Today’s the day, the day of costumes, tricks or treat, and scary movies to watch. It also means that our Halloween movie madness special week is almost at an end. What better way to say goodbye than to say hello to Tales of Halloween, an anthology of horror, done by many known film directors and with guest star appearances.
Tales of Halloween
(USA 2015, directors: Darren Lynn Bousman/Axelle Carolyn/Adam Gierasch/Andrew Kasch/Neil Marshall/Lucky McKee/Mike Mendez/Dave Parker/Ryan Schifrin/John Skipp/Paul Solet)
Ten tales of an American suburb during Halloween are woven together by a radio voice: Sweet Tooth, The Night Billy Raised Hell, Trick, The Weak and the Wicked, Grimm Grinning Ghost, Ding Dong, This Means War, Friday the 31st, The Ransom of Rusty Rex, Bad Seed.
With a rather short runtime of just about 100 minutes and 10 stories, it would be pointless to delve into each story, so writing about their general mood, themes and how they’re connected should suffice. Unfortunately, this is already the biggest problem of this anthology. Whereas a movie like Trick ‘r Treat has far fewer stories and takes its time to introduce the characters who also show up in the others, the pacing is much faster here, with only some very short but ultimately rather unimportant appearances. Of course one also doesn’t get much character or plot development with runtimes of 10-15 minutes, but this isn’t such a bad thing.
These problems aside, what the anthology does very well is to present different kinds of stories, but with very violent content that is only partly toned down by a dark sense of humor. Without spoiling any story, it’s safe to say that there’s always some kind of monster, either human or supernatural, putting the lives and mental states of characters into jeopardy. Of course this isn’t anything new. But the way everything’s connected to Halloween themes is quite impressive, considering that so many movies (like Mischief Night or All Hallows’ Eve) only use this time of the year to tell stories which could have happened any other day.
What most of the stories also have in common is the use of clichés or certain preconceptions about traditions or suburban legends and twisting them around, as in Sweet Tooth. The most obvious one is Friday the 31st which is of course a parody of the Friday the 13th series. At times the movie also criticizes the craze about Halloween, its decorations (as in This Means War) or trick or treating in general (as in Trick).
Violence is always a topic in horror movies, so is it used in a gratuitous way here as well? It’s certainly done in both a shocking but also fun way, depending on the individual stories. A bit of splatter and gore here, a bit of realistic violence there (no comment on the German 16+ age certification decision, just head shaking disbelief), the audience is put through the motions. And this is maybe the best thing about this anthology. Despite only being connected by a radio voice and taking place in one small town, the stories are different enough to stand apart, but also complement each other.
When the credits roll, one hasn’t been bored in the slightest, but scared (there are really creepy, atmospheric moments), disgusted, and also amused. Something only the best of stories can achieve. The surprise endings and general ideas might not be the most memorable or original, and the movie doesn’t really redefine the anthology horror genre, like The ABCs of Death or Chillerama did. But when all is said and done, this is the perfect way to end or begin a Halloween movie day/evening/night marathon.
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