I’m enjoying the rush of Halloween themed movies coming to theaters thanks to talented and ambitious filmmakers. If there’s any holiday deserving of a sub-genre it’s Halloween. “Tales of Halloween” is a near perfect anthology horror film that embraces the holiday and uses it as fuel to tell some weird, wild, creepy tales all set around a small town celebrating the wicked holiday. Much like “Terror Tract” and “Trick r Treat,” the anthology is set around a small suburb where inexplicably terrifying and nasty things happen on the holiday. Like “Trick r Treat,” most of the stories connect with each other and garner references to the former tale. It assures that audiences will have to watch the film over and over to catch every Easter Egg thrown to us.
Starring a wide array of genre veterans, horror newcomers, and celebrities of the genre, “Tales of Halloween” features a myriad of tales with a consistently darkly comedic tone much in the vein of classic EC Comics. The October Society also includes a wide range of wonderful cameos, from John Landis, and Adrianne Curry, to Lin Shaye, and Adam Green. The movie is even hauntingly narrated by Adrienne Barbeau who returns as a sentient radio DJ setting the stage for every tale, and yet never quite remarking on how most of the segments are draped in fog. Among some of my favorites is Dave Parker’s “Sweet Tooth” in where a young trick or treater is terrified by an urban legend of a demonic trick or treater addicted to candy and learns that he may not be just a legend.
Darren Lynn Bousman’s “The Night Billy Raised Hell” is a darkly comic tale of a trick or treater influenced by a horned old man to wreak pure havoc on mischief night resulting in a campaign of bloodshed. “This Means War” from Andrew Kasch and John Skipp features a literal war between two neighbors with drastically different Halloween displays and rituals. When they begin feuding with one another, it transforms in to a literal blood bath. “Friday the 31st” from Mike Mendez is a great Sam Raimi influenced tale of comeuppance wherein a masked serial killer in the vein of Jason Voorhees meets his match in an unlikely trick or treater. “Bad Seed” from Neil Marshall is a fun little tale with feature length potential as a hard boiled detective (Kristin Klebe) tracks a man eating pumpkin across town. The ending to this segment is fantastic.
My two favorites though have to be Adam Gierasch’s dark and disturbing “Trick” where a small group of friends celebrating the holiday are terrorized by a band of psychotic trick or treaters. If you think you know where this segment is going, prepare yourself for a surprise. “The Ransom of Rusty Rex” by Ryan Schifrin is also an instant classic packing in laughs as a pair of hapless kidnappers (former “The Walking Dead” alums Sam Witwer and Jose Pablo Cantillo) seize the son of local millionaire Jebediah Rex while trick or treating. Shocked that Jebediah refuses to even discuss a ransom for his son, the two criminals discover their hostage is not as meek as he seems.
The October Society have really compiled remarkable talent to unfold creepy and fun horror tales that delight in classic themes of revenge, urban legends, and mythology. While there are a few clunkers here and there (let’s face it, even the weaker segments are still solid in their own right), “Tales of Halloween” is an accomplishment from beginning to end. It also cements itself as mandatory viewing for the holiday. I can’t wait to make it a ritual in my yearly festivities.