Candyman…Candyman…Candyman… Bernard Rose’s fantastic gothic horror film comes home to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in a Limited Edition from Arrow Video. Like Scream Factory and Turbine Media Group’s releases, it features the same excellent transfer, Atmos audio, and an amazing selection of bonus features. With three excellent options available for fans, it comes down to budget, artwork, and what extra features and swag you need to complete your collection. Arrow Video’s call for Candyman is another Highly Recommended edition.
[Excerpt from our - Candyman - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Scream Factory Review]
"You say his name in the mirror five times… and then he appears behind you and kills you with a hook. It’s true… or at least every freshman on campus says about the Candyman. For Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) and her partner Bernadette Walsh (Kasi Lemmons), these urban legends are essential for their graduate thesis paper. The Candyman (Tony Todd) is a local Chicago legend spurring Helen’s interests beyond simple academia. As she digs into the Candyman’s origins in Cabrini-Green, she’ll soon learn there’s more truth to the curse and legend.
A large part of the success of this film goes to the great cast. Virginia Madsen was terrific in the film as a bullish and ambitious student. She’s so driven to make her mark that her obsessive nature comes back to haunt her. To that end, Tony Todd was perfectly cast as the cursed spirit Candyman. Even with so little screentime, his presence looms large and that deep voice puts a chill down your spine. Kasi Lemmons is the lovely voice of reason and caution with Bernadette. The scene when Bernadette and Helen are going to Cabrini-Green for the first time and she’s packing her purse full of pepper spray and tasers is funny but it says a lot about their character dynamic. It even speaks to the racial implications where Helen acts because she’s white she’s essentially invincible in that arena where Bernadette knows full well the reality of the situation. Then there’s Xander Berkley as Helen’s husband Trevor - and man can that guy play the lovable sleaze bag! Not part of the cast but an essential element, you have the magnificent Philip Glass score that just adds to the creepy hypnotic undertone of the film.
After a pair of less-than-amazing sequels, 2021 saw the franchise reboot Candyman returning the series back to its roots in Chicago. I loved the 2021 Candyman, not as good as the first but I thought it was a terrific relaunch for the series that tied back to the events of the original film accounting for the dramatic changes to the city’s appearance through gentrification but not its dark soul. With this watching, I decided to run these films back to back and I was pleased to see how well they work side-by-side. I’ll say the newer film is just as ambitious with tone and story, but between the two it’s not as focused. Bernard Rose went for the “less is more” with its themes and cultural observations where the 2021 sequel was throwing a lot of spaghetti at the wall to see what stuck. When it works it’s great, but from start to finish Rose’s 1992 original is still the most visceral and overall horrifying. This is a franchise that should never leave Chicago. It’s like trying to take Leatherface out of Texas, it just doesn’t work. And that’s where I feel like Candyman Farewell to the Flesh and Candyman Day of the Dead struggle. There’s no reason for the action to be in New Orleans or Los Angeles. I’m sure someday down the line we’ll get another Candyman film - franchises never really die - but whether or not it could possibly live up to this terrific first film is a serious question mark."
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Candyman is called to haunt 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray from Arrow Video in a single-disc 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release. Pressed on a BD-100 disc, the disc is housed in a standard black case with an essay booklet, art cards, and reversible insert artwork that’s bound together inside a book slipcase with a storyboard booklet and double-sided reproduction poster. The disc loads to an animated main menu that is identical to the one Scream Factory used for its release. It opens with the option of selecting your preferred cut, the R-Rated edition ro the fractionally longer UK (i.e. Unrated) Version
Reportedly sourced from a new 4K master of the original negative prepared by Turbine Media Group and supervised by Bernard Rose and Director of Photography Anthony Richmond, this 1.85:1 2160p Dolby Vision (with HDR10) transfer takes what was already an excellent transfer for the 2018 disc and makes it better. From A to B, this isn’t a massive overhaul of the image with new coloring, what we get are numerous subtle refinements throughout the presentation for a richer more detailed cinematic experience.
First, details are uniformly excellent throughout. Facial features, textures in the early 90s clothing, graffiti, and the dilapidated conditions of Cabrini-Green are on full display. Fine film grain is apparent and appropriately cinematic without appearing overly noisy. From the 2018 1080p transfer to this 4K release, it’s the subtle refinements to small details that stood out most to me - Helen’s houndstooth coat when she’s exploring the vacant apartment is shaper allowing that pattern to come out more cleanly. Likewise, the texture of Bernadette’s black coat with the white speckling gains those little extra refinements. Also worth noting, for the Unrated cut with those scant few seconds of additional gore, the difference in quality isn’t nearly as obvious on the 4K disc as the 1080p disc. It looks like they went back in there to give those inserts another pass to clean them up a bit so the transition isn't quite as jarring. There’s still a bit of wear and tear along the outer edges for those couple of seconds but they’re so fleeting you hardly notice.
The Dolby Vision pass is also on point. Primaries are stronger with reds and blues getting the most attention. Overall the color timing is a bit darker pulling back the brighter orange tone that was prevalent throughout the 2018 disc. Again not a dramatic difference but an appreciable one. Black levels also pick up a welcome boost. I felt like this transfer managed shadows and lighting much better allowing for Tony Todd is slide in and out of the shadows without falling into crush or being so bright that it loses the moodiness of the shot. To that point, whites are bold and crisp without blooming.
Just like Scream Factory's release, this 4K disc only offers this new Atmos track with the previous DTS-HD MA 2.0 track.
Since the Atmos mix is the newest addition to this set, that’s where I’m going to focus the attention. This film as a whole isn’t built on a lot of fast action or massive set pieces. It’s all mood, atmosphere, and general creepiness. It’s the silent stretches where you think you can hear something in the background but you’re not quite sure that this track really excels. The soundscape as a whole feels bigger and more immersive. Those echos along the stains and hallways of the Cabrini highrises or the parking structure move up and through the front/center channels into the heights.
When the film enters the last half and the horror really digs in the spacing of individual elements ensures there's a near-constant surround presence with expanded atmospherics. LFE and low notes also pick up some extra punch over the 5.1 track from past releases. This time you can genuinely feel Todd’s low rumbling voicework and how it moves about the channels is a real treat. Of course, for all of the gnarly squishy bits of gore, there’s plenty of attention paid there as well. This track may seem deceptively simple for that first half, but when you finally see Tony Todd’s Candyman it goes for the throat. Levels are pitch-perfect without the need for any extra adjustments, although with any viewing of this flick I recommend the louder the better for how damn creepy it is.
Essentially you’re getting a healthy chunk of the materials that Scream Factory and Turbine Media Group put forth for their release. However, you’re not getting two of the great audio commentaries in that set and you’re missing out on some of the featurettes and interviews that weren’t carried over for this edition or picked up by Turbine’s set. This set does have three Bernard Rose short films that are interesting enough but not something I’d call the tiebreaker to sway someone towards purchasing one set over the other. Overall this is a great slate of bonus features, but if you want the best package of extras, the Scream Factory set is where they’re at.
Candyman got a lot of 4K love this year to celebrate its 30th Anniversary. Turbine Media Group, Scream Factory, and Arrow all have put forth their releases and each has a lot going for it. After looking through everything, I have to tip my hat to Arrow Video’s set as the best overall, I really like the Storyboard booklet and the overall package. Turbine delivered a fantastic disc too but didn’t hold as many bonus features and missed out on the great Atmos track - but it had the best artwork and I’m starting to really enjoy collecting Mediabooks these days. If you’re gunning for bonus features, Scream Factory wins that race. They’re all very good options so it just comes down to budget, art, and what bonus features you want for your Candyman experience. Or you could do what I did and pick up all three… At any rate, this Limited Edition release from Arrow Video is Highly Recommended