A Christmas Horror Story, The Visit, Maggie, The Final Girls, We Are Still Here, POD, Deathgasm, Headless, What We Do in the Shadows, Cooties, Attack on Titan, The Last Shift and I still have Crimson Peak, Goosebumps, Krampus and a few others to see before the year is out...One of the best years for horror that I can remember.
Yeah there were a few clunkers like Area 51, Knock Knock and (I'm going to catch flack for this) It Follows (gag). Overall though, more gems than turds and that's awesome.
Today, though, I'd like to talk about Tales of Halloween, available right now On Demand and in a few select theaters (Go get it. Go see it. Right now. This review can wait. Go...rent...buy...theater). Some spoiler will follow.
This is one of the more successful anthology films to come out in a long time. It misses the mark on a couple things --I'll get to that in a sec-- but what it does right, it does right in a big way.
What it gets right:
This is the movie everyone should put on on Halloween night 2015 and sit with their friends, a few hundred beers, baskets of candy (save some for Sweet Tooth) and just shriek and chuckle like the ghouls they are.
2. Practical effects. Great gooey goodness. Monsters, masks, claymation, clever lighting, good camera work.
3. Cameos. Here's the short list: Lin Shaye, Tiffany Shepis, James Duval, Barry Bostwick, Adam Green, Adrienne Barbeau, Cerina Vincent, Barbara Crampton, Kristina Klebe, John Landis, Pollyanna McIntosh, Dana Gould and on and on and on and on. Wow. And everyone did a great job.
4. Love of Halloween and horror films. This thing nodded to so many other movies...it's like a bobble head. It's like a metal guitarist headbanging to one sick-ass riff. It's like a porn actr...I won't go there. It nods. It's cool. Familiar, but different, ya know?
5. Title sequence. Very cool, but also pissed me off a little. I'll get to why next.
What it gets wrong:
This is a nitpick that probably won't bother most of you, but it bugged the crap out of me:
This beautiful title sequence appears after Adrienne Barbeau reprises her role as the sultry late night DJ (a la John Carpenter's The Fog) and the titles of each segment along with their directors, etc. begin to flash on the screen. Then you watch short film after short film (10 in all) without knowing which one is coming up or which one you just watched. If you had memorized all the titles, you might be able to pick out which one you are watching...or you could wait until the end credits and think back, but it just felt a little disorganized. The stories didn't flow one into the next, each was broken with a fade to black. Barbeau wasn't even utilized in between each tale to set them up.
So I can't really knock any of the performers or even the directors for this...it's got to be on whoever edited the pieces together. It would've been better in this dude's opinion, to give me a title at each segment, or have your DJ announce each one in a clever way.
And, like I said, the stories weren't tied together. They could've been, but weren't. There were attempts to show a character from one story walk through the frame of another...but it seemed like an after thought (A nod to Mike Dougherty's Trick 'r Treat?).
Okay, of the ten tales, how did they fare? Well, I'll paraphrase one of the titles: From weak to wicked. Some of the shorts fell pretty flat, some were meh...but a few in particular were outstanding.
"Friday the 31st" might be my favorite. You've got a Jason Voorhees kinda killer...Mask? check. Big knife? check. High body count? check. Stalking through the woods? Check. Sexy actress as his victim? Che...wait a second. Why is that girl dressed like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz? Oh yeah...Halloween, duh. She hides in a shack, he finds her...all is kinda cliche until...what? Aliens? Possession and a demon woman Sam Raimi will be jealous of. It's funny, gory and awesome.
"Sweet Tooth" and "Grim Grinning Ghost" both brought me back to my kid-hood where stories of boogeymen kept me up and sweating at night, covers pulled up over my nose, freaking out at every little creak.
"This Means War" was about that suburban neighborhood battle of who has the best decorations...only it wasn't Christmas this time. It was The 'Ween. The setting and tone of this one reminded me so much of Joe Dante's The 'Burbs, I really wanted the Klopek's car to drive by and Courtney Gains to flip the bird.
The rest went from okay to meh for me. None of them terrible, just not as strong as these four.
Overall, it's a great Halloween treat and it fits right in with the stellar crop of flicks 2015 has produced for us horror nerds.
4 out of 5. Watch it. Watch it. Watch it....and save some candy for Sweet Tooth.