Monday, November 11, 2019

We're All His Victims

In some areas of my life, I’m something of a completist. No, I haven’t made it any priority to make sure I’ve seen the 73 sequels to Children of the Corn, but with only three Candyman films, it always left a minor itch that I’d never seen the third, least respected Day of the Dead. 

So. This is that.

Quick Plot: Caroline is a young LA-based artist who can’t seem to stop painting the man haunting her dreams. Yes, said tall dark handsome stranger is none other than Candyman, still embodied by Tony Todd in full, sexy whispering glory.

Why this young blond, you might ask? Caroline, you see, is the daughter of the late Annie Tarrant, whom you might remember as the main young blond in Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh. Kids grew up fast in the ‘90s, meaning it took just four years between films for Caroline to go from fetus to new adult prey to her great great great grandfather.

Candyman finds his way into Caroline’s reality through the usual path, one tread nearly identically two films prior. In this case, her manager, Miguel, convinces Caroline to call Candyman’s name in a mirror at her big gallery opening. 

It goes as well as expected: everyone close to Caroline (including her black female friend, because why change a formula with any self-awareness:?) is brutally hacked up by an 18th century rusted hook, with all circumstantial evidence pointing towards our very white lead. It doesn’t help that the lead detective on the case is a racist jerk eager to take some vengeance on the hot blond who’s spurned his advances for a Hispanic man. 

I don’t know if anything I’ve said so far has given anyone reason to see Candyman: Day of the Dead, and if it has, I apologize. While the Bill Condon helmed first sequel has some high points (namely its usage of New Orleans), Turi Meyer’s third go ‘round lacks just about anything worthwhile. Todd’s screen time probably adds up to less than ten minutes, and much like the previous installment, is essentially reduced to him begging a bland white woman to be his victim. 

It…hasn’t aged well.

Yes, it’s easy to criticize most horror franchises for being slavish to their formulas. But Jason slaying good-looking teenagers and Freddy creating surreal nightmare landscapes for his final girl’s pals work for specific reasons. Three films in, and every Candyman leans on the same exact conflict: Blond woman summons Candyman, who kills those around her, makes her a suspect, begs her to join him, and she refuses. That’s it. 

Couldn’t, I don’t know, this NOT be another tale of a blond woman? Or, I realize this SLIGHTLY varies the framework and couldn’t POSSIBLY be put into action, but what if, I don’t know, blond woman actually says, “You know what? Why not? Let’s DO this.”

Sure, I suppose we do get to finally meet that “congregation” that Candyman has long been teasing, but considering this is 1999, the sight of them being choker-clad goths doesn’t give us much. Straight-to-video horror sequels of the '90s rarely brought much to the genre, but Candyman: Day of the Dead seems to not even try. Yes, that's true of every Children of the Corn save for part 3, but knowing just how good the first film is and how much potential the character has, it's hard not to feel truly let down.

High Points
I suppose there’s something new in the film’s resolution, which turns the tables on the public face of its villain in a way that offers some redemption to the otherwise icky racist tone it toys with

Low Points
Seriously, Candyman, you’re a badass horror villain played by a great actor: set your sights higher

Lessons Learned
Bangs were the big trend of the mid-1800s

Racist cops use daily racial harassment to hide just how much they like someone

I would never judge anyone’s sex life, save for this case: if you incorporate dripping honeycomb into your bedroom activities, you just might deserve to die via CGI bee swarm

Bleh. The law of diminishing returns has never been quite so harsh as with the Candyman series. If your nagging curiosity still lingers, you can find this one on Amazon Prime. 

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