Starring: Booboo Stewart, Grace Phipps, Greg Grunberg, Lin Shaye, Sam Witwer, Adrienne Barbeau, Cerina Vincent, Barry Bostwick, John Landis, James Duval, Lisa Marie, Keir Gilchrist
Directors: Darren Lynn Bousman, Axelle Carolyn, Adam Gierasch, Andrew Kasch, Neil Marshall, Lucky McKee, Mike Mendez, Dave Parker, Ryan Schifrin, John Skipp, Paul Solet
Writers: Axelle Carolyn, Andrew Kasch, Neil Marshall, Lucky McKee, Mike Mendez, Dave Parker, Ryan Schifrin, Clint Sears, John Skipp
Running time: 92 minutes
Rated: None (for adult language and graphic violence)
Reviewed by Michael Juvinall – Horror Society
What’s better than a good ole fashioned horror anthology, especially one that’s set during Halloween. I mean they’re short, to the point, and you don’t have to wait 90 minutes for the payoff. They’re perfect for today’s ADD generation right? The only problem is they’re tough to pull off correctly and not too many get it right. It’s really hard to get short films that have a cohesive storyline that also fit together with the other shorts perfectly. Only a handful manage to get it right – Tales from the Crypt (1972), Creepshow (1982), and Trick ‘r Treat (2007) just to name some of my faves. So does Epic Pictures upcoming film Tales of Halloween belong on that list? You’ll have to read on a bit further to find out.
TOH pulls together some of today’s best and brightest writers & directors from the indie scene to great effect as they go by the label of The October Society. The film consists of ten short films based on our favorite holiday by eleven writers and directors including such notables as Lucky McKee (May, The Woman), Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent), Mike Mendez (The Gravedancers, Big Ass Spider!), Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw 2-4, The Barrens) and more all lend a hand in creating the fun and gory stories for the screen. The concept was the brainchild of Axelle Carolyn (Soulmate) who also serves as producer/segment director for the film.
The string that ties everything together throughout the film is Adrienne Barbeau as the radio DJ giving a bit of Halloween advice to unsuspecting youngsters and serving as a friendly voice in the night. Her role is highly reminiscent of her character Stevie Wayne from The Fog.
Dave Parker’s “Sweet Tooth” starts things off by introducing a new urban legend that will have kids thinking twice about eating all their Halloween candy with dire consequences.
Next is Darren Lynn Bousman’s “The Night Billy Raised Hell” starring Barry Bostwick as an old cranky man who may or may not be the Devil himself as he takes a young trick or treater under his wing to show him what pranking on Halloween is really all about. This is a really fun segment that’s full of gory goodness. Bostwick is great fun to watch as he really hams it up and has a lot of fun in the role.
“Trick” by director Adam Gierasch features two young couples handing out candy on Halloween to all the little kids who come to their door, but not all the kiddies are cute and cuddly. Things go downhill for the foursome as the tricking turns deadly.
Paul Solet‘s “The Weak and the Wicked” segment features a bullied kid who turns the tables on his three bicycle riding aggressors, Grace Phipps, Noah Segan, Booboo Stewart. This is my least favorite segment of the bunch mainly because of the ludacris idea of late teenage kids in a bicycle gang being bullies. It’s not very convincing and almost laughable, but the creature effects are incredibly well-done.
Axelle Carolyn’s “Grimm Grinning Ghost” is up next and features a Candyman-esque / Bloody Mary-ish tale of a woman haunted by the Grimm Grinning Ghost. This segment is also a fun ride and has some really good shocks & scares. Be on the lookout for a host of celebrity cameos in this one.
Lucky McKee’s “Ding Dong” features a couple who has obviously lost a child in the not-too-distant past and has fond (and sad) remembrances as the kids line up to trick or treat their house. The wife (Polly McIntosh) dresses as a witch and has nightmarish episodes as a creepy red-faced witch with extra arms as she longs for her child. This is a bizarre segment complete with many nightmarish images and features a great turn by McIntosh who steals the episode.
Andrew Kasch and John Skipp team up for “This Means War.” The segment features two neighbors that go to battle with each other over who has the best Halloween decorations. Things turn violent as the two absurdly try to best each other. This segment is a Halloween version of the 2006 Christmas film, Deck the Halls, only mixed with much blood & gore.
Mike Mendez‘s “Friday the 31st” segment is by far the best of the film as it features a Jason Voorhees style killer who is stalking a young woman only to be bested by an outlandish and unexpected opponent. This segment deftly mixes humor and horror and features buckets upon buckets of blood with a nice homage to The Evil Dead.
Ryan Schifrin‘s “The Ransom of Rusty Rex” is about a crime gone wrong, way wrong as two bumbling kidnappers looking for a quick score get far more than they imagined when they kidnap the son of a millionaire as he trick or treats. This segment features Sam Witwer and Jose Pablo Cantillo who are hilarious in their roles. This segment is easily the funniest of the group and one of the funnest.
Closing out the film is Neil Marshall’s “Bad Seed” about a killer pumpkin on the run from the law. Kristina Klebe plays a tough-as-nails detective, who along with her partner Pat Healy, have to stop the killer gourd before the unthinkable happens. The creature design in this one is top notch making for a very fun ride. Again, look out for some killer cameos in this one.
TOH comes together so well with all the segments and obviously some are better than others but realistically, there’s not a bad one in the bunch as I liked all of them for one reason or another. If you’re expecting a lot of straight-out horror, you won’t find it here. The film all-in-all goes more for laughs than scares, but that’s really okay with me because it’s such a fun ride that you won’t mind the lack of frights too much. It’s completely obvious that everyone involved with this film are first and foremost fans of the genre and huge fans of Halloween. For me, Halloween is my Christmas and I’m pretty sure that most involved with the film feel the same way. TOH glorifies the holiday like most other films can’t and it’s a pleasure to watch from start to finish.
As I mentioned throughout the review, be sure to keep an extra close eye on all the celebrity cameos because if you blink, you’ll miss some of them. Genre faves like John Landis, Joe Dante, Adam Green, Barbara Crampton, Stuart Gordon, Lin Shaye, Cerina Vincent, John Savage, Adrianne Curry, Mick Garris, Tiffany Shepis, and most of the writers and directors all show up along with a few surprises if you can catch them all. It’s a film you’ll want to watch again and again to find everyone.
Tales of Halloween is in the top ten of the best horror anthologies ever made and it’s sure to become an instant Halloween classic that fans dust off and watch every year. Everything about the film screams Halloween from the incredible score by the famed Lalo Schifrin to the opening and closing animation sequences and everything in between. I haven’t had this much fun watching a movie in a long time!
4 ½ Pentagrams!
Watch the trailer here,