TALES OF HALLOWEEN
Sweet Tooth, comes from David Parker who has made a number of horror films such as Kraa! The Sea Monster (1998), The Dead Hate the Living (2000), The Hills Run Red (2009), The Dead Reborn (2013) and Coldwater (2014). It has the feel of an urban horror legend like The Tale of the Hook. Parker outfits it with some grisly effects such as the kid tearing open his parents and feasting on their intestines. However, aside from this, the segment, like most of the episodes, feels like it has been quickly shot and on a slim budget. Like several other segments, it arrives at a fairly obvious punchline that has been signposted from the outset.
The Night Billy Raised Hell comes from Darren Lynn Bousman, who emerged as director on several Saw sequels Saw II (2005), Saw III (2006) and Saw IV (2007), and has also made the likes of Repo: The Genetic Opera (2008), Mothers Day (2010), 11-11-11 (2011), The Barrens (2012), Alleluia! The Devils Carnival (2015), Abattoir (2016) and St Agatha (2018). The episode comes with a certain maliciousness, all part and parcel of the directorial sadism familiar to Bousmans work. Beyond scenes of Billy causing mayhem, there is little else to the episode. Barry Bostwick, none other than Brad from The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), plays the devil figure Mr Abbandon whose presence is never explained. Here Bostwick gives a very over-the-top performance.
Trick comes from Adam Gierasch, a genre regular first as a screenwriter and then as director of the likes of Autopsy (2008), Night of the Demons (2009), Fertile Ground (2011), Fractured (2013) and House By the Lake (2017). The film gains some modest effect from children murderously disrupting a party and killing the adults although this was much better done by the British The Children (2008) and Hellions (2015) but suffers from a lack of explanatory rationale as to why this is happening.
The Weak and the Wicked comes from Paul Solet, who is not quite a recognised genre name yet but did make the excellent evil child horror Grace (2009) and the subsequent Dark Summer (2015). This is an okay episode, nothing standout, before arriving at a passably effective twist ending.
Grim Grinning Ghost comes from Axelle Carolyn, a Belgian actress and director who had previously only made the feature-length horror film Soulmate (2013). Carolyn however appears to be the driving force behind Tales of Halloween and is listed as both its creator and a producer. The episode generates some reasonable atmosphere but is another that suffers from a punchline that you can see coming. In the party scene where Lin Shaye tells her story, Carolyn gets some cameos from well-known genre names including Stuart Gordon, the cult director of Re-Animator (1985), and Mick Garris, director of several Stephen King adaptations, as well as familiar actors like Barbara Crampton and Lisa Marie.
Ding Dong comes from Lucky McKee who made the decidedly off-of-centre May (2002), The Woods (2006) and the disturbing The Woman (2011), as well as co-directed All Cheerleaders Die (2001) and its remake All Cheerleaders Die (2013). This episode hits in at a demented fever pitch. You really have no idea what it is all about watching Pollyanna McIntosh with face painted red and manifesting several sets of arms but the effect especially as you dont know what is about to happen as she greets people at the door is unnerving. This is an episode that could well have done with a much longer running time.
This Means War comes from John Skipp, a horror author who has published numerous works since the 1980s (although has not done much film work), and Andrew Kasch who has mostly specialised in making of dvd featurettes for the re-releases of various classic horror films. This is surprisingly the only of the episodes that is not a horror story but a comedy about two neighbours warring over Halloween displays. None of the episode is particularly funny. Certainly, the anticipation that you are watching a horror story leads you to expect a twist ending that never comes.
The best of the segments is Friday the 31st from Mike Mendez who also produces Tales of Halloween. Mendez has also made the likes of Killers (1996), The Convent (2000), Masters of Horror (2002), The Gravedancers (2006), Big Ass Spider! (2013), Lavalantula (2015) and Dont Kill It (2016). Mendez offers up an appealingly absurd mash-up of genre tropes the slasher standard of a girl being pursued by a hulking disfigured maniac, the appearance of a UFO and a cute miniature stop-motion animated alien and the girls resurrection as a zombie with glowing green eyes. The undead girl and the slasher maniac meet in an amusingly over-the-top bloodbath. The episode hits the stride and is perfectly succinct and amusing.
The Ransom of Rusty Rex comes from Ryan Schifrin who had previously only made the Bigfoot film Abominable (2006). The episode is an interestingly different take, although is another one that arrives at a denouement that can be seen coming from the outset. Director John Landis, the man responsible for The Blues Brothers (1980) and An American Werewolf in London (1981), makes a cameo as the goblins adopted father.
The final segment Bad Seed comes from British director Neil Marshall who made Dog Soldiers (2002), The Descent (2005) and Doomsday (2008). Marshalls take is to offer up the appealingly silly idea of a killer Halloween pumpkin and the film derives its amusement from the images of the pumpkin running around biting peoples heads off. In another cameo, the male of the first couple who are the first to be killed is Australian director Greg Mclean who made Wolf Creek (2005) and Rogue (2007), while Joe Dante, director of a host of genre films including The Howling (1980), turns up as a scientist in the coda.