Column by Andrew Durand
Release date: September 13, 2019
Director Josh Hasty
💀💀💀💀💀 out of 5 skulls
Josh Hasty is a man of many trades. He’s had a lot of titles next to his name while working on film. For his 2019 Halloween themed horror movie, CANDY CORN, he took the role of director, screenwriter, co-producer, editor, and even composer. Yet let us not forget to mention that Hasty directed the full length documentary called IN HELL EVERYBODY LOVES POPCORN: THE MAKING OF 31. Any fan of Rob Zombie, independent filmmaking, or horror movies should have seen that documentary, and if they haven’t, they should get on it right away. As a filmmaker, Hasty is someone to watch.
But this column isn’t about him specifically. It’s about that film of his, CANDY CORN, that I mentioned a little bit earlier. It’s kind of like the “little film that could”. See, as a movie it builds up slowly. Some may feel it is a bit too slow, and a few of my fellow friends who love horror felt just that. So as a result they weren’t fans. But this is where they were mistaken. The movie needed to start off like this. The character development was essential. This is especially important since there is a message to the film that is weighty in this day and age: bullying, anti-bullying, and what it does to young people in adolescence.
Whether bullying is something many children have to go through, it still doesn’t make it right. Generations and generations of people have passed through childhood being abused by their peers. And though their adult caretakers, teachers and parents alike, simply state that it is just how it is, they are wrong. It shouldn’t be looked upon as some sort of abnormal right-of-passage to adulthood. Oddly as the young people grow up to be adults themselves, they too just seem to become like the prior generation. It is so much easier to look the other way. And bullying is just another problem that never gets resolved. CANDY CORN takes a look at this very issue straight on. The worst of humanity has a magnifying glass shown upon it throughout the film.
Much like many independent horror films, a vast number of iconic genre performers have pivotal (if small) roles in CANDY CORN. As a result the cast is outstanding. Some of the more notable names that will delight the horror viewer are Courtney Gains (CHILDREN OF THE CORN), P.J. Soles (HALLOWEEN), Tony Todd (CANDYMAN), and Pancho Moler (Rob Zombie’s 31).
I want to focus a moment on Pancho Moler. He may have stolen the movie from the rest, however. He plays a circus director named Lester that is, to be polite, just a bit unhinged. Obviously knowing Josh Hastings from that 31 documentary that they did together, Moler seems to pull a bit of the personality of his character of Sick-Head from Zombie’s film to play Lester. Making the most of his screen time, he chews up the scenery with an emotional rollercoaster ride that leaves the viewer a bit unnerved.
Being more a hidden gem than a mainstream movie, CANDY CORN unfortunately didn’t receive any recognition by such organizations as the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. Had it received such recognition that the festival circuit gave upon it by the Academy, Moler would have assuredly been mentioned as a contender for an award for playing crazy.
What director Josh Hasty does with this movie is rather impressive. With many independent filmmakers trying their best and failing, Hasty does something not a lot of filmmakers can do. As writer and director, he makes you feel like you are a part of the account. His ability for atmospherics allows the viewer to be immersed in the narrative. Of course its theme about the abuse people, and specifically children, can do upon their peers makes it unrepentantly honest. But also CANDY CORN is a love letter to Halloween and classic slasher films of the 70’s and 80’s. With its midnight movie characteristics of over the top villains, outrageous set pieces, and its revenge-based theme, CANDY CORN takes the best of the films many of us grew up on, and brings the nostalgia to the modern film era.
Cinema, such as CANDY CORN, gets overlooked yearly. As an independent film, word of mouth seems to be the only way films like CANDY CORN get noticed. I was surprised that some of my friends who are part of the same social media groups that I am hadn’t heard of the movie. One of the most rewarding things as a film fan is the ability to share such movies with friends. So it is bittersweet when I get to tell someone about CANDY CORN, but still a shame that what could be a yearly Halloween viewing experience for some is still under the radar for most. Don’t be that moviegoer that misses a possible seasonal viewing tradition.
So if you haven’t heard about this film, this is a time to take a look at it. While we’re in a pandemic and new movies aren’t all that much released at theaters, this is the year for movie fans to check out these lower budget VOD films. Though a year old now, Candy Corn could very possibly be the one for film viewers to take a look at now. Don’t miss out.