“Tales of Halloween” (2015) A Halloween horror anthology featuring 10 ghoulish tales of mischief and mayhem. Oh yeah, and killer jack o’lanterns.
Here we have a horror anthology from some fantastic directors based around Halloween.
The great Adrienne Barbeau plays a disc jockey similar to Stevie Wayne, the character she portrayed in John Carpenter’s “The Fog” in 1980. She guides us through 10 spine tingling tales of terror that unfold on All Hallow’s Eve in a small town.
In “Sweet Tooth”, a young boy dressed as a pirate gobbles up his candy in front of his babysitter and her boyfriend, whom relates the 50-year-old tale of Timmy Blake, a boy who loved Trick or Treating but was never allowed to eat the candy he collected. His incredibly strict parents felt that sugary sweets would rot his teeth.
One Halloween night, Timmy crept downstairs to see what became of his confiscated candies. His mother and father gobbled up his treats in a gluttonous rampage, prompting young Timmy to slaughter them both with a meat cleaver. He then opens them up and eats the candy from inside their digestive tracts.
With her charge in bed, the babysitter and her boyfriend watch “Night of the Living Dead” and gorge themselves on the child’s candy until the ghoulish Sweet Tooth arrives to tear out their innards looking for sugary sweets.
This first tale has real merit, and I wouldn’t even mind an entire feature film devoted to this mythology. We’re off to a strong start here!
THE NIGHT BILLY RAISED HELL
A young boy dressed like the Devil is forced by his sister’s boyfriend to prank the town weirdo; an elder gent who doesn’t go out much. It goes awry, and the strange man turns out to have horns and crimson skin. He recruits the boy for a series of increasing malevolent Halloween pranks. I won’t ruin the “twist” for you, but don’t get too excited.
Even through heavy makeup, Barry Bostwick camps it up as the devilish older fella and the tale itself is ridiculously juvenile. Bleh.
In director Adam Gierasch’s “Trick”, the twisty turny third tale, group of thirty something friends are drinking and hanging out in a lovely suburban house when a child dressed as a witch rings the bell. When one of the boozy friends answers the door, the witch stabs him to death.
Soon, pint-sized attackers are coming from every direction, desperate to hack apart the adults. Meanwhile, a woman in the house is hurriedly deleting photos on her smart phone and none of the adults has called the police. The reveal is pretty well done.
THE WEAK AND THE WICKED
In “Grace” director Paul Solet’s effort “The Weak And The Wicked”, a young man wearing a horned helmet confronts a deadly street gang who murdered his family decades ago. This leads to a chase through the town’s seedier back alleys and some nifty monster makeup. I dug it.
GRIMM GRINNING GHOST
Then we have “Grimm Grinning Ghost”, in which genre legend Lin Shaye scares “Starry Eyes” star Alex Essoes at a Halloween gathering with the tragic tale of the disfigured phantom Mary Bailey, who steals your eyes on Halloween night. On the way home, Essoes has some car trouble and is forced to walk the foggy streets. Guess who shows up?
Simple, sweet and to the point. I enjoyed this tale.
In Lucky McKee’s darkly comic “Ding Dong”, a husband is having a pretty tough time dealing with his unhinged, demonically empowered wife. Seems she wants a kid quite badly, loves sticking things in the oven, wears pointy hats and has a deep interest in the story of Hansel and Gretel.
Great stuff from one of my favorite directors.
THIS MEANS WAR
“This Means War” follows two neighborhood rivals. A suburban dad who puts on an old-fashioned spook show in his front yard every year, and a metal head across the street who brings in blaring music, booze and madness to his celebration of Samhain. War breaks out, plastic skeletons are decapitated and fun chaos is had by all.
FRIDAY THE 31ST
In “Big Ass Spider” director Mike Mendez’s “Friday The 31st”, a woman dressed as Sexy Dorothy Gale runs from a lumbering masked killer in overalls deep in the forest. The chase takes an unexpected turn and soon we have a gory Raimi-esque bloodbath on our hands with cool old school effects. Loved it!
THE RANSOM OF RUSTY REX
Even with the presence of director John Landis in a small role and “Being Human” star Sam Witwer as a kidnapper, I just couldn’t get into “The Ransom Of Rusty Rex.” It has the same plot as the far superior Josh Holloway horror flick “Whisper,” in which kidnappers can’t ransom a strange child they’ve taken because the family doesn’t want the boy back for terrifying reasons.
Meh. I shrug in the general direction of this tale.
Which brings us to “Bad Seed” from Neil Marshall. He is the genius who directed “The Descent,” “Dog Soldiers” and “Doomsday”– a personal favorite of mine. He doesn’t let us down with the hilarious tale of a cop pursuing a monstrous people eating jack o’lantern across town as it gobbles up Trick or Treaters. Can anything stop the madness?
A police sketch artist draws a pumpkin as a suspect, there is a reference to “Halloween 3”, explosions and fire, evil corporations making enhanced pumpkins and Pat Healy as a CSI tech. It’s a winning combination.
Though very far from perfect and no match for Michael Dougherty’s “Trick ‘R Treat” in terms of scares, laughs, powerful imagery or clever writing,
“Tales of Halloween” is still a fun celebration of the greatest night of the year.