"Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh," like the 1992 "Candyman," overflows with blood and guts, drowning a potent metaphor for African American rage and oppression. Those who saw the original film will recall that the supernatural figure of its title, summoned by repeating his nickname five times while peering into a mirror, materialized in Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing project, already the site of so much crime and poverty.
The Candyman was Daniel Robitaille, son of a Louisiana slave, an artist of such talent that an aristocratic landowner had him paint a portrait of his daughter Caroline. The two fell in love, and Robitaille was punished by having his right hand lopped off and his head and chest smeared with honey to attract a swarm of bees--hence his new moniker. As he lay dying, however, Caroline manages to hold up her hand-mirror to his face, thus preserving his soul and allowing him to return from the dead to seek vengeance, his missing hand replaced with a scythe. You have the feeling that the Candyman will be lurking around as long as there's racial injustice.
This time Candyman (again Tony Todd) has turned up on home turf, New Orleans, for Mardi Gras, which marks the beginning of Lent, a "farewell to the flesh." He's intent upon slaughtering Caroline's descendants but doesn't reckon with Caroline's spunky great-great-granddaughter (Kelly Rowan).
As before, the film has been adapted from a story by the film's executive producer, horror-meister Clive Barker. Visually, "Candyman 2" dazzles, with ace cinematographer Tobias Schliesser, editor Virginia Katz and a top-notch special effects crew creating a film noirish New Orleans--always the most picturesque of locales--but also churning up gallons of gore.
Once again, Philip Glass composes one of his insistent scores--and again the effect is pretentious, considering the circumstances. Director Bill Condon has a sense of style but a heavy hand with actors--you can all but hear them telling themselves to hit their marks and punch out their lines. Still, Rowan is game, Todd again a figure of sinister dignity--this time the Candyman is allowed more pathos--and veteran Matt Clark shines in supporting role as a dabbler in the occult.
As before, however, grisly wretched excess spoils the show.
MPAA rating: R, for violence and gore, and for some sexuality and strong language. Times guidelines: The film is stronger on blood and guts than either language or sexuality, featuring scenes of extreme savagery. 'Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh'
Tony Todd: Daniel Robitaille, the Candyman
Kelly Rowan: Annie Tarrant
Timothy Carhart: Paul McKeever
Veronica Cartwright: Octavia
A Polygram Filmed Entertainment release of a Propaganda Films production. Director Bill Condon. Producers Sigurjon Sighvatsson, Gregg D. Fienberg. Executive producer Clive Barker. Screenplay by Rand Ravich, Mark Kruger; from a story by Barker. Cinematographer Tobias Schliesser. Editor Virginia Katz. Costumes Bruce Finlayson. Music Philip Glass. Special effects by Ultimate Effects. Special Visual Effects by Introvision International. Production designer Barry Robison. Art director Dawn Snyder Stebler. Set designers Robert Goldstein, Stephanie J. Gordon. Set decorator Suzette Sheets. Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes.
* In general release throughout Southern California.