Directed by: Josh Hasty
Starring: P.J. Soles, Courtney Gains, Tony Todd, Pancho Moler, Sky Elobar, Caleb Thomas, Lovlee Carroll, Matt O'Neill , Nate Chaney.
on the eve of Halloween, three friends plan to continue an age-old tradition between them - to haze and terrorize the local weird kid, Jacob Atkins. However this year things go way too far and tragedy strikes, leaving the teens shaken…however what they feel now is nothing like how they will when a resurrected Jacob comes for them, one by one…
Candy Corn, just arrived from a solid run on the festival circuit with quite a bit of buzz behind it, turns out to be a very entertaining if slight horror movie.
Mike, Steve and Bobby have been friends since highschool, and have always had the same Halloween tradition - hazing and torturing Jacob, a local kid who never seemed to fit in. Now all in their early 20s, the boys discover that Jacob is working for a carnival freak show, and decide to attack him there, despite the misgivings of Bobby’s girlfriend, Carol. When they attack Jacob, he surprises them by hitting back but this only spurs them on to be more violent and cruel, with Mike delivering what seems to be a killing blow. After they scatter, Jacob’s body is discovered by his new boss, Lester, who uses black magic to resurrect his corpse to take revenge.
The film has a timeless quality to it - I don’t recall seeing any cellphones, the tv’s are old, the cinema showing classics. It’s a small town that modern life seems to have passed by - the antagonists are definitely still hanging on to the past, those glory days of highschool when they were probably the popular kids, which is why their torment of Jacob is so important to them - especially Mike.
As well as the time and place, the visual quality of the film makes it look as if it belongs in the 70s, to be played out at drive-ins or run as a b-movie feature. It has a very slight story - after the set-up its more or less stalk and slash all the way through. But that doesn’t take anything away from its entertainment value.
We at least get an element of police procedural to the film. Carol, it turns out, has a conscience, even though she didn’t intervene in the attack she tearfully confesses to the police (the sheriff is Mike’s dad), which spurs him on to investigate. Although reasonably kind-hearted and fair handed, Sheriff Bramford’s presence might have stirred things more as Lester, the head of the carnival, has been treated badly by police on many of his travels and has a deep hatred of them.
The kill scenes are a bit subdued but do have some good gore fx (i was a little confused exactly how one character is killed, in the cinema…) and although there’s not a lot on show, the implied brutality and nastiness of the attacks certainly comes through. The rotting flesh makeup on Jacob is really good, and there is a nasty icky surprise under his bed that will make anyone wince.
The cast is really good here, although there are one or two moments of overacting from one of the lesser characters (he does have a funny dream/fantasy moment though). Although he doesn’t have a lot to do, its great to see Tony Todd in here. He’s been in so many genre movies and tv shows he’s something of a touchstone for quality. Pancho Moler is great as Lester and both Madison Russ and Courney Gains bring a lot to their roles as Carol and Sheriff Bamford, respectively.
Candy Corn does work as a short feature but might have been more suited to being a segment in an anthology movie. What makes it work over the length of 85 minutes is the number of doomed victims and the police procedural element which discovers more about Jacob than they would like. There is a hint at the end that we haven’t seen the last of Lester and his traveling carnival - I hope that is the case.