Candyman (2021)

I realize it’s not the best time to be going to the movies gratuitously but I’ve got an itch to sneak back and catch Nia DaCosta’s sequel/relaunch to Bernard Rose’s 1992 masterpiece (yeah, I said it) CANDYMAN again. Ya see, I’m pleased as punch with it and that’s saying a lot because something deep down inside me was kind of giving it a secret cynical side-eye ever since it was announced and I think I’m now beginning to understand why. I unabashedly love the OG, it hits me right in my soul, it brought tears to my eyes and remains one of my favorite film-going experiences of all time. Although the trailers for the reincarnation gave me goosebumps (a usually flawless indicator of quality), I remained worried that the newfangled take would condescend to or blaspheme the original. I’m happy to say my fears were unfounded. In fact, this film, while always offering its own original viewpoint, truly honors and respects the 1992 film I love and its sincere appreciation is what makes it work so well. It’s sad that such an obvious element would be so rare but now that I think of it, every time I’ve seen a sequel in a franchise stumble hard it’s usually because the filmmakers failed to hold its precursors in proper esteem.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, stars as coasting painter Anthony McCoy who finds inspiration that rapidly turns into obsession when he hears the legend of Candyman from his art gallery director girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Parris)’s brother Troy (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett: incidentally, as Candyman was originally conceived by a gay man (Clive Barker), it’s nice to see a central gay character like Troy who is more than just cannon fodder). Anthony’s new artwork spreads the legend like a virus and soon foolish people are playing foolish games and winning foolish prizes (that involve plenty of bees and throats slashed with hooks). As it turns out, the Candyman we know and love is just one of many because just as in real life, horrendous acts and atrocities ripple through generations causing waves of suffering until they are properly confronted and addressed. Fittingly, the franchise now works as a cinematic game of urban legend telephone with new dimensions added by each additional storyteller, i.e. Barker conceived him, Rose added the Black heritage and American setting, DaCosta & Peele expanded the universe to allow multitudes of wronged individuals to more acutely mirror the reality of racial injustice.

Imagine a film with all the artistic integrity of an A24 flick (outstanding cinematography, innovative score, a storyline that can be interpreted infinite ways) but without the semi-snooty need to alienate half the audience by moving at the pace of honey dripping off a hook in January. I mean what else can you ask for? I’m still processing it all but I can say overall it was a perfect blend of touching base with the original (an incredibly effective cameo by Vanessa Williams reprising her role, audio recordings and newspaper clippings of Virginia Madsen’s Helen Lyle who is presented with appropriate reverence and spot-on references to Phillip Glass’ classic score) and groundbreaking, mythology boosting, world expanding creative brainstorming that could power an entire cinematic universe.

I can understand not going to the theater right now but trust me, there’s one pull back shot of an asking-for-it, rude art dealer getting just desserts framed inside her window as the building she resides in grows smaller and smaller that I fear may only be fully appreciated on a large screen. Anyway, I’m more than just happy with the results here, I’m profoundly relieved. This is the sequel that Candyman, Helen Lyle and the audience have always deserved and I feel like a great wrong (parts 2 and especially 3) has been corrected and avenged. This sequel says Candyman’s name properly, with honor and respect.

The Uninvited (1988)

More proof that just because I look like a nice person doesn’t mean that I am one comes in the form of yours truly forcing your poor, long suffering Aunt John to watch THE UNINVITED. No, I’m not talking about the classy black and white ghost jam with RAY MILLAND and nope, I’m not talking about the inexplicable A TALE OF TWO SISTERS re-don’t starring ELIZABETHWET HOT AMERICAN SUMMERBANKS…I’m referring to the stowaway mutant house cat debacle of 1988. In case there is some kind of point to your life and therefore you have not stumbled across this feline focused fiasco, let me fill you in on why it’s so rub your eyes, double take atrocious…

IT STARS MY CAT

When I first met my cat “GATO MALO” in an alley I knew very little about his history. Naturally I assumed he lived the typical homeless cat lifestyle of jumping trains, eating canned beans and carrying his few belongings in a bandana tied to a stick. Imagine my surprise to find out my little schnookums was actually an accomplished thespian that had rubbed shoulders with the likes of ROBSILK STALKINGSESTES. The sad news is no matter how much I grill the bastard, he will not reveal where he hides his royalty checks!

GEORGE KENNEDY

I know video stores don’t exist anymore but if they did, it should be mandatory that each and every one has a well-marked GEORGE KENNEDY section. That way I would not have to waste time digging through crap that stars TOM HANKS and that platypus lady. Not only is GEORGE KENNEDY the most handsome man who ever lived but he also starred in DEMONWARP!

CLU GALLAGER

Nearly unrecognizable in JERRY LEWIS false teeth and mumbling like a madman, CLU RETURN OF THE LIVING DEADGALLAGER comes off as a dangerously psychotic PETER SELLERS wannabe. Isn’t this the same weirdo character he played in THE OFFSPRING? CLU, you scare me sometimes.

THE LADIES

As if wearing shredded x-tra large T-shirts over their bikinis was not classy enough, these two broads have discovered the ultimate culinary combo of champagne and ice cream sundaes! Parents of gay teens, don’t waste your money sending your kid to “straight” camp; just pop the UNINVITED into the DVD player and voila! Yowza and zowee.

SPECIAL (as in short bus) EFFECTS!

Where do I start? So there’s this mutant cat and when it opens it mouth, a smaller cat (or a rat?) jumps out and attacks people. I have no idea why this was attempted in the first place but there is absolutely no way to describe it. There is no consistency in the size of the beast from one scene to the next. The rules of time and space are not only outright rejected but given wedgies and laughed out of town. The only crumb of logic that is thrown is at film’s end when we discover all the events took place on a toy boat in a bathtub. Try not to notice that the cat is a completely different color in the final shot.

GREYDON CLARK

I have no idea what the hell director GREYDON CLARK could have possibly have been thinking while directing THE UNINVITED. His earlier films SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS and WITHOUT WARNING (1980) are hardly masterpieces, but they do, for the most part, resemble movies.

In other words, this is a must own and I’ve been dragging around a frayed VHS copy for years. The new DVD (a double feature with the suddenly competent looking MUTANT (1984)) is not much of an upgrade in the picture quality department but really, why should it be? This is a real bottom of the barrel disaster that needs to be seen under the worst of circumstances, preferably under some level of inebriation. Now if only I could get GATO MALO to autograph a copy…