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Directors: Darren Lynn Bousman, Neil Marshall & others
Starring: Adrienne Barbeau, Joe Dante & John Landis
Synopsis: Watch in terror as ghosts, ghouls, monsters, aliens, axe murderers and the devil himslef delight in terrorising the unsuspecting residents of one American suburban neighbourhood across one heart-stopping Halloween night.
Rating: 18 Duration: 93 minutes Release date: 24 October (UK)

The horror anthology has been making something of a comeback in recent years. The likes of Trick ‘r Teat, V/H/S and Southbound have all showcased how effective the anthology can be and have given new and old directors the chance to show what they can do in a limited time-span.

Tales of Halloween’s stories are all interconnected with each of its 10 segments occurring within the same American town. Adrienne Barbeau effectively reprises her role from The Fog as a radio DJ commentating over events as this little American town is besieged by ever more strange and terrifying events.

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Setting the tone for a horror anthology can be awkward, especially as there are so many different talents attempting to set their own tone for each segment. While recent efforts, such as V/H/S and Southbound have successfully kept a dark feel to events, Tales of Halloween strikes a more comedic feel, with only a few going for a truly spooky feel.

On the surface Tales of Halloween may seem like a who’s who of horror talent, with the likes of Joe Dante, Adrienne Barbeau, John Landis and Darren Lynn Bousman all appearing or directing at some point it could seem the case, but Tales is lovingly done and is more than just an excuse to get some of the best names in horror into one film.

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Sweet Tooth kicks off proceedings and sets the tone with its dark humour and nods to the people who helped shape the genre. Urban legends are always fun for directors and audiences to play with and Dave Parker introduces a new menace here with the candy craving Sweet Tooth as two babysitters quickly learn that some legends are worth respecting.

The Night Billy Raised Hell continues the playful feel, but adds its own touch of darkness and despite some misplaced sound effects, is very well done. Young Billy is coerced into playing a prank on the old man at the end of the street, only to find out the old man is the Devil himself. It’s a dark and effective set-up with a nice twist at the end.

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Trick is by far the darkest segment here as a group of children attack an adult house party for seemingly no reason. What’s creepy about Trick is seeing these emotionless children stab and maim a group of adults who are enjoying a few drinks on All Hallows Eve. The brutality of their attack is what sticks here, and like the previous segment, Trick also has a smart twist waiting.

The Weak and the Wicked has some startling imagery as, again, a group of children set fire to a mobile home with its victims burning alive inside. The victims son watches on from outside and, quite obviously, never forgets these events. So much so, that years on he summons a demon from the very depths of Hell to exact his revenge on the three people who killed his parents. While visually wonderful, the flow of The Weak and the Wicked isn’t quite as smooth as the other segments so far and feels weaker for it.

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Grim Grinning Ghost is the spookiest tale here as a young woman leaves a Halloween party and endures the worst luck of any character so far. Another urban legend is the basis of the story and after leaving her friends party, our young heroine finds herself stalked by a ghostly spirit eager to catch up with our victim. Well shot and atmospherically spot-on, this segment chills the viewer and has an ending that surprises and scares in equal measure.

Ding Dong begins a descent into silliness as a married couple struggle with the fact that they cannot bear a child together. Ding Dong deals with a few issues here, not least the threat of which is domestic violence. Despite that very serious subject, Ding Dong is content to travel to ever more ridiculous levels as we find out the lady of the house is a multi armed witch with a serious Hansel & Gretel complex. It’s a mismatched segment that takes the edge off of proceedings.

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This Means War again delves into laughable territory as two neighbours go to war over who has the best holiday decorations. The message may be that it doesn’t matter whether you’re old or new school fans of Halloween and that it’s just a holiday to be enjoyed, but this is a story that should have been avoided.

Friday the 31st is an obvious play on the Friday the 13th series as a deformed serial killer chases a pretty young woman through some dark woods. Where this goes seriously loopy is when our killer is attacked by a Martian who was otherwise content to go trick or treating. This concept is stretched to its limits and and feels like a step too far for the audience.

The Ransom of Rusty Rex brings things back in to line as a pair of criminals move into kidnapping only to discover they have bitten off a lot more than they can chew. The child they kidnap is no child at all and is actually a demonic creature that attaches itself to whoever is unlucky enough to come in contact with it. It’s a fast paced section that has an excellent cameo and manages to be both creepy and funny in equal measure.

Bad Seed, directed by Neil Marshall, is the final story in the anthology and is arguably the most endearing story. With a man-eating pumpkin on the loose, it is up to a local detective to find the tentacled killer. Bad Seed moves fast and features some of the more likeable characters featured here and despite a hokey set-up, is actually really well done and leaves you wanting more.

Horror anthologies can be a mixed bag, and their quality changes so much they can find it hard to keep viewers intrigued, but Tales of Halloween manages to get the mix, just about, right. With its blend of comedy and gore along with a few genuine shocks you could do a lot worse than to pick this up for Halloween.

Extras:

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  • Deleted scene
  • Behind the scenes
  • Anatomy of a scene
  • Fun facts-pop on video commentary on selected segments
  • Photo gallery
  • Storyboards

Film: 3/5
Extras: 2/5

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