Halloween is here, which means it is the season for two of our favorite things: candy and horror! Today, we thought we’d combine the two and take a look at some the sweetest, sugar-packed appearances of candy from across the horror genre. We have elements of dark comedy, absolute terror, and everything in between; no matter where it falls on the spectrum, you know it’s going to be sweet.
10. Zombieland (2009)
Whether or not a Twinkie counts as Halloween candy is a good question, but the sweet confection that drives Tallahassee in Zombieland surely deserves a spot here. Woody Harrelson is at peak charming insanity in the film, and his desire to find his favorite sweet makes for some of Zombieland‘s best moments. Who can forget the crashed Hostess truck filled to the brim with Snowballs? Or how devastating it is, after surviving the horde’s attack on Pacific Playland, when Columbus mistakenly unloads buckshot into a box full of the treats? It’s a wonderful fake out that adds to the “little moments” that make Zombieland great.
Harrelson’s performance in the film has a lot more nuance than you’d expect from the outset, as well. When it is revealed that it was the death of his son that pushed him over the edge, you begin to understand why he is willing to risk his life for such a frivolous, innocent item like a Twinkie. Or, as they call them in Mexico, “Los Submarinos.” Here’s hoping that sequel eventually comes together.
9. The Shape of Water (2017)
The best villains generally have some identifying characteristic – something to latch on to and provide a central focus for their character. Rarely does that work quite as successfully as it does with Richard Strickland in The Shape of Water. Played with terrifying intensity by Michael Shannon, Strickland loves to suck on bright green hard candy. In an interview with Screen Crush, Shannon summed up the strange tic:
“Well, it’s a very oral thing, the hard candy. I think it represents tension and anxiety, and the supplication of anxiety, the release of anxiety. I mean Strickland is a very troubled person. It’s easy to focus on the pain he inflicts on other people, but something that is a little more insidious is the pain he inflicts on himself, or the pain that he is carrying with him all the time. Usually people who are that cruel tend to have a lot of self-loathing and that cruelness is a manifestation of that. So anyway the candy, in the way, he kind of alleviates his own anxiety.”
It’s difficult to think about Guillermo del Toro’s creepy fairy tale without immediately fixating on Strickland‘s fixation. It anchors his villainous character and makes for some extremely memorable moment.
8. Beetlejuice (1988)
Beetlejuice is a delightfully twisted character, played to absolute perfection by the legendary Michael Keaton. Some of his most memorable scenes in Tim Burton’s horror-comedy take place early on in the film, when we’re still trying to figure out if Beetlejuice is someone we should like or not. And who can forget the scene with the fly and the Zagnut bar? “Have a little bite – have something to nosh!”
All the scene’s set on Adam‘s model are amazing – they’re vintage Burton at their finest. Watching the gigantic fly land in the model cemetery, only to be lured into Beetlejuice‘s grasp with promises of the delicious peanut brittle candy, takes on a different tone when you realize just who the character is. Beetlejuice is like a spider, luring in his unsuspecting victims with whatever they desire (be it a bio-exorcism or candy bar) before ensnaring them and claiming their dearest possessions and, often, their lives.
Maybe the Zagnut will reappear in the musical?
7. Jawbreaker (1999)
Not technically a horror movie, but there are some serious scary elements in Darren Stein’s blacker than black comedy. Often compared to Heathers, Jawbreaker starts out incredibly dark – Liz Purr, the leader of a clique of popular high school girls, is kidnapped on the morning of her seventeenth birthday. Three masked intruders jam a jawbreaker in her mouth to keep her quiet and stuff her in the trunk of a car. Lucky for her, it’s only her friends. They only playing an over the top birthday prank on her, and open the trunk to treat Liz to a birthday breakfast.
Unlucky for Liz (and her friends), the jawbreaker chokes her to death. What follows is an increasingly ridiculous and dark attempt to cover up the death of their friend and, more importantly, their role in it. Featuring some impressive performances from Rose McGowen, Rebecca Gayheart, and Julie Benz, Jawbreaker is a fun and frightening look at the evil that high schoolers are capable of. Check it out – it’s the cat’s meow.
6. Candyman (1992)
“If you look in the mirror and you say his name five times, he’ll appear behind you, breathing down your neck… want to try it?”
Despite being almost thirty years old at this point, Candyman still holds up pretty well. It’s a horror movie with a message, telling a tale of racism and cruelty, wrapped up in a Bloody Mary-esque urban legend. Not to ruin every twist and turn, but the way the titular Candyman was murdered involves dismemberment and lots of honey. It’s pretty horrifying, and this is definitely not one you want to watch if you are melissophobic. Go ahead and pretend there was no sequel – it’s better that way.
5. Hard Candy (2005)
Talk about intense. Hard Candy features an intriguing premise: a fourteen year old girl meets a man in his early 30s at a coffee shop after engaging in a flirtatious conversation online. The two abscond to the man’s house and share a drink, but the man soon falls unconscious and we realize that the girl has drugged his drink. She accuses him of being a pedophile and murderer (a fact he denies), leaving the audience totally disoriented as we wonder who is telling the truth and who we should root for.
Slow burn horror done right is amazing to watch – Hard Candy takes its sweet time, just as its namesake should. It plays with your expectations, and watching the two leads jockey with one another and try to survive is a blast to watch. Featuring a young Ellen Page as a symbolic Little Red Riding Hood striding into the wolf’s grasp, this is definitely one to savor.
4. The Devil’s Candy (2015)
One of the most recent additions to our list, The Devil’s Candy tell’s a tale of murder and hellish worship, and is writer/director Sean Byrne’s follow-up to his also excellent The Loved Ones. It is stylish and gritty, and will subvert your expectations enough to keep you guessing throughout.
The best aspect of The Devil’s Candy is how it keeps the audience off-balance. You are never sure what is going to happen next: is it a haunted house film? Possession? Is it just a crazy person rocking out his electric guitar? It takes multiple viewings to truly put together what is happening in this film, and that works to its advantage. It is pretty chilling when our villain explains what type of candy the Devil enjoys.
3. Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
If you haven’t seen Trick ‘r Treat, you should probably step away from this article and go check it out first.
Good, now we can go on. Wasn’t that fun?
This is truly a horror flick for horror fans – it constantly winks at the audience, much like Scream did so successfully ten years before it. Weaving together all the different tales, united by that little scamp Sam and his oversized lollipop, Trick ‘r Treat has made itself into a Halloween staple. There’s a great cast, including Brian Cox and Anna Paquin, an excellent soundtrack, and some great twists and turns here.
2. The Stuff (1985)
Nothing can stop… THE STUFF! This delicious little morsel from B-horror legend Larry Cohen is just as cheesy as ever. However, its satirical and winking delivery keeps it a good deal of fun. It focuses on a mysterious substance that is addictive and destructive. As “The Stuff” spreads across the world and takes over the minds of everyone who encounters it, you can’t help but be reminded of aspects of our own world.
Lampooning our consumerist culture and self-destructive nature, The Stuff touches on themes similar to films like They Live. It’s smart, sharp, and an awful lot of fun. Try it at your own risk!
1. Friday the 13th Part V (1985)
I still remember the first time I saw this film. There are plenty of “WTF?” moments in Friday the 13th films (especially this entry in the series), but I distinctly remember this scene completely confusing me as a child.
That poor guy. He just wants to help. He absolutely did NOT deserve what he got. You gotta love it. Why is it in the movie? Who acts like that? So many questions, and no real answers – but it is one of the most memorable candy bar scenes in cinematic history.