Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh was the follow-up to the original Candyman, which came out in 1992. The first film in what would become a three-film franchise was one of the most interesting and original horror films of the ’90s, not a decade known for its great originally in American horror cinema. It was also deeply flawed, but due to the vision of director Bernard Rose, the source material by Clive Barker, the performances from Tony Todd and Virginia Madsen, and a score by Philip Glass that completely sets the film up as this bewitching gothic romance, it become a mini-classic—and rightfully so.
The original film was a surprise box-office and critical favourite when it came out, and as it only made more and more money on videotape, a sequel was naturally on the cards. Initially Rose, Todd and Madsen were all set to return. Rose did write a script, but reportedly it didn’t feature The Candyman, so it was rejected. The producers clearly saw this series as more in the Freddie Kruger or Jason Voorhees mould, but in reality it is a gothic romance with sociopolitical commentary thrown in, primarily on race relations. Tony Todd did agree to reprise his role as The Candyman in the end, but Bill Condon replaced Rose, and Madsen becoming The Candyman, as suggested in the first film, was thrown out of the window.
Bill Condon is now an incredibly successful Oscar-winning director and writer, but like many others, he started out in genre films. Before Candyman 2, he directed one feature—Sister, Sister—and a whole host of TV movies. This film clearly acted as a stepping stone to bigger and better things, because his next project is the much-loved and utterly brilliant Gods & Monsters. He has since directed Dreamgirls and the final two Twilight films, among many other films. Condon clearly felt fondly enough about Candyman 2 to record a commentary track for its initial Region 1 DVD release, which has been ported over to this Blu-Ray.
The film itself is better than it has any right to be, because Candyman really did not call for a sequel. SPOILERS!: the two main characters in the original film burn up at the very end, and if anybody should have returned, it should’ve been Virginia Madsen’s Helen Lyle as The Candyman. However, this time the action is transferred from inner-city Chicago to New Orleans, which is a good change of locale. Given the location, Mardi Gras and a tiny bit of the city’s history of Voodoo is thrown in, but not in an overbearing way. Kelly Rowan plays the schoolteacher Annie Tarrant, who gets thrown into the Candyman mythos through family connections, including the death of her father under mysterious circumstances while investigating similar murders to the ones The Candyman commits. Her brother is also accused of murdering the writer of a book on The Candyman… but who do you think really did it?
Condon directs with enough flair to keep it from being a total dud, and Tony Todd is clearly enjoying exploring The Candyman’s backstory. Kelly Rowan is fine, although she is no Virginia Madsen, and Veronica Cartwright gives a bit of a boost to the acting as Annie’s mother Octavia. It could’ve been better—probably only if Bernard Rose’s script was used and he had returned as a director—but even though it’s clearly a cash grab, the movie tries to be faithful to the original whilst carving out its own identity, sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing. Certainly see the original first, but as ’90s horror movie sequels go, you could do far worse… maybe the direct-to-video Candyman 3? which even Tony Todd basically disowns in his interview on the disc.
The disc from 88 Films is basically a port of the Scream Factory disc, with commentary from Condon, and interviews with Tony Todd (who mostly talks about the first film) and Veronica Cartwright. The theatrical trailer is included on the disc, and in the first printing features a limited edition O-Card slipcase and a collectors’ booklet by film journalists Dave Wain and Matty Budrewicz.