Candyman: Day Of The Dead

What is it about the creations of Clive Barker that make them so difficult to sequelize without his core concepts collapsing into steaming piles of animal crap? The prime example is what happened to the quality of the Hellraiser franchise after Barker finally jumped ship, but an equally depressing case can be made for the Candyman movies which spectacularly devolved into shite in less than half the time. The second movie got down to the business of tarnishing the fantastic original virtually right away and this third attempt rolls it’s sleeves up to finish the job by deploying a meager budget and a wonky plot. And yet despite smearing shit all over a mirror instead of chanting Candyman into it a bunch of times, unbelievably this third swing of the hook turns out being not quite abysmal as part 2 – but is still overwhelmingly awful nevertheless…

Caroline McKeever is an art collector who also happens to be the great granddaughter of Daniel Robitaille, the black artist lynched generations before for having an affair with a wealthy white woman. As Caroline’s personal time must obviously be utterly worthless, she’s determined to clear her family’s name and denounce the legend of the Candyman as nothing but a hokey superstition. However, it seems that no one has decided to inform the Candyman himself, who returns for another round of good natured disembowlment as he works his way through everyone Caroline knows – although she only seems to know, like, six people. As she’s number one suspect for the mounting pile of bodies, she also manages to form a romantic relationship with the number two suspect, aspiring actor David, in an impressive spot of multi tasking. As Caroline does her best to avoid the bee-line that the Candyman is making for her (little joke, there), she also has to duck the sexual advances of a racist cop, not to mention a cult of Candyman worshipers who randomly appear out of nowhere to pad out the movie.
Can Caroline finally manage to overcome the bloody legacy her bee-stuffed ancestor is responsible for and more pertinently, will we even give the remotest of fucks…?

The most shocking and unsettling thing about Candyman: Day Of The Dead is that despite being a far less polished affair than Candyman 2, it oddly plays a little better thanks to how low-rent it is. Whereas Farewell To The Flesh tried (and failed) to emulate the arthouse aesthetics of Bernard Rose’s original, Day Of The Dead is just a straight ahead schlocker that doesn’t seem to have any aspirations to be anything more than be a leech clinging to the teat of an ailing franchise. Director Turi Meyer impressively manages to somehow not include not one moment of tension in the entire film but manages to squeeze a couple of half decent gore gags in with a guy getting stabbed through the mouth with Candyman’s hook being a particular winner.
Tony Todd, bless him, does what he can and is obviously only here due to his loyalty to the character, but much like Doug Bradley’s devotion to Hellraiser’s Pinhead, the mystique of the Candyman has all but dissipated and he’s just reduced to being a handicapped stalker in a snug coat. In fact, the film repeatedly batters his previous majesty with the unrelenting dual attack of waffling dialogue and shitty CGI, his big entrance is scubbered by shockingly bad visual effects that wouldn’t even cut the mustard back in the early 80’s
Baywatch’s Donna D’Errico doesn’t have too much to do apart from be terrified and show off some pointy nipples in some incredibly tight t-shirts, but to give the actress her due, she actually doesn’t do THAT badly, but it doesn’t help that the film gives her dopey shit to do like reliving the bloody suicide of her mother while being nude in the shower…
To give this cinematic cow pat it’s due, it’s surprising faithful to the franchise’s continuity, but on the other hand what good is staying true to previous movies if it’s made as clear as mud. I didn’t realise that Donna D’Errico is supposed to be the daughter of the heroine from the first film until AFTER the film had finished (thanks wikipedia) but that just raises the question: how does a small girl blossom into a former Playboy Playmate in just four years? This obviously means that Candyman 3 isn’t set in 1999, but it’s treatment of minorities (obviously an attempt to broach similar racial themes seen in the original) seems straight out of the 80’s. Still, at least it HAS minorites AND a (clumsy) sense of social commentary that other films choose to ignore, and the celebration of the mexican Day Of The Dead festival acts as a neat background to the threadbare production. However, any good intentions are thwarted by leaden plotting, obvious scares that don’t work and a bizarre side story involving Candyman worships that literally turns up out of nowhere and features some unintentionally hilarious killer goths…
Still, there is a light on the horizon as the upcoming “spiritual sequel” to Candyman is soon on the way and hopefully the twin forces of Jordan Peele and Nia DaCosta’s reboot and hook on heart, I truly wish it can restore the grandeur of a horror hero who’s been brought incredibly low by such rotten sequels.

This Candyman just isn’t that sweet…

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