One of my all-time favorite horror films is Creepshow. It’s not even a guilty pleasure. The George Romero/Stephen King collaboration is just a terrific horror/comedy anthology.
With the release of Tales of Halloween, horror fans get treated to a sensationally scary and funny anthology that is assured to be a new staple in their Halloween viewing rotation.
While Creepshow told five stories over the course of two hours, Tales of Halloween is far more adventurous telling 10 stories in 92 minutes. Packing so much into such a short nearly 10 minute time frame seems like a terrible idea, but the filmmakers pare their stories down to the essential elements.
Sure there’s a few occasions where a bit more character development/explanation would’ve been helpful, but you get the gist of all you really need.
The only mandates the filmmakers seemed to receive is have a blast and go as nuts as possible. That leads to some really funny segments and the occasional scary tales in Sweet Tooth and Grimm Grinning Ghost.
Those two fully capture the ‘old school’ sentiment of forcing you to reconsider seeing it alone in the dark and getting creeped out with every random noise. Adam Gierasch’s ‘Trick’ also has a solid, haunting atmospheric tone and that sense of pending doom around every corner.
In many cases, you’ll have a good idea where the stories will end up, but like a roller coaster, the thrill is the ride, not the destination. The filmmakers do manage to work in some surprises though and tease audience expectation with seemingly cliche set-ups only for an unexpected twist.
My favorites were ‘The Ransom of Rusty Rex’ where two hoods (Jose Pablo Cantillo, The Walking Dead) and (Sam Witwer, Smallville) attempt a kidnapping that goes horrifically wrong, ‘Trick’ where two couples encounter some vindictive trick-or-treaters and ‘This Means War,’ where two neighbors battle over Halloween displays.
Director Paul Solet’s ‘The Weak and the Wicked’ is the most creative of the bunch making a monster conjuring story and staging it like a western revenge flick set in the modern world.
Out of the 10 stories, only two came across a little too goofy, but even there, they had some really funny moments in spite of their absurdity.
Beyond the two silly stories, my only minor complaint is I would have love to have seen a few more links to connect or have the characters from different stories interacting. Logistics likely prevented more of it, but the ones that are included make for fun little Easter Eggs.
The film has a solid cast, but in 10 minute segments the acting doesn’t have to be exceptional. Cantillo and Witwer make for a fun duo in their segment, but the best performances come from ‘Grim Grinning Ghost’s’ Alex Essoe and Lin Shaye (Insidious: Chapter 2).
Adrianne Curry makes a cameo as herself in a slightly odd bit that seemed an excuse to have her onscreen, but I doubt most folks will be complaining.
Director Neil Marshall said the film was made on an ‘ultra-low’ budget, but to the filmmaker’s credit, any budget restraints are mostly negligible and outside of two segments rarely has a cheap B movie look.
If you’re even slightly into horror thrillers, Tales of Halloween will definitely be right up your alley. It’s great for a quick scare and a lot of laughs — just make sure you remember where you put that nightlight afterwards.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Pictures credit: Epic Pictures