Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh (1994) review

candymanPoster

“Do I believe in the Candyman?  I believe in the myth.”

Candyman rocks.  It’s a classic, through and through.  Fine storytelling, depth, great acting, and a stunning score.  It was well received by critics and audiences alike, and made some good bank at the theatre.  A sequel was inevitable.  Unfortunately.

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Candyman 2 should have been been great.  I’ll be vague here in an effort to protect those that haven’t seen the original, but shouldn’t Candyman 2 have been Candywoman?  I mean, the first film sets things up perfectly.  I assume Virginia Madsen wasn’t interested, or, more likely, this production was a rush job with the sole purpose of replicating the original.  I love the New Orleans location – it’s gorgeous, and suggests that the same sort of intellectual themes present in the first film would be present here; unfortunately, they’re not beyond surface level nods.  If the first film was largely about myth and storytelling, this one goes the route of a sins of the father tale, but everything feels muddled and without focus.  It feels like a cheaper knockoff in almost every way. It’s not terrible, but still a precipitous step down from the original.

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The good?  Well, as I said, the New Orleans location is gorgeous, and the film has a wonderful, urban Gothic look to it;  there’s some excellent cinematography and atmosphere on display.  Tony Todd, as always, is tremendous.  He’s just as compelling to watch here as ever, and that golden voice of his is just as awesome.  Philip Glass returned to deliver a couple of new compositions, with the rest of the score being made up of remixes and tracks from the original, so the music is, of course, on point.  Unfortunately, everything else just feels sloppy.  The casting is questionable – William O’Leary is just not great as Ethan Tarrant, and Kelly Rowan gives a pretty wooden performance as lead Annie Tarrant.  The story is more confusing – Candyman wants to be with his family, I guess?  I do like the backstory of Candyman – his lynching and tortured death are nice bits, but as the first showed, unnecessary.  It’s certainly watchable, and there are some good kills.  The problem is that it never rises above watchable, never has the passion, conviction, or elegance of the first film.

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While I consider this film underrated – popular opinion is that it’s worthless, and that’s not the case, it’s very watchable, has some great cinematography and music – but it’s still not great.  It’s not a patch on the original classic.  Watch this for the visuals, for Todd, and the music, but don’t expect greatness.

6/10

12 thoughts on “Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh (1994) review

    1. Yeah, that’s definitely true. The biggest issue is that it follows on from a classic. It’s a very watchable film, enjoyable even, it’s just clearly a rush job after the success of the first film.

  1. I’m surprised to learn Glass contributed new music to the sequel (probably the best part of the film really), since I’d heard about him feeling disappointed and cheated into contributing to the original believing it to be more of an indie art house flick. Good on him for consistency, both in allowing use of the old work and creating more for the sequel. I wonder what changed his mind?

    1. Yeah, I’m not sure what changed his mind. What’s really odd is the liner notes for the vinyl release of the Candyman soundtrack – director Bernard Rose says there was a bit of a mixup, but Glass apologized later, and they’ve since worked together. Glass, however, has someone else provide the notes, and it’s much more cold than Rose’s version. Really not sure. I’d expect there was some sort of contractual obligation for the sequel? Or, it could be that Glass just loved the music and felt that however he felt about the film, he felt obligated to contribute on that front.

      1. Yeah, it’s funny isn’t it? I kinda feel like you might be right, and the later is true. That Glass just liked what he’d composed enough to want to follow it through for the sequel. Not sure why but I’ve always believed that too. Lovely spotlight on a lesser known movie all the same. I always felt the back story makes him in to such a sympathetic ‘villian’ that it sucks power out of the horror of the original film, if you know what I mean?

  2. I guess it all depends on expectations. I expected to hate this movie, and was so pleased that I didn’t, that I’ve come to think of it as a “good” film. Admittedly, I’ve only watched it once, years ago. I don’t think “Candywoman” could have worked very well, and to me the logical direction to go with the series was to elaborate on the origin story, which the original left open for future use. @Geen: I’ve never heard that Glass had any problem with his score being used for a horror movie, or with the checks he received for it. He leads an expensive upper-middle class existence in New York City, why would he object to getting paid?

    1. Initially, he was quite upset upon seeing the film. In his version of things, he was tricked into thinking this would be a methodical art film, and he was shocked at what he saw at the premier. This caused him to object to a release of the film’s score until relatively recently. The liner notes for the vinyl release are really fascinating.

  3. I didn’t see this until pretty recently and was still let down. I think on the special edition DVD Bernard Rose mentions he wrote a sequel but the sequel wanted to basically remake the first movie. Move over, Michael. If anyone deserves a rebirth it’s Candyman.

    1. Yeah, that’s just as I thought – the executives really wanted to continue in the slasher sequel vein and try to replicate what was great about the original without fully understanding it.
      Bill Condon has made some good films, and I’m sure he did his best with what he had to work with here, and he’s probably why the film is still watchable.

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