Tales of Halloween – USA, 2015

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‘Eleven visionary directors. One horrifying vision.’

Tales of Halloween is a 2015 American anthology horror feature film consisting of tales of terror from the ‘October Society’ directors:

  • Darren Lynn Bousman – Saw II, III and IV; Mother’s Day; Abattoir
  • Axelle Carolyn – Soulmate
  • Adam Gierasch – Night of the Demons; Fertile Ground
  • Andrew Kasch – Thirsty; Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy
  • Neil Marshall – Dog Soldiers; The Descent
  • Mike Mendez – Big Ass Spider!; Lavantula
  • Lucky McKee – The Woman; All Cheerleaders Die
  • Dave Parker – The Dead Hate the Living!; The Hills Run Red
  • Ryan Schifrin – Abominable
  • John Skipp
  • Paul Solet – Grace

Ten scary 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 to terrorise unsuspecting residents…

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The movie stars:

Grace Phipps (Dark Summer), Booboo Stewart (The Twilight Saga); Keir Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 15.51.48Gilchrist (It Follows), Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Lin Shaye (Insidious and sequels), Greg Grunberg, Joe Dante (The Howling), John Landis (An American Werewolf in London), Mick Garris, Stuart Gordon, Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog), Adam Green, Pat Healy (The InnkeepersCheap Thrills), Alex Essoe (Starry Eyes), Noah Segan (Looper), Pollyannna McIntosh (The Woman), James Duval (Donnie Darko), Kristina Klebe (Rob Zombie’s Halloween), Marc Senter (The Devil’s Carnival), Jose Pablo Cantillo (The Walking Dead), Sam Witwer (Being Human), Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, We Are Still Here), John Savage and Graham Skipper (Almost Human).

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Tales of Halloween was produced by Epic Pictures’ Patrick Ewald and Shaked Berenson for an October 30, 2015 release.

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Buy Blu-ray + DVD + Bonus Disc + CD: Amazon.com

Review:

This 2015 horror-comedy anthology consists of ten twisted – and some not-so-terrifying – tales of ghouls, witches, maniacs and other creeps. Each narrative takes place within a suburban American town on Halloween night, with commentaries by a fictional DJ (Adrienne Barbeau). This role was homage to the same radio host that Adrienne played in The Fog (1980). 

First up is ‘Sweet Tooth’ directed by Dave Parker (It Watches), which tells the urban legend of a boy called Timothy who lived in the neighbourhood years ago. Every year after trick or treating, Timothy’s parents forbid him from eating his candy. One Halloween, he found the gluttonous couple feasting on all of his treats and murdered them with a butcher’s knife. Still craving more, Timothy cut the remaining candy out of his parents’ stomachs and transformed into demon, Sweet Tooth. Unfortunately for little Mickey (Daniel DiMaggio) and his babysitter, Sweet Tooth is about to make a return.

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Kids are central themes for a good portion of the anthology, which stands to reason with the ritual of trick or treating; but not all of them get off lightly. ‘The Night Billy Raised Hell’ directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II, III & IV) stars Marcus Eckert as Billy, who’s tricked into egging Mr Abbadon’s house by his older sister. What they don’t know is that Mr Abbadon is the devil, with a theatrical performance by Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show).

Billy is kidnapped and tied up while Mordecai, a boy wearing a similar costume, takes his place. He and Abbadon cause mayhem all over town, from spray painting walls to stabbing neighbours and tricking people into standing in bear traps. It turns out that Mordecai isn’t a boy at all but, rather, a little devil. Billy is eventually released, only to be blamed for everything and shot dead by the cops.

‘Trick’ directed by Adam Gierasch (Night of the Demons) sees a group of trick or treating kids exacting revenge on psychos that kidnap children and gouge their eyes out. A little callous, even for Halloween; but the story reaches a satisfying conclusion with plenty of stabbing, chopping and burning.

‘The Weak and the Wicked’ directed by Paul Solet (Dark Summer) is another revenge tale that opens with three punks tormenting a young trick or treater. A teenager in a devil costume (Keir Gilchrist) shows up to tell them that the devil will come to aid the weak if they’re wearing his costume. The punks chase him until he stops outside a burnt trailer, which he inhabited with his parents as a kid – until the bullies set fire to it with his mum and dad inside. After beating him up, the bullies are slaughtered by a devil that looks identical to the costume that the teen is wearing.

‘Grim Grinning Ghost’ directed by Axelle Carolyn (Soulmate) is one for the paranormal fans. Lynn, played by Alex Essoe (Starry Eyes) is on her way home from a Halloween party when her car breaks down. Walking the rest of the way, she senses a shadowy figure stalking her and runs to the safety of her house. The dog starts acting jittery, and as Lynn settles into the couch to watch a film, the ghost is sitting beside her.

‘Ding Dong’ is a Hansel and Gretel inspired tale which, along with its lack of originality, is one of the weakest of the anthology. This is surprising with direction from Lucky McKee, who worked on horror flicks such as May (2002) and The Woman (2011); including a good performance by Pollyanna McIntosh who may be best known for her ongoing role in The Walking Dead.  

Subsequent tale, ‘This Means War’ directed by Andrew Kasch and John Skipp is similarly dull and involves a battle of the decorations between neighbours: one being a kid’s spooky Halloween theme and the other consisting of rockers and gore. The comical fight ends with both homeowners impaled on a sharp piece of wood.

A personal favourite is ‘Friday the 31st’ directed by Mike Mendez, for which the title speaks for itself. A deformed maniac wearing a mask (Nick Principe) who looks like he styled himself off Jason Voorhees chases a girl dressed as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz through the woods, eventually killing her with a spear. A trick or treating alien appears and possesses Dorothy (Amanda Moyer) after the maniac tries to crush it – the kind of bonkers concept that you’d see in a terrible B-movie. The crazed Dorothy and Jason lookalike hack and slash each other to dismembered pieces in a work shed, and there are some uncanny resemblances to scenes between Linda and Ash in The Evil Dead.

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In ‘Ransom of Rusty Rex’ directed by Ryan Schifrin, a couple of bank robbers kidnap Rusty (Ben Woolf) the son of a millionaire (a cameo role for director John Landis). Rusty is actually a mischievous monster that forms attachments with people and has been holding the millionaire and his wife hostage for years. Despite trying to drown and burn Rusty, he keeps returning and in his hunger, eats kidnapper, Dutch.

In the final tale, ‘Bad Seed’ directed by Neil Marshall (The Descent) a genetically-engineered cannibal pumpkin is set loose on the town, leaving a trail of headless bodies and armless children. Detective McNally (Kristina Klebe) tracks it down and blows it to smithereens with a shotgun. It’s a ridiculous finale to a ridiculously entertaining anthology, and while it doesn’t quite live up to Tales of the Crypt and Creepshow, fans of its predecessors may be tickled by this one.

Rae Louise, HORRORPEDIA

 

Other reviews:

Tales is a hell mouth full of talent sure to become a classic played each Halloween by the horror faithful, paired with a gratuitous amount of candy corn and chocolate. I haven’t seen a film this devoted to the annual October holiday since Trick R’ Treat, and the spooky, sticky sweet candy nostalgia is quite welcome.” Michele “Izzy” Galgana, Twitch Film

“Like any anthology film, it has its stronger entries, as well as its weaker inputs, but overall, it is an entertaining flick to watch on All Hallows Eve along with other holiday-themed films of the like. It would have been nice to see more of the filmmakers venture into scarier territories, like standout shorts “Trick” and “Grim Grinning Ghost”, but to be fair, the lighthearted nature only helps differentiate it from the other recent anthologies that have mostly chosen to tread down darker paths.” Kalyn Corrigan, Bloody Disgusting

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“Terrible things are unfolding onscreen to be sure, but more often than not the filmmakers steer towards laughter rather than terror or scares. Those hoping for straight horror will be disappointed, but fans of Tales From the Crypt and Creepshow will find more than enough to enjoy here.” Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

“Horror omnibuses are frequently a mixed bag. Sometimes they’re not even a bag of tricks, let alone treats, but more like a box of inedible rocks. That, unfortunately, is pretty much the story with Tales of Halloween, a collection of ten macabre miniatures that are disposably diverting at best and execrable at worst, despite the participation of some familiar genre faces and directors.” Dennis Harvey, Variety

 

“Well-produced on its modest budget, with consistently strong makeup FX from numerous artists, Tales of Halloween offers a variety of visual schemes to keep the stories from running together even as they all take place during the same night, with the supporting characters occasionally crossing over between them. Adding to the fun for fright fans, the movie is chock full of familiar faces in both key and blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em roles.” Michael Gingold, Fangoria

Tales of Halloween isn’t as frightening as V/H/S nor as consistent as Trick ‘r Treat, but it’s still pretty good for a horror anthology film. Among the ten different segments, you’re sure to find at least one or two that will scratch your spine-tingling itch. It would have been nice if more of the shorts had committed to the horror aspect, rather than deflect it with comedy.” Max Nicholson, IGN

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“This is a film built in earnest love of genre, this single day and the season which surrounds it. It’s perhaps irrelevant if it doesn’t frighten the viewer. Surprise and delirium are its focus; kinship with those who’re similarly obsessed, its intent. It’s a Halloween party. Luckily, those who would hope for some spookier séance action will find reasons to attend.” Samuel Zimmerman, Shock Till Your Drop

“… a project that is overall better produced than it is directed. The compilation indulges with constant cameos and references, but is best as a showcase for a few promising filmmakers from indie horror (including cinematographers, make-up designers, and some writers), many of whom are primed for a spookier nightmare.” Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com

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“Like with any anthology, you’re not going to love or even like every story in it. But Tales of Halloween offers one of the strongest anthology films I’ve seen in a long time. Yes, the comedic elements outshine the horror elements in a lot of the stories, but there’s so much fun here that this will sure to become a yearly, Halloween viewing ritual.” Anything Horror

Home viewing release:

On September 13, 2016, Epic Pictures Group released a 4-disc Collector’s Set consisting of the following:

Disc 1 – Blu-ray of the Feature (Region Free):
Three Audio Options: English, French & Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, 5.1 Dolby Digital, 2.0 Dolby Stereo
Three Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

Disc 2 – DVD of the Feature (Region Free):
Three Audio Options: English, French & Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and 2.0 Dolby Stereo
Three Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

Disc 3 – CD of the Soundtrack:

  • “Tales of Halloween Main Title” – Lalo Schifrin
  • “Sweet Tooth” – Christopher Drake
  • “The Night Billy Raised Hell” – Bobby Johnston
  • “Trick” – Joseph Bishara
  • “The Weak and the Wicked” – Austin Wintory
  • “Grim Grinning Ghost” – Christian Henson
  • “Ding Dong” – Sean Spillane
  • “This Means War” – Michael Sean Colin
  • “Friday the 31st” – Joseph Bishara
  • “Limbchoppalooza!” – Edwin Wendler
  • “The Ransom of Rusty Rex” – Christopher Drake
  • “It’s Not a F*****g Kid!” – Christopher Drake
  • “He Will Never Leave You” – Christopher Drake
  • “Bad Seed” – Christian Henson
  • “Tales of Halloween” – Jimmy Pyscho

Disc 4 – DVD of Bonus Features (Region Free):
Exclusive Shorts:

  • Brain Death (21 minutes) – directed by Neil Marshall
  • The Halloween Kid (7 minutes) – directed by Axelle Carolyn
  • Boilly (30 seconds) – directed by Lucky Mckee
  • Thirsty (14 minutes) – directed by Andrew Kasch and John Skipp
  • Hot Rod Worm (4 minutes) – directed by Andrew Kasch and John Skipp
  • No Rest for the Wicked (15 minutes) – directed by Ryan Stiffen
  • Video Diaries:
    • 2-3 Video Diaries for each segment of the anthology, featuring interviews with the directors, cast, and crew, and sneak peeks behind the scenes on set. Total Run Time: Approximately 60 minutes, Stereo/Mono Audio

    Additional Bonus Materials:

    • Deleted Scene / “Grim Grinning Ghost” – directed by Axelle Carolyn
    • Behind-the-Scenes featurette / “Sweet Tooth” – directed by Dave Parker
    • Anatomy of a Scene / “Friday the 31st” – directed by Mike Mendez
    • Fun Facts / Pop-up Video Commentary for Selected Segments
    • Photo Gallery / Behind the Scenes of “Bad Seed”
    • Storyboards / “Ding”

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