Retro Review: Who Can Take a Valentine and Turn It into a Scream? The CANDYMAN Can

Posted on: Feb 13th, 2012 By:

By Philip Nutman
Contributing Writer

Splatter Cinema Presents CANDYMAN (1992); Dir: Bernard Rose; Based on the short story by Clive Barker; Starring Tony Todd, Virginia Madsen, Xander Berkeley; Tues. Feb. 14 9:30 PM; Plaza Theatre; Trailer here.

Based on the Clive Barker short story, “The Forbidden,” which appeared in the fifth volume of his BOOKS OF BLOOD, CANDYMAN (1992) was a considerable hit with horror fans and made actor Tony Todd something of a horror icon. His credits also include the Tom Savini remake of George Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1990), THE CROW (1994), THE ROCK (1996) and FINAL DESTINATION (2000), among many others.

While not heavy on the gore quotient, CANDYMAN is one scary movie. The original story was set in England, but the filmic version was transposed to an American setting ­ specifically, Chicago ­ to make it more commercial. Ironically, the movie was made by a British director, Bernard Rose, who had previously made the incredibly creepy PAPERHOUSE (1988).

CANDYMAN stars Virginia Madsen (sister of Michael, of RESERVOIR DOGS ear-slicing infamy) and Xander Berkeley. Xander is perhaps best known for playing George Mason, Jack Bauer’s arsehole boss, in the first incarnation of the hit TV series 24; Jack had to blow his brains out. And since we here at ATLRetro know our pop culture trivia, Tony Todd played an African terrorist in a later season.

Virginia Madsen in CANDYMAN (TriStar Pictures, 1992)

We don’t believe in plot spoilers, so we’re not going to tell you the narrative of CANDYMAN. If you’ve never read the Barker story, you should hunt it down (Note: IN THE FLESH was the American title of the fifth volume of THE BOOKS OF BLOOD) or if you have never seen this movie, then you’re in for a scary treat thanks to the fine folks at Splatter Cinema and the wonderful Plaza Theatre. If you’ve seen the film, you know what we’re talking about. Horror movies are always better seen on the big screen. Either way, do yourself a favor and go see CANDYMAN.

Contributing Writer Philip Nutman has been FANGORIA magazine’s longest running reporter ­ 30 years this May ­ and knows a thing or two about horror flicks. He is also the author of the cult classic zombie novel, WET WORK, and just wrapped filming ABED, the sickest zombie movie ever, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Retro Review: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2: The one with Dennis Hopper…

Posted on: Jun 13th, 2011 By:

By Geoff Slade
Contributing Blogger

Splatter Cinema Presents THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986); Dir: Tobe Hooper; Starring: Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Jim Siedow, Bill Moseley, Bill Johnson; Special Makeup Effects: Tom Savini; Tues. June 14; 9:30 PM; Plaza Theatre; Trailer here.

The original THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE was a groundbreaking achievement of mood and drawn-out tension, the third one was mostly crap, and the reboots are soulless in the way horror movies tend to be in this post-HOSTEL era. But THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 is funnier, grosser, weirder and better than most people remember.

Dennis Hopper plays a former Texas Ranger named Lefty who’s been tracking the “chainsaw killers” who attacked his brother’s kids some years before. They killed his nephew (Franklin, the whiny guy in the wheelchair) and completely effed-up his niece (Sally, the one that got away) in the original film. He enlists a radio DJ named Stretch in the hunt which climaxes (of course) in the killers’ lair.

This time around, the tone is lighter. The film seems to halfheartedly satirize the genre (as well as the 1980s), and there is plenty of humor in the script. We learn, for example, the cannibalistic clan’s surname is “Sawyer” (seriously!). Also, Leatherface, the most famous, if not the most charismatic member of the family falls in love and creams his Dickies while giving credence to a “chainsaw as phallus” reading of the series. It’s not a comedy per-se, or even a “black-comedy,” but the heavy-handed gloom of the original is missing.

There is still plenty of squirm-inducing weirdness and tons of gore (way more than the original) thanks to special effects maestro Tom Savini. In fact, a scene featuring a face-peeling, a peeled-face-wearing and some forced dancing is as grotesque as anything released by a major movie studio in the mid-’8os. Rest assured, with Hopper and the rest of the cast, the chainsaws aren’t the only thing chewing up scenery. Jim Siedow (as “Cook”) and Bill Moseley (as “Chop-Top”), in particular, bring their characters to life with over-the-top gusto. And the two guys in the Mercedes are so obnoxiously annoying that their (Spoiler!) gruesome demise early on will likely bring on a round of high-fives.

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 is best enjoyed on a big screen and the perfect movie for Splatter Cinema.

 

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