Through the Looking Glass

After two violent incidences in the projects, Helen (Virginia Madsen) needs institutionalized. The children living there see that bloodshed every day.

Candyman is masterful when dissecting inequality and privilege, doing so almost silently around Helen, not directly in dialog. It’s possible to smell the grotesque squalor in a bathroom, and feel the racial discomfort in the early acts as Helen uses the ghetto as research. This isn’t a matter of humanity to her, just work. A job. Her smug, egotistical co-workers delight over her excitement, oblivious to the poverty she’s invading.

Candyman is a cruel villain, but one who exists with purpose

By 1992, the slasher was effectively dead. Freddy, Jason, and Michael grounded themselves in schlock splatter. Candyman, smartly, isn’t part of their ilk. He kills, but off-screen. Or, maybe he doesn’t kill at all. Using its progressiveness to push the genre forward, Candyman isn’t about who will or how people die. Characters aren’t empty targets. This isn’t fun. It’s crushingly cruel, turning its murderer into a symbol rather than a physical manifestation.

Just prior to Candyman’s (Tony Todd) first appearance, with the film at its halfway mark, Helen walks through a parking garage, smiling at slides she took showing the deteriorating conditions. She’s thrilled at the images, divested from empathy. The pictures serve her, selfishly. Then in an instant, Helen is part of those stills, covered in blood, the screaming in another room ear-piercing. Candyman demands others understand his pain, not always the physical, but the cursed anguish. In that, he’s among the most terrifying horror creations.

Helen’s fate is that she must atone for her carelessness; a white woman needs to save a newborn black baby from tragedy. Her marital problems from within an apartment safely looking down on the projects from afar mean nothing in comparison. Candyman is a cruel villain, but one who exists with purpose, to instill the fear felt by those who live uncertain of their next day.

Candyman released alongside hip hop’s explosion in popularity, a medium exposing police brutality, racism, and dwindling conditions in ghettos. Movies like Boyz in the Hood approached the material in determined, authentic ways, giving visuals to those lyrics, but Candyman isn’t without its realism. Beacons of wealth create shadows over a distressed courtyard, making the projects infinitesimal in the foreground. The police’s willingness to hunt Helen’s attacker shows a gross racial negligence. And, while society is quick to treat Helen’s growing mental crisis, young Jake (DeJuan Guy) is repeatedly traumatized, yet no one helps him. Jake is on his own, and only the Candyman understands.

Video

Sensational color reproduction sells this Dolby Vision master immediately. Saturation is remarkable, from the dense flesh tones to the bountiful primaries, Candyman spills impeccable vibrancy. Nothing oversaturates, but pushes right up to the line.

Choosing the unrated cut, the additional footage is HD only. Oddly, that better sells the 4K material, directly showing resolution gains. Candyman isn’t the sharpest film stock, yet definition excels anyway. Texture abounds, medium and close-ups equally pure. Dazzling exteriors bring out the city’s concrete and graffiti. Shout Factory’s grain replication keeps the imagery pure and wholly film-like. The heightened color doesn’t pose a challenge.

Dressed in lush shadows, pure black is a constant, a slight crush inherent to the cinematography while causing minimum loss. Gains in brightness elevate highlights, peaks represented well and with enough intensity.

Audio

Phillip Glass’ score benefits greatly from this Atmos track. Organ keys hum in the low-end while the choir hauntingly spreads through the surrounds and heights. The same happens with Tony Todd’s voice, a slight bass added to the wide reverb whenever he speaks.

Remastering drives a stretched soundstage, voices drifting around, precise and clear. Small touches like doors closing come from the proper channel. Ambient echoes bounce off walls inside the projects. Candyman sounds like it was always mixed this way, truly organic and respectful of the source.

Extras

A ridiculously awesome slate of four commentaries begins with Tony Todd and director Bernard Rose. Stephen Jones and Kim Newman provide their thoughts on the second track. Rose returns on two additional tracks connected to the unrated cut, one paired with Movie Crypt podcast hosts, and the other his creative team (Clive Barker included) and cast. Five interview segments precede a feature titled Sweets to the Sweet. Four featurettes then explore production design, makeup, the legend, and Barker’s story process.

Both the theatrical and unrated cuts are on the UHD, as well as the Blu-ray. The Blu-ray gives each a separate disc (due to the extras taking up space most likely), while the UHD is a single disc.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Candyman (1992)
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

A smartly conceived take on slasher cinema and inner city lore, Candyman’s power lies in its lasting social consciousness.

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User Review
3.67 (3 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 42 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: