Sunday 27 November 2022

Bad Candy | review by Douglas J. Ogurek

Unsavoury horror anthology mostly lives up to its name

Chilly Billy (Corey Taylor of Slipknot fame) and his sidekick Paul (Zach Galligan) host a Halloween-themed radio show at 666 on the dial. Clever. People call in and ask Billy to spin horror tales, which are portrayed in the short films that make up Bad Candy, directed by Scott B. Hansen and others. 

The lack of cohesion, clichéd content, subpar CGI and poorly drawn characters give one the impression that these pieces were cooked up by high school boys. Among the one-dimensional scumbags who populate the film like so many rotting confections are a beer-guzzling deadbeat dad, a creepy old man who taints candy, a drug dealer, a would-be rapist and a sexy, acid-dropping mortician who finds herself attracted to one of her male specimens. Through each of the stories wanders Bad Candy, a creepy clown who enjoys showing his long fingers and mindlessly killing bad people.

The best tale in the batch involves three military vets who play a yearly Halloween game involving rabbits and pumpkins. This one has humour, intriguing dialogue and some impressive makeup. It also offers a unique take on the close-up shot of the man inside the mask, a filming technique made famous in the Iron Man series. 

Another of the film’s shortcomings are the unrealistic and lifeless representations of children. A young boy, looking forward to trick-or-treating, says, “This is going to be awesome” as if reading out of a book. A little girl trips and looks up to see Bad Candy looming over her. Rather than going into conniptions as one would, she unhurriedly jogs off without making a sound. Don’t be like that little girl – run away from Bad Candy as quickly as you can.–Douglas J. Ogurek*   

Saturday 12 November 2022

Blood Red Sky | review by Douglas J. Ogurek

Hm. They already did a plane with venomous snakes on the loose. So how about… vampires?

This vampire version of Snakes on a Plane (2006) gets a bit silly with all the hissing and thrashing and baring of fangs, though it does create tension by confining two threats (vampires and hijackers) in one inescapable place.

Blood Red Sky, with its intriguing German/English language hybrid, asks the question that consistently turns up in vampire flicks: can a person who is inherently good resist the evil that vampirism draws them toward once they are infected? A less typical question that the film asks is whether desperate people can join forces with a would-be enemy to take on an even greater enemy. As expected, some people will act completely out of self-interest, while others will emerge as heroes. Then there’s the more obvious question: how are these people going to get out of this?

Director Peter Thorwarth creates a partnership with the viewer by opening the film with an awkward emergency landing in Scotland. Snipers train their rifles on the plane. Hostage negotiators attempt to assess the situation. Elias (Carl Anton Koch), the film’s boy protagonist, climbs out of the plane. We know, therefore, that the plane has landed and the boy is safe – what we don’t know is what’s happening inside. Everything else in the film will build to this moment. 

Peri Baumeister effectively portrays Elias’s mother Nadja. Before boarding and as the flight begins, the skittish and sickly Nadja struggles to keep something at bay. During the flight, the film offers a series of flashbacks, some of them a bit on the sappy side, to tell the story of how she acquired her affliction. 

The most entertaining of the characters is maniacal hijacker Eightball (Alexander Scheer), who revels in bloodshed. As Eightball bullies and threatens the passengers – he’s not afraid to target the weakest and youngest – his co-conspirators repeatedly refer to him as a “psycho” and suggest that he’s taking things too far. But those who take things too far often make the best villains. 

Does this film do enough to separate it from the mountain of other vampire movies out there? Yes, to an extent. It does lead one to wonder… what’s the next threat filmmakers are going to put on a plane? – Douglas J. Ogurek***