Candy Land is a 2023 American slasher horror thriller set in the underground sleazy world of truck stop sex workers aka “lot lizards.”
Written, co-produced and directed by John Swab (Ida Red; Body Brokers; Run with the Hunted; Let Me Make You a Martyr). Also produced by Jeremy M. Rosen (Ida Red) with Robert Ogden Barnum and Michael Reiser serving as executive producers.
Remy (Olivia Luccardi), a seemingly naïve and devout young woman, finds herself cast out from her religious cult. With no place to turn, she immerses herself in the underground world of truck stop sex workers aka “lot lizards,” courtesy of her hosts, Sadie (Sam Quartin), Riley (Eden Brolin), Liv (Virginia Rand) and Levi (Owen Campbell).
“Under the watchful eye of their matriarch, Nora (Guinevere Turner), and enigmatic local lawman, Sheriff Rex (Billy Baldwin), Remy navigates between her strained belief system and the lot lizard code to find her true calling in life…
It’s neatly done and there’s a great camaraderie between the characters […] Writer/Director John Swab pens a lively script and allows events to unravel in a way that, once the blood starts flowing, it never lets up. Candy Land isn’t scared to get its hands dirty or to tackle difficult subjects head-on.” Backseat Mafia
“Candy Land is a very odd and mean-spirited film, the like you probably won’t see much this year.” Bloody Flicks
“Candy Land is a surprisingly beautiful film to look at (the cinematography is gorgeous) and its portrayal of sex workers as real people, really makes it rise above other exploitation-style films. I loved it and I can’t wait to recommend this horror flick to my fellow horror nerds.” 4 out of 5, The Fright Club
“At times, Candy Land takes itself a bit too seriously, but confoundlingly, not serious enough when style is being upheld over substance in certain moments, and the final needle drop is a curious choice for multiple reasons, however, Swab and team have successfully, and respectfully, told the stories of people we don’t usually hear about and, more than that, they make us invested in them and their survival, which is a nice change in a slasher.” Haddonfield Horror
” …a gory, exploitation flick where the characters we care about are in increasing danger. No, it isn’t full grindhouse – being too character-driven to lapse into ridiculousness – but fire this on with X, and you got a hell of a double bill. I won’t go into the villain’s motive, but it’s superbly handled and totally in line with the themes developed in the earlier sections.” Horror Cult Films
“Not only will fans appreciate the bond they see in the lizards but they will love the carnage that falls to them. Olivia Luccardi is a must-watch in Candy Land. This film will torment your morals knowing that the “lot lizards” world is a true thing. Though I don’t even think white slavery culture is ready for the madness found in Candy Land.” 3.5 out of 5, Horror Movies Uncut
” …I found myself grinning as things got maniacal with more bodies dropping and kills producing enough blood to paint an entire room. I know it won’t be for everyone, and there’s plenty of criticism on Letterboxd for it already, but I don’t care. I loved how f*cking nuts this intensely subversive movie got and Swab’s bold willingness to compare morality between sex workers and zealots.” Horror Obsessive
” …this captures a vivid sense of time and place while the plot cannily veers between gritty social realism, empathetic character drama and a full-on grisly murder mystery with a significant body count. It nods to key 1970s American exploitation movies while not feeling a need to indulge in heavy-handed homages and tips over into pure horror territory for a startling final act that showcases a fantastic turn from Luccardi as the shy, appealing, offbeat novice with a secret.” 4 out of 5, Horror Screams Video Vault
There is an issue that once the murders really start, the film defaults to a body count plot – the actual meat of the plot is almost wheel-spinning until we get back to the cult for a kicker of an ending. It has a look which is at once grimy and sparkly, appropriate to the roadside attraction setting…” The Kim Newman Web Site
“It paints a portrait of sex workers who — in a world of corrupt cops, dangerous clients, and people eager to exploit them — can only rely on each other. It examines what happens when you trust the wrong people. Most importantly, it asks us to look deep inside to find out what we really mean when we say “the wrong people.” Nightmarish Conjurings
“Once the genre elements arrive, Swale depicts the intersection of sex and violence with a sleaziness that fits this story well. As new avenues are revealed and characters get a taste for new sensations, many fall victim in heartbreaking fashion. This tale of unconventional families may feel like nothing new, yet it’s effectively told from beginning to end, and has time for a fantastic needle drop.” The Reviewing Rodders
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