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I've always been disappointed by the fact that CANDYMAN ($30) was never released on Laserdisc in the Letterboxed format. However, since CANDYMAN is one of the most intriguing horror movies made in the last decade, I bit the bullet and acquired the cropped Laserdisc. Well, thanks to Columbia TriStar's great new wide screen DVD, the cropped Laserdisc is history.

What I liked about CANDYMAN is the fact that the film has a sense of atmosphere that is genuinely disturbing. CANDYMAN is one of the few horror movies of the 1990s where the unsettling effect of the film actually manages to stay with the viewer after it ends. CANDYMAN was adapted from the Clive Barker story THE FORBIDDEN, however the film transports the story from Liverpool to Chicago. Virginia Madsen stars as Helen Lyle, a graduate student who is doing a thesis on modern mythology and urban legends.

While researching various legends, Helen comes across the grisly tale of the Candyman. The Candyman is a hook-wielding specter that supposedly haunts the Cabrini-Green housing project. Legend has it that anyone can summon the Candyman by looking into a mirror and saying his name five times. However, anyone foolish enough to call upon the Candyman ends up being split open by the angry spirit's hook. Helen’s research into the Candyman legend takes her to the gang infested Cabrini-Green houses, where she finds a hidden shrine in which the phantom supposedly dispatched one of his victims.

As part of her research, Helen feels compelled to disprove the legend by attempting to summon the Candyman. Nothing happens at first, but Helen soon finds herself besieged by a very real spirit who has no intention of being disproved, or allowing his legend to die. In fact, the Candyman decides Helen will be the vessel through which his horrifying legend will flower. In addition to Virginia Madsen, the film also stars Tony Todd in the title role. Todd proves to be a mesmerizing presence as the Candyman; he brings a brooding, almost tragic quality to this cinematic boogeyman. The cast of CANDYMAN also includes Xander Berkeley, Kasi Lemmons, Vanessa Williams and Ted Raimi in a neat little cameo.

Columbia TriStar Home Video offers CANDYMAN in both wide screen and full screen presentations on opposite sides of the DVD. As I stated above, I was never satisfied with the cropped Laserdisc version of CANDYMAN, so why would the cropped DVD version be any different? If you must watch the cropped version, it looks fine. It just isn't satisfying. The Letterboxed presentation recreates the film's 1.85:1 theatrical framing quite well and includes the anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions. CANDYMAN looks simply marvelous; the image is crisp and detailed while the colors are strong, yet natural. Neither color noise nor distortion should be considered a problem. This well authored DVD didn't have any serious digital compression artifacts.

The film's soundtrack is only two channel Dolby Digital. While it does decode to Dolby Surround quite well, I was disappointed by the lack of a 5.1 channel soundtrack. Phillip Glass' music for CANDYMAN is simply stunning and would have greatly benefited from the upgrade. Still, the track has some pleasing directional effects and a good sense of atmosphere. I highly recommend applying amplification to the track, simply to hear the Phillip Glass music. The DVD also includes a French language track, plus English and French subtitles. The interactive menus contain the usual scene and language selection features in addition to a theatrical trailer.


Candyman (1992)


DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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