Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Chills & Thrills: Tales of Halloween (2015)

Movie Name/Year: Tales of Halloween (2015)
Tagline: One night. One town. Ten chilling stories.
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Length: 97 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Epic Pictures Group, Film Entertainment Services
Producer: Jace Anderson, Michael Arter, Shaked Berenson, Charles Arthur Berg, Axelle Carolyn, Tada Chae, Patrick Ewald, Sarah Gyldenvand, Mike Mendez, Vanessa Menendez, Mike De Trana
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman, Axelle Carolyn, Adam Gierasch, Andrew Kasch, Neil Marshall, Lucky McKee, Mike Mendez, Dave Parker, Ryan Schifrin, John Skipp, Paul Solet
Writer: Axelle Carolyn, Dave Parker, Clint Sears, Greg Commons, Lucky McKee, Molly Millions, Billy Jackson, John Skipp, Andrew Kasch, Mike Mendez, Ryan Schifrin, Neil Marshall
Actors: Adrienne Barbeau, Hunter Smit, Cameron Easton, Caroline Williams, Robert Rusler, Clare Kramer, Greg Grunberg, Daniel DiMaggio, Austin Falk, Madison Iseman, Barry Bostwick, Marcus Eckert, Christophe Zajac-Denek, Ben Stillwell, Adrianne Curry, Adam Pascal, John F. Beach, Tiffany Shepis, Casey Ruggieri, Trent Haaga, Marnie McKendry, Rebekah McKendry, Alex Essoe, Bianca Rose Miller, Lin Shaye, Liesel Hanson, V Nixie, Barbara Crampton, Lisa Marie, Marc Senter, Pollyanna McIntosh, Lilly Von Woodenshoe, Ben Woolf, Mo Meinhart, Keir Gilchrist, Gracie Gillam, Dana Gould, James Duval, Jennifer Wenger, John Landis, Jose Pable Cantillo, Sam Witwer, Kristina Klebe, Pat Healy, Greg McLean, John Savage

Blurb from Netflix: Ten horror shorts set in one suburban town capture the insanity of Halloween, from trick-or-treating aliens to kidnappers in way over their heads.

Selina’s Point of View:
I didn’t love this one. It wasn’t BAD, but it was definitely a low note to end our October on.

We figured we’d end out our Chills and Thrills month with something undeniably about Halloween, so I was looking forward to seeing Tales of Halloween. I just found myself not getting into it.

There was something very juvenile about all ten of the stories shown throughout this anthology film. Not in a way that I think kids should be watching it, either – there’s a LOT of gore. None of the stories felt all that well thought out or deep. The ‘scares’ were like bootleg Goosebumps (1995-1998) scares.

It had a campy edge and some familiar faces, though. There are also a couple of segments that were definitely better than most

If you’re looking for something just to play in the background of a party or something, this works.

That said, if you’re looking to truly be terrified – look somewhere else. Tales of Halloween won’t meet that need.

Cat’s Point of View:
On the surface this seems like a loosely framed horror anthology. It doesn’t stop there, though. If you peel back the layers a bit, there’s a whole web of connections in this love letter to the horror genre.

Are these horror shorts the best instances of horror cinema I’ve ever seen? No – but that doesn’t matter as much. The total film project was enjoyable as a whole. It’s the sum of the parts, as it were.

Let’s just look at the elements that set this anthology apart for me.

All of these stories are tied together with the silken voice of a radio DJ and the commonality of the same suburban neighborhood on Halloween night. Characters weave in and out of the various tales to illustrate just how connected these killer scenarios are. Some of the appearances are quick! Watch out that you don’t miss them. One thing you can’t miss, though, is the voice of that DJ. She might sound familiar to horror fans. That would be because none other than Adrienne Barbeau (Argo, Sons of Anarchy, Death House) gave her voice to the trick or treat airwaves. She played the radio DJ in The Fog (1980). It was one of the very first horror movies I ever saw, and it left a lasting impression.

This is going to be a recurring thing. I wasn’t kidding when I said this feature was a love letter. There’s homage to so many horror classics sprinkled liberally throughout. Not only that, but there are nods to more modern offerings to the genre as well.

I was a little giddy when I realized none other than Brad Majors, himself, played Mr. Abbadon in The Night Billy Raised Hell segment. If you just asked ‘who?’ – shame on you. Someone needs to draw a lipstick ‘V’ on your forehead. I’m talking about Barry Bostwick (Cougar Town, November Rule, Hellen Heller vs. Nightwolves). He’s been in quite a few things in recent times but will be forever immortalized in the Halloween staple, Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975).

Modern horror staple, Lin Shaye (Big Ass Spider!, The Signal, The Black Room) is the hostess of the Halloween party in the Grim Grinning Ghostsegment. While she’s highly recognizable due to the extreme popularity of the Insidious (2010) franchise, her IMDb credits go all the way back to 1975 and include some titles from the 1980’s horror heyday. The Critters(1986) franchise is but one example.

I had a bit of a geek-out when I saw the Phantom-masked man at her party. Mick Garris (Masters of Horror, Fear Itself, Post Mortem with Mick Garris), with his luxurious long white locks, is the directorial mind (and sometimes writer) behind some of my favorite movies of all time. He’s currently a consulting producer and guest on AMC Visionaries: Eli Roth's History of Horror (2018), which I’m really enjoying. He just also happened to be the writer for Critters 2 (1988) – which is one of the only 3 movies I’ve ever walked out of. This one wasn’t voluntary, though. My mom hadn’t really seen what it was about when she agreed to take me. After the Easter Bunny scene, she pulled the plug. That aside, he’s also brought us Hocus Pocus (1993) and The Stand (1994), just to name a couple.

I can keep going… the cameos from the genre are numerous.

The man that is responsible for the brilliance that is Michael Jackson: Thriller (1983), and An American Werewolf in London (1981) has a small role, as well. John Landis (Parasomnia, Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader, Into the Dark) is even reportedly listed as the executive producer for the announced remake of the latter.

If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead (2010-), you might notice Jadis of the Heaps as one of the leads in the Ding Dong segment. Pollyanna McIntosh (Land of the Lost, Filth, Let Us Prey) looks like she really had fun with that part.

I’d have to say that the production team casted the perfect ‘modern horror’ neighbor in the This Means War segment. James Duval (American Idiots, Hercules Reborn, It Watches) plays one of my favorite characters from SLC Punk! (1998) & Punk's Dead: SLC Punk 2 (2016). His persona in this film isn’t all that far from his character John the Mod, either. (Especially when you take into consideration the death metal element in the sequel.)

Okay, okay. I could run down this rabbit trail all night. I’ve only begun to scratch the surface in listing recognizable faces; and I won’t even go into the references. Spoilers! Though, if you watch this movie and don’t think you caught all of them; you can find some listed in IMDb’s trivia section for this listing.

I’d have to say that the primary theme of the anthology is old vs. new horror. We have the people and references to classic horror – but then there’s also recognizable people from more modern fare. (There’s even some apparent direct ties to a SYFY network TV movie some of the cast share in common.) It goes further, though.

The theme of telling scary stories is one nod to the classical side of horror; whereas turning tropes on their head is a more modern take on things.

Some of the segments are more successful than others, but as a whole, this is an excellent choice for a few good laughs, and maybe even a jump scare or so on Halloween night. The good thing about the anthology framework is that you are more likely to get caught with a doorbell from trick-or-treaters in between segments!

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English, French, Portuguese, Polish, Arabic

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 76%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 41%
Metascore – 64/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.3/10
IMDB Score – 5.5/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5

Movie Trailer:

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