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IFI Horrorthon 2015 Review - TALES OF HALLOWEEN

Anthology of 10 tales set on October 31st.


Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

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

Starring: Lin Shaye, Cerina Vincent, Barry Bostwick, Adrienne Barbeau, Lisa Marie, Polyanna McIntosh, Barbara Crampton, John Landis, Joe Dante, Pat Healy, Tiffany Shepis


"The horror anthology has given us some real gems - 1945's Dead of Night, the 1975 TV movie Trilogy of Terror, and a handful of productions from Amicus, whose name is now synonymous with the format - but most leave you unsatisfied, and Tales of Halloween is no exception."





Axelle Carolyn, director of Soulmate and star of many a horror flick, has pulled together a host of filmmakers for this anthology film, which takes place on the night of October 31st in an American suburb. The setting is great, particularly if you're a Halloween devotee like myself, as there's something about suburban America and Halloween that makes the two go together like steak and potatoes. Jack O' Lanterns beam from residential windows, innocent kiddies and not so innocent ladies wander the streets in festive garbs, a veil of fog clouds the town, and in a homage that brought a little tear to this reviewer's eye, Adrienne Barbeau's DJ oversees the evening's events. Everything is set for a cracking good anthology film.
Sadly, most of the stories fail to live up to the setting. Few have satisfying narrative arcs; just one could be called scary in any sense; and most are so poor as to make their brief running times a blessing.
The best two segments bookend the movie, which comes as no surprise. First up is Dave Parker's Sweet Tooth, which spins a nice little urban legend concerning a villain who takes revenge on greedy adults who help themselves to their children's candy. Closing the film is the best segment, Neil Marshall's Jack Frost-esque Bad Seed, a tale of a man-eating pumpkin that closes with a classic Twilight Zone ending. It's only these two shorts, along with Darren Lynn Bousman's The Night Billy Raised Hell, that satisfy in delivering a fully realised story within their limited run times.
Carolyn herself directs the one short that manages to create some spooky atmosphere - Grim Grinning Ghost. This sees Alex Esso, who was great in this year's Starry Eyes, stalked by a mysterious figure through the fog enshrined suburban streets. After great buildup, it ends in an anti-climactic jump scare, but it marks Carolyn as a director of some skill.
The worst of the shorts is Paul Solet's The Weak and the Wicked, which riffs on Spaghetti Westerns and leaves you scratching your head as to its point. Directors Adam Gierasch and Jace Anderson combine for the equally unsatisfying Trick, which has a bunch of hipsters terrorised by murderous kids, who show up again in Lucky McKee's comic Ding Dong, starring Pollyanna MacIntosh as a witch who wants a child of her own. The remaining shorts are similarly comedic in tone, but fail to generate laughs. Mike Mendez' Friday the 31st has a Jason Voorhees type killer hounded by a minute stop-motion alien; Andrew Kasch and John Skipp's This Means War sees neighbours come to blows over their Halloween decorations; and Ryan Schifrin's The Ransom of Rusty Rex has kidnappers wish they hadn't snatched John Landis's 'son'.
The horror anthology has given us some real gems - 1945's Dead of Night, the 1975 TV movie Trilogy of Terror, and a handful of productions from Amicus, whose name is now synonymous with the format - but most leave you unsatisfied, and Tales of Halloween is no exception.
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