The Horror Show

Facebook Twitter Google

Halloween Tales
by Geno McGahee

Halloween is upon us, dear friends! All Hallows' Eve, The Hour of the Jack-o-Lantern, The Days of Wine and Roses. No wait, that last one is something else, but I'm talking about the time of year we horror fans have claimed as our own. And what better non-goat sacrificing way to celebrate than with some horror flicks? While you're at it, why not up the fun factor with some anthology films? Don't even bother answering because you have zero excuse for rejecting either suggestion. Anthologies have always been a favorite of mine and this is especially true when it comes to this time of year. October is the name of the game and the name of the latest movie I watched to celebrate said game is Halloween Tales. Did it tickle the part of me that responds so strongly to the multiple-tale format that is the anthology film? Well, let's explore further and find out.

Halloween Tales begins fairly simply with an opening shot of a moving train. The concept is simple and so we get right into things and are faced with an angry man named Douglas (Chris Geoffrion) who is fuming about his train being delayed. He meets up with the other hapless passengers. They consist of Mike (Julian Lowenthal), a friendly young man who's eager to talk, Lacy (Xoe Rose), a young woman committed to doing her own thing as well as Janice (Leeann Aubuchon) a woman on her way to a blind date. The passengers soon discover that thanks to an accident, they aren't going anywhere until the morning. The group decides to pass the time by telling each other about recent nightmares they've had. It seems they've all had unsettling dreams almost immediately before their trip began and it's left them all respectively shaken.

The first tale is Janice's. She accounts the nightmare she recently had to the rest which centers around the blind date itself. I won't go too much into any of the stories to ruin the major reveals. I will, however, say that at first the guy Janice is meeting up with in her dream seems perfectly pleasant. But will things stay that way?

The frame story comes into play in classic fashion. It springs up after each story and caps things at the start and finish. Each passenger tells their story and they vary in subject matter. Lacy's dream also deals with a sinister meeting with a man, but it's quite a different scenario. Mike recounts a nightmare involving a house-sitting gig that just may have some unforeseen aspects involving a famous hairy cryptid. Bitter Douglas's story deals with his frustration in finding work after losing his longtime job.

I just want to graze the surface when it comes to explaining the ins and outs as anthology films are fun, in part, because the viewer gets to figure out where each story is headed. I will say that the stories contain masked killers, the supernatural, experimentation, secret societies, plus a few twists and turns along with way. In the end it all ties together and while it wasn't original territory, it worked just fine.

Now comes the big question. Did I like the film? The short answer is yes. I thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout the viewing and was never bored for a second. The thing is, there's different reasons to find a film enjoyable. I need to point this out because while I will ultimately recommend Halloween Tales, it's for different reasoning than if I were to recommend, Creepshow, Tales From the Crypt, All Hallows' Eve or most of the V/H/S films. Along with plenty of other examples too numerous to list, I recommend those films because they're effective and well-made. When all is said and done I do consider myself a fan of Halloween Tales but a large part of my enjoyment hearkens back to my love of cheesy flicks.

There's almost a “comfort food” aspect to cornier B-movie films for me. Will I say Halloween Tales holds the same weight as the more authentically successful anthologies? No. A lot of what I love about it is the hammy acting, clichéd dialogue, and less-than-adequate effects. However, it wasn't that the film was in “so bad it's good” territory. There's something purposely charming about it in an odd way. I'm in no way being sarcastic or cryptically criticizing anything. I genuinely enjoyed this film quite a bit. However, my enjoyment wasn't because the movie was as fluidly engaging as a straight-up amazing piece of filmmaking like Trick 'r Treat, nor because it was so hilariously bad such as a film like Birdemic.

Halloween Tales is a fun project that keeps itself simple and while it's not topping the list of my highly recommended anthologies, I'm really glad I watched it. The only cardinal sin for me when it comes to movies is being boring. I've seen plenty of forgettable films, even within such a fun sub-genre as this one. But while Halloween Tales isn't one of the best, it certainly isn't a film I'd call easily forgotten. There's no blood or gore, limited production value and cornball dialogue, but I had a great time with it and that's what's important.

P.J. Griffin, HMS

The Horror Show Menu.