Tales of Halloween full movie review - It's Entertaining and Fun, but Not Winning Any Creativity Awards
It seems that I review more and more horror anthologies all the time.
Open up the reviews section in your favorite horror mag, scroll through the options on a site like Netflix or just surf through social media and it feels like the indie horror world is inundated with anthologies right now. Though this format has long existed, I look to the success of the V/H/S franchise mostly as the impetus in the modern boom. It makes perfect sense when you consider the restrictions of indie horror. After all, these movies offer young film makers a perfect chance to get their name out there, work on a short film and be seen by a sort of wide audience, without having to worry about the burdens of character development and script enhancement.
The problem with most of this wave of anthologies is the consistency of quality. This movie, like most before it, have a few decent short surrounded by a bevy of forgettable moments, then a few outright duds thrown in as well. The thing that makes it so appealing is, also, its' downfall for the serious horror fan because the time constriction just doesn't allow for any development, especially in tone, which for me is so important in horror.
This is, also, pretty low budget, all things considered, which is not a negative for me, but probably will be for many others. You can expect painfully average acting, bad dialog and some elementary creature designs, but for me that's all part of the fun. I can go along for the ride and enjoy the ideas.
The "wraparound" framing in this movie is that it all takes place in the same town on a crazy Halloween night. Sound familiar? Yes, the biggest thing working against this movie is a comparison to the far superior TRICK R TREAT. Our host for the evening is Adrienne Barbeau, essentially, riffing off her famous role in THE FOG playing a radio DJ here who is hosting us for the evening.
One personal note. I attend a LOT of horror conventions and had a lot of fun seeing con regulars all over this feature. A good portion of these actors spend their weekends at fan conventions which made it feel like I was seeing old friends, which made it more favorable for me.
SWEET TOOTH is the first short, which sees some actors known for roles in WEIRD SCIENCE and TCM2. The movie does an admirable job of trying to create a new urban legend, based on a monster who just wants his share of the treats. It has some good indie horror gore, but is brought down by a terrible creature design.
THE NIGHT BILLY RAISED HELL sees Barry Bostwick as The Devil, enticing a young lad into his first evening of Halloween pranks. It's that sort of low budget comedic horror that just doesn't work for me.
TRICK sees a group of partying adults terrorized by trick or treaters. It goes for a typical TALES FROM THE CRYPT twist ending, that is a little too predictable. The acting is flat and the story is flatter.
THE WEAK AND THE WICKED is a revenge tale with a post-apocalyptic feel to it. It suffers from the brevity of the short as it isn't able to elicit the empathy the audience needs to have in any character for it to truly have impact, but it's not bad.
GRIM GRINNING GHOST is entirely forgettable. A woman hears a scary story, gets followed by a ghost, sees the ghost. The end. There is no attempt to flesh it out really to anything more than that. The only redeeming point is a cast of familiar horror faces.
DING DONG proves to me that Lucky McKee continues to be one of the most overrated directors in indie horror today. It's a tale of a couple dealing with the loss of their child. It tries so hard to mingle allusions to fairy tale mythology with some surrealist imagery, but just feels so forced and plays as annoying.
THIS MEANS WAR was one of the better shorts. It uses two neighbors warring over their Halloween decorations as a playful exploration of the clash between old school Gothic terror and new school gory horror. It's fun and never tries to be anything more than an amusing little short.
Friday THE 31st sees a cliché slasher killer coming up against an even bigger threat from another world. It features claymation and comedy to accomplish a short that is amusing.
THE RANSOM OF RUSTY REX has two guys (including a second-rate WALKING DEAD star) kidnap Meep from American HORROR STORY, believing him to be the rich son of John Landis. They end up getting far more than they bargained for when the kidnap victim turns out not to be your average kid. Again, it's a little more funny than horrific and doesn't completely work, but it knows what it is and stays within the limits of a 10 minute short to present a story.
Finally, Neil Marshall brings us BAD SEED, a riff on HALLOWEEN 3 (it would seem) that also features some cheesy good claymation effects, along with an appearance from Joe Dante. It's not one of the better shorts in the movie, but has an ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES feel to it.
The movie delivered exactly what I wanted, which was 90 minutes of fun entertainment, a lot of mindless gore and some laughs along the way. Given the format and the budget, I'd say that all did a good job. By no means an exceptional film, I will give it another spin come Halloween season.