Writer and director David Slade’s feature film debut reminds me of all the reasons I love movies. The story follows a group of friends who take their annual Halloween trip to an abandoned amusement park. While there, they encounter a mysterious creature that can illuminate in the dark. The creature is called Candy and he is a sarcastic, mischievous and very funny and interesting character. Slade and his crew did a great job of bringing this character to life and making him a focal point of the story.
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In director Scott B. Hansen’s Bad Candy, which made its global debut at the Frightening Ass Picture Festival, one colorful character remarks, “You never know what tricks are in your goodies.” And it’s a message that the movie embraces. With Bad Candy, you never know what you’ll receive, whether it’s sweets or money.
Bad Candy, written by Hansen and Desiree Connell, takes place on Halloween night in a tiny town, where DJs Chilly Billy (Corey Taylor of Slipknot) and Paul (Zach Galligan of Gremlins) recount spooky tales about the area. What follows is a great, though flawed, horror anthology that lives and breathes Halloween, with a variety of gruesome stories and one frightening clown who comes throughout and makes your costume makeup run.
This clown is the complete opposite of Trick ‘r Treat’s cute Halloweenie Sam, believe me. I’d drive him over if I spotted him standing on the side of the road with a “play with me” sign.
The devil clown and Sam, on the other hand, are more similar than they seem.
Hansen’s illustration is heavily influenced by Trick r Treat, almost to the point of being overt. Both tales include a mystery, costumed person who comes and disappears during the series. Both films include tales about observing Halloween rules and the consequences of disobeying them (each video opens with naughty youngsters collecting more than the recommended amount of Candy on the front steps and finding it isn’t that tasty). Both have a wonderfully spooky Halloween vibe, of course.
Bad Candy is one of those movies that, no matter the season, will make you feel as if you’re being wrapped up in the arms of the Great Pumpkin himself, whether it’s raining, snowing, or your house is being swept away with you in it like Dorothy. If there’s one department on Bad Candy that merits particular mention, it’s the production design team as a whole. This isn’t like previous horror anthologies that have tried and failed to capture Halloween’s spooky mood. In that respect, the film comes close to matching Trick r Treat’s high bar, with a world completely overrun by ghouls, goblins, and one terrifying killer clown. The clown’s lair is a sight to see in and of itself, evoking Oogie Boogie’s lair from The Nightmare Before Christmas in every way, bright and menacing.
Wayne Anderson’s special makeup effects are also deserving of praise. Picture Hansen’s is full of monsters and maniacs, many of which are wonderfully done and had me screaming, “long live practical effects!” During the race of the pumpkins, one wicked gargoyle—and one of the year’s most spectacular creatures—appears. After witnessing a group of individuals run across a dangerous field while wearing pumpkins on their hats, I had to come to a halt and pop my eyes back into my brain. Given the low budget, Hansen and his team do an incredible job with the effects in Bad Candy, to the point that the few digital effects, particularly in a story about a young girl’s creative drawings coming to life, threaten to cheapen the film.
While not every story in Bad Candy is a blatant gorefest, the most of them are, and hardcore horror fans will devour the blood that splatters the screen repeatedly. This is a crazy film in which there are no taboos. Children are being separated from their parents. The adorable fairies have been squashed. There’s even a story about necrophilia and one mortician’s reaction to not having a hot date on Halloween. If Trick or Treat is the honor roll student, Bad Candy is the evil twin who has been sent to the attic in order to keep everyone safe.
We like horror anthologies because they generally have something for everyone, and even if they’re a mixed bag, there’s always one Reese’s Cup for every horrible Candy Corn. Bad Candy is no different. Others have a powdery, unsatisfying emptiness about them, while others are a delicious taste of grisly and crazy as Hell terror. Candy Corn, have a peek at yourself! The best horror anthologies, most of you would agree, include four or five tales. Despite this, Bad Candy stuffs as many morsels as it can into the bag, undermining many tales since there isn’t enough time to enjoy the taste before we’re rushed into the next one. The larger and bloodier portions, such as the pumpkin run, stand out the most since few of Bad Candy’s segments allow for significant character development or narrative.
Horror anthologies have become more inventive with their wraparounds since the days of classics like Creepshow—take, for example, Scare Package—but Bad Candy falls short here as well. As charming as Galligan is in the role, neither he nor Taylor are very engaging as Chilly Billy and Paul, our hosts. It doesn’t help that, for the most part, the humor in Bad Candy seems forced, like the anti-Halloween neighbor muttering “happy Halloween” when they answer the door. Many anthologies spend their time presenting the tales, but Bad Candy, like Trick or Treat, follows a linked structure in which each story in the town has tiny connections. It’s an intriguing idea, but Hansen and Connell’s screenplay only manages to provide fuzzy connections between each tale, leaving the world seeming more fractured than if there were just one connecting thread.
When you get home after trick-or-treating and dump all of your candy on the floor, it’s called Bad Candy. There’s also that one colossal chocolate bar. There are a few apples. The film contains highs and lows that seem like racing down the streets past decorated homes in October and sitting over the toilet with a stomach ache after eating too many sweets. It’s far from perfect, but it’s got enough intriguing tales, gore, and spookiness to transport you to Halloween whenever the mood strikes.
- bad candy website