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Movie Reviews: Tales of Halloween

Halloween comes early this year with Tales of Halloween. Image used from liveforfilms.com

Halloween comes early this year with Tales of Halloween. Image used from liveforfilms.com

Normally I don’t go out of my way to see a horror anthology. I can’t explain why but typically I don’t enjoy them. However, for the past few weeks I have been excited about Tales of Halloween, a collaborative effort featuring ten segments from ten current horror directors, among them one of my absolute favorites, Neil Marshall. So once it premiered on VOD I gave it a try.  Although I was excited by what was in store, I was nervous about not enjoying it  like so many other similar films.

Sweet Tooth by Dave Parker

The very first segment gets the show rolling with a young boy who is told the violent ubran legend of Sweet Tooth, a murderous child who will kill anyone who doesn’t share their Halloween candy with him. The story is decent and it is clear from the both the over the top antics of the characters and the visceral nature that the tone of the film will mostly be tongue in cheek. The real highlight of the story is when the boy is in bed and fears Sweet Tooth will come for him, a genuinely eerie moment as it brought back memories when I was child and feared the monsters that lurked in the dark. Of course Sweet Tooth does attack and the make up for him is well made and frightening. It’s clear throughout the film that it’s working on a very tight budget so every little make up and effect it uses looks good despite it’s limitations. Though not particularly strong, Sweet Tooth is a pretty decent start to the film and lays the groundwork for the following segments.

The Night Billy Raised Hell by Darren Lynn Bousman

This is the segment I had dreaded most of all as it’s created by Darren Lynn Bousman, a director I don’t enjoy due to his preference of massive violence and shock value over telling a good story. Surprisingly, though, not only does Bousman stay away from any kind of violence but he also crafts one of the more humorous segments in the film. The story follows Billy, another young boy who is caught egging a house by the owner Mr. Abbadon. Mr. Abbadon decides to take Billy out for some Halloween pranks which involve assualting people, burning Halloween decorations, stealing a cop’s gun and robbing a convenience store. The segment is really over the top and grows crazier by the second which is what made it so entertaining. Add on too it Billy Bostwick’s wonderful performance as Mr. Abbadon and you have one fun segment of extreme juvenile delinquency.

Trick by Adam Gierasch

Each director only has a few minutes to tell a story as best they can and finish. For the most part the directors will go for over the top jokes and antics but Adam Gierasch manages to not only tell a good story in such a short amount of time but does is masterfully. The story of Trick is simple: Four people are attacked by a group of murderous children. A typical story that’s typically scary, of course it is it’s young children committing gruesome acts of violence each more gruesome then the last, and while Geirasch does a fine enough job with his story it’s the twist that makes it so great. The twist at the end of Trick is so clever and so well made that not only did I not see it coming but in that instant it made the segment worth watching again. In only a few minutes Gierasch crafted a fine story and wove a wonderful twist into it.

The Weak and the Wicked by Paul Solet

An interesting segment as it plays like an inner city western, Paul Solet’s segment is another one that had caught me off guard. The story follows three violent teenagers as they pursue a young man through the streets of their city. The parkour utilized by the actors is well done and there are some good camera techniques that add energy to the chase but for the most part that’s all it is, one big chase. However, we have another good twist as everything that has happened was for a reason and it ends with the appearance of another well made and creative monster. A pretty good segment with a great chase, well made western allusions and a great monster.

Grim Grinning Ghost by Axelle Carolyn

A simplistic but spooky ghost story, Grim Grinning Ghost follows a young woman on her way home from her mother’s Halloween party. As is custom in horror films her car breaks down and she’s forced to walk home. However, she is pursued by a vengeful ghost and a rolling fog and she must run for her life and never look back. It is a truly unnerving and disconcerting segment as the tension slowly builds with the woman’s ever growing terror. That, along with a brief but excellent performance by the wonderful Lin Shaye, make for a short but frightfully entertaining segment.

Ding Dong by Lucky McKee

Another segment by another director I’m not fond of but unlike The Night Billy Raised Hell this segment didn’t prove me wrong. The story follows Jack and Bobbie a young couple on two separate Halloween nights. Bobbie desperately longs for a child but Jack can’t give her one. So how does she react to this? She morphs into a multi-armed red monster and I honestly don’t get it. It’s clear from the second half of the segment that this is a comedic play on Hansel and Gretel so as such Bobbie is the witch in this story. However, it’s never explained how she can turn herself into a monster. The second half is a decent comedic loop as Bobbie forces Jack into a trick or treating ritual whenever someone rings their doorbell. There is a pretty creepy moment when Bobbie is about to kidnap a lost child but Jack manages to thwart her. The story ends violently and abruptly and oh so confusingly, ending the weakest segment of the entire film. I wouldn’t expect anything else from Lucky McKee.

This Means War by John Skipp and Andrew Kasch

After the previous segment This Means War comes off as a nice palette cleanser. It follows two neighbors on Halloween, one who’s decorated his house with spooky but family friendly decorations for years and the other whose decorations are gory and are accompanied by loud heavy metal music. It isn’t long before the two neighbors break down into a brutal fight that is very humorous and over the top and an enjoyable aspect of it is that Modest Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain plays throughout the fight. It is an enjoyable and silly segment however it does fall apart at the end as the directors choose for a gory end when one wasn’t necessary.

Friday the 31st by Mike Mendez

This is a segment that chooses to pay homage to old 80’s horror films in an over the top and comedic fashion but doesn’t have much of a story. It plays out initially as the ending of a slasher followed by a strange occurrence of an alien possessing a corpse which nicely turns the tables on the killer of the story. It then degenerates into a bloody blow by blow with mass amounts of blood and limbs flying. The make up design of the killer is well made as is the fake blood and a stop motion effect used for the alien is decent and delightfully corny. It’s a funny segment with some good references but not real story to speak of.

The Ransom of Rusty Rex by Ryan Schifrin

The second to last segment is the one that had me laughing the hardest. The story follows two bumbling would be kidnappers as they kidnap the son of a millionaire, only to find that he’s actually a demon who attaches himself to anyone willing to take him. It is a truly hilarious segment thanks to the slap stick humor and loud, energetic acting of the two main actors. It is a silly and innocent segment that had me hooked from the start with it’s great antics and surprisingly likable characters, as well as a surprise appearance by legendary director John Landis.

Bad Seed by Neil Marshall

The last segment is the one I was dying to see the most as it is created by one of my favorite directors Neil Marshall. Though it’s a humorous and creative story I was still, unfortunately, a little let down by it. The story revolves around a pumpkin that comes to life and devours any it comes across. The effects in this segment are very nicely done and, like the rest of the segment, has a wonderfully cheesy feel to them. The story then follows a group of cops and it plays out very bizarrely but without a doubt fun and amusingly as they try their best to stop the rampaging pumpkin. It is a fun segment that pays homage to old 80’s monster films but I felt that it was a little underwhelming and could have been so much more.

Final Thoughts: Tales of Halloween isn’t perfect but overall it is an amusing and entertaining film. Most of the segments are well made and fun with some shining above the rest. The effects are well made even with such a small budget and some of the acting is fantastic. Overall it is a definite watch for this Halloween season and a truly enjoyable anthology film.

Verdict: 3.5/5

Tales of Halloween is currently streaming on VOD

About the Author

Good day to you, my name is Jonathan Gonzalez. For years I've loved movies and have been reviewing them for years, ever since I first saw Roger Ebert on Ebert and Roeper during my freshman year of high school for the first time. I am a graduate of Mercy College with a Bachelor's in Journalism and I have Asperger's Syndrome, something I am truly proud of.

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