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New Review: Tales of Halloween (2015)
Director(s): Darren Lynn Bousman, Paul Solet, Axelle Carolyn, Neil Marshall, Mike Mendez, Ryan Schifrin, Adam Gierasch, Lucky McKee, Andrew Kasch, John Skipp, Dave Parker
Cast: Barry Bostwick, Grace Phipps, Greg Grunberg, Keir Gilcrist, Pollyanna McIntosh, Adrienne Barbeau, Ben Wolff
Out of the many things I enjoyed about the horror anthology Trick ‘r Treat, the best was the way it was able to connect each of its five stories together. Yes, it had its gory moments, although it never took it too far, and focused instead on atmosphere and suspense rather than grossing the audience out. It was surprisingly well-written gem, connecting the seemingly random stories in ways that were both clever and surprising. It was indeed a holiday treat, and one that’s become (and rightly so) a Halloween tradition to watch every year during the month of October for many horror movie lovers.
There has been talk that writer-director Michael Dougherty has plans to make a sequel to the 2009 hit. Given how good the original movie was, it leaves one with something to look forward to, but until then, we have Tales of Halloween to hold us over, and while it does have a couple of things to say in its favor, it is, for the most part, a vastly inferior film.
Whereas Trick ‘r Treat told us five stories, Tales of Halloween gives us 10 (each one directed by a different filmmaker). They’re each drenched in blood and gore, and out of the ten stories, only two of them stand out. The first is a delightfully satirical film called Friday the 31st, which opens with a young woman running from a deformed, mask-wearing psychopath in the woods. It’s gruesome and exactly what you would expect a Friday the 13thmovie to be, but things take a wild and crazy turn when a tiny, trick-or-treating alien comes on the scene and…well, let’s just say all hell breaks loose.
The second story, called The Ransom of Rusty Rex, begins with two guys plotting to kidnap the son (the late Ben Wolff) of a local millionaire to earn a few easy bucks. Things take a bizarre turn when they call up the boy’s father, who tells them that he has no desire to take the child back. “You have no idea what you’ve done,” he tells them. Indeed they don’t. They have no idea at all what they’ve gotten themselves into. While it certainly isn’t scary, it is quite funny (which is what I think director Ryan Schifrin was going for), especially when one of the kidnappers calls up the dad again begging him to take the boy back.
Those two stories are fun, and while the acting in the movie is for the most part very bad, there is one performance that I thought stood out. It’s turned in by Grace Phipps, who stars in the story The Weak and the Wicked as Alice, the cigar smoking, psychotic leader of a handful of hoodrats who gets a taste of her own medicine when she decides to mess with the wrong guy (it turns out to be someone who has a vendetta against her already). While the story is lame and anticlimactic, Phipps captivated my attention every moment she was on screen (and is it me, or does she look like Elizabeth Olsen's twin?)
The rest of the movie is a gruesome bore, filled with images of child torture (there’s a photo showing a grown man gouging out a screaming child’s eyeball with a spoon – ew!) and scenes where characters get their insides pulled out. While there are two stories that are clever and entertaining, the other eight are witless and uninspired, and more often than not, they go for the gore rather than the scares. Hands down the worst story is This Means War, a go-nowhere segment about a feud between two neighbors that escalates out of control one Halloween night.
Horror movie fans might get a kick out of seeing Adrienne Barbeau as a radio DJ (Stevie Wayne, anyone?), whose voice leads us in to a couple of the stories, although she’s not in the movie for very long. In the end, the movie left this horror movie lover wanting. Tales of Halloween certainly sounds like a fun idea for a movie (it worked for Creepshow and Trick ‘r Treat, so why shouldn’t it work here?), but the movie just isn’t scary or entertaining.
Bring on Trick ‘r Treat 2 already. I’m getting impatient here!
Rated R for a whole lot of strong bloody violence, profanity, brief drug use
Final Grade: ** (out of ****)
Other Thoughts on Tales of Halloween (2015)! :D
- Film Review: Tales of Halloween | Film Journal International
- Review: 'Tales of Halloween' a spooky, kooky treat - LA Times
The famous Howard Hawks line that good movies need "three good scenes, no bad ones" is especially true with horror anthologies, where one sour segment can spoil the rest. Thank goodness then that the ominous omnibus "Tales
- ‘Tales of Halloween’: some treats and fun cameos | The Seattle Times
Movie review of “Tales of Halloween”: This collection of 10 horror-comedy vignettes, all built around the theme of Halloween night, has high and low points and some fun cameos by familiar actors and horror directors. Star rating: 2 stars out of 4.
- TheFrightFile Review: Tales of Halloween (2015) by Dustin Putman
Tales of Halloween (2015) - 2.5/4 Stars - When 'Tales of Halloween' works, however, it is a vicious, spirited, aesthetically sumptuous delight.