Tales of Halloween is an anthology of 10 films that all take place in a small American town where the townsfolk are terrorized by ghosts, ghouls, aliens, and killers on Halloween night. Inevitable comparisons to Creepshow and the more recent Trick 'r Treat are justified and expected, but Tales of Halloween does more than enough to stand on its own in the anthology sub-genre.
Tales of Halloween is a love letter to Halloween itself and all the myths, superstitions, and lore that surround the fun and spooky holiday. There are 10 stories in the film that could only be expected to happen on Halloween and yet seem unexpected to the towns people they happen to. It takes itself seriously but leaves plenty of room for humor, mixing the scares and the laughs extremely well. There are plenty of practical effects on display that give the film that fun, lived in, old school horror feel. The makeup and lighting are also utilized to benefit the film and add to the creepy feel and atmosphere. One segment in particular had one character as a red witch who was shown in very effective red and black makeup with strobe light like movements and lighting that worked wonderfully and was truly terrifying.
There is some great talent walking around the streets of this doomed town throughout the 10 films in Tales of Halloween. We see Lin Shaye, Pat Healey, Tiffany Shepis, Barry Bostwick, Kristina Klebe, a blink-and-you'll-miss-her Felissa Rose, and a handful of others populating the stories. The one appearance that got me the most excited and felt like hearing a comforting blast from the past was Adrienne Barbeau as a disc jockey who worked as a narrator of sorts throughout the film to help tie the stories together. As soon as her voice came through the speakers to open the film in that smooth, inviting tone from “The Fog”, I had a big smile on my face and I was hooked! The actors didn't have a lot of time to flesh out characters or create many memorable moments due to the length of each short film, but I was impressed once again by Alex Essoe in her short time on screen, the first time being her commanding performance in Starry Eyes. She's incredibly talented and I eagerly await her future films and performances.
What makes Tales of Halloween work so well as a whole is a noticeable effort in the writing to provide original and fresh feeling stories. 'Sweet Tooth' offers a fantastic new Halloween legend, 'The Night Billy Raised Hell' provides the ultimate revenge trick on an unsuspecting young trick or treater, and 'Bad Seed' ends with a sinking feeling of lost hope. I could not begin to guess where a story was headed or how it would end once it began. The quick pace of the film was helped by the fact that every segment seemed to be about the same length. And while some stories weren't quite on par with others, there was no filler here and the film is solid throughout its run time. The stories were written with a Halloween loving audience in mind and the result is an anthology of films that are full of tricks but leave the viewer with one giant treat.
Tales of Halloween is available on video on demand and any fan of Halloween or horror should definitely give this film a watch, it's an all around great time!