Festivals

{Phoenix FearCON} Movie Review: Bad Candy (2020)

The first feature film of the 2020 Phoenix FearCON set a super high bar with the hard-hitting horror anthology, Bad Candy. starring Corey Taylor (Slipknot) and Zach Galligan (Gremlins).

Horror anthologies are as popular as ever, which makes it difficult to stand out, but Digital Thunderdome’s Bad Candy is a true late-night horror fan’s anthology. Hence its widespread popularity at a plethora of film festivals.

Synopsis:

Bad Candy follows local Halloween stories of both myth and lessons learned in the community of New Salem. With its annual Psychotronic FM Halloween show, re-enactment radio DJs Chilly Billy and Paul weave the tales of the supernatural of years gone by. In this small town it’s a grimy ending for most, but will a few good souls survive?

Tight Framing Story

The film’s radio show premise tied each story together nicely. The transitions between stories felt seamless because Chilly Billy (Taylor) and Paul (Galligan) are seasoned vets. For example, the transition between the first two stories was a simple as this,

Chilly Billy: “Kiddies, we are just getting started, but it’s not always the young ones that are being naughty is it, Paul?”

Paul: “Nope. We got some grownups that ain’t never learned, until they did.”

Then, just like that, the next story is underway.

Other times, they will cut into a story already in progress with a quick line or two to propel the story forward.

Paul: “And, he screamed out RUN Bitch, RUN”

Chilly Billy: “So, she ran.

The dynamic between Paul and Chilly Billy really enhances the film’s pacing, which is one of the movie’s greatest strengths.

In addition to the radio show, the stories are also connected in some way by a sinister clown, Bad Candy. The massive, fang-toothed ghoul that starts as a little girl’s drawing that is magically brought to life early in the movie.

Once Bad Candy shows up, the killing starts to feel oddly satisfying and the reason for that takes a while to fully understand. However, it all makes sense by the end. So much so, that Bad Candy became one of my favorite horror characters of all-time. Possibly even worthy of being enshrined as an action figure or Burst-A-Box! The secondary framing ads a layer of depth that is rare in horror anthologies.

Courtesy of Digital Thunderdome

Special Effects, Makeup, and Atmosphere:

As a fan of 80s horror movies, I love campy set designs with over the top lighting, excessive fog, howling wolves, and syrupy blood splatter. However, if done poorly, I become unforgiving.

Just watching the trailer was all it took to put my mind at ease. Co-directors Scott Hansen (The Possession Experiment) and Desiree Connell are clearly horror fans with very clear visions of what it takes to craft a fantastic horror film. Their decision to use practical, Savini-style, makeup, and special effects, instead of relying on computerized effects paid off in the end. Which was not only refreshing to see but also made the movie spectacular to watch.

This decision meant they needed to recruit a talented art, makeup, and special effects team including:

In the world of indie horror, the visual effects are the element that truly makes or breaks the movie. Bad Candy’s talented visual effects team created practical effects strong enough to compete with the likes of Trick ‘r Treat (2007), Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (2019), Krampus (2015), and Haunt (2019).

Courtesy of Digital Thunderdome

The Verdict:

WATCH THIS MOVIE.

The tight story, breakneck pacing, high body count, dark humor, and exceptional effects combine to make Bad Candy an instant late-night classic that competes with some of the best indie horror movies from the past few years.

In fact, I loved this movie so much that despite watching it three times already, I plan to add Bad Candy to my personal collection as soon as it is released to the general public.

Trailer:

Courtesy of Digital Thunderdome

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