Anti-Bullying PSA: A Conversation with Caleb Thomas for the Blu-ray Release of CANDY CORN
CANDY CORN is written & directed by Josh Hasty (In Hell Everybody Loves Popcorn), starring P.J. Soles (Halloween), Courtney Gains (Children of the Corn), Tony Todd (Candyman), Pancho Moler (3 from Hell), Sky Elobar (The Greasy Strangler), Caleb Thomas (The Terror of Hallow’s Eve), Lovlee Carroll (Anabolic Life), Matt O’Neill (Edgar Allan Poe’s Lighthouse Keeper), and introducing Nate Chaney.
In our interview, The Fan Carpet‘s Jonathan Hughes in association with The Killer Spotlight spoke to Caleb Thomas about working with Josh Hasty, meeting and working with his Horror heroes and his thoughts on Candy Corn being an anti-bullying film…
Well yeah you’ve been around a while and speaking of being around a while, I was kind of wishing this was August/September 2017 when you did The Terror of All Hallows Eve.
Oh yeah. Those films are very similar
Yes they are very similar. I saw it at FrightFest here in 2017 and it was definitely a stand out for me, I loved that film.
What I’ll do is, when I’m done here, I’ll send you a link to my review from my own website The Killer Spotlight.
Yeah probably, The Killer Spotlight’s only been around for two years anyways so. This is something I do for my friends at The Fan Carpet and they asked me to……the guys are busy with the Festival, they know I’ve seen Candy Corn already and they know I liked it so they asked me to do this and I was like “yeah absolutely mate”, so yeah.
That’s awesome. I just saw it two nights ago.
Where you at that premiere in LA?
Yeah, in Hollywood.
Yeah that’s right, I saw Horror Vixen and a few people posting on Instagram about that. That looked really cool, nice one man.
Yeah it was a fun experience.
Oh good, I’m glad, because the crowd looked like they where really into it.
Yeah they… it’s funny to hear them not groan but wince and cheer and laugh at all the different parts because it’s been oh nine/ten months since we filmed it and you never know when or where the jokes are going to land, and with who because usually when there’s one comedic character in a horror film, the comic relief, but it’s cool that everyone got some laughs.
Yeah absolutely. Yeah I liked it a lot it was a good film so yeah. I should get on with some of the questions here anyways a few questions, obviously the first time I’m sort of doing this but you know.
No worries man
How do you describe Bobby in Candy Corn and what he goes through in the movie?
How do I describe Bobby in Candy Corn? He’s a follower, there’s always followers in a group, there’s always leaders in a group and unfortunately some of the followers in the group need to learn to stand up and, I don’t want to ruin how he goes out, but how he… oh maybe I just ruined it.
Each of the characters go out in their own way, in their lack of being a good human such as Bobby’s very spineless and in the film, if you watch it, they beat up this town kid, and he should have said something, like the kids who are following need to become leaders in their own way and that’s the visualisation or the representation of Bobby is that he’s gutless and he’s spineless but he’s a follower and sometimes if you don’t speak up that leads to bad things.
So for kids out there who are following bad people or people they don’t even realise are bad influences, if they don’t feel what they are doing is right, they need to stand up for themselves and say “no” and that’s what Bobby should have done. So he’s just a coward, he’s just a follower and hopefully he can show people that you need to speak up even if you’re too scared to, because you can’t be hiding in the shadows, you’ve got to find the light and speak up for yourself, whether it’s right or wrong you have to speak up.
Yeah good, that’s really good. I was thinking of followers because you’ve got the friends who admire their leaders and want to be like them when they really shouldn’t be, when they should be leaders, yeah followers who should be leaders.
Yeah. Look, people have this pretty good gist of right and wrong by the time they’re ten years old. So you hide or you bury deep down or you ignore what’s right or wrong when you’re in a group, because you’re influenced by other people, but basically we know what is right and wrong at a very young age and we just sit back and we let bad things happen. What’s cool about, since you said you saw The Terror of Hallow’s Eve, my other horror film, both of them including Candy Corn have this kind of anti-bullying undertone.
It’s very clear in The Terror of Hallows Eve because that’s just one giant horror PSA, but in Candy Corn I don’t think anyone made it a point to be an anti-bullying PSA, but it really is and it really stands up against bullying. So I hope that message comes across that bullying is wrong in both of these films.
Of course, speaking of bullying, do you in any way sympathise with Jacob as someone was bullied so bad and got revenge? You know, bullying in movies, when you see the one who is bullied getting back at them, do you sort of cheer them on or do you think “should he being doing it that?” or what do you think about that, about this idea of the bullied getting back at them?
My opinion on Jacob getting revenge on the bullies, I don’t know if I have one. Do I think… I have some friends who believe that “bully the bully”, you know, put the bully in his place, but I don’t know if I believe that bullying is good at all.
So that’s a tricky answer, I don’t think bullying’s right no matter whose doing it, I do believe in standing up for yourself. I do like revenge films and, let’s remember this is a film, although apparently it’s based on some true events, I’m not sure.
I heard something like that
I don’t know that’s a tough one man (laughs)
It is, no really, because when we watch revenge movies like good, cool, stylish ones like Kill Bill and stuff like that, you know, when you see something so horrible happen to someone and then there is a sort of sign of relief when the bad guy gets it, but at the same time, you know, morally is that the right way for that person to be punished? So there’s a whole moral (Caleb interrupts)
I’d rather leave it up to God rather than humans (laughs)
Yeah. How best would you describe Josh Hasty’s style of directing throughout your time working with him on this film on Candy Corn?
I absolutely loved working with Josh Hasty, what got me on board was a phone call, he told me a buddy of mine Pancho Moler who I did my first feature with; Dick Dickster and Courtney Gaines who was producing the film and starring in the film, he taught me in an acting class one time, I only met him one time but I guess I made an impression on him, they gave me a very nice review and said I’d be great for this role.
And then Josh called me up and the thing that got me hooked was his love for the Halloween movies, I love those, and that’s the same reason that I got involved on The Terror of Hallows Eve is because Todd Tucker’s passion for the Halloween movies, like all the Halloween films.
So when he told me basically his inspiration was the Halloween film, I don’t want to say Candy Corn is a modern day take on Halloween because it takes place in the 80s or something, so it’s not a modern take but it’s a modern day filming of Halloween I guess would be the right way to say it.
Yeah when people share the same passion and influence, 1: for film and 2: for very specific movies that inspired them and mould their career, I’m on board. So when he told me that, like, it has a lot to do with Halloween I was into it, and I believed they shot some of the footage, the exterior shots a few months before, and he showed me that and some of the best scenes from other characters and you could tell the style and the tone.
That’s what’s risky when you start to do a feature film, and you wonder why certain actors, a move comes out and it’s just pure trash and you wonder “why would an actor choose to make that movie?”. Well they don’t know they’re going to make a trashy movie, they trust the director, they trust the producers, the writers that it’s going to turn out well and sometimes it doesn’t. But in this case the way that Josh instilled in me confidence, I instilled trust and he’d showed me scenes that he had already shot, so it wasn’t that much like that much of a leap of faith for me, he’s good people.
I love his directing style, he kept coming up to me and apologising that he didn’t have more notes for me which, as an actor, I don’t care I prefer less notes, clearly I’m doing the right thing and I’m giving you what you want. So he kept coming up to me and going “sorry man I don’t have anything for you” I don’t care it means I’m doing exactly what you need me to do. So I had a blast filming with him
We had time to build the character and stuff like that before I flew out to Ohio to film, but he was just cool, calm and collected and just let me do my thing which was a lot of fun.
Speaking of being part of the film, how did it feel being a part of, on the same set as the likes of such horror icons like PJ Soles from Halloween and of course Tony Todd?
Tony, PJ, actually I did not know who PJ was until, but I had just done a movie with Sid, I believe his last name is Haig
Sid Haig yeah.
He was in The Devil’s Rejects and what not. I had done a movie with him where we didn’t share any screen time but then at Monsterpalloza our tables, our signing booths, where right next to each other, so I literally spent an entire weekend hanging out with him at Monsterpalloza and we just chatted the whole time and talking about his movies. So then I did my research only to find that PJ was in one of the Halloweens as well, so then my love came for her after, so now I’m a huge fan. Tony Todd funnily enough I grew up watching Tony Todd in Final Destination and an action movie by Michael Bay called The Rock.
Oh that movies so good.
I had seen him in Final Destination but did not recognise him in that movie, like I knew it was him but it didn’t click, but when I saw him in The Rock I was like “this guys just a badass” so then I was like I’m a huge fan, and then when I found out he was in our film I became even more of a fan.
So sometimes I become a bigger fan after the fact which is cool, to add to that list Courtney Gaines like Children of the Corn, Back to the Future, Memphis Belle, but as far as horror films go he’s in the newer Halloween with Rob Zombie, well since now there’s a newer one, even newer one, but when I got to get in a film with Courtney Gaines which was definitely one of the huge highlights for me, not only do I like him as a friend, but as an acting coach but getting to film with that guy, that dude’s a legend to me, like I grew up watching his films.
So all it takes is one good movie for me to become a huge fan such as with Tony Todd, I loved him in The Rock, so to make a film with all of these people and I remember one time on the way home from set, we’re all in the transportation van and they’re all just telling war stories from being on set and I just sat back and I just enjoyed every second of it and I was like “this is what it’s about”. To get to act, to chill with all of these legends to just hear their stories was definitely the biggest reward for me.
Yeah that was cool. I have actually seen Candy Corn it’s really good I really liked it, so I dug it, it was old school. There is definitely a Halloween vibe to it now that you mention it.
Completely, well one….. two kinds of moment I know that you can chime in on this is certain scenes when you think there’s going to be a kind of, I don’t know, just boring dialogue or whatever, they cut out the dialogue and they add music and basically here’s an example; exposition, when the audience watch a set up and then the characters need to explain what just happened to another character, the audience has already seen it, so the second they’re like “what happened? Well” and then they’re talking about it, the audience gets bored because we’ve already seen this.
But what Josh did and the editor and the sound designer did was instead of explaining the exposition they basically put music over it and just filmed the reaction, which I was like “oh just beautiful” great editing choice, great storytelling choice, it keeps it riveting, the music comes in and saves the day and I believe, oh I’m going to blank I just (saw?) him two nights ago, the guy who did the score, I believe his name is Jonathan, I’m so sorry if I’m wrong, but he did amazing in choosing to turning up the music and making it more intense because it has a very Halloweenesque sound, electronic beats and stuff like that. I loved the music and I really think the music is what brings the Halloween vibe to it.
What new experiences did you learn on the set of Candy Corn that you hadn’t learned previously on the likes of The Terror of Hallows Eve or any of your previous projects?
New experiences? Well it was fun to film in Ohio, I got to go to Ohio. I had never filmed in Ohio before so getting to go there and film, it was a blast, I know love Ohio, it’s a new adopted state of mine because I love it so much, we had fun. Any time you go out with actors from LA to a different location and hang out with them in a hotel and bond with them is always a good experience.
So really it’s more about what we did, but it’s about who I hung out with such as my fellow co-stars Madison, , Jimmy, just all of them it was a lot of fun to get to know these people and really we spent two weeks in Ohio and everyone, excluding Jimmy, was from LA, so we shared the same nervousness of being in a new place and having to perform in a new location.
That doesn’t sound very exciting but if anyone has to ever travel for work but then act and use all your senses it’s kind of nerve racking, but we had a blast. So getting to know my co-stars was probably the newest experience and the most fun thing over there.
Do you have any future roles or projects that you would like to bring up in this interview, or anything you’ve got coming up?
Let’s see. We’ll start with, what am I about to film? What’s coming out? I believe I’m starting a new film with my very good friend Thomas (Churchill?) he directed me in a movie called Big Freaking Rat, that should be coming out very soon, another horror film in what I call my horroreqsue Halloween trilogy, the first one was The Terror of Hallows Eve, and then this one is Candy Corn and then the third one will be the movie with Sid Haig called Hanukkah.
So that should be coming out hopefully this year, if not, next year, keep an eye out for Hanukkah. Big Freaking Rat, I played a very small borderline background role with Ben Affleck in a movie called The Way Back where he’s a basketball coach that should be coming out soon. I got a couple of music videos to keep an eye out for, I don’t remember their names because I just finished my 49th music video…
…so I can’t keep track of what’s coming out as far as those go. Let’s see, that’s probably it for features, I believe I’m starting to film a new movie with Thomas in November and do another film I believe called Down the K-Hole which is about people abusing ketamine or something I had to do bit of research on that drug (laughs).
I have very minor details, I have the script, I’m just about to read it today so that’s what I’m likely to be doing all day. Yeah just a few things here and there, it’s very nice to have movies coming out, movies I’m about to film and movies in the works, so we’ll see what happens in the next couple of months.
Is Candy Corn, is that out right now or is it coming to theatres soon?
Yes Candy Corn is officially available on Blu-Ray and Video On Demand, people keep tagging me in photos on Playstation, iTunes, and a few different other websites and on the distributor Epic or Dread, I’m not sure, on their webpages you can order the Blu-Rays which his kind of cool, I think I’m going to order me a Blu-Ray today.
But I do believe, and don’t quote me on this, it’s coming out from what I’ve heard is about 1100 theatres in a month or two, maybe a couple of months, I’m not sure. But keep an eye out for Candy Corn in the theatre near you, so that’s kind of exciting.
Cool cool. I hope you get a screening or two here in the UK also, because they sent me a screening here and I was unable to make FrightFest this year and The Fan Carpet guys knew that so asked me to check this out and I was like “yeah absolutely”, so that was good. So yeah thank you very much for doing that man, for allowing me this opportunity to interview you.
Thank you for having me, I feel very honoured for having people wanting to talk to me, especially you, , I wish we could have connected with The Terror of Hallows Eve, probably to give you the same answers, both anti-bullying films.
GET CANDY CORN ON BLU-RAY NOW FROM EPIC PICTURES