Bad Candy, 2020.
Directed by Scott B. Hansen & Desiree Connell.
Starring Zach Galligan, Corey Taylor, Derek Russo, Audrey Williams, Bill Pacer, Wayne, Kenneth Trujillo.
A late-night radio DJ and his producer tell some spooky stories on their Halloween show.
The Halloween anthology movie has become something of a ‘thing’ over the past few years, with the likes of Trick ‘r Treat and Tales of Halloween becoming firm favourites by successfully capturing the spirit of the season and, more importantly, by having more hits than misses in their storytelling arsenal. Bad Candy is the latest anthology to base itself on the spookiest time of the year but does it manage to capture the essence of Samhain night in quite the same way the previously mentioned titles?
Yes it does, in a fun Halloween-decorations-aisle-in-Poundland kind of way. From the outset Bad Candy drenches your retinas with neon lighting and lulls you into a certain mood by way of a late-night DJ named Chilly Billy (Slipknot singer Corey Taylor) and his producer Paul (Gremlins’ Zach Galligan), who encouraged their listeners to call in with creepy stories to fill the airwaves. Yeah, it’s a bit of a cliché and a slightly naff way of doing it but it works as a setup, and Taylor and Galligan have the right energy to pull it off.
As is traditional with these things the first story is a little bit lame, where a young girl has to give up her evening trick or treating with her friends due to her abusive step-dad demanding she stay at home. For some reason this big brute of a man has a real thing against Halloween – as fathers in anthology movies tend to do – but his mischievous step-daughter has a magic drawing pad where whatever she draws comes alive, and so she draws a weird little Muppet-like creature with sharp teeth, a fairy and a weird demon. You can guess the rest, although it is worth pointing out that this is where we get our first glimpse of the terrible CGI that makes far too many appearances throughout the movie.
But before we get there we get a very short segment where a grumpy old man presses razor blades in the candy he hands out, prompting the question again about why these people aggressively hate Halloween. Anyway, his number is up when a devil-horned masked clown – who pops up several times throughout and is credited as being called Bad Candy – knocks on his door and shows him the error of his ways. Again, it’s all a bit predictable but the lairy colours and weird performance from Bill Pacer are charming enough, although whether this is considered as a full story or just a short interlude highlights one of Bad Candy’s biggest flaws, namely how messy the stories are and how the whole thing fits together.
It feels like co-directors/writers Scott B. Hansen and Desiree Connell are attempting to create their own little universe in which to set their stories, in a similar style to Trick ‘r Treat if you will, but although certain characters pop up here and there, some stories get dropped and then pick up again later on and we have the recurring Bad Candy clown character waltzing in and out at various times to try and link it all together, it all feels a bit slapdash and unstructured, especially when trying to figure out where one story ends and another begins. It’s a flaw that only gets more frustrating the further into the movie you go and by the time the final story starts wrapping up the momentum has been lost and it becomes clear that Bad Candy should have ended about 15 minutes earlier.
But it isn’t all bad. In fact, when Bad Candy is on point it is actually pretty good and very effective at evoking the required seasonal atmosphere. The central story, involving a drunk morgue attendant and a corpse she takes a fancy to, is the obvious highlight and is the only story that goes straight for the macabre without any huge setup, and it actually feels like a complete story from start to finish. As previously stated, the neon lighting, bright colours and autumnal aesthetics work very well throughout, Corey Taylor and Zach Galligan lend enough weight to their particular roles to pull off what is required from them and there is plenty of gore on offer (although a lot of it is CGI blood, and we all know that no good can ever come of that, kids) so for a horror anthology that evokes the spirit of Halloween it just about does enough to warrant being played on a TV screen in the background at a Halloween party where you can dip in when it looks interesting. The problems only come when you try to sit down and follow what is happening because as a non-linear narrative it just doesn’t gel or go anywhere satisfactory. Still, that morgue scene, though…
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★