#31in31: Tales of Halloween

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oct 29 tales of halloween“What’s the big deal? It’s just a bunch of pumpkins.”

Story: TEN stories of Halloween gone wrong…or could that be gloriously right?

Scares: Not really.  The stories are too short to really wind you up, and most are simply played for bloody fun.

Splat factor: For bloody fun, there must be blood.  And you’ll see quite a bit here.  Including internal organs and random body parts/missing parts.

Closing scene “shocker”?: Nope.  Anthologies typically wrap everything up, and this one’s no exception.

Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul)?: These stories are original, though the horror anthology is an oldie but goody.

Trick or Treat?:  This ain’t no Trick r’ Treat, but then what is?  Still, Tales has Adrienn Barbeau as a DJ!  Holy The Fog, Batman!  In fact, genre fans will get a kick out of the slew o’ cameos here, which include Stuart Gordon, Barbara Crampton, Mick Garris, John Landis, Joe Dante, and a damn near unrecognizable Barry Bostwick (hint: he’s got horns).  Tales has a postscript that says this film is in memory of Ben Woolf (American Horror Story), who plays a very cool trick-or-treater in story #No Spoilers Darling.  A sweet tribute to a performer who always gave it his all.

Like Trick r’ Treat, you’ll see characters in Tales from one story in the background of others, and there’s even a police station where everyone is dealing with the after-effects of these strange happenings.  Here’s a breakdown of each story:

1: “Sweet Tooth”
Love the cut from a kid mmmmm-ing over his candy, to the TV with Night of the Living Dead zombie munchout scene. Great story, great new urban legend to use to creep out your friends, great way to kick off this anthology. A+

2: “The Night Billy Raised Hell”
A little boy’s sister’s boyfriend (got all that?) wants to pull a prank on their no-Halloween having neighbor. But there’s a reason he doesn’t go in for waiting by the door to give out candy… Horrific, hilarious, and surprisingly hard-hitting. B+

3: “Trick”
Hard partying adults passing out candy. But Halloween is a bit different here, and these neighborhood kiddies want more than candy. The big reveal here is a nice touch, but it comes out of nowhere.  I understand keeping a twist under wraps, but when it’s held this tightly to the director’s chest, it ends up a big ol’ fail.  Pity, it’s a cool story idea. C+

4: “The Weak and The Wicked”
Three amoral jerks get interrupted from their usual Halloween asshole behavior by a skinny kid in a strange costume.  But wanna guess if skinny kid’s got a secret? Fantastic buildup and overall story, but the suit/makeup for the monster is bargain basement. The director shoulda kept away from the full view here – a hint of claw and shadows would have worked wonders. B

5: “Grim Grinning Ghost”
The ol’ disfigured face payback ghost story. More than a story? Best not to have your car break down on your way home. Oops, too late.  Does a great job playing with your expectations, but does tend to wander aimlessly a bit, which feels like it’s simply padding the story. B

6: “Ding Dong”
Last year, psycho chick freaked out about not having children, freaking out her husband. Cut to this year. Hansel & witch door costume seems like a great idea. Life imitating art? Strange and feels haphazard. D

7: “This Means War”
Welcome new neighbors! And your ultra violent Halloween display. Not to mention the front yard thrash party on Halloween night. When their kiddie-themed Halloween decor neighbor has enough, he tries to stop their show…which requires payback, naturally. Feels like a brosef, Halloween-themed War of the RosesC+

8: “Friday the 31st”
Slutty Dorothy running from a slasher who has a severed head in one hand, machete in the other. But she’s picked the wrong place to hide.  Just as soon as you think you know what’s gonna happen, out comes a very…different…trick-or-treater. Hello Claymation! Adorable. Gets very spurty as things start getting weird.. Dead Alive spurty.  Fun, but forgettable.  C

9: “The Ransom of Rusty Rex”
Being Human vamp is here as a kidnapper. Easy money? Maybe not kidnap the son of a guy named Jebediah Rex. (Hey, it’s John Landis!)  Karma runs amok here…literally.  B

10: “Bad Seed”
Pumpkin carving “monsterpiece” achieved! Maybe too good a job… Gory, but a bit too goofy, and the FX end up looking like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes outtakes.  Shoulda re-cut and ended with their #4 story. C

Score: 4 out of 5 pumpkins.  Should probably be 3ish, but I’m feeling magnanimous.  Plus, a Halloween horror anthology is always a lot of fun.

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