Shannon Reviews the Horror Anthology "Tales of Halloween"

Anthologies for me have always been hit or miss, but the moment I heard about Tales of Halloween I was on board.  How could I not be?  Tales of Halloween was bringing together 10 of the most well known horror directors for one movie!  As the date got closer, my excitement grew.  When the evening approached, I sat in my chair anxiously awaiting for the start of the movie.  As the curtain drew open and the movie began, I had that fleeting thought of what if this is all hyped up and I actually hate it?  Well, lucky for me, and lucky for you as well, it most certainly deserved the hype that it was given.  Here is my review of the 10 Halloween shorts for Tales of Halloween:

“Sweet Tooth” directed and written by Dave Parker (The Hills Run Red)
I love a good urban legend and this film hit the nail on the head.  Sweet Tooth tells the story of young Mikey, who has just returned home from trick or treating and wants to bask in all that is his chocolate heaven.  While Mikey is in the throughs of eating his candy, his babysitter, and her boyfriend, tell the impressionable Mikey, the urban legend that is Sweet Tooth.  I won’t ruin the surprise for you, but Sweet Tooth’s backstory ends with a lot of blood and gore. Of course, this leaves Mikey scared, and when it comes time for bed, he leaves a “Carpenter” candy (see what I did there) in case Sweet Tooth decides to pay a visit, and you bet your ass he does.  What I love about this short film was the use of practical affects as well as the final reveal of Sweet Tooth.  It’s so refreshing to see a movie monster come to life in a new and unique way. The acting was solid and at times humorous which helped to break up the gore.

“The Night Billy Raised Hell” directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (The Devil’s Carnival, Saw II, III, IV), written by Clint Sears
What’s not to love about “The Night Billy Raised Hell?”  Billy (Marcus Eckert), a child who is probably under the age of 10, is dared by his sister and her boyfriend to egg their neighbor, Mr Abbadon’s (Barry Bostwick) home on Halloween.  Billy, feeling teased and wanting to prove himself, goes up to the front door and launches the egg right as Mr. Abbadon steps out of his home to catch the egg.  Mr. Abbadon leads Billy inside his home and promises to show him how to have fun on Halloween.  From that point on, insanity and hilarity ensue.  I absolutely loved this short film!  It was cheeky and funny and I loved the twist ending.  I loved seeing Barry Bostwick play the character of Mr. Abbadon but most of all I loved that the film didn’t take itself too seriously.  It was a fun romp and one that I feel didn’t get the attention it deserved.

“Trick” directed by Adam Gierasch (Night of the Demons), written by Greg Commons
Hands down my favorite short film was “Trick,”  I pretty much loved everything about this - I laughed and I was grossed out all at the same time.  Trick tells the story of two couples (John F. Beach, Tiffany Shepis, Casey Ruggieri, Trent Haaga) relaxing on Halloween night, watching a classic horror movie, partacking in what some might call illegal activities, and handing out candy to trick or treaters.  Things go brutally wrong when one of the young trick or treaters ends up stabbing one of the boyfriends to death - and it only gets worse from there.  First off, if you throw psychotic kids into a horror movie, I’m probably going to love it because I feel like it’s something that isn’t seen often, second the movie made me ask the question of “Why are these kids going fucking nuts??” We find out why, and it’s not a pretty site.  All in all, this short did it for me.  I loved the acting, especially by the kids, and the inventive ways they went about killing off the couples.  Seriously, don’t mess with kids in horror movies.

“Grimm Grinning Ghost” directed and written by Axelle Carolyn (Soulmate)
I enjoy ghost stories and I really liked the premise of this short.  Lynn (Alex Essoe) attends her mother’s (Lin Shaye) Halloween party every year.  It’s apparent early on that Lynn is easily spooked when other guests try to pick on her during the party.  Her mom goes on to tell the story of the Grimm Grinning Ghost, how you would never look at her because of her deformity.  After the story ends, Lynn, looking a tad bit shaken up, leaves to head home.  In a series of unfortunate events, her car breaks down and she had to walk home. While walking she hears someone following her and we see a shadow lurking behind her……….  Though the story has some cliche moments, it’s still a lot of fun and there is an AMAZING jump scare thrown in.

“Ding Dong” directed and written by Lucky McKee (May, The Woman)
What I like and what I don’t like about this short is essentially one in the same. It’s artistically done, as it seems to be the retelling of Hansel and Gretel, but it’s done in an abstract kind of way which leaves the short feeling a bit confusing. Jack (Marc Senter) is married to Bobbie (Pollyanna McIntosh) and it’s clear from the beginning of the movie that something bad has happened in their lives that has resulted in them not having children yet.  Jack tries whenever he can to cheer Bobbie up (he even presents her with a dog dressed up as Gretel), especially around Halloween, but it doesn’t seem to work as she lashes out at him verbally and physically while also changing shape.  It’s made somewhat apparent that what Jack is doing is trying to make sure that Bobbie doesn’t get too close to the children as she may have an appetite for them.  I love movies that have their own artistic flare but I felt like the subject matter on this film was too heavy (as compared to the other in this anthology) and there was a lot that wasn’t explained (such as why Bobbie turned red and had additional appendages coming out of her body).  I think as a full scale movie it would be interesting to see, if we are able to have more context as to what is going on.

“The Weak and the Wicked” directed by Paul Solet (Grace), written by Molly Millions
I’m not a fan of Westerns movies but I am a fan of bullies getting what they deserve, especially anything horror related.  “The Weak and the Wicked” plays like a modern day western with Alice (Grace Phipps) as the leader of her pack of thugs (Booboo Stewart, Noah Seegan).  As the three of them are in the middle of tormenting a helpless victim, off in a distance a stranger (Keir Gilchrist) appears.  The three thugs stop what they are doing and approach the stranger, setting the scene up as an homage to a Western standoff.  What I love about this short, is again, the use of practical affects and monster making.  I also loved the acting from the two main actors, Grace Phipps and Keir Gilchrist, and how well they played off each other.  Lastly, I enjoyed that the short tied in the strangers past with his present as well as showing us the strangers satisfied grin at the end.

“This Means War” directed and written by Andrew Kasch (Never Sleep Again) and John Skipp (Stay at Home Dead)
Decorating for the holidays can be a time honored tradition as well as a source of pride and happiness.  Boris (Dana Gould) has been decorating his yard for Halloween the same way for the past 20 years.  When Dante (James Duval) moves into the neighborhood he ups the ante with his Halloween decorating. As the days progress to Halloween, the tension begins to rise and bubble over for Boris. Tension hits a fever pitch on Halloween when Dante blares metal music from his Halloween decoration which silences any type of noise from Boris’ decorations.  What follows is a fight for who has the best decoration that does not end well.  All in all, this was a fun short and I enjoyed it, but I would have loved to have seen more.  I loved that there was such a drastic difference between the two men’s Halloween decor as well as their reactions to each other’s frustration; Boris was enraged and Dante found the whole thing amusing. It had some funny moments and the last scene is really indicative to what we sometimes would like to do to an annoying neighbor. 

“Friday the 31st” directed by Mike Mendez (Big Ass Spider!) and written by Mike Mendez and David Parker
I LOVE THIS SHORT! I had no idea what was happening at first and thought to myself, oh God here’s another slasher type flick, but no.  This is a whole lot of awesome thrown into a few minute short.  In the same vein as most slasher flicks, our heroine Dorothy (Amanda Moyer) is being chased by a killer who looks like a cross between Mike Meyers and Jason Voorhees (Nick Principe). She finds an abandoned shack, of course, and lo and behold it’s filled with our Mike/Jason victims!  The killer barges in, kills Dorothy and aliens appear and take over her body.  I shit you not.  It’s amazing! The acting is terrific, the humor is spot on, the gore is fantastic, and did I mention there are aliens? 

“The Ransom of Rusty Rex” directed and written by Ryan Schifrin (Abominable)
This short also made me laugh way too much.  This was absolutely terrific for so many reasons.  Hank (Sam Witwer) and Dutch (Jose Pablo Cantillo) have decided to kidnap the son of uber wealthy Jebediah Rex (John Landis).  The rules are simple, kidnap the son, call in a ransom for about 5 million dollars, and hand over Jebediah son once the transaction goes through.  None of this happens, as Jebediah Rex’s son (Ben Woolf) is not anything they ever have encountered before.  I don’t want to give to much away but this short was perfection. 

“Bad Seed” directed and written by Neil Marshall (The Descent)
What happens when a lab funded by a big name corporation decides to make mutated pumpkins?  We get killer Jack-O-Lanterns that eat people!  Detective McNally (Kristina Klebe) doesn’t believe it a first, how can such a thing exist?  However, when she sees it with her own two eyes, she stops at nothing to try to destroy these killer pumpkins.  This was a fun short and a different side of director Neil Marshall that I hadn’t seen before in his other films.  We also get some great cameos such as Joe Dante, as the lab technician and Pat Healy as a detective helping McNally.  I would have liked to have seen this movie be a little bit darker and really push that R rating, but overall I enjoyed how fun this was.  Also, as I mentioned many times, the practical affects and monster making were terrific and this film was a great way to end what I consider to be an amazing anthology.

If you are looking for a movie to bring that Halloween spirit into your life, I highly suggest checking out “Tales of Halloween” which is now on VOD and in selected theatres.  What’s great about this anthology is it has something for everybody, so grab your closest friends, turn off all the lights and prepare yourself for a fun and horrifying tale of Halloween!

Until next time, stay creepy!

SM