Thursday, February 14, 2013
Be his victim. One more time: Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh (1995)
starring: Tony Todd, Kelly Rowan, William O'Leary
Some time after the original, the Candyman returns to slaughter those who defies his existance, starting first with professor Philip Purcell, who you may remember as the expert of the Candyman legend from the prior movie, getting himself slaughtered here after tempting to call forth the specter as a promotional stunt for his new book.
Due to his violent confrontation with the professor in public that night, the blame goes to an angry son who's father was murdered in a Candyman-like fashion; now, he seeks help from his sister, Annie Tarrant, a schoolteacher in New Orleans, to clear his name, begging her to look into the Candyman legend to find the truth. Unfortunately, Annie refuses to believe at the legend, and to prove to the class she's teaching that there's no such thing as a hook wielding boogeyman, she invoked his name five times in front of the mirror. Thus repeats history; the ghostly killer reveals to her in her isolation and in her weakest, killing off everybody that is dear to her, to fuel the fear he needed for him to exist and to have Annie be part of his realm.
While the movie is basically a retelling of the original, Farewell to the Flesh marks the Candyman character's step into the world of exploited slasher films, where we watch the villain return with a bigger bodycount and relatively more blood to compare. By this mark, however, Farewell to the Flesh lacks the comprehensive and thought-provoking psychological power of the first, as the "did-she-do-it-or-not" mind scare was given away in favor of jump scares and supernatural slasher thrills. So is Candyman 2 a run-in-the-mill slasher everyone was familiar with? Yes and no.
As to many supernatural slashers out there that doesn't involve it's killer/creature posing in physical form (et al. Victor Corwley from Hatchet or Jason Voorhees in his zombie form), the plot focuses more on the mystery regarding his relationship to the current female lead he's haunting, rather than the actual urban legend itself and its effect on everybody. Sadly, I didn't find this as workable of an idea as anyone who'd seen the first can tell why he's haunting the girl. The Candyman needed to murder and mutilate those around the lead in order to show them that he exist and the fear fuels his very well being; in this movie, there's another reason as in a twist reveal, it shows that Annie's related to the Candyman in more than mere confrontation, insinuating that they're related by blood or sorts. Now, that's a one in a million chance, to be honest, as Annie could have been just anyone, and the bit of their bloodline being related was just of fondue thrown in for the sake of providing fans some twists.
Focusing on a standard mystery that might keep you watching, but once revealed, leaves you partially empty, a bloody bodycount and familiar slasher scares, you would had expected a basic slasher film with the Candyman spatting out one-liners, but thank God it didn't. Somehow, even if it had stepped down from a cult classic psychological thriller, Farewell To The Flesh still kept the serious and heavy tone of the first, thanks to the haunting score courtesy of the amazing Phillip Glass, some great photography showing the dark corners of New Orleans celebrating Mardi Gras and, of course, Tony Todd reprising his role as the charismatic title boogieman, who's deep voice sends both shivers and awe to his presence. Though, the revelation of his back story kinda lessens his impact, and a very weak finale just made this character's demise a tad silly, his prowess when it comes to his haunting and murder is undeniable, and his back story as a black slave wronged by overzealous bible-thumpers has its strong points.
Gore is something this movie has to be proud of; some plenty of blood red stuff here including hooks going through guts, death by bee stings and an impressive back evisceration, seen through the eyes of a security cam capturing a technologically invisible Candyman slice open a victim's back. (Best part about it is that the victim was a shmuck of a cop. Nothing beats an awesome kill committed to a douche!) There's some scares, too, weak jump scares, but so long as I'm happy with the overall results, I can live with that.
This might be the last good entry to this series. Honestly, they should had stopped here with the first movie, but I guess success leaves you cashing in in hopes of striking gold twice. I would still prefer the original, but at least as a slasher film, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh is an acceptable entry and still an elevated work compared to your average slasher.
1 male eviscerated from the back with hook
1 male gutted with hook
1 female neck cut with hook (dream)
1 male seen slaughtered (flashback)
1 male stung to death by bees, thrown to wall
1 male eviscerated from the back with hook, thrown through window
1 male shot
1 female hook through the gut
1 male hand sawed off with hacksaw, stung to death by bees (flashback)