Ten stories are woven together by their shared theme of Halloween night in an American suburb, where ghouls, imps, aliens and axe murderers appear for one night only to terrorize unsuspecting residents.
Five interwoven stories that occur on Halloween: An everyday high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer; a college virgin might have just met the guy for her; a group of teenagers pull a mean prank; a woman who loathes the night has to contend with her holiday-obsessed husband; and a mean old man meets his match with a demonic, supernatural trick-or-treater.
Interwoven stories that take place on Christmas Eve, as told by one festive radio host: A family brings home more than a Christmas tree, a student documentary becomes a living nightmare, a Christmas spirit terrorizes, Santa slays evil.
Named "the best horror anthology since Trick 'r Treat" by Fangoria and "among the best Halloween-themed horror movies ever made" by DailyDead, this critically acclaimed film weaves together ten chilling tales from horror's top directors. Ghosts, ghouls, monsters, and the devil delight in terrorizing unsuspecting residents of a suburban neighborhood on Halloween night.Written by
Tales of Halloween perfectly emulates a trick-or-treater's haul in their Halloween candy bag. There are a few pieces of chocolate and candy which you want to scarf down right away, more which you eat hesitantly when you run out of the better stuff, and some which you flat out throw into the trash. The quality of the assortment of shorts follows that general pattern.
On the delicious side, I enjoyed the opening short (Sweet Tooth), because it presented a funny and entertaining Halloween legend, with some pretty excellent gore. It was funny and over the top but it still remembered to throw some actual horror in there (like a very effective jump scare that pays homage to Exorcist III). Another good one is Lucky Mckee's entry "Ding Dong", which stars the most active current horror queen (Pollyanna Mcintosh) who does a fantastic, hilarious job acting out her insane character. It is over the top and ridiculous while exposing sad, deep-rooted feelings.
In the middle of the pack (the hard candy and stale gumballs) are most of the entries. There are some that are almost successful - The Night Billy Raised Hell was hilarious but mostly due to the amazing performance of the devil neighbor, he was great; Trick had a very fun concept which was unpredictable compared to the rest of the film, but very poor execution (rushed, convoluted, self- inconsistent, and poorly acted); Grimm Grinning Ghost had exceptional acting with some familiar horror faces (the girl from Starry Eyes, the psychic from Insidious) but it felt like a creepypasta come to life (had shades of The Smiling Man) and existed mostly for the purpose of a very effective jump scare at its culmination. There are others in the middle of the pack which aren't even close to successful but are not unwatchable either - The Ransom of Rusty Rex is "cute" at best and very generic (I saw an identical short film just a year ago); Bad Seed has two or three funny lines but is a MAJOR letdown from a director like Neil Marshall (a CSI parody where the killer is a pumpkin, which would make a good low budget you-tube or Key & Peele sketch but feels unfit for a feature and for the running time it got).
Then there are the dental floss, apples, and raisins of the pack. To me personally they had no redeeming value and I did not enjoy any part of them, from acting to script to visuals. The Weak and the Wicked is an emotionally uninvolving tale with poor storytelling and severely miscast actors (the "street thugs" looked like Hot Topic employees). Friday the 31st, about a Jason-like killer having the tables turn on him, is the kind of cheesy one-joke short that someone new to After Effects would make as practice. And finally, the worst of the bunch, the razorblade inside a piece of candy, is "This Means War", about two neighbors competing over their Halloween decorations. Both the concept and execution were amateurish and I don't know how it wasn't axed at any point.
Tales of Halloween is not a great film but at least it is temporarily entertaining while it lasts (most of it anyway) and is much, much better than other recent attempts at anthology films (ABCs of Death 1/2, V/H/S 1/2/3, etc). I don't think it is worth seeing in theaters but I can see it being fun as a Halloween night movie with friends and beers (for those who are bored of the better holiday offerings, like Trick'r'Treat).
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