Tis the season where we get bombarded by sequel after sequel of once relevant and entertaining horror franchises. The only scary thing about them is how they continue to churn out more films despite that any semblance of coherence or even a story were abandoned two sequels ago. This is where the ever-changing nature of anthologies saves the day/night.
The varied tone and subject matter makes Tales of Halloween a smorgasbord of devilish delights. Each short is distinctly different than the last and offers a look at different occult, supernatural and even alien phenomenon. Even though each section is a story all its own, there is an overarching story because everything happens around in the same town. The greatest reason this all works well together is not because they’re all Halloween themed, but because you can also tell that each director has a great amount of experience in the genre. Each writer/director’s filmography almost exclusively consists of horror genre projects, with such notable examples as Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw franchise), Neil Marshall (The Descent), and Lucky McKee (May) just to name a few.
As with any anthological film, some shorts are stronger than the others. The urban western styled “The Weak and the Wicked” was a great personal favorite of mine because it combined the aesthetic of a post-apocalyptic/anarchist society of teenagers with the elements of a horror/revenge tale. My next favorite, “Friday the 31st”, subverts the slasher genre by introducing an extraterrestrial element that ends in an Evil Dead-style face off. In case you were wondering, the answer is yes, there is some claymation in this short. “The Night Billy Raised Hell” is a bat-out-of-hell comedy that takes the Devil (played by the legendary Barry Bostwick) and little Billy on a rampage through the city in the true Halloween spirit. Each short has its own merits as a whole, and there are many more treats than tricks to be had.
[Read our interview with legendary actor Barry Bostwick as he talks about ‘Tales of Halloween’, ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’, and more!]
Creating the world and setting up the stories is a daunting enough task, but without the right talent to support it, everything would just be spooky scenery without substance. Like the directors, the great majority of the actors in these shorts come from heavy horror backgrounds, with each knowing how to bring their characters to life (in some cases death). These include legends like Barry Bostwick, Adrienne Barbeau (who narrates the entire film as a radio emcee), Booboo Stewart, Lin Shaye, Sam Witwer and many, many more.
The greatest thing you can experience, aside from terror and hilarity (and more than a few corny moments), is the sense that these filmmakers and cast are enjoying every second of what they’re doing. The filmmakers behind Tales of Halloween have lovingly dubbed themselves The October Society, and that is hopefully a promise that their society will grow and bring us another anthology every year.
RATING: ★★★★★★★ (7/10 stars)