally limited which can leave some scenes feeling a touch too dark. The colours are overall somewhat subdued with a slightly tired appearance, but given the wintry Chicago setting this is probably intentional.

    There are no significant MPEG artefacts during the movie but the titles do demonstrate some minor compression issues as well as noticeable telecine wobble. Edge enhancement is not a major problem due to the somewhat soft nature of the transfer, but there is quite a noticeable halo around Helen at 9:00. Aliasing was virtually absent but there is a mild shimmer which crops up from time to time.

    Whilst there are some film artefacts throughout, they are relatively minor and do not distract too much.

    Sadly, there are no subtitle tracks available.

    This is an RSDL disc with the fairly brief layer change noticeable as it crops up mid-scene at 60:56, causing a slight pause in vision and more noticeably the audio track.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The overall audio quality of this disc is fairly good, with no major defects, but it does suffer from being fairly quiet at times.

    There is a single English audio track available for the main feature which is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at a miserly 192 kbps.

    I found I had to increase the volume level on my amp above my normal listening levels to consistently make out the dialogue, due to the overall slightly low volume level on this disc. The voice of Candyman is the exception - his deep, boomy voice is scary enough even at low levels. Audio synch was not noted to be an issue.

    The original music is credited to Philip Glass, who has produced some significant work in his time (Koyaanisqatsi, Hamburger Hill, The Hours). This score is very well put together, and memories of the subtle piano melody and the haunting choral accompaniment came flooding back shortly after starting to view the movie. It is a shame that the audio mix on this disc is not Dolby Digital 5.1, as it fails to do full justice to the evocative work of Glass.

    The soundstage is often fairly frontal as the surround flag is not enabled on this disc. The front speakers do see some good separation. If you turn the volume up enough, and turn Pro-Logic decoding on, there are some good scares and subtle ambience to be extracted from the surrounds too.

    The subwoofer was largely unused as there is no LFE track encoded on the disc. Depending on your bass management set-up, you may hear some bass carry over into the subwoofer on occasion. The voice of Candyman in particular can be very deep and atmospheric.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are minimal extras on the disc.

Menu

    The menu is a static composite image of screenshots from the back cover of the disc with the haunting piano melody playing over the top. It allows the meagre choice of playing the movie, selecting of one of twenty chapter stops or viewing the limited extras.

Biographies

    Two text-based screens each for Madsen, Todd and director Bernard Rose.

Theatrical Trailer

    Running for 1:55 and presented full screen with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 448 kbps.

Umbrella Propaganda

    Trailers for two other Umbrella releases, Trick or Treat (2:10) and The Stepfather (1:46), both presented with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this movie is presented with both an anamorphically enhanced transfer at 1.85:1 and a Pan and Scan 1.33:1 version. With the exception of minor language and subtitle options the disc appears to be essentially the same. Unless you particularly want closed-caption subtitles I would say there is no reason to prefer the Region 1 disc over our own.

Summary

    Candyman is scary and not for candypants. The story is well written, the acting of Madsen is very good and all of the characters are believable. The scares don't just rely on gore, although there are some very gory scenes indeed. The combination of a dangerous everyday location (the housing projects), a supernatural killer and a credible main character framed for murder make for an entertaining but tense viewing experience. Not for the faint hearted - this is a quality horror flick.

    The video quality is fairly good, if a little soft at times.

    The audio quality is fairly good, with a very atmospheric score.

    The extras are minimal and add little value to the package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationONKYO TX-DS484
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
No Reason? - Dark Lord (Bio? We don't need no stinkin' bio!) REPLY POSTED
1.85 vs 1.78 - Sam Lowry REPLY POSTED
Audio Quality??? - Michael H (wish my bio were here) REPLY POSTED
Bernard Rose - wolfgirv
re: 1.78:1 vs 1.85:1... - cztery
Again with the aspect ratio? - cztery REPLY POSTED
...also... - cztery
You'd be surprised - Jace
Sorry to comment on 1.85/1.77 again. - cztery
Confused, please help - cztery REPLY POSTED
the candyman - cztery REPLY POSTED
Special Edition release in Region 1 coming soon - Mick
Sanity - cztery