Director: Michael Dougherty
The Anthology horror film has been around for a while. Amongst them you can include Tales from the Crypt (1972) Vault of Horror (1973) The Illustrated Man (1969) and more recently Creepshow (1982) Tales from the Darkside: The Movie(1990) and Twilight Zone: The Movie(1983). I love these movies because they offer us short fast paced stories that aim to shock and get to the point quick, sometimes, that’s all we need. A quick horror jolt to the system! Same kind of thrill I get from watching old episodes of HBO’s Tales from the Crypt. Its that instant thrill and gratification of reading a short story that gets to the point quick.
The latest film to join the ranks of the horror anthology film is Trick R' Treat. A film that had a rocky production phase, where Warner Bros. suddenly pulled the film from its 2007 schedule, they pushed it back to 2008 and was finally released straight to DVD on October 2009 two years after it was produced. Why? Well, there’s various reasons swimming around. One, that they didn’t want the film to go up against Saw IV (yup, this movie has been made for that long!) which was also to be released in October 2007. Some also think that Michael Dougherty (the films director) was responsible in part for writing Superman Returns, and since that Superman flick was such a flop, the studio retaliated by pulling Trick 'R Treat from its theatrical release. As of form of saying "thats what you get for writing such a crappy Superman flick!". To top things off, the film was produced by Legendary Pictures, Brian Syngers production company. If I remember correctly, expectation was high for that Superman flick, and more then one fanboy was disappointed by it, including myself. I enjoyed it, but lets face it, it could have been better. More then 300 million were spent in what was a very unimpressive flick. For that amount of money I was expecting Superman to go up against almighty God himself!
I guess that’s how Hollywood plays the game. You make them loose a couple of million dollars and they put you on the black list. So anyhows, is Trick R’ Treat any good? Should Warner Bros. have let Trick R’ Treat have its theatrical run? Well, word on the net is that this is the best Halloween movie ever, that its great, that it deserves a place among the best Halloween themed movies out there. I myself saw the previews for this movie and thought it looked cool as hell, and wondered why the heck it had not been released yet. Well, low and behold, Warner Bros. finally decided to let this one out into the world. How was it?
The film has four stories that all happen on Halloween night. It’s a bit different to some anthology movies where usually we get a “wrap around” story that joins all the stories together. Here, the film plays out more like Pulp Fiction or Amores Perros where what holds the different stories together is one common theme, in this case, its that everything happens on Halloween night. Sometimes, you’ll see one character that died on one story, on the other one, same as in Pulp Fiction, where you would see Vincent Vega when he had already died in some other part of the movie. Same deal here.
My problem with the movie was that it was uneven in tone. At times it plays like a child like fairy tale. One of the stories “The Halloween School Bus Massacre Revisited” is about these four kids who want to play a prank on a nerdy girl, so they take her to this place where these kids died and try and scare her. Its that type of tale that’s spooky but not too scary, which kind of leads you to believe that this is the kind of story that wont go too far. It’ll try and be spooky, but not too out there. But then they have a story about a girl who's apparently trying to have sex for the first time. Its called “Surprise Party” turns out the story ends up having girls getting naked and dancing in the fire and suddenly the story goes into R rated territory. So I’m like, is this film directed to kids, or adults? Or what? But ultimately, this uneven tone didn't really matter to me because the whole film is just spooky, atmospheric, gory, bloody, Halloween fun.
Fred Dekker's Monster Squad suffered a similar problem years ago when it was first released in 1987. Actually, this ambiguity in tone is what killed Monster Squad in theaters. People didn’t know if the film was aimed as a fun harmless horror movie for kids, or if it’s a hardcore horror film for adults. As a result, the film tanked at the box office. Same thing happened with this movie in my opinion, it had an uneven tone. Sometimes it plays like a Halloween movie for kids…suddenly its hot chicks with their tits coming out of their dresses apparently searching for guys to have sex with.
But okay, it’s uneven in tone. What else can I say about it? I liked that the film really exploits the fact that it’s a Halloween movie and fills every square inch of the screen with Halloween ornaments, Pumpkins, dried leafs, the wind blowing, trick or treaters, candy, you know the whole Halloween shebang. You kind of feel like your living in The Nightmare Before Christmas’s Halloween Town. So kudos to the filmmakers for really capturing the spirit of the holiday, it seems that Michael Dougherty, the films director, really loves Halloween.
As in any good anthology film, they save the best for last. On the last tale we get to meet Sam, that little guy on the poster. The origins of 'Sam' are interesting, back when Michael Dougherty was just a student filmmaker, he directed a short animated film called “Seasons Greetings”. You can watch it cause it’s the only extra that this dvd includes; and it’s the coolest little animated feature. It just oozes atmosphere. And it presents us with this little character that feels like it came right out of Tim Burton's imagination. Or something you'd see in that movie 9. So anyhow, he has a burlap bag over his head, has the height of a little kid. And kills people. Why. Who is he? Who the hell knows! But apparently, he doesn’t want you saying bad things about Halloween, or not liking Halloween cause then you are going to get it. Who is this little creature? That remains a mystery, but he will kill you if you don’t like Halloween!
Brian Cox plays a old hermit who is the Halloween equivalent of Mr. Scrooge. Ah Humbug! Halloween is meaningless! And so he gets a lesson from the little creature known as Sam. I thought that idea was cool, to have Halloween version of Mr. Scrooge and its by far the most original thing this movie has going for it, I hope Sam gets explored a little more if they ever make a sequel. This film is drenched in Halloween coolness, I’m sure it’s what’s going to help it live through the years as the perfect film to watch on Halloween night.
Rating: 4 out of 5