×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Tales of Halloween’

It's a case of quantity over quality in this horror omnibus.

With:
Adrienne Barbeau.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4163020/

Horror omnibuses are frequently a mixed bag. Sometimes they’re not even a bag of tricks, let alone treats, but more like a box of inedible rocks. That, unfortunately, is pretty much the story with “Tales of Halloween,” a collection of 10 macabre miniatures that are disposably diverting at best and execrable at worst, despite the participation of some familiar genre faces and directors. Opened on 12 screens around the country Oct. 16, simultaneous with a VOD/iTunes release, the pic will no doubt make a more lasting impact as junk food for buffs in home formats.

Thinly connected by audio input from Adrienne Barbeau as a sexy-voiced radio DJ, the tales here all take place on All Hallow’s Eve, presumably in the same town. Many unimaginatively revolve around a folk tale that turns out to be horribly true, as the characters discover to their mortal peril. In “Sweet Tooth,” it’s the ghoulish spirit of a perpetually hungry child once deprived of his holiday candy by greedy parents. “Grim Grinning Ghost” has a woman terrorized by another local legend, while in “The Weak and the Wicked,” a demonic figure is summoned to wreak vengeance on bullies.

Loutish humor dominates “The Night Billy Raised Hell,” with Barry Bostwick as a jokey Beelzebub playing nasty pranks on neighbors, and “This Means War,” in which rival Halloween yard displays roil bad blood between Dana Gould and James Duval. “Trick” finds two partying couples attacked by trick-or-treaters in reprisal for some tastelessly ugly crimes of their own.

These early entries are polished enough but utterly routine in their simple concepts and broad execution. There’s an uptick in quality later on, though improved directorial style and energy can only do so much to elevate what remain one-joke premises. Different kinds of monsters ensure crime doesn’t pay for the respective serial-killer and kidnapper protagonists of “Friday the 31st” and “The Ransom of Rusty Rex.” “Ding Dong,” from Lucky McKee (“May,” “The Woman”), exerts a more assertive visual personality than can be found elsewhere here in its bad-mental-health-day spin on “Hansel and Gretel.” Finally, “Bad Seed,” directed by Neil Marshall (“The Descent,” “Doomsday”), is an antic, frenetic tale of a man-eating jack o’lantern. Even the best of these, however, are held back by brevity from developing silly ideas into anything truly memorable.

Horror fans will enjoy spotting various favorite genre actors, and even a few helmers (including John Landis, Stuart Gordon and Joe Dante in cameos), along with the inevitable in-joke references to prior films. It’s really time, however, for movies like this to give poor old “Night of the Living Dead” and “Carnival of Souls” — the most over-exposed public-domain features ever — a rest from gratuitous excerpting.

A rather tacky computer-animated opening credits sequence aside, tech/design contributions on the film (which credits “”Grim Grinning Ghost” writer-director Axelle Carolyn as overall creator) are competent. There’s a closing dedication to Ben Woolf, the actor with pituitary dwarfism who plays the titular figure in “Rusty Rex,” and who died as a result of an auto collision earlier this year.

“Sweet Tooth”
Directed, written, edited by David Parker. Camera, David Tayar; music, David Parker.
With: Hunter Smit, Cameron Easton, Caroline Williams, Robert Rusler, Clare Kramer, Greg Grunberg, Daniel DiMaggio, Austin Falk, Madison Iseman.

“The Night Billy Raised Hell”
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman. Screenplay, Clint Sears. Camera, Joseph White; music, Bobby Johnston.
With: Barry Bostwick, Marcus Eckert, Christophe Zajac-Denek, Ben Stillwell, Natalie Castillo, Adam Pascal, Adrianne Curry.

“The Weak and the Wicked”
Directed by Paul Solet. Screenplay, Molly Millions. Camera, Zoran Popovic; music, Austin Wintory.
With: Keir Gilchrist, Grace Phipps, Booboo Stewart, Noah Segan, Matt Merchant.

“Trick”
Directed by Adam Gierasch. Screenplay, Greg Commons. Camera, Scott Winig; music, Joseph BIshara.
With: John F. Beach, Tiffany Shepis, Casey Elizabeth Ruggieri, Trent Haaga.

“Grim Grinning Ghost”
Directed, written by Axelle Carolyn. Camera, Jan-Michael Losada; music, Christian Henson.
With: Alex Essoe, Lin Shaye, V. Nixie, Liesel Hanson, Barbara Crampton, Lisa Marie, Mick Garris, Stuart Gordon.

“Ding Dong”
Directed, written by Lucky McKee. Camera, Alex Vendler; editors, Zach Passero, Vanessa McKee; music, Sean Spillane.
With: Marc Senter, Pollyanna McIntosh.

“This Means War”
Directed, written by John Skipp, Andrew Kasch. Camera, Losada; music, Michael Sean Colin.
With: Dana Gould, James Duval.

“Friday the 31st”
Directed by Mike Mendez. Screenplay, Mendez, David Parker. Camera, Richard Vialet; music, Joseph Bishara, Edwin Wendler.
With: Amanda Moyer, Jennifer Wenger, Nick Principe.

“The Ransom of Rusty Rex”
Directed, written by Ryan Schifrin. Camera, Losada; music, Chris Drake.
With: Ben Woolf, John Landis, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Sam Witwer.

“Bad Seed”
Directed, written by Neil Marshall. Camera, Vialet; editor, Eddie Oswald; music, Christian Henson.
With: Kristina Klebe, Pat Healy, Greg McLean, Cerina Vincent, John Savage, Joe Dante.

Film Review: 'Tales of Halloween'

Reviewed online, San Francisco, Oct. 13, 2015. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 97 MIN.

Production: An Epic Pictures Group release of an Epic Pictures production. Produced by Patrick Eward, Shaked Berenson, Axelle Carolyn, Mike Mendez. Executive producers, Ewald, Berenson.

Crew: Created by Axelle Carolyn. (Color, widescreen, HD); production designers, Sara Millan, Anthony Pearce; music supervisor, Sean Fernald; supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer, Sean Higgins; stunt coordinator, Nils Allen Stewart; casting, Mark Sikes.

With: Adrienne Barbeau.

More Film

  • Nuri Bilge Ceylan in conversation at

    Shanghai: How Nuri Bilge Ceylan Sees the World so Differently

    At a masterclass on Thursday, Turkish film director Nuri Bilge Ceylan gave the initial impression of being an austere and unwilling participant. Wearing heavy glasses, keeping his coat on, and responding to questions rather than offering a class, his manner suggested that he was difficult. In China as the head of the Shanghai International Film [...]

  • SpiderMan Far From Home

    Hollywood Takes on Italy's Vacation-Heavy Summer Season With Blockbusters

    With upcoming movies such as “Toy Story 4,” “Men in Black: International” and “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” Hollywood studios are finally taking the plunge this year and slotting their blockbusters in Italian cinemas during the summer, a time when residents traditionally hit the beach en masse. For decades, the studios withheld their [...]

  • Easy Money

    Netflix Orders 'Snabba Cash' Series Based on Hit Movie Franchise from SF Studios

    Netflix has ordered a six-part original series based on the hit Swedish crime franchise “Snabba Cash” from SF Studios. Based on Jens Lapidus’s bestselling novels, the series is set in Stockholm’s gritty criminal underground ten years after the events depicted in the “Snabba Cash” (“Easy Money,” pictured) movie trilogy. The society has become even more [...]

  • The Kings Man

    Film News Roundup: Disney Sets 'The King's Man' Spy Comedy for February

    In today’s film news roundup, “The King’s Man” and “A Kid From Coney Island” get release dates, and “Barry” star Anthony Carrigan joins “Bill & Ted Face the Music.” RELEASE DATE Disney has set its Fox spy comedy prequel “The King’s Man” for release on Feb. 14, 2020. Disney made the announcement Wednesday at its [...]

  • Shyrakshy: Guardian of the Light

    Shanghai Film Review: 'Shyrakshy: Guardian of the Light'

    The bombastic English title might sound like it describes some comic book sci-fi epic, but in “Shyrakshy: Guardian of the Light” our hero does not wear a cape but a weathered cap, and the light he guards is not an interstellar death ray but the flickering beam of a battered old movie projector. Prominent Kazakh [...]

  • Wanda Film's Zeng Maojun

    Shanghai: China's Once-Mighty Wanda Casts Itself in Role of Survivor

    The soundtrack for the introductory showreel at Wednesday evening’s Shanghai press event announcing Wanda Pictures’ annual line-up was aspirational and strangely defiant.  It began with Nina Simone crooning, “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me, and I’m feeling good,” and then continued with “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child. “You [...]

  • 'The Souvenir' Costume Designer Fashioned 1980s'

    'The Souvenir' Costume Designer Put a Decadent Twist on Opulent ’80s Style

    Set against the backdrop of London’s early-1980s cultural renaissance, British auteur Joanna Hogg’s exquisitely sculpted and critically acclaimed “The Souvenir,” which A24 has been widening in platform release for the past month, follows film student Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) and her gradually destructive romance with the magnetic Anthony (Tom Burke). “We didn’t want a film [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content