Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh

1995, R, 93 min. Directed by Bill Condon. Starring Tony Todd, Veronica Cartwright, Kelly Rowan, Michael Bergeron, Caroline Barclay, William O'Leary, Bill Nunn.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., March 24, 1995

Taking up where the original Candyman left off, this stylish, atmospheric spook story manages to do its predecessor one better and ends up as that rarest of films, a sequel that actually outperforms the original. Moving the setting from Chicago's blighted Cabrini Green to the labyrinthine alleyways of New Orleans at Mardi Gras is the first in a noticeable series of good ideas from director Condon. Along with production designer Barry Robinson and cinematographer Tobias Schliessler, Condon makes full use of that city's eerie charm, heightening the tension with ghostly images of skeleton-clad revelers and the Crescent City's own unique brand of Southern Gothic ambiance. Todd is effective as the phantasmic Candyman, the earthbound shade of a Civil War-era slave who was murdered by the local populace for the crime of falling in love with the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner. Now he returns to wreak havoc whenever someone is foolish enough to utter his name five times while gazing into a mirror. Ostensibly based on a short story by Clive Barker (who serves as executive producer here), this straightforward horror yarn fleshes out the original film's premise of the Candyman as an “urban legend.” (He even has a wickedly sharpened hook on his right hand, which puts you in mind of that other old urban myth, “The Hook.”) Also of note here is a wonderfully resonant score by none other than Philip Glass, who also scored the first film -- not since Christopher Young's creepy work on Clive Barker's Hellraiser has a horror film utilized music so well. Far more impressive than its ad campaign might lead you to believe, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh elicits considerable chills, despite a third act that becomes bogged down with the inevitable origin flashbacks. Director Condon displays a sure hand with material that could easily have turned out far worse, making this a nicely disturbing piece of work that rises well above the conventions of the genre almost all the way through.

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Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, Bill Condon, Tony Todd, Veronica Cartwright, Kelly Rowan, Michael Bergeron, Caroline Barclay, William O'Leary, Bill Nunn

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