Abertoir Horror Festival 2015 Review: Tales of Halloween (2015)
Halloween may be over, but why not still keep in with the spirit? Axelle Carolyn’s anthology, Tales of Halloween certainly helps beat those post spooky night blues. What a treat it was seeing these gorgeously gruesome scary stories unfold on the big screen, most definitely worth the wait! This is the strongest film screened at the Abertoir Horror Festival so far.
Anthology Horror has always been a popular trend, resonated mainly in television from Tales from the Crypt to Goosebumps, however also translate well to segment styled films such as Creepshow and most recently The ABC’s of Death and V/H/S. Tales of Halloween is a cut above the rest, showcasing a whole lot of talent from actors to writers and directors who all know how to conjure up a good scare!
Tales of Halloween opens with a visually stunning stop motion animation sequence, allowing a glimpse into the tales to come and the fantastic filmmakers that have brought them to life. Adrienne Barbeau wonderfully recaptures her famous role from John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980) as the husky voiced radio show host, narrating throughout the film, following with clever puns after each short story.
Tales of Halloween brings together familiar faces from the past and present of horror that proves a real treat for fans. Its highly stylized and beautifully shot, capturing the spirit and essence of this time of year, going all out with recognizable iconography from pumpkins to ghouls set to a score that John Carpenter would be proud of. Each segment has its own unique spin and twist, with startling surprises around every corner and grotesquely good visual effects.
Here are ten terrifying segments that make Tales of Halloween a frightengly festive film.
1. Sweet Tooth
- Directed By Dave Parker
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from horror movies its that urban legends are guaranteed to backfire. If you don’t believe in them then you better start! Sweet Tooth, by The Hills Run Red Director Dave Parker is the tale of a young boy who enjoys his hard-earned Halloween candy a little too much. When his menacing babysitters warn him of the local legend of Sweet Tooth, an apparent “rite of passage”, the boy decides he’s best off sharing his sweeties if he wants to remain in one piece! As imagined events take a nasty turn teaching those meddling babysitters a very valuable lesson. Sweet Tooth kicks things off with a bang with lashings of gore and setting us up for the recurring theme to never underestimate creepy kids! Sweet Tooth incorporates its own inventive yet twisted mythology.
2. The Night Billy Raised Hell
- Directed By Darren Lynn Bousman
SAW II and Repo! The Genetic Opera Darren Lynn Bosman is at the reigns of this darkly comical tale, featuring a completely brilliant performance from Rocky Horror cult star Barry Bostwick. Just as much as treats, Halloween is equally filled with tricks. When a young boy is literally egged on by his teenage sister and her mean boyfriend to play a prank on an old man’s house, he makes a grave mistake when the man turns out to be the devil himself. Bostwick’s excellently evil character goes on to teach the young boy a lesson he will never forget. The Night Billy Raised Hell is tongue in cheek and hilariously executed as Bostwick takes the boy on one hell of a night out which sees his bad behaviour receive nightmarish consequences.
- Directed By Adam Gierasch
Arguably the darkest segment of the anthology, the director of 2009’s Night of the Demons, Adam Gierasch shows that its not just the kids who are bad. A seemingly, traditional and ordinary Halloween night, two sets of couples enjoy an evening in front of the television with a horror movie playing. But they get more than they bargained for when a young trick or treater dressed as a witch brutally stabs one of them kicking off a night of carnage with nowhere left to run and nowhere left to hide. But are the victims as innocent as they seem? Appearances can certainly be deceiving. Trick is a cathartic piece that unapologetically pushes the boundaries in a tale of justice and revenge. If there’s one short guaranteed to shock, its this one!
4. The Weak and the Wicked
- Directed By Paul Solet
A combination of a horror and western, Grace director Paul Solet presents a stylish tale of vengeance which sees a teenage boy seek out a group of rebels led by Alice (Grace Phipps) who nastily perished his parents in their own home when he was a boy. Nothing is what it seems as The Weak and the Wicked surprises the audience with an unexpected and satisfying twist, teaching that karma will always win out in the end. There are some strong performances in this power struggle between good and evil.
5. Grim Grinning Ghost
- Directed By Axelle Carolyn
Mid way through, its creator Axelle Carolyn’s moment to shine in the creepy Grim Grinning Ghost. Starring Lin Shaye (Insidious), Grim Grinning Ghost centres on a spooky urban legend guaranteed to make your spine tingle! Starry Eyes’s Alex Essoe gives a convincing performance as the spooked young woman who leaves her friends annual Halloween gathering and heads home. Freaked out by Shaye’s tale of an evil spirit, the woman keeps her wits about her. Once she’s in the house, she can finally relax or so it seems…! Grimm Grinning Ghost is a classic ghost story, choked with an ethereal and tense atmosphere and perfect for a good scare.
6. Ding Dong
- Directed By Lucky McKee
Pollyanna McIntosh teams up again with Lucky McKee (The Woman) in Ding Dong, an outrageously bizarre spin on the classic Hansel and Gretel tale. A psychotically broody witch and a pug in a wig, what more do you need at Halloween? The witch longs for a child and doesn’t understand why she can’t have any leading her to despair. She puts on a show every spooky season in an attempt to ease her heartbreak by entertaining prospective trick or treaters. Her put upon husband goes along with it while walking on eggshells in order to avoid her wrath with unsuccessful results. McIntosh is absolutely amazing with her over the top and undeniably funny performance. The make up effects in this segment are expertly crafted. The creature could easily come from a warped Tim Burton film. Cleverly, there’s an underlying metaphor underneath all the madness.
7. This Means War
- Directed By Andrew Kasch and John Skipp
The notion of “keeping up with the Jones’s” is taken to a whole new level in This Means War, as a man competes with his new heavy metal neighbour over the best Halloween display. A clash of egos fight to the death in this darkly funny piece which sees a more traditional Halloween set up go against a blood splattered, hair-raising gorefest. A comment on the polar opposites of the old horror film verses the new perhaps?
8. Friday the 31st
- Directed By Mike Mendez
If Dorothy Gale was terrorized by Jason Voorhees, then Friday the 31st is what you’d get! A love letter to old school slasher movies namely the Friday the 13th Series and more recently the Hatchet franchise, Friday the 31st takes an unpredictable direction that notes the absurdness of these kinds of films where all sorts of crazy events can happen. Friday the 31st is everything you love about slasher films, from the iconography to the blood shed. It goes to introduce the most cutest stop motion animation character to ever grace horror movie screens. All he wants is some candy. It really has to be seen to be believed.
9. The Ransom of Rusty Rex
- Directed By Ryan Schifrin
John Landis literally gives a pair of bank robbers a run for their money as he cameos as a wealthy man who has his son kidnapped by the dastardly duo. They get more than they bargained for when the boy turns out to be a strange and nasty little creature (played by the late American Horror Story: Freak Show actor Ben Woolf). Now its a case of how to get away from this menacing little guy who just won’t give up. The Ransom of Rusty Rex goes to show that its best to think before acting!
10. Bad Seed
- Directed By Neil Marshall
What a way to end this frightening and fantastic set of stories with Bad Seed, from The Descent and Dog Soldiers director Neil Marshall. Bad Seed will make you think twice about buying a pumpkin on Halloween in a combination of Little Shop of Horrors meets Halloween III: Season of the Witch! Bad Seed brings everything full circle, tying each segment together. This B-movie inspired short guarantees plenty of laughs as the evil pumpkin bounces around the place, eating everyone and everything in sight in one gore-filled spectacle. Halloween has taken over and there’s nothing anyone can do! Look out for a cameo from Gremlins director Joe Dante in a whole different kind of creature feature. Bad Seed concludes the film in style, wrapping up one unforgettable anthology.
Top 3 Favourite Segments:
1. Friday the 31st
2. Ding Dong
Hayley Alice Roberts