Tales of Halloween is a grab bag of both great comedy horror, and disappointment as well when the bottom falls out midway through the night.
It’s an anthology, minus the wraparound and with vignettes that have little in common other than taking place on on the same night and in the same town. For purists, that’d be a bone of contention, but in the eyes of these horror orthopedists, it’d be easily forgiven if each segment was top-shelf.
Dave Parker’s Sweet Tooth, is a barnburner, blasting out of the gate. A hot babysitter and her beau are regaling a skeptical kid about a local legend, where parents hoard a kid’s candy and that kid exacts his revenge. Some bang-up gore and gonzo gross-outs that unfortunately cannot be sustained throughout.
The Night Billy Raised Hell is a gallant effort, a ghoulish grand guignol Barry Bostwick, having his way with would-be kid prankster, with a devilish sidekick who creates Halloween havoc.
Adam Giegrasch’s Trick is still a high-point, but marks the transition from killer to filler, four drunk/high adults are sitting around watching horror films, when the drunkest among them, is suddenly gutted by a trick or treater wearing a witch costume.
The weakest of the bunch is The Weak and the Wicked, a segment which undermines the whole effort; a tormented kid summons a demon to battle three unconvincing inked up tormentors.
Grimm Grinning Ghost is literally forgettable as these reviewers can’t recall it without consulting other reviews.
Ding Dong features an abusive witch and her long-suffering boyfriend, decked out as Hansel of Brothers Grimm infamy. It’s an intriguing idea that falls flat.
This Means War is an internecine neighborhood Halloween display battle, pitting hardcore horror hound biker types and their blood-lust aesthetic, versus the toned down vision of their middle-aged neighbor who implores that they turn their music down. They hold a predictable battle. It’s the dimmest of the bunch but may be some extended metaphor on the dueling preferences in the horror genre: hardcore vs the more tame supernatural. But that’s a stretch.
Friday the 31st is a joyful elevation in which a Judy Garland-costumed final girl battles a Jason-analogue, a tilt interrupted by a UFO landing in which the girl from Kansas gets the better of the guy from Crystal Lake. It’s a remarkable achievement and the second best vignette here.
The Ransom of Rusty Rex is a delicious premise that very nearly held up: two kidnappers hold the wrong kid for ransom. To say anything more would spoil it, but we can say the dad, played by American Werewolf in London director John Landis in a fun cameo, isn’t quite hell-bent on seeing his child return safe and sound.
Bad Seed is a nearly-there police procedural with a terrestrially-bound killer pumpkin which propels itself with tentacles. Joe Dante plays a scientist but the payoff doesn’t quite pan out.
Delectable wine, apps and dessert. Shame about the mains.
*** (out of 5)