Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tales of Halloween (2015)

Directors: Darren Lynn Bousman, Axelle Carolyn, Adam Gierasch, Andrew Kasch, Neil Marshall, Lucky McKee, Mike Mendez, Dave Parker, Ryan Schifrin, John Skipp, Paul Solet
Notable Cast: So, so many.

In 2009, the Halloween horror anthology Trick ‘R Treat, which has reached cult status, closed the Fantasia Film Festival to a roaring audience. Now this year the festival has been host to the world premiere of yet another Halloween horror anthology film simply named Tales of Halloween to a practically sold out crowd looking for more. With a helping of ten stories by ten directors instead of the more developed four that was in Trick ‘R Treat, we find ourselves with names such as Big Ass Spider’s Mike Mendez, Saw III and Repo! The Genetic Opera’s Darren Lynn Bousman, Autopsy and Night of the Demon’s (2009) Adam Gierasch and none other than Dog Soldiers and The Descent’s Neil Marshall. The enormous cast includes horror veterans and directors ranging from John Landis, Joe Dante, Adam Green, Lin Shaye, Barbara Crampton and even Adrienne Barbeau. But does the star power in this flick shine or simply burn out too fast? With the less amount of time per short, more creativity is required to keep the attention of the hardened horror fans. Thankfully the film does just that. 

Tricks are for kids.
Tales of Halloween takes place in an unidentified American suburb on Halloween night. Instead of starting right up, we have a montage identifying our roster of directors with their respective shorts with each one having a quick depiction of what we can expect. We are then greeted by the sultry voice of a female radio host ironically played by Adrienne Barbeau as if she was reprising her role as Stevie Wayne from The Fog. She is our main link between the tales as she counts down to midnight or so she mentions it to be “The Witching Hour”.  We are then treated to each short which runs on average to anything between ten to fifteen minutes each until the final short directed by Neil Marshall. Everything occurs on the exact same night and we can even recognize reoccurring characters in the background as the film progresses. We are treated to a variety of characters and creatures including some killer kids, kidnappers, a witch and her deadbeat husband, the demon of Halloween, aliens, and even killer pumpkins. 

What I found to be notable of the feature is that not one short was ever dull. The film keeps you engaged throughout the entire run-time. While there are no shorts in particular that will make you roll your eyes in regret, there are some that stand out the most. Out of all ten of these, the festival audience clearly made their voice clear with choosing Mike Mendez’ Friday the 31st. What obviously looks like a Jason Voorhees or Victor Crowley clone going around doing what slashers do best takes a comical turn when the brainless killer gets an unexpected visitor. While this short seems to come right out of left field (literally, they ran out of a corn field!) the directors did a solid job on keeping a consistent tone from beginning to end. Unlike some of the previous films at this year’s fest, there is less comedy employed and more camp. Fans will definitely be comparing the anthology flick to Trick ‘R Treat but in a way, we would still then be comparing apples to oranges. There is, in a way, more of an actual storyline in Trick ‘R Treat laced with humor and atmosphere while Tales of Halloween follows a campier linear path with less overlap then the anthology’s predecessor. Maybe because there are ten of them, it was important to fill in each one with their own storyline first and then move on to the next. It was indeed a treat to play a point and identify game with the notable cast, but it doesn’t just stop there. Legendary composer Lalo Schifrin came out of retirement to write Tales’ main theme which does the film justice. 

Treats are for whatever the hell this thing is.
The last question that we need to ask ourselves about Tales of Halloween is will it stand the test of time? No doubt, the film’s talent and creativity will get fans keep a slot open once a year on All Hallow’s Eve to dive into a new tradition alongside John Carpenter’s Halloween and Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘R Treat.  Tales reminds us that every October 31st, the ghouls and gals come out to play so keep your lights on, beware of strangers, and always check your candy...

Written By Elise Holmes 

Elise Holmes is not your average writer. Dedicated to her Evil Dead fan site The Deadite Slayer, she is doing Fantasia Fest coverage this year for Blood Brothers! Check out her site HERE!

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