Tales of Halloween review

Halloween may be over for another year, but the shocks and the laughs keep coming in this anthology of horror. Ten shorts from some of horror’s top directors packed together. Any horror aficionado will have a lot of fun spotting the cameo appearances from John Landis to Joe Dante, so keep ‘em peeled. Every story is centred around one not-so-ordinary suburb in America. What more could you ask for? As one of the character’s puts it “Happy Halloween you fucking sickos!”

Sweet Tooth – directed by David Parker

Little Mikey chomps down on sweets as he listens to the tale of ‘Sweet Tooth’. Sweet Tooth was a little boy called Jimmy whose parents would send their kid out trick or treating but wouldn’t let him eat any of the sweets. So, Timmy buries a meat cleaver in their faces, eats all the candy and the candy inside his gluttonous parents. Now every Halloween, his spirit comes back Trick or Treating, and if there’s no candy left to spare he will tear kids apart to get into their little bellies. Our first encounter with Sweet Tooth is satisfyingly gruesome enough to peak our interest for what’s to come in this anthology of tricks and treats. Fun, over the top and gruesome. So far, so good with this entry.

The Night Billy Raised Hell – directed by Darren Lynn Bousman

Billy is taught the rights of passage when it comes to trick or treating – egging one very specific house in the neighborhood. Except, the owner’s home when he tries it and the owner is very, very horny. Literally. He’s Satan. Devil that he is, he shows Billy how to go trick or treating like a pro. This one’s stupid as shit, filled with crap humor, poor sound effects and a twist ending. Potentially the worst entry in the anthology.

Trick – directed by Adam Gierasch

A bunch of 30-somethings sit around getting high in front of the TV as a procession of trick or treaters arrive. Kids huh, can’t help themselves when it comes to free candy. Except tonight, these kids are after something a little more than candy. They want blood… And eyeballs.

The Weak and The Wicked – directed by Paul Solet

A spoof horror/western mashup? Yes please. Even if it is only half as smart as it thinks it is. Extra marks for having one of the better blood explosion effects I’ve ever seen in any horror movie.

Grim Grinning Ghost – directed by Axelle Carolyn

Horror legend Lin Shaye, who I have a soft spot for, appears in this one. But that’s not enough to save a dull and unoriginal little tale about a woman’s solitary journey home after a late-night Halloween party. Although, my God, I’m ashamed to admit I jumped at the final scare in this one.

Ding Dong – directed by Lucky McKee

In which a husband and wife dress their dog up for Halloween because they don’t have any kids. Fast forward a year. The wife dresses her husband up for Halloween because she doesn’t have any kids. Oh yes, the wife also eats the dog. At least, I think she does.  She also has devil hands. Watch it, you’ll see what I mean.

This Means War – directed by John Skipp & Andrew Kasch

Onto the next one and I’m quite enjoying myself now. By this time if you haven’t realised this is all a bit of fun and not to be taken seriously in the slightest, you’re in completely the wrong place. In this one, neighbours fight to outdo one another in decorating the front lawns of their houses for Halloween. A dude in a cardigan against two Hells Angel type metal-heads. Who will win and what will be left of them?

Friday the 31st - directed by Mike Mendez

Wait a minute- is that... Jason Voorhees? Yes, there he is in all his hockey masked glory. How on earth did they get the rights to his image? Seriously, I want to know. He chases a girl far too old to be out trick or treating and it turns out he’s a pro when it comes to throwing a javelin. Jason Voorhees for the next US Olympics team. But what’s this? A UFO encounter. A shoddy Claymation alien. This really is a see it to believe it kind of affair. I laughed out loud at this one. It’s also the one with the most blood. Not for the squeamish.

By this time an hour has easily flown by and you’re not ready for the film to end. You’ll be sat with the biggest grin on your face, I guarantee it. This was turning out a lot more fun than I had expected.

The Ransom of Rusty Rex – directed by Ryan Schifrin

John Landis cameo alert. In this tale two guys try to abduct a rich man’s son while he’s out trick or treating and then hold him for ransom. But they have no idea what’s in store for them. The dad is not interested in getting his son back. And the duo soon find out the hard way, why. More laughs to be had here.

Bad Seed – Neil Marshall

Bringing proceedings to a close is this tale about a master pumpkin carver carving a masterpiece pumpkin. It really does look awesome. It’s more awesome than you could imagine, in that it bites its creators head clean off and then goes on the rampage. Yes, a killer pumpkin story is what we have on offer here and at this point you realise that Tales of Halloween has seduced you completely and you’ve loved every ridiculous second of it.

All of these films by themselves aren’t even in the so bad they’re good category. But throw them all together, and it’s such a madcap marathon of mayhem and nonsense that you end up having the time of your life. A bit like a trip to the Pantomime, you know what you’re getting and you know you’re above it all – but you can’t help but join in with the boos, the applause and the inevitable chorus of “he’s behind you!”. But when was the last time Widow Twanky got a face full of exploding blood? 

EXTRAS: Some really good treats for the viewer here with a total of six additional exclusive shorts all running between 10 and 20 minutes each. There's also a deleted scene (0:21) from Grim Grinning Ghost; Anatomy of a Scene (13:24) for Friday the 31st which is every bit as brilliant as the short itself; a Photo Gallery and a Story Board.

Ben Murray is a Screenjabber contributor

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