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  Tales of Halloween Oh What A Night
Year: 2015
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman, Neil Marshall, Lucky McKee
Stars: Adrienne Barbeau, Hunter Smit, Caroline Williams, Robert Rusler, Greg Grunberg, Barry Bostwick, Tiffany Shepis, Alex Essoe, Lin Shaye, Barbara Crampton, Lisa Marie, Pollyanna McIntosh, Dana Gould, James Duval, John Landis, John Savage, Elissa Dowling
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: It's Halloween in this small-ish town, and it's going to be a busy night. First up, one enthusiastic candy addict has just got back home from collecting his evening's haul and his sister and her boyfriend are there to babysit him until his parents return, but as he scoffs his collection he is stopped mid-bite by them informing him of the legend on this street of the one they called Sweet Tooth, a kid who loved this time of year because he was similarly entranced by the idea of stuffing his face with sweet foodstuffs. But here's the thing: he wasn't allowed to consume his haul by his strict parents, mostly because they wanted to eat it all themselves, and when he finally found out, his revenge was terrible to see...

The horror anthology was really taking hold in the independent market by the point that Axelle Carolyn assembled her contacts in the movie industry and suggested they contribute to her idea for yet another one. But before you rolled your eyes and proclaimed you had seen it all before, this had the novel linking story of every tale being set in the same town during All Hallows' Eve, which had never been done before. Apart from the cult chiller Trick ‘r Treat from almost ten years before, that was, and various television specials like League of Gentlemen spin-off Psychoville Halloween episode from even farther back... fair enough, you didn't watch these for the originality of their framing devices anyway.

What mattered was the quality of the actual tales therein, and here you may be a little let down, as while there was nothing particularly terrible about any of them, there was a scarcity of any one truly standing out from their peers, that despite Carolyn assembling a highly impressive list of directors to helm their own plots. John Landis was here, as were Stuart Gordon and Greg McLean among others, but they didn't even get the chance to direct anything, that's how overloaded with talent this was, yet the main premise every single one of them employed was that in their trick or treat segments, the trick was murder: you name it, from supernatural to plain old psychopathology, characters were extremely vulnerable to a variety of demises.

Though not as much a variety as you would think; nobody here did the equivalent of showing up at a wedding wearing the same hat as a fellow guest, but they did tend to blend into one melange of bloodletting and arch concept making after too short a time. Indeed, there was really only one standout, and that was left for last, which was Neil Marshall's Bad Seed which took the obvious idea but one not much utilised outside of the occasional computer game where a large, fanged pumpkin was the villain chomping its way through its hapless victims (all Joe Dante's fault - he was there too). The only other section that came close to that invention (which was presented like a police procedural) was Lucky McKee's yarn about a childless couple where the female half loved Halloween because it meant she got to meet kids.

And when she recalls she is bereft of her own, she turns into a red-skinned witch and, shall we say, overreacts. This was just weird enough to be intriguing, though like the others it led up to a conclusion that suggested they were better at starting their shockers than they were at wrapping them up. Elsewhere, a kidnapping on the big night went wrong when the abductors were mortified to discover that was no child they had nabbed, a boy learns the hard way about the evil of playing pranks (Barry Bostwick was teaching him his lesson), a Friday the 13th pastiche turns into science fiction when a tiny alien visitor interrupts looking for candy, Carolyn contributed her own sketch about a young woman (Alex Essoe) forced to walk home alone after a get-together, but it really was little more than a sketch, and so forth, each one colourful but not making a lasting impression in the main. There was enthusiasm here which buoyed proceedings along, but inspiration was thin on the ground; it was a Halloween movie to watch once you had exhausted other, better possibilities. Main music theme by Lalo Schifrin (!), whose son Ryan Schifrin directed one section (the kidnap bit).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Neil Marshall  (1970 - )

British writer and director. Made his feature debut in 2002 with the popular werewolf chiller Dog Soldiers, while 2005's The Descent was a scary girls-in-caves horror. Moved into television, including episodes of Game of Thrones, before returning to the big screen with the troubled Hellboy reboot.

 
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