Tales of Halloween

Posted on October 16, 2015 at 5:25 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong bloody horror violence throughout, language and brief drug use
Profanity: Very strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking, brief drug use
Violence/ Scariness: Extensive and grisly violence, characters injured and killed, many disturbing images
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: October 16, 2015

True to its name, “Tales of Halloween” is a collection of ten short horror stories of the type that Boy Scouts might tell around a campfire late at night. That’s both its strength and weakness.

The movie begins on Halloween night in a small town, where a radio announcer (Adrienne Barbeau, legendary horror star making a meta point) introduces us to a series of spooky goings-on about town. What follows are ten short films by ten different directors about monsters, murderers, devils and demons. Most of the directors are veterans of the horror genre with a genuine affection for the medium. Neil Marshall (writer and director of the 2005 horror film, “The Descent”), Paul Solet (writer and director of the 2009 horror film “Grace”) and Lucky McKee (writer and director of the 2002 horror film “May”) all do their best with limited budgets. Director Darren Lynn Bousman creates an enjoyable story of a trick-or-treater who inadvertently plays a trick on the devil.

These stories are short on depth, plot and dialogue. They are long on the kind of revenge fantasies that appeal to adolescent boys. Parents who steal their kids’ Halloween candy late at night, mean baby sitters and neighborhood bullies all meet terrible fates (usually involving buckets of blood). Many of the tales are more “icky” or “gross” than serious horror stories. Some moments turn out to be more laughable than frightening. But there is a kind of cheerful innocence and simplicity to these stories that will endear them to their target audience. It will not help the film’s marketers that most of that audience will be to young to see a film that is rated R for “strong bloody horror violence throughout, language and brief drug use.”

In a 92 minute movie, there is not much time to develop each individual story. This film is not destined to become a Halloween classic but the eclectic combination of directors, actors and costume designers manages to produce some interesting moments. Some segments stand out for their low budget creativity or for unusual twists and turns. The attitude of the film is displayed in the closing credit, “No animals were harmed in the making of this film, but we sure did kill a lot of pumpkins.”

Parents should know that this is a very scary film with many disturbing images and a lot of violence, as well as drinking, drugs, and very strong language.

Family discussion: Which episode do you think was the scariest? Which villain was the most convincing? Is it important in horror to believe the victims deserved their fates?

If you like this, try: “Dead of Night”

NOTE: I am proud to disclose my conflict of interest — my daughter, Rachel Apatoff, designed the costumes for one of the segments, “The Weak and the Wicked,” clearly the highlight of the film!

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