FrightFest 2021: Bad Candy Will Knock Your Socks Off

What happens when you mix Pontypool, Creepshow, and Trick ‘r Treat? You get one of the most entertaining anthology films in quite some time, Bad Candy. It honestly no wonder that Bad Candy was an Official Selection/Best Picture in multiple film festivals. It is equal parts entertaining, bloody, and downright freaky. Scott Hansen (Bully, The Possession Experiment) and Desiree Connell (Bully, The Possession Experiment) have crafted the perfect movie for your next Halloween horror movie marathon.

The Clown Demon stands ominously for the cover art of Bad Candy

Let’s start by taking a look at the killer stacked cast: Zach Galligan (Gremlins, Waxwork), Corey Taylor (Slipknot, Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens), Derek Russo (Jumanji: The Next LevelCobra Kai), and Kenneth Trujilo (Die Hart) to name a few. The executive producers are also pretty tight: Patrick Ewald (The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the BigfootTurbo Kid), Bret Disend (The Unicorn), Jacob Kasher (incredibly famous songwriter), and Desiree Connell.

As the Autumn sun fades, the dark clouds of a pitch-black Halloween night begin to settle
over the small American town of New Salem. The annual Fright Fest show is underway on the local radio station, on which two full-on shock-jocks begin to retell local legends of terror from yesteryear, bringing them to life before your bloodshot eyes. In this small town, it’s a grisly end for most, but will a few good souls survive to see another dawn?

Every anthology movie is only as good as its wraparound story because what’s the point of caring about the vignettes if the story they are contained within is weak? It’s even worse when the vignettes have no literal connection to the wraparound story. Thankfully, that is not an issue for Bad Candy.

Chilly Billy (Corey Taylor) and Paul (Zach Galligan) run the insanely popular Psychotronic Radio on channel 66.6 FM. After Chilly Billy offers up a wonderful opening monologue to their Fright Fest, which is preluded by an ominous quote by Prospero in “The Masque of the Red Death.” If there was ever an scene to really get you into the mood, it’s this. All of the stories told by Chilly Billy are bloody great, hah, but there are a few that really stuck out to me for various reasons.

Chilly Billy prepares for his annual Fright Fest festivities

The second story, which is most likely titled “A Parent’s Worst Nightmare,” follows Mr. Grimsley (Bill Pacer) as he prepares for a night full of treats and some devious tricks. Not only does Bill Pacer kill it in his role, but it kind of feels like this role was written for him.

The fourth story, surrounding Abbie (Haley Leary) the mortician, is just wild. There have been stories somewhat similar to this, but there is nothing I can think of that has taken it to this level. They do a really excellent job of delving into Abbie’s psyche and commenting on the lack of work/life balance so many people face. While this story is slightly obscene, it’s kind of depressing that Abbie has the compulsion to do what she does based on the loneliness and isolation her job provides. This story feels very Stephen King-esque and will be sure to make everyone squirm.

The fifth story follows Marie (Alexandra Lucchesi), and this one is probably every woman’s worst nightmare: when a guy can’t handle your rejection. While the fourth story made me feel weird in a few different ways, Marie’s story just made me flat out uncomfortable, but it’s a horror movie, so kudos. Out of all the stories we are provided, this one is the most socially poignant and provides some dark commentary on men. Chuck (Michael Aaron Milligan) is the MAGA type who doesn’t understand what the word “no” means and takes things to the EXTREME. It’s highly cerebral and is something that, unfortunately, still needs to be talked about. There is nothing wrong with the other three stories, it’s just that those are the ones that really stood out to me.

The Clown Demon stalks its next villainous prey

Director/co-director Scott Hansen and Desiree Connell (respectively), as well as cinematographer Blake Studwell with Hansen also serving as cinematographer, have really crafted a tight and coherent film. Each story has its own feel and aesthetic, which sets them apart from each other visually while simultaneously keeping an overall feel through each story and the wraparound. This is due to the fact that each vignette was directed by the team who directed the wraparound, so the directing style is constant throughout, and giving each story room to breathe and be its own entity.

The practical effects are handled very well and help with the immersion. Not to spoil whom or when, but someone gets Scream 2‘d in a bathroom, and it looks insanely great. The costume design is on point, especially in regards to the clown demon who acts as one of the through lines through the vignettes. It’s actually really cool how they explain the creation of them (not sure of their gender) without giving us a boring expository scene. It’s along the lines of a blink, and you miss the exposition, which is one of my favorite things in film.

The Pumpkin King prepares to chase and kill the terrible people he has kidnapped

Bad Candy is a riotous good time and is sure to please any respectable genre fan. It pays its respects to the films that preceded it and also solidifies its placement in the annals of horror history. Oh, and one final thought: make sure you stay through the credits as it’s respectful for everyone who worked on the project but also for a very juicy post-credit scene.

Hopefully you were able to catch Bad Candy at FrightFest 2021 or one of the numerous festivals they graced their presence at, but if not, load up your Google calendar and set a reminder to rent/purchase it on DVD or digital October 4th.

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Written by Brendan Jesus

I am an award-winning horror screenwriter, rotting away in New Jersey.

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