Tales of Halloween, 2015
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, Axelle Carolyn, Adam Gierasch, Andrew Kasch, Neil Marshall, Lucky McKee, Mike Mendez, Dave Parker, Ryan Schifrin, John Skipp, Paul Solet
Ten 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 only to terrorize unsuspecting residents.
Here’s the simple truth as to why Tales of Halloween is a fabulous and utterly brilliant film: it has no pretensions about what it’s trying to be. They’re not trying to be outrageous, controversial or subversive, this is a film where a group of producers teamed up with directors they liked who in turn worked with actors they liked to make ten incredibly fun shorts based on All Hallow’s Eve – and it has paid off by the bucket load.
A problem that all anthology movies have is that you will never get a 100% success rate. For as good as The Twilight Zone was, not every episode was “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” or “Eye of the Beholder”. Tales From the Crypt was a great show, but it wasn’t always entertaining. Tales of Halloween doesn’t have a 100% hit rate either, but there are only two stories from the ten that are weak when compared to the other eight. So, an 80% success rate is actually pretty good going when all is said and done – it’s more than can be said for all three V/H/S movies and both ABCs of Death.
The two in question are “The Weak and the Wicked” directed by Paul Solet and, surprisingly “Ding Dong” from The Woman’s Lucky McKee. The latter is surprising because McKee has shown a tremendous talent for horror director from both The Woman (a benchmark for modern horrors) and last year’s All Cheerleaders Die, which was a huge amount of 90s fun. But “Ding Dong” just doesn’t quite hit the mark. It’s not that the story is bad – and it actually features a great central performance from the always-brilliant Pollyanna Macintosh – but it pales in comparison to the other stories. Similarly “The Weak and the Wicked” isn’t terrible, but there is also very little to it. It once again features a great cast (including It Follows’ Keir Gilchrist), but it just doesn’t stack up to the others.
And those other stories are exceptional. When you have eight tremendous shorts, it’s hard to pick out one that is the true winner as they’re all so great. Dave Parker’s “Sweet Tooth”– about a Halloween ghost story having dramatic effects – is a perfect way to kick start the film and Darren Lynn Bousman’s “The Night Billy Raised Hell” follows it up brilliantly with a bizarre amount of fun and a nice twist ending. Humour runs throughout Tales of Halloween and never is that more present than Ryan Schifrin’s “The Ransom of Rusty Rex” and Mike Mendez’s bonkers and hilarious spoof of the slasher genre, “Friday the 31st”. Mendez’s short in particular will stay with you and have you cracking up weeks after the credits roll.
But credit should also be given to Neil Marshall’s excellent closing short “Bad Seed”, which plays like a Halloween version of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes – only with better effects. It features an incredible amount of cameos (including poster maestro Drew Struzan as a police sketch artist) and boasts a phenomenal story that is so good, you wish it could be longer.
Producer Axelle Carolyn (who also directs the short “Grimm Grinning Ghost”) has said that she wants Tales of Halloween to be a yearly tradition, and if they can keep this level of entertainment and talent up, then so do I. Tales of Halloween is an almost perfect anthology movie and has all the right values in all the right places. It’s swimming in talent and creativity, and is a must-watch this coming Halloween. Grab your friends together with a couple of drinks and enjoy the madness of screen. It’s the best Halloween-based movie since Halloween.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.