short films, eleven directors, and possibly the largest group of genre stars
ever to grace a single project: Tales of
Halloween is a beautiful thing to behold. Created by Axelle Corolyn, the
project is a deservedly-hyped trip on a carnival ghost train with a good dose
of nostalgia and a savvy approach to its scares.
After some pop-up opening credits, the
dread kicks off with Dave Parker’s ‘Sweet Tooth’ a nasty monster story with its
eyes on gross gore and campfire stories, finished with a touch of candy porn on
the side. Remedying the nastiness is Darren Lynn Bousman’s ‘The Night Billy
Raised Hell’ a boisterous show-case of what Trick or Treat can really mean, and
it’s a total hoot. Barry Bostwick (of Rocky
Horror fame) camps it up, backed by comic sound effects, to deliver the
most memorable performance in the film. His turn is perhaps only matched by
Pollyanna McIntosh’s deranged child-hungry turn in ‘Ding Dong’. The Lucky
Mckee-helmed segment is characteristically inconsistent like much of the icon’s
work, but does manage to, like The Woman,
give McIntosh ample opportunity to horrify.
Where the ABC’s of Death and V/H/S
films are grossly inconsistent and generally quite experimental, Tales of Halloween shows an impressive self-control
and consistency. Carolyn makes a wise move taking a page from Michael
Dougherty’s tasting board of terror Trick’r’Treat.
Overarching plot isn’t required, but cohesiveness is, and by letting characters
spill out over the multiple segments it achieves just that.
Paul Solet, the director of Grace, delivers a good old fashioned
revenge story in The Weak and the Wicked but it would have been nice to see
more gore from its well-conceived monster. That’s especially apparent when Adam
Gierasch’s’ Trick’ achieves solid shock factor without a jot of the
supernatural. Axelle Carolyn’s ‘Grim Grinning Ghost’ is a classic ghost story
bolstered by Stuart Gordon, Barbara Crampton, Mick Garris, Lisa Marie and Lin
Shaye cameos. It’s essentially a glorified excuse for some ace cameos, but it
works. This is an innately honest anthology with its heart on its sleeve and
its references proudly flaunted for everyone to see. The people involved love
what they do and it shows in each short. That’s why it gets away with being
downright silly sometimes.
That’s why Mike Mendez gets away with
confronting a make-shift Jason Voorhees with a UFO experience in ‘Friday the 31st‘.
That’s also why the B-Movie brilliance of Neil Marshall-directed ‘Bad Seed’s
giant gore-hound killer pumpkin pulls off perfectly. There’s plenty other
tricks and surprises up this film’s sleeve but you should just go check it out.
Hard-core horror fans might despair at the
lack of true scares, but it’s hard not to have a good time with Tales of Halloween when it’s such an
unashamedly exciting ride.
TALES OF HALLOWEEN / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR
& SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: ADRIENNE BARBEAU, HUNTER SMIT, BARRY
BOSTWICK, JOHN F. BEACH, ALEX ESSOE, MARC SENTER / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW