Tales of Halloween (2015): Anthology Fun (Review)

Still from Tales of Halloween The Weak and the Wicked

Netflix celebrates Halloween rather belatedly by adding Tales of Halloween to the roster a whole year and two months late. Instead of offering up this brilliant bit of anthology fun and games back in October 2016 they popped it on when they felt like it.

It is a shame that the film did not get aired on the day, or to be more accurate the night, of traditional trick or treat antics. The movie has a impressive roster of directors, actors and producers who have made more than their fair share of horror films.

Names like Neil Marshall (Doomsday, Dog Soldiers), Mike Mendez (Big Ass Spider!, Lavalantula) and Adam Gierasch (Autopsy, Night of the Demons) directed a number of well known names in the genre for this film. There were a total of  11 directors for the 1o segments, and 10 writers all whom directed a segment with the exception of Clint Sears.

The actor’s ranks were filled by notable performers like Adrienne Barbeau who worked as emcee and tied the segments together, a’la her DJ role in John Carpenter’s The Fog. Other actor’s who frequent the halls of horror included Lin ShayeKristina Klebe and  Pat Healy.

There were splendid cameos by John SavageJoe DanteJohn LandisFelissa Rose and the late Ben Woolf (American Horror Story, Insidious) who worked in two segments. In fact, Tales of Halloween has so many familiar faces in it that one needs to watch it twice to catch them all. 

The anthology segments ranged from the sublime to the sick. Each segment had something to offer the horror and film fan. The Weak and the Wicked (directed by Paul Solet and featuring the excellent Noah Seganfor instance had a spaghetti western approach. From the stance of the players at the segment’s climax to the faint harmonica Morricone-esque music, it felt a bit like a Leone tribute with a Dario Argento flair.

Mike Mendez took on the Friday the 13th mantle for his offering “Friday the 31st.” He was clearly poking fun at the slasher sub-genre and it included a nudge and a wink to science fiction “alien” films.

Neil Marshall also headed into homage territory with his “Bad Seed” segment, clearly spoofing the 1982 horror film “Halloween III: Season of the Witch.” There were also a few more nods to other films in his offering.

Marshall’s segment also had more familiar faces than any other segment. Kristina Klebe playing a tough as nails homicide detective, John Savage as her boss and Pat Healy as Forensic Bob. It also had the brilliant director Joe Dante in the final moments of the segment.

The opening story;  Dave Parker‘s “Sweet Tooth,” was clever and fun. Gierasch’s “Trick” was almost horror perfection and included a twist that would have made O. Henry jealous.

“The Ransom of Rusty Rex” is the funniest by far (directed by Ryan Schifrin with John Landis and Ben Woolf as “Rusty Rex.”) and Darren Lynn Bousman‘s “The Night Billy Raised Hell,” starring Barry Bostwick (from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, yes that Barry Bostwick) was easily the most slyly presented segment.

“The Grim Grinning Ghost” was the biggest “tease” and featured two women who are near legends in the field; Lin Shaye and Barbara Crampton.  “This is War” (directed by Andrew Kasch and John Skipp) really felt like a tip of the hat to Rob Zombie.

There were instances where the anthology had segments which “crossed over” and featured players from the other stories.  Fans of anthology films, which have gone through a bit of a resurgence with the two ABC’s of Death films, the VHS franchise and most recently “Holidays“, will enjoy this latest offering on Netflix.

Stop by and check this one out, it is well worth the trip and good enough for repeated viewings.

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