Tag Archives: after they were famous

Not a sinner not a saint

candy land 2022

CANDY LAND

3.5 Stars  2022/93m

“We’ll take care of you.”

Director/Writer: John Swab / Cast: Olivia Luccardi, Sam Quartin, Eden Brolin, Owen Campbell, Virginia Rand, Guinevere Turner, William Baldwin, Brad Carter, Bruce Davis.

Body Count: 27+


Beware thy necessary spoilers.

Admittedly, when I read Candy Land was a slasher pic centered around sex workers at a truck stop, I pictured some regurgitated 80s throwback script with a succession of underdressed hot women being judgmentally offed by a wacko, while the patrons of their services get away scot free. And with the very first shot is of a naked chick riding a guy in the cab of a truck, I thought my suspicions were justified.

So it was a nice surprise when Candy Land turned out be something of an insightful little gem that adheres to the expected, but does so without leering at its subjects like they’re irredeemable filth.

candy land 2022

In 1996, a quartet of sex workers (Sadie, Liv, Riley, and Levi) run their ‘lot lizard’ business out of a truck stop motel alongside a remote highway. They turn tricks for cash in cabs, behind the dumpsters, in the bathroom, and get boarding from owner Nora, while local Sheriff Rex gives them no trouble in exchange for freebies from lone-male hustler Levi. This includes being lax about investigating the discovery of a mutilated corpse found in a bathroom stall. Other visitors include judgey Christians from a local cult, who routinely stop by to tell them to repent before it’s too late.

Ejected from this cult one day comes Remy, a sheltered girl covered by a thrift store dress out of Grandma’s 1950s collection, who is taken in by the group, fed, given a place to sleep, and taught the trade, if she wants to stick around. Receptively, Remy copies the others as best she can, but soon reveals that the bulky wooden cross she carries with her contains a lethal blade, which she uses to skewer, slash, and de-eye the men who try to lay their hands on her, including a sleazy old priest and a family man who’s “never done this before”.

candy land 2022

Praying that she’s saving them from themselves, Remy soon finds herself having to eliminate any witnesses, including one of the other girls and a luckless motorist who stumbles in on a kill. Then she sets about killing just about everybody for Jesus, before posing as the sole survivor and getting Rex to drive her back to the cult, where an intense end scene unfurls, which, if I’m honest, catapulted Candy Land up an extra star from ‘nicely done’ subcultural slasher to unsettling comment on opposing facets of American culture: Religious extremes and hedonism.

While the outcome is pretty bleak and there’s no real hero/heroine figure to root for, John Swab has written a group of interesting characters who exist in a non-traditional family unit, look out for one another, and possess awareness of the risks they face, emphasised in a scene where Levi is beaten by a patron who then rapes him. Visual objectification feels like a necessity here, given the subject matter, but at least seems to be from a place of art rather than titillation, and is sure to comment that those who judge most harshly are more often than not the ones frequenting the hookers’ services.

Blurb-of-interest: Owen Campbell was in X.

Less is more

vengeance part 2 bloodlines 2022

VENGEANCE PART 2: BLOODLINES

2.5 Stars  2022/108m

“Legends are worth dying for. Family is worth killing for.”

Director/Writer: Jason Brooks / Cast: C.J. Graham, Thom Mathews, Darcy DeMoss, Kelly Tappan, Sanae Loutsis, Morgen Johnson, Jason Brooks, Tom McLoughlin, Rob Mello, Tamara Glynn, Richie Ramone.

Body Count: 36


A follow-up to the 2019 fan filmBloodlines brings back the sisters Jarvis, still looking for their pop, while Elias Voorhees spurns Jason on to keep killing, well, everybody.

Meanwhile, a couple of devotees (including Jason Lives director McLoughlin) abduct the younger sister for… why? I don’t know, I was having a hard time decrypting what was going on in this one. Anyway, Tommy turns up, possibly running straight from or to the set of Never Hike Alone 2, and everybody fights.

Also back for more is Darcy DeMoss, who apparently survived having her head smushed into the wall of an RV, as part of a bachelorette party that’s caught up in a traffic jam that Jason crashes, tearing up dozens, dozens, of schmucks by smashing their heads in doors, throwing spears, machetes, using drumsticks, his bare hands etc, etc.

Amusing and well done as some of these kills are, like before, they just go way too far in both number and violent excess, with heaps of nameless characters running around the woods before they’re disembowelled with little to no suspense. Dare I say it gets… boring?

Another actress from a Halloween sequel rocks up and I lived up to my psychic destiny be saying aloud a second before she did when asked: “You grew up here, didn’t you?”; “No, I grew up in Haddonfield.” Word for word. Then she dies, obvs. And one of the Ramones is here!?

But at least these guys are doing something. Part 3 awaited.

Blurbs-of-interest: Rob Mello was also in both Happy Death Day films; Darcy DeMoss was also in Return to Horror High; Tamara Glynn was in Halloween 5; Thom Mathews was also in Final Summer.

Pick n’ Mix

candy corn 2019

CANDY CORN

2 Stars  2019/86m

“This year there’s a new Halloween tradition.”

Director/Writer: Josh Hasty / Cast: Courtney Gains, Pancho Moler, Nate Chaney, Jimothy Beckholt, Madison Russ, Cy Creamer, Caleb Thomas, Sky Elobar, P.J. Soles, Tony Todd.

Body Count: 8


So you’ve managed to bring in the of Candyman and a genre name from Children of the Corn – what can you call your film? Children of the Man? No, wait, Candy Corn!

Of these names, plus P.J. Soles, it’s only Gains who really ‘stars’ in Candy Corn, a bit of a nothingy tale of douchey smalltown teens who take their annual physical humiliation of local simpleton Jacob too far and end up killing him. He is resurrected by Moler’s travelling carnival witch doctor, given a creepy mask, and let loose to even the score.

One by one, those involved are gruesomely offed, while Gains’ sheriff tries to control the situation. Todd plays a doubting carnie, while Soles is behind the desk at the cop shop. Both probably appear for a combined total of maybe ten minutes?

There’s still some nice photography going on, adequate performances and a nice Halloweenie atmos, but it all feels like it was pulled out of the oven too soon.

Blurbs-of-interest: Gains can also be seen in The Landlady; Todd’s other credits include Final Destination‘s 12, and 5Hatchet‘s 12Hell FestiMurdersJack the ReaperScarecrow Slayer, and the third season of the Scream TV series; P.J. is also in HalloweenInnocent PreyThe Tooth Fairy, and Uncle Sam.

Nottie Knocks

natty knocks 2023

NATTY KNOCKS

1.5 Stars  2023/95m

Director: Dwight Little / Writer: Benjamin Olson

Cast: Bill Moseley, Charlotte Fountain-Jardim, Thomas Robie, Noen Perez, Danielle Harris, Channah Zeitung, Robert Englund, Amit Sarin, Jason James Richter, Will Murden.

Body Count: 5


Dwight Little turned out what’s commonly regarded as one of the better Halloween sequels with 1988’s The Return of Michael Myers, and then the following year a slasher version of The Phantom of the Opera. So when you see his name alongside actors Danielle Harris, Bill Moseley, and crucially Robert Englund, you’d be forgiven for expecting something pretty damn special.

Alas, Natty Knocks is an endurance test from start to finish.

At Halloween, 1976, a group of angry housewives decide to take revenge on the titular local B-movie actress and town ho, who’s bedded all of their husbands and, they believe, practices witchcraft. As she burns in a shed, she screams that she’ll be back for revenge.

natty knocks 2023

47 years later – finally, not a multiple of five! – hard-up teens stealing copper to hawk for cash inadvertently spy a man ragging on a teenage girl through a window. When the girl is reported missing, they second guess their initial assumption of a domestic, but don’t want top get themselves in trouble. Eventually, teen babysitter Britt learns of this and goes to the cops. But the cop that she goes to is the assailant, who spends his time watching Natty’s movies projected on to a sheet.

After an hour, during which there’s only been one kill, things start to happen, but it’s so muddled and rudderless it’s almost impossible to tell what’s going on. Characters who previously seemed to have only the most vague connections to others are revealed to live with them, there’s a demon that appears behind doors, some people are abducted and forced to watch the B-movies. Why? I dunno, some possession thing so she can return to life. It really wasn’t clear.

natty knocks 2023 robert englund

With a victim count of just three, there are around 6-7 characters milling around at the end, and no real sense of closure to anything. So much time is spent around this bizarre copper-theft plan, that there’s almost no time remaining when the main act should be in full swing, and things fizzle out disappointingly.

A waste of talent.

Blurbs-of-interest: Both Englund and Harris are in Urban Legend together, and both Harris and Moseley are in Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet together; Englund played Freddy Krueger in eight Elm Street movies, and is also in HeartstopperBehind the MaskHatchet, and The Phantom of the Opera. Danielle Harris was also in Camp DreadChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2The Town That Dreaded SundownSee No Evil 2Hatchet‘s 2-4, and four different Halloween instalments. Moseley was also in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Texas Chainsaw 3DHome Sick, and Silent Night Deadly Night 3.

Mob Rule

halloween kills 2021

HALLOWEEN KILLS

2.5 Stars  2021/18/105m

Director/Writer: David Gordon Green / Writers: Scott Teems, Danny McBride / Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Anthony Michael Hall, Dylan Arnold, James Jude Courtney, Robert Longstreet, Scott MacArthur, Michael McDonald, Kyle Richards, Nancy Stephens, Charles Cyphers, Thomas Mann, Carmela McNeal, Michael Smallwood, Nick Castle.

Body Count: at least 30


Halloween has turned into its very own ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ series now, with three paths to pick at the end of the original: You can go the 12456 route, the 1-2-H20Resurrection way, or 1-2018-Kills-Ends. Interestingly, both latter avenues were accompanied with a sort of “oh, we just ignored all those awful sequels!” narrative, and with the release of Halloween Kills, both latter avenues have delivered instalments that are decidedly inferior to those 80s-90s efforts. Spoilers will need to ensue.

Allyson’s cheerleader kissin’ boyfriend Cameron stumbles upon the not-quite-dead Deputy Hawkins and we’re whisked back to 1978, with Hawkins the younger and his colleagues hunting The Shape after Dr Loomis shot him out of the Doyles window. Tommy’s bully, Lonnie Elams, has a creepy encounter, and the cops track him back to the Myers house, perfectly captured as we last saw it, and Loomis himself is even resurrected for the occasion.halloween kills 2021

In 2018, Laurie is rushed on to the operating table, while Karen becomes a bit of a Karen with the hospital staff, and the cops get a debrief from Allyson. Meanwhile, firefighters enter the Strode house and guess who is not burnt to a cinder? Michael wastes no time in taking out half a dozen burly firemen before tottering back towards town.

Elsewhere, middle-aged Tommy Doyle tells the tale of the babysitter murders at a bar, where he’s drinking with Lindsey Wallace, Lonnie, and Nurse Marion (why is she there??). When the news reports murders, they team up with a couple seen briefly in the previous film to lead a vigilante mob to take out Michael.

halloween kills 2021 kyle richards anthony michael hall

Things go wrong, people die, and Tommy ends up at Haddonfield Memorial where he stirs anxious relatives of the injured and missing to a mob frenzy, including the former Sheriff Brackett, now working security there (despite being like 80) and the crowd start chanting: “Evil dies tonight!” over and over. It’s a weird scene, at odds with anything you’d expect from a Halloween movie.

Laurie is informed Michael is not dead and tries to leave, but the baying crowd begin hunting one of the other escaped patients from the bus crash. Nobody will listen to reason, so Karen decides to help the man and locks him in a corridor on an upper floor. The mob attack and he eventually throws himself out of a window to his death.

halloween kills 2021 nancy stephens kyle richards

Things culminate at the Myers house, now inhabited and renovated by a gay couple. There’s a good scene in which Karen manages to steal Michael’s mask and is chased through some yards until the residents of Haddonfield have him surrounded and exact their revenge. But because we know Halloween Ends is slated for 2022, things don’t work out quite as planned.

So, Laurie shares no scenes with The Shape whatsoever and a whole lot of time is spent with Tommy Doyle’s lynch mob, shoehorning in actors and characters from the original who are inexplicably still living in Haddonfield forty years later, and hang out together in bars. It’s contrived as fuck fan service, but this is a slasher film so why should it even matter? Halloween Kills is a damn mess, but it may improve as the bridging instalment once the third and final chapter comes along, though if the history of this series has taught us anything, it’s that someone will find a way to bring it back again one way or another.

halloween kills 2021 dylan arnold

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