Candyman 2 Farewell to the Flesh: Re-examining a forgotten sequel


As we eagerly await Jordan Peele’s Candyman reboot, (slated for 2020) it’s worth revisiting the original films, especially Candyman 2 Farewell to the Flesh. The mostly overlooked sequel dives deeper into the character and by giving him a story, explores the man behind the monster.

Candyman 2 could be considered a forgotten part of the urban legend franchise. In the 1995 sequel, we peek behind the curtain of Candyman’s history to see what made him. In turn, showing us an unknown and softer side.

Similar patterns and tropes from the first film do occur, including some continued stereotypes, like Candyman’s disposition for white, blonde haired women. But while it feels cliche, it actually isn’t random at all but part of a bigger story. However, this is a movie with very different undertones. Its goal lies not solely in scaring us, but in giving our killer his own voice.

For starters, it leaves behind Chicago’s gritty Cabrini Green for New Orleans. Not only does this feel more appropriate, given its Candyman’s birth place, but a Mardi Gras back drop is the perfect horror movie setting. The first film focused on skeptical, graduate student Helen Lyle, who either summoned or manifested a supernatural killer.

By the second one, his presence is known and it can be argued Candyman himself has the main role. While the original sought to scare us, Candyman 2 puts a greater emphasis on his origins. By showing his awful fate, it adds emotion to an otherwise soulless force.

Candyman 2 – Poster – Courtesy of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, Propaganda Films

That fate was triggered in the 18th century when artist Daniel Robitaille (pre Candyman) was commissioned by a wealthy plantation owner to paint his daughter Caroline. The two feel deeply in love, and began an affair. But when she became pregnant, her father set a lynch mob for Robitaille.

They chased him down, cut off his arm, and in the most brutal (and unlikely) of ways, smeared him with honey, then awaited a swarm of bees. As they’re licking the honey, a man exclaims that it tastes like candy.

We also learn about the significance of the mirrors. While being stung to death, Candyman was taunted with his own reflection in Caroline’s hand mirror causing him to become trapped inside. This story birthed the urban legend, prompting him to return and murder each time someone doubts his existence by calling his name five times into a mirror.

Tony Todd in Candyman — Courtesy of Sony Pictures

In Candyman 2, he’s once again unwillingly summoned by skeptical school teacher Annie Tarrant. Except this time, it’s not merely coincidence. The two are linked, related from generations past through a deeply buried family secret. Once Annie starts investigating her history, she discovers the truth about their connection.

A truth her mother continues to deny and refuses to accept. This is another underlying theme which gives this film more depth. While Helen was mostly independent, the sequel gives weight to family dynamics. The drama that can exist within them, and the consequences of shunning your heritage.

Most homicidal maniacs endured some kind of torture that birthed a sadistic side. Yet while other murderers like Jason, Freddy, or Michael Myers feel merciless in their attacks, Candyman seems a bit ahead of his time. His basic mantra, (similar to a teenage girl) being, “Don’t call for me, and I won’t come for you.”

That distinction, along with the knowledge of his fate allows us to sympathize. And once Annie learns his true identity, she becomes the first character to see Candyman not as myth, but as the person he was long ago.

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This vastly differs from the unsympathetic Helen whose relationship with Candyman relied on mutual obsession. Her careless desire to get a good story, and his, to prove his realness through framing her for multiple murders, and forcing her to become an urban legend herself. Though his introduction to Annie initially starts the same way (he returns to confirm his existence), his intentions feel less calculating. She symbolizes a past love, a family tree, and bringing her into his world feels less about proving a point and more about simply keeping them united.

Of course, she still wants to stop him, but here, motivations are more personal. Civilians are once again being blamed for Candyman’s vicious crimes but its her brother, not Annie who stands accused. Again, the killer’s former life plays an integral role. By finally acknowledging and accepting the hook handed killer as family, Annie is able to quiet and free his spirit.

But because Candyman’s power lies in those who dismiss his existence, we know that he will eventually return.

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Ultimately, Candyman 2  is a layered horror movie that doesn’t get nearly enough credit. Bill Condon created a sequel that stands on its own. One that’s as much about Daniel Robitaille as it is Candyman. Typically, the pasts of our favorite murderers aren’t overly scrutinized. But here, that examination not only gives us a more nuanced character, it reminds us that behind every killer, there was once a man.

In the end, Tony Todd’s iconic role is still scary as hell. Do you think the Candyman reboot should focus solely on the scares or explore more of a back story too?