Tales Of Halloween (Cert 18)
1 Disc (Distributor: Arrow Films) Running Time: 98 minutes approx.
Release Date – October 24th
A self-explanatory tile for the horror compendium to mark the annual American initiated one night event which has travelled across the pond and sees kids dress up as monsters and the like, then pester the rest of us by knocking on our doors and asking for sweets whilst we are trying to eat our dinner.
For most people Halloween is a time to indulge in horror movies and this applies to filmmakers too. In Hollywood eleven writers-directors have come together to produce this ten film anthology of shorts all set on October 31st, and features references to classic horror films as well as cameos from legends of the genre.
The film begins with one such cameo as Adrienne Barbeau play a radio DJ who effectively plays narrator is providing links between many of the clips, just one of the many little touches of continuity to look out for – these include the fact that everyone is watching Night Of The Living Dead on TV and many of the trick and treating kids appear in other stories.
We kick off with Sweet Tooth from Dave Parker. To stop young Mikey (Daniel DiMaggio) from scoffing his way through his entire Trick and Treat loot, teen babysitter Izzy (Madison Iseman) and her boyfriend Kyle (Austin Falk) tell Mikey the fable of the killer named Sweet Tooth. When Mikey goes to bed, Izzy and Kyle eat all the sweets, with grim consequences.
In Darren Lynn Bousman’s The Night Billy Raised Hell the titular Billy (Marcus Eckert), dressed as devil, is goaded by older kids into egging the house of Mr. Abbadon (Barry Bostwick), who turn out to be the real devil! Mr. Abbadon decides to have a night of devilish fun with young Billy.
Up next is Trick from Adam Gierasch, which sees two couples (John F. Beach and Tiffany Shepis, Casey Ruggieri and Trent Haaga) sharing sweet duty when the kids come knocking. Everything seems convivial enough until a young girl dressed as witch (Mia Page) decides to opt for “trick” instead of treat. As far as pay offs go this is one of the darker and more upsetting delivered here.
Paul Solet’s The Weak And The Wicked sees a teen lad (Keir Gilchrist) being victimised by a trio of thugs (Grace Phipps, Noah Segan and Booboo Stewart) but is rescued by a very unusual saviour. One of the weaker efforts in this collection.
Grimm Grinning Ghost comes courtesy of Axelle Carolyn, the Belgian actress and director who conceived this whole project. After a Halloween party full of stories of urban legends told for kicks, Lynn (Alexandra Essoe) is forced to abandon her car when it breaks down and walk home. But as the fog rises she fears she is being followed. There is a nice suspenseful build up to a sudden if predictable ending.
Failing to gets its point across successfully is Lucky McKee’s Ding Dong. Because of the lack of Hard of Hearing subtitles and the overacting of Pollyanna McIntosh this was difficult to follow. However a quick look at other reviews and it transpires that Jackie is actually a witch mourning the loss of her child but this film was played as a comedy thus his never came through at all.
The only co-directed clip in this compendium is This Means War from Andrew Kasch and John Skipp, a grisly version of the old neighbours feuding over their Christmas garden decorations except with Halloween ephemera. Nothing to see here frankly.
We get back on track with Mike Mendez’s Friday The 31st which begins as a homage of sorts to the slasher genre, as we meet a young woman dressed as Dorothy from Wizard Of Oz (Amanda Moyer) running from a deformed killer (Nick Principe) who has already killed her friends. I won’t say anymore as this takes an unusual and very unexpected turn, and its excessive finale will delight horror and comedy fans in equal measure.
Legendary director John Landis makes an appearance as Jebediah Rex, the father of a boy kidnapped by two hapless hoodlums (Jose Pablo Cantillo and Sam Witwer) whilst out Trick or Treating in The Ransom of Rusty Rex from Ryan Schifrin. If that name sounds familiar, it should as his father Lalo is the famous composer (TV’s Mission: Impossible) who also scored the general themes music of this film.
British director (and husband to Axelle Carolyn) Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent) closes the proceedings with Bad Seed. Having finished carving his masterpiece pumpkin Ray Bishop (Greg McLean) admires his handiwork until it suddenly comes to live and eats him! Overworked Detective McNally (Kristina Klebe) is tasked with hunting down this flesh eating mutant vegetable.
It should be apparent by now that the overall tone most of the writers and directors were aiming for was comedy, with Bad Seed driving the message home for anyone who may have been unsure. With humour being subjective, some may not find it particularly laugh out loud funny, which it isn’t, but there is enough twists in some of the concepts to raise a smile or too.
By their very nature anthology films are hit and miss, and after a strong start with three very good entries, the quality of the middle section oscillates from the bad to uninspired. Everything is very well made and with a handsome enough budget to not look out of place against each other, and the crossover of the minutiae is nice touch.
The actors, a mix of very familiar faces and up and comers, largely acquit themselves well and give themselves over to the director’s whim, with the young kids proving to be surprisingly committed and seemingly unaffected by their gory surroundings. Most horror fans however will get a kick out of the aforementioned cameos.
A rather glossy presentation in a world of gritty, seedy torture porn titles, Tales Of Halloween has enough interesting and well executed (pardon the pun) ideas to keep the bloodthirsty entertained come October 31st.
DTS-HD MA 5.1
Anatomy Of A Scene
Rating – ***
Man In Black