October 1, 2023.
A leaf falls.
The horrors have begun.
We’re serving up nine notorious tales over the course of the tenth month, ending with a triple-header of horrors on the big night, penned by the Pendragon. We’re starting today with JD DeLuzio’s review of Tales of Halloween.
Fangoria called this the best horror anthology since Trick R Treat…
…This statement makes me wonder how many horror anthology films actually saw release between 2007 and 2015.
Cast and Crew
Directors: Neil Marshall, Darren Lynn Bousman, Axelle Carolyn, Lucky McKee, Andrew Kasch, Paul Solet, John Skipp, Adam Gierasch, Jace Anderson, Mike Mendez, Ryan Schifrin, and Dave Parker
Writers: Dave Parker, Clint Sears, Greg Commons, Molly Millions, Axelle Carolyn, Lucky McKee, Andrew Kasch, John Skipp, Mike Mendez, Ryan Schifrin, Neil Marshall,
Adrienne Barbeau as DJ/host
Barry Bostwick as Mr. Abbadon
Kristina Klebe as Detective McNally
Marcus Eckert as Billy
Christophe Zajac-Denek as Mordecai/Little Devil
Ben Stillwell as Todd
Natalis Castillo as Britney
Adrianne Curry as Herself
Hunter Smith as Sweet Tooth
Cameron Easton as Timothy Blake
Caroline Williams as Mrs. Blake
Robert Rusler as Mr. Blake
Clare Kramer as Lt. Brandt-Mathis
Greg Grunberg as Alex Mathis
Austin Falk as Kyle
Madison Iseman as Lizzy
Daniel DiMaggio as Mikey
John F. Beach as James
Tiffany Shepis as Maria
Casey Ruggieri as Catilyn
Trent Haaga as Nelson
Marnie McKendry as Princess
Rebekah McKendry as Mother
Keir Gilchrist/ Jack Dylan Grazer as Jimmy Henson
Grace Phipps as Alice
Booboo Stewart as Isaac
Noah Segan as Bart
Alex Essoe as Lynn/Victorian Woman
Lin Shaye as Lynn’s Mother/Pirate
Liesel Hanson as Mary Bailey
Barbara Crampton as Witch
Lisa Marie as Victorian Widow
Mick Garris as The Phantom of the Opera
Stuart Gordon as Sherlock Holmes
Marc Senter as Jack
Pollyanna McIntosh as Bobbie
Lily Von Woodenshoe as Gretel
Vanessa Menendez as Lone Child’s Mother
Lucas Armandaris as Lone Child
Daniel DiMaggio – Mikey
Dana Gould as Boris
James Duval as Dante
Elissa Dowling as Velma
Amanda Moyer as Dorothy
Jennifer Wenger as Possessed Dorothy
Nick Principe as Jason-like Killer
Ben Woolf as Rusty Rex
Jose Pablo Cantillo as Dutch
Sam Witwer as Hank
Pat Healy as Forensic Bob
Greg McLean as Ray Bishop
Cerina Vincent as Ellen Bishop
John Savage as Captain J.G. Zimmerman
Dana Renee Ashmore – Coroner #1
Dylan Struzan – Coroner #1
Joe Dante as Professor Milo Gottlei
John Landis as Jebediah Rex
Ten short stories, in the vein of the old horror comics, occur over one Halloween night.
Adrienne Barbeau, clearly the the most recognizable name who would work for them, provides sporadic narration as the town’s night DJ. While we hear her throughout, we only see her momentarily.
(Barry Bostwick also appears in the film, while Joe Dante and John Landis make cameo appearances).
The film serves up its strongest stories as we approach the conclusion. “This Means War” has (apart from the obvious and apt reference to Bugs Bunny) an amusing premise, as it pits a pair of Halloween-obsessed neighbours with very different horror preferences in a violent, cartoony war of yard decorations. Others might prefer the over-the-top, buckets-o-blood-filled, genre-bending parody, “Friday the 31st.” They’re both amusing,1 but neither does enough with their material.
“Bad Seed,” the final story, is the best of the lot.
The pretense that the various tales all occur in own city in one Halloween night evokes Trick ‘r’ Treat, but there’s nothing like that film’s interrelated nature and perfectly-toned evocation of its inspiration. The connections don’t really become apparent until the second half, and they’re mostly superficial. Worse, most are dumped into “Bad Seed”, requiring McNally’s supervisor to call her back to the station in the middle of a case to give her a pep talk. During this time, we hear about other cases happening around town. For this very small payoff, we have to endure a scene that makes no dramatic sense and derails the pacing of the anthology’s strongest story.
Originality: 1/6 The horror host is a late-night DJ. That’s a pretty cool idea, especially given the number of old-time Horror Hosts who started and/or continued to work as DJs. However, the stories themselves serve up nothing original.
Wolfman Jack might have been a better choice, but he was gone twenty years when Tales made its big-screen debut.
Production: 4/6 Production varies, but is generally adequate.
Story: 3/6 This anthology has too many stories—ten in less than two hours—for any of them to develop mood or characters. Most feel more like filler than thriller.
Emotional Response: 3/6
Overall: 3/6 Television has seen numerous impressive genre anthology series. We can find them in the twilight limits of the past and darkly mirrored in the present, and these tales often throw us for a loop. Movies horror anthologies, however, have been a decidedly weak lot. Stephen King’s Creepshow falls short of the master of horror’s usual standards. Dead of Night (1945) is the best of the black and white era, and I’ve made no secret of my love for Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r’ Treat (2007), one of the best Halloween movies ever made.
Tales of Halloween does nothing to bolster cinema’s uneven run with the genre.
In total, Tales of Halloween receives 22/42
- My comments here assume you’re okay with excessive but obviously fake violence played for laughs. “Friday the 31st” recalls more than a little Arthur’s encounter with the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Oct. 1: Tales of Halloween (2015)
Weekend of Oct. 7/8: Tomb of Ligeia (1964)
Weekend of Oct. 14/15: Hell Baby (2013)
Satan Wants You (2023)
Weekend of Oct. 21/22: Last Night in Soho (2021)
Weekend of Oct. 28/29: Vampire Hunter D (1985)
October 31: Renfield (2023)
Haunted House (2023)