Millcreek has done it again! This particular blu-ray came from nowhere, at least to me. I know Millcreek had a deal with Sony (I picked up the Hostel 1 / 2 bd awhiel back) but I did not know that they obtained the original “When a Stranger Calls” and “Happy Birthday to Me”!!! To my surprise, I found this blu-ray at Walmart for $5! To top it off, the audio on Happy Birthday is of the original soundtrack not the altered music that Sony released 8 years ago!!! Quality on the disc is pretty good IMO. Pick it up ASAP!
At a recent auction house, I acquired close to 100 old newspapers, mainly from the 1940s. Some where from 30s and 50s, but 90% were 40s. These newspapers were mainly of the Courier-Journal based out of Louisville Kentucky. While browsing through them I spotted some really cool movie ads. Here are some of my finds.
You scared of clowns? Some are, not sure why, perhaps because when one is covered with clown makeup, they act crazy!? LOL I have never been a fan of such a concept. I’ve seen Stephen King’s IT (did not read the book), thought it was alright. I’ve seen and enjoyed Killer Klowns from Outer Space, but that’s more a comedy. I’ve heard of the Killjoy series for awhile but never bothered to watch them. I heard negative reviews of the first two for years, thus I just ignored them. A third Killjoy movie came out not long ago, but I didn’t follow up on it to see if it was any better. Now a fourth film came out and received positive reviews from multiple websites. This caught my attention. My 13 year old son has the first three Killjoy movies on DVD, so I decided to watch them all.
Killjoy comes to us from Full Moon. Those who are into horror movies should have at least heard of them. The Full Moon studio, ran by Charles Band, has been around for over twenty years. They specialize in low budget horror films. Charles Band had left Empire Pictures to form Full Moon (as such, you can check out films under the Empire label and notice the similarities). The studio created the franchises of Puppet Master, Trancers and Subspecies as well as current franchises Evil Bong and Gingerdead Man. In total, they have released / obtained around 250 movies (based on their discography in the new catalog they put out). I have a love hate relationship with Full Moon. Some of their movies I really like while others I do not. I’ve bought some over the years and quickly resold them, yet others I kept. I absolute LOVE the Subspecies series. It currently consists of four films and a spinoff, but a fifth film is in pre-production for next year. We’ll see how that turns out (fingers crossed!). The Puppet Master series is another I enjoy. My kids really like the Puppet Master series, but they also like the other puppet films Full Moon puts out. They seem to specialize in doll films as there is Doll Graveyard, Ragdoll, Demonic Toys, Dollman and so on. I think Charles Band has a fetish for dolls. LOL
To get back on the subject, Killjoy was released by Full Moon in 2000. The film told the story of Michael. He’s a loner in his peer group and gets picked on by the local thugs. Michael also has taking a liking to Jada, a girlfriend of one of the bullies. This causes problems which leads to Michael getting his ass whooped by this group. Wanting revenge, Michael goes home and calls upon the demon Killjoy. Unfortunately Killjoy does not respond. Later on, the 3 thugs take Michael out to an area, originally to just mess with his head, but accidentally end up shooting him. Killjoy arrives one year after this event and enacts revenge on not only these three thugs, but others. I find it interesting in how Killjoy lures his victims. He has an ice cream truck that he tricks people to come in. Once in the truck, they are transported to his world in which he is king. Once the victim is killed in his world, he/she dies in the real world. Sounds kind of like Freddy Krueger, eh? Killjoy is also a prankster, being that he is a clown. So there is a black humor element running in his kills. I thought this movie was decent. It was nothing memorable, but it’d be a movie I would watch again. Killjoy is portrayed by Angeles Vargas. This would be the only time he portrays Killjoy as Trent Haaga would take over in the next movie for the remainder of the series.
Apparently the movie was successful as Full Moon had a sequel out two years later. This film is unrelated to the first movie’s storyline. A group of “teens” are sent out to renovate a shelter house for community service. One of the “teens” gets accidentally shot by a local redneck. While heading for safety, they arrive at a voodoo priestess house. The demon of Killjoy is conjured up once again. I did not like this movie at all. I’ve heard the awfulness of this movie for years and I can now see why. It took forever to get Killjoy into the movie and when he did, the kills were extremely lame. The acting is very very VERY bad. I can tolerate bad acting, but this is just horrible. They didn’t even bother to throw in some nudity. When all else fails, throw in blood and nudity! Not this movie. Fortunately one could skip this movie and not miss anything in the overall story. I suggest you do.
Killjoy 2 seemed to kill off the franchise as there was not another sequel until 2010. It would seem odd that Full Moon would resurrect this series, but I am glad they did. Killjoy 3 took the series into a whole new direction. The movie starts with an older man summoning Killjoy for revenge. When Killjoy shows up, you notice a difference right away. The makeup effect of Killjoy has improved 1000%! Wow, he actually looks like a demon! Where his hair normally was, you now see long horns. The facial features have improved greatly as well. Anyway, this time Killjoy summons 3 other clowns to help him. He calls upon Punchy, a large hobo clown, Freakshow, a mime who has a small siamese brother attached to his side and a nude (covered only by body paint) succubus clown by the name of Batty Boop. The professor leaves before he gives Killjoy a name for which he wants revenge on. This is essential as it will be revealed later on that the professor is the father of Michael from the first film. Before this revelation, we follow a group of students who are house sitting the professor’s home. During this time, a mysterious mirror arrives on the doorstep. This mirror acts the same as the ice cream truck from the first film. It is a door way to Killjoy’s world. Once you touch the mirror, you are transported to his world.
I love the fact Killjoy now has a posse to help in his dirty work. My favorite has to be Batty Boop. Wow, such a sexy character she is, especially with that voice! Freakshow is a character who probably provides the only true terrifying moments (those scenes where his eyes lights up!) as this film is more a horror comedy. After watching this film, I thought this movie had put life back into this dead series. I was eager to watch the newest film, Killjoy Goes to Hell.
Once again, Killjoy gets summoned but this time, he was summoned to Hell! After his failure from the last movie, Killjoy is put on trial for not being evil enough. As the evidence mounts against Killjoy, he loses more and more of his power. This sounds like an odd concept for a movie and it is. But this is what makes it so great. The characters from the previous movie (the 4 clowns and the “last girl”) make a return to this movie, so it’s best if you watch this one back to back with Killjoy 3. It’s made by the same creative team of the last film, so the look and tone of the movie matches that of KJ3. It also appears the budget was increased for this film. If it wasn’t, they sure utilized what they had! I don’t want to spoil the movie since it’s new, but I highly recommend checking it out. If you haven’t seen any of the series, you can easily skip the first two and start with the third. Yes, the third movie refers to the first film, but it does in a way that you really don’t need to see the original as it’s explained in KJ3’s storyline. Definitely ignore Killjoy 2! Act like it doesn’t exist. You’ll thank me for it! I hear a 5th Killjoy film may get made, I sure hope so and if they do, please bring back the same group from the past two films!
Ah, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. This sequel has a love / hate relationship with me. I used to despise this film, ranking it at the bottom of the series. Then other times I would greatly enjoy it. I am not sure why that is the case. I guess the first time I saw the movie, I was not expecting the “comedy” aspect of it. If you watch the original, then pop this turkey in, it’s quite a contrast. Another part that bugged me was seeing Leatherface go through “puberty” if you will when it comes to his obsession with the radio DJ “Stretch.” It just comes off as awkward and somewhat embarrassing to watch. I dunno. At any rate, I waited until the blu-ray came out before doing my review. Well the blu-ray has arrived and here we go.
TCM2 has the distinction of being the only direct sequel to the original (until “Texas Chainsaw 3D” comes out next year) and directed by Tobe Hooper. Could Hooper hit gold twice? Would he even try to imitate the original? No, he went the direct opposite. Instead of a gritty, dirty nasty film, we get a colorful horror comedy. It would seem that Mr. Hooper realized he could not capture the same feeling and that’s safe to assume that. Rarely can one recapture an original film for the sequel, so in his case, why even try?
The story picks up years later after the events of the first one. Bizarre chainsaw related deaths are popping up around Texas. Lefty, the uncle of Sally and Franklin (from the original) is on a hunt for the chain saw killers. He investigates the murder scenes of such killings hoping to find clues to the identities of the culprits. The latest killing provided an audio clue. The victims had phoned in to a local radio station right when they were getting sawed by Leatherface via a highway massacre. Lefty asks the DJ (Stretch) to play the tape on air, over and over, hoping for someone to call in with clues. Unfortunately this causes Leatherface and Chop-Top (apparently a brother of the Sawyer clan that was in Vietnam during the events of the first film) to come to the radio station to wreck havoc.
After the Sawyer brothers leave the radio station, Stretch follows them to their hide out, as well as Lefty. The Sawyers have been living underground in an abandoned amusement park. This leads up to a final confrontation and an end for Hooper’s series. Mr. Hooper would never revisit the series, but his partner in crime, Kim Henkel sure did later on in TCM4. In my opinion, that’s fine. I am not a big fan of Tobe Hooper’s films. I think he got lucky with TCM in that everything fell into place to create one of the best horror films. I don’t think he could ever come close to that again if he tried. It’s not his fault, this happens to a lot of directors as well. At least he has the original TCM on his resume.
Re-watching this film on blu-ray, I’m back on the side of “liking it.” Sure it won’t touch the awesomeness of the original, but it’s decent in its own right. I like the fact that Jim Siedow returns as the cook. The soundtrack is very good as well. It has a very 80s feel to it. The blu-ray itself looks very nice. Some scenes look down right amazing. Short of doing a full blown restoration, this is probably the best the film will look. Speaking of this movie, I got to watch it in 35mm at a local drive-in a few years back. In attendance was none other than Bill Johnson (Leatherface)! I got to meet the guy and had my DVD signed by him. It was the first time I got an autograph from any actor. I would also get to meet John Dugan (grandpa from TCM 1) at a later date and got his autograph too.
The Candyman trilogy ends with “Day of the Dead.” The story now takes place in East Los Angeles. Caroline, the young girl of Annie Tarrant from the previous film, is grown up. Her mother Annie had died years earlier due to calling upon the Candyman. Apparently Annie was still obsessed with her great-great grandfather despite over coming him in the last film. Caroline has in her possession paintings done by her g-g-g grandfather (despite the movie calling him her g-g granddaddy, apparently the writer didn’t bother paying attention to the last movie!) and has loaned them to a friend for an art exhibit. During the exhibit, her friend cons her into saying the Candyman’s name 5 times in the mirror to give his show a bit of drama. Daniel Robitalle hears the call and comes back to stalk the last descendent of his.
Candyman 3 is a direct-to-video release that came out in 1999. Once again the rights of the Candyman franchise changes studios. The first film is by Sony / Columbia, the second film by MGM and the third by Artisan (now owned by Lionsgate). With each new entry into the series, the quality keeps dropping. The DTV stigma turns off many people as is, especially modern day DTV, but I’ve always had a soft spot for ‘90s DTV. They still look and fell like movies unlike the DTV stuff today that looks cheap due to the HD cameras. The main actress in Candyman 3 is Donna D’Errico of “Baywatch” fame. I was never a fan of the show as the actors/actresses were basically eye candy with no acting skills. Donna does a pretty poor job in this movie especially compared to the previous two movies’ main actresses. The story itself is not the greatest. It sort of mimics an Amityville sequel in that an object is haunted and plays as the central piece in the film. Where were these paintings in the previous film? Taking place in East LA, the story centers in a Hispanic community. I appreciate the change of cultures and the movie does a decent job in exploiting that factor.
A major disappointment in this film is that Philip Glass is not the composer of the soundtrack! Gone are the haunting organs that played through the first two films. To me, that sound is just a part of Candyman as is Tony Todd!! It does not feel the same without them. The soundtrack here is pretty much standard DTV fare with no memorable songs.
Candyman 3 is universally disliked by the horror community. Even Tony Todd himself stated it’s his least favorite of the series and that if a fourth one gets made, it will ignore this as well as the second film. That’s fine by me! Here’s hoping Clive Barker can get the rights back to the Candyman franchise so he and Tony Todd can resurrect the Candyman one more time! Perhaps if we all call his name 5 times, he will re-appear?
Like all popular horror films, a sequel is inevitable! Thus comes “Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh.” And like other sequels in a horror franchise, this sequel attempts to explain the motive and back story of the Candyman. This sequel is not on par with the original but it is a decent follow up. On a side note, this was the very first R rated horror film I saw in theaters without parental permission. I was 14 years old at the time and went with a group of friends to see the movie. Memories….LOL
The story picks up a few years later from the original but this time in New Orleans. The main character is Annie Tarrant. Years earlier her father was killed in Candyman fashion. When Professor Purcell (minor character from the original who now appears in the pre-credits sequence) gets killed the same way, the police accuse her brother whom is seen threatening the professor just minutes earlier. The professor was approached by their father some time earlier to help against the Candyman but his calls were unanswered. As the film progresses, you find out that the Tarrant family has a connection with the Candyman. Annie’s mom is a descendent of the Candyman aka Daniel Robitaille and his lover Caroline Sullivan. Daniel is Annie’s great-great-grand father. The film follows Annie as she tries to stop her g-g-grand daddy!
The film has a flashback towards the end in which Daniel shows Annie how he became the Candyman. I like this sequence but at the same time it takes away the mystery of the Candyman. He’s no longer a figure to terrify people but rather a tragic victim. This was hinted on in the original though it was kept to a minimum. Knowing too much breaks down the ambiguity of the character.
The location change to New Orleans definitely gives the film a different feel. I liked it but it’s definitely no Chicago. The music is once again scored by Philip Glass. He reuses music from the first along with some new cues. His score has been lowered in the mix in the film compared to the original. This was a HUGE mistake IMO. His music just added to the original and having it blasting during key scenes really amplified the terror of the moment. In the sequel you can barely hear the music a lot of the time. Another missed opportunity.
It may sound like I am bashing the film but I do enjoy it as a sequel. It does fall into the sequel trap and presents things that greatly bring it down from the level of greatness that is the original.
Oh how I love Candyman! I used to refer to this film as a modern classic, but as time passed, it’s now just a “classic.” Yes, it’s been 20 years since this film graced the silver screen. The film is based on Clive Barker’s short story “The Forbidden.” However, some major changes were made. The short story took place in the U.K. (actual location escapes me at the moment as it’s been a few years since I last read it) while the movie is centered in Chicago, IL. Also the character of Candyman was a white male, not a black man who was the son of a slave. These changes were more than welcomed and actually improved on the story a great deal.
For those few who have not seen the film, it starts out with two college women doing a thesis on urban legends. One of the women, Helen, hears of a local legend named “Candyman.” This legend is credited with some of the murders and mysterious happenings in the Cabrini Green housing project of Chicago, a poor neighborhood that has seen better days. Both women head to the site of a recent murder to investigate. Helen would later come back to the neighborhood on her own to do more research, but this causes her to run into a local thug by the name of “Candyman.” During this assault, she gets beaten up pretty bad and this is where the film can go two ways. Let me explain…
You can now watch the movie either:
1) The ghost of “Candyman” is real and he is haunting Helen. He is pissed that Helen is causing doubt in his “followers” and he wishes to renew their faith by cursing her. OR…
2) Helen IS the Candyman! After being assaulted, she starts blacking out and assumes the role of her obsession.
Personally I prefer number 2. To me, this makes the film even more interesting. Now if you go that route, then the sequels are null-void, but who cares!!?! There is evidence during the film that makes either method possible. Very few films present themselves like this, so I give kudos to the creative team for doing this with “Candyman.”
I would also like to give major kudos to Philip Glass for the AMAZING soundtrack he did for the film! It is one of my all time favorite soundtracks. I love how some themes are very simple piano tracks while others are full blown organs with a haunting melody and backing chorus. You can purchase the soundtrack on Amazon, but be aware, it is a re-recording and not the original tracks. They are close enough, but being a purist, I really wish the original tracks were available.
If it’s been awhile since The Candyman last visited you, throw the DVD in and give it a watch! And if you’ve never seen it via my preferred method, please do so. You’ll be surprised!