Director: Tom Savini
Writer: Michael McDowell
Cast: Roy Poole, Tim Choate, David K. Varnay, John Edward Allen, Gary Pratt, and Paul Sparer
Composer: Michael Gibbs
Air Date: 10/27/1985
Ignoring the advice of his son Michael (Tim Choate), the elderly Mr. Killup (Roy Poole) proceeds to torment trick-or-treaters for his own sadistic pleasure. As the night progresses, Mr. Killup receives his “just desserts” in the form of a malevolent goblin arriving at his doorstep.
Operating on the mean-spirited premise that people deserve to be punished for not giving out candy on Halloween, this episode offers a muddled perspective on justice and fair treatment. Nevertheless, “Halloween Candy” employs many effective horror tropes and therefore earns its reputation as a classic Tales from the Darkside entry.
Though less entertaining than the miserly old man from “Trick or Treat,” Mr. Killup wastes no time in establishing himself as a character that viewers will love to hate. Notably, by cursing at trick-or-treaters and pouring “goblin candy” into a child’s goodie bag, Killup provides the audience with sufficient reason to accept the cruel fate that befalls him in the penultimate scene.
Tom Savini’s delicate method of suspense-building should likewise be commended; specifically, certain ominous clichés (e.g. a full moon concealed only by a wispy cloud layer, crickets chirping in the dead of night, and mysterious stranger visits persisting well past designated trick-or-treating hours) solidify a spooky atmosphere in the early scenes while more overtly creepy devices (e.g. cockroaches and goblins) culminate in a most unforgettable climax.
Unsettling though his appearance may be, Savini’s creature is never given a logical motive for stalking Mr. Killup and may thus fail to resonate with fans of a critical mindset.
As indicated above, “Halloween Candy” sends a mixed message about the ostensible virtue of rewarding children for threatening to behave mischievously on the eponymous holiday. That being said, Mr. Killup makes a decision to actively taunt, berate, and physically abuse trick-or-treaters instead of simply ignoring or, in the case of the would-be spray painter, firmly reprimanding any little troublemakers when necessary—a fact that should allow those of a sensitive inclination to forgive, if not altogether approve of, the horrific circumstances whereby the antagonist meets a painful and untimely demise.
The quintessential Tales from the Darkside episode, “Halloween Candy” serves as a testament to the masterful abilities of Savini—a veteran make-up artist and pioneer of the horror genre. Despite a morally ambiguous conclusion (a potential consequence of highlighting style over substance), this offering will appeal to anyone searching for a delightful “treat” to enjoy during Halloween season.
Overall Quality: 9/10
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