Now Streaming: TALES OF HALLOWEEN, Good Scary Stories, Well Told
Horror anthologies have made a pretty healthy comeback in the last few years; some are ok, some are regrettable, and some have awesome production values as well as good stories, such as Tales Of Halloween.
Created by director Axelle Carolyn, Tales features 11 directors helming 10 tales of bad behavior, wickedness, madness, and spooky fun, with an animated opening sequence by Ashley Thorpe. Made under the umbrella collective of "The October Society," this film showcases the talents of horror directors Carolyn, Neil Marshall, Darren Lynn Bousman, John Skipp, Andrew Kasch, Lucky McKee, Adam Gierasch, Dave Parker, Mike Mendez, Ryan Schifrin, and Paul Solet. Adrienne Barbeau pretty much reprises her The Fog DJ character in a sense, her smooth voice rolling out over invisible airwaves as the stories unfold.
Overall, the segments aim for bloody good, mostly laugh-out-loud fun, with the exceptions of Gierasch's well-made "Tricks," a grim child revenge tale, and the absurd "Ding Dong" McKee segment, featuring an abusive, bi-polar-ish witch who desperately wants a child, featuring Pollyanna Mcintosh and Marc Senter.
Mendez had audiences howling as a Friday The 13th-like killer battled his victim, who becomes possessed by a cute but tough trick-or-treating alien in "Friday The 31st." In "Sweet Tooth," Parker invents a brand-new urban legend who gets hangry-murderous if you don't sacrifice at least one candy bar every Halloween, and Solet's "The Weak And The Wicked," with Noah Segan, Grace Phipps, and Booboo Stewart, explores severe inner-city bullying and an eventual supernatural comeuppance.
Schifrin explores the ensuing terror and hilarity of kidnapping John Landis' son (the late, terrific Ben Woolf) in "The Ransom of Rusty Rex" while Bousman shows the disastrous effects of crossing Barry Bostwick in the hilarious Samhain pranker "The Night Billy Raised Hell." Carolyn's atmospheric, suburban campfire story "Grim Grinning Ghost" features an especially well-executed jump scare, as well as horror titans Stuart Gordon, Mick Garris, Alex Essoe, Lisa Marie, Lin Shaye, and Barbara Crampton.
Marshall's "Bad Seed" is a kitschy story not often (or never?) told by the virtuoso horror director, featuring Kristina Klebe facing down a killer pumpkin, with lots of cameos sprinkled in, with Joe Dante the most notable of all as an almost-mad scientist. Skipp and Kasch pit Halloween-decorating neighbors of different generations against each other in The 'Burbs-like "This Means War," starring James Duval and Elissa Dowling.
Tales is a hellmouth full of talent sure to become a classic played each Halloween by the horror faithful, paired with a gratuitous amount of candy corn and chocolate. I haven't seen a film this devoted to the annual October holiday since Trick R' Treat, and the spooky, sticky sweet candy nostalgia is quite welcome. Here's hoping that we'll be treated to a sequel or three.
Review originally published during Fantasia in July 2015. The film is now streaming on Shudder.