Tales of Halloween
Under the Radar
Here we have another anthology feature just dripping in Halloween. The film is guided by a radio DJ as she goes through a significant amount of Horror stories for Halloween night. How many is significant? How about ten stories for an hour and a half long movie? The beautiful part of it - it doesn't feel like too much at all! As much as it might sound like the film is trying to cram too much into a short time, everything seems to flow surprisingly well, with some stories overlapping others. It works like 'Trick r' Treat' in that every story takes place in the same town, but it's presented something more like 'Creepshow'.
With those ten stories, there seems to be a little something here for everyone. Some of them have a good amount of dark humor to them, others are just straight up horrifying, and others are just okay. It ends up being an interesting balance. 'Sweet Tooth' and 'Grim Grinning Ghost' focus on urban legends while 'The Night Billy Raised Hell' and 'The Ransom of Rusty Rex' are more focused in comedy. 'Friday the 31st' is even a tribute to 'Friday the 13th', adding it's own dash of 'Evil Dead' gore, yet is probably one of the funniest shorts throughout the film. I could be here all day describing what each short is about, but I figure a Wiki page will save some space.
This year was my second viewing of this title, and I'm happy to say that I got more out of it the second time. I think when I first saw it, I wondered if things went a little overboard here. Watching it this year though, it just kinda struck me as doing it's job. There's some pretty gruesome body horror that goes on here from time to time, but I'd like to think that the creepy-factor of things outweighs that.
You're not gonna find a lot of recognizable faces here, save a few minor leaguers. Greg Grunberg might be the most easily recognized actor here. One might recall him from 'Heroes' as Matt Parkman, or more recently 'Star Wars Episode VII' as Snap Wexley. The only other face I recognized here was Madison Iseman, who can be found in the upcoming 'Jumanji 2'. Otherwise, it's a whole new group of actors and actresses, all of whom do a pretty good job with what they've got.
It's no 'Creepshow' OR 'Trick r' Treat', but it's definitely up there as far as good horror/Halloween anthology films go. I also have to give this one a bit of extra credit for it's opening credit sequence; a well done animation that one by one shows you the stories you're about to see, leaving just enough for you to wonder exactly what each story is gonna be about. I think that personally, I've found something new to watch on an annual basis.
I am actually SO happy that I decided to make this one a part of my Halloween Special. It had been about 13 years since I last watched it through, and I remember appreciating it back then as well. I might add that this is only my second time watching it. It's interesting that this never wrapped itself around my mind as a horror classic, but it totally is, in every sense of the word. On top of everything it has to offer, it's book-ended by a Halloween-themed narrative in which an angry father gives his kid a bit of hell about a "trashy" comic book he was reading called 'Creepshow'. He takes it, throws it in the trash, and it presents itself to the audience, thereby showing us what the kid was reading, and the probable reason his jerk father chucked it. This was 1982, so there was still a bit of that old fashioned parenting going around. A father tossing out a perfectly good horror comic wasn't exactly a surprise if you ever heard of it.
Once the film gets itself going, we are treated to five short tales of terror. 'Father's Day' consists of an angry zombie looking for his Father's Day cake. 'The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill' features Stephen King himself as a lone redneck who gets himself into a bad weed-growth situation. 'Something to Tide You Over' involves an interestingly cast revenge story. 'The Crate' features a really cheesy looking, blood-thirsty puppet, and speaks to those people who are overruled by their significant others. Last but not least, 'They're Creeping Up On You' is a bottle short about a bitter old dude with a bad roach problem. I could go into more detail on these, but I'd rather just give you enough to grab your attention. Some of the shorts are better than others, but they were all created by an interesting team up. While King did the writing for this, it was directed by the late, great George A. Romero. I mean, how is that NOT a horror dream team?
'The Crate' and 'The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verill' are both based on short stories that had already been written by Stephen King. Him starring as Jordy Verill adds a sort of passionate layer to that particular short as well. And may I say, King can really act his ass off when he's passionate about it. It's not an Oscar-worthy performance or anything, but it is off the wall and goofy. He creates a real character with it.
Other more famous actors show up here including Leslie Nielson, Ted Danson, Ed Harris, Hal Holbrook, and E.G. Marshall, giving way to a pretty flexible cast. On top of that, this movie (at least in some areas) serves as living proof that a lot of the practical effects of back then hold up BETTER than the CG of recent years. My favorite in particular is this guy who shows up just before the movie starts to take off. From there, it fades into animation, and a lot of the twists and turns that take place throughout the story do the same. It really does end up as though you're watching a comic book unfold before your eyes - BEFORE digital comics were a thing!
If you're looking to get into the Halloween mood with something that's creepy and dark, but not entirely scary and disturbing, this is a GREAT title for it! It's a bit cheesy for this day and age, but in it's case, the cheese is definitely part of the fun (as it is with most 80's horror). I would actually highly recommend this to anyone looking to throw a Halloween party as well. Have the music going, but leave this on your TV as a visual stimulant for the occasion. It's a lot of fun, and it's just the right tone for the season. Although this is my first time watching it in so long, I can honestly say that this will become a new Halloween viewing tradition for myself, right up there with 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!'