On the whole, I’d say the last…oh, 20 years or so of horror have left me feeling pretty cold.
But, I had to give this a go, right?
While I certainly didn’t love The ABC’s of Halloween…I mean Tales of Halloween, it has a few things going for it to where I can toss it a treat.
1.) It presents its tales story by story, eschewing the modern convention of interweaving its parts into a big soupy jumble that doesn’t let you just be done with a dumb segment and move on.
2.) With its 10 different stories clocking it at just over and hour and a half, you get a median length of 9 minutes per tale. That’s a good window. It means the lamer segments (and there’s enough) don’t hang around too long. That’s nice.
3.) It’s Halloweeny as all get out. It’s an All Hallows’ overload with moments large and small colored in all manner of decorations, lights and ambiance. It’s a good visual treat for any October evening.
That being said, I doubt I’ll ever sit down and watch Tales of Halloween again. The few bits I did enjoy didn’t bring me so much enjoyment I’ll revisit this as a whole.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t watch it or you won’t enjoy it. I’m kind of a prick I imagine and I’m probably hard to please. An anthology to me should be more enjoyment than not, and this one starts out sort of promising, dips hard and then somewhat rights itself again by the end. It never reaches a point where I’m fully on board, though.
The only segment I found myself really enjoying was “The Bad Seed” and honestly, that felt a little rushed. I think more time spent here instead of other places in the movie could have done this tale a fair bit of good. It was still the best of the bunch for me.
“The Night Billy Raised Hell” has a fun Tales from The Darkside vibe, but it’s basically a more sinister Satan’s Little Helper that is at times too goofy for its own good. But it totally features an awesome guest spot from Barry Bostwick (Megaforce!).
“Sweet Tooth” has a neat Halloween legend to it and is serviceable.
Falling into a similar category is “The Ransom of Rusty Rex.” It’s sort of fun.
Pretty much everything else here left me either bored or wanting. I enjoyed Pollyanna McIntosh in “Ding-Dong” but I hated literally everything else about it. Likewise for Alex Essoe in the boring and predictable (but cameo studded) “Grim Grinning Ghost.”
I was enjoying “October the 31st” until it went all Evil Dead, but there’s some fun gore there to help it along.
“Trick” was too Trick ‘R Treat-lite for me, with none of that segment’s vintage spookiness, build-up or charm.
“The Weak and the Wicked” felt posturing and irritating and “This Means War” totally squandered a great premise.
Adrienne Barbeau’s Stevie Wayne-styled audio-wraparound is a nice touch. There’s also more cameos here per-capita than maybe any horror movie ever. Some are very fleeting and for only the most eagled-eyed viewers among you. Seriously, did I catch Grady from Freddy’s Revenge in there? Any movie that throws a fucking bone to a Tommy Hook has got to get a little credit.
Ultimately, I think this makes for a good Halloween watch though, for just how much of the season it imbues. There’s few movies out there that have this much Halloween shoved up their pumpkin. I can’t say I really liked Tales of Halloween, but it’s got spirit to spare and definitely amped me up for the big day.
I’d give it a couple fistfuls of candy and a Neal Kennemore mask just for knocking.