One of my most anticipated films at Fantasia this year was the anthology Tales of Halloween.
Bear witness to ten devilish tales that take place in the same sleepy suburban town on All Hallow's Eve.
I thought Tales of Halloween was a really strong anthology. The brainchild of Belgian writer/producer/director Axelle Carolyn, this little project turned out rather well. The list of directors is as long as my arm, but includes such genre vets as Neil Marshall, Darren Lynn Bousman and Mike Mendez, who contributed my favourite effort, Friday the 31st.
As horror fans know, anthologies can be a very tricky affair, but I feel they hit the sweet spot with the ten-minute episode lengths. When dealing with your four or five part anthologies, if one part is a dud, it brings the project down as a whole, while absorbing too many, like with The ABC's of Death movies, can just be exhausting. Ten shorts, with a through-line narration provided by the inimitable Adrienne Barbeau (in a role recalling that of her turn in John Carpenter's The Fog), is a fine amount of time to properly tell a story and also not too much of an investment if it doesn't work.
Fortunately for Tales of Halloween, I thought there was only one weak link in the entire thing (Lucky McKee's entry continues to distance himself further and further away from his wonderful 2002 effort May). You can tell that everyone involved had a blast making this and the feeling is infectious. While it is true the majority of the shorts went for whimsy over scares, there are a lot of really great ideas on display here. I have to preface this statement by saying I haven't given Michael Dougherty's 2007 flick Trick r Treat a rewatch since its release, but Carolyn and company's venture maybe even superior. Tales doesn't have the recognizable figurehead of Sam behind it, but with double the amount of stories, it offers more memorable moments. And we didn't have to wait two years to see it!
Further evidence of this being a community effort is just how many familiar faces are in this movie. I think that Tales could actually be referred to as cameo porn. In addition to the participating directors being in each other shorts, there are also appearances by the likes of John Landis, Joe Dante, Mick Garris, Stuart Gordon, Adam Green, James Wan and even iconic artist Drew Struzan in a laugh-out-loud moment. However, the list of rare gets wasn't limited to in front of the camera, as the filmmakers were able to pull Oscar winning composer Lalo Schifrin out of retirement to create material for them.
Tales of Halloween is the perfect balance of fan service and spirited short film storytelling. It is a love letter to every genre enthusiast's favourite time of year and totally the kind of thing I can see myself throwing on during my All Hallow's Eve celebrations.
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