The vignette (anthology) style is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Relegated mostly to the horror-slasher satire genre, this mode of storytelling has given us such jewels as 2016’s Holidays (which is still on Netflix), Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat from 2007, The ABCs of Death—along with its sequel—as well as ones I’ve yet to see, such as XX.
Having finally come to Netflix, Tales of Halloween—like the above—did not disappoint.
The opening is very Burton-esque—even the music is reminiscent of Danny Elfman’s work on Beetlejuice. Each director brings to the table his or her own unique, visual style, which makes each short stand on its own, while also being set across the same town on the same night, retaining cohesion. Some shorts are jokey and on the lighter side, others are darker and more gritty. There are ties to each story in every one of the others, and it was fun to pick out each one and trace them back to where they were first noticed. It’s like a Halloween-ified Pulp Fiction, with its own cobbled order of events all happening within the span of a few hours.
Each of the shorts’ scores are reminiscent of other horror films; one, in particular, reminded me very much of John Carpenter’s classic slasher, Halloween. Other little nods to the horror-slasher genre, and sophisticated allusions to other movies in the genre, make this a fun watch for any fan of the classics. That said, all the tropes and conventions we’re used to seeing are subverted, sometimes even to comical effect. The gore is off the charts, but, like always, it’s more for the shock value than believability’s sake. Definitely not a kids’ movie, though…
This surprised me, but there’s atually quite a bit of production value in this movie. Practical effects are used more often than not—even some Burton-style clay-mation thrown in. It’s a campy movie, crudely-acted and over-the-top, but well-made and quirkily-polished. Tales is its own movie, and the directors knew who it was that would be watching. Fans of the genre, themselves, the filmmakers knew what would keep their audience riveted and went for it.
There are some celeb cameos, too, including Jack Dylan Grazer (It (2017)), Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Spy Hard), Lin Shaye (the Insidious franchise), Lisa Marie (Sleepy Hollow (1999), Ed Wood), and Keir Gilchrist (It Follows). Directors John Landis (The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London) and Joe Dante (Gremlins (1984), Small Soldiers) also make appearances, as well as Jose Pablo Cantillo (Crank, Chappie), John Savage (The Deer Hunter, The Godfather, Part III), and James Duval (Independence Day, Donnie Darko).
Clocking in at just over 90 minutes, Tales could serve as the first in a long evening of slasher flicks and fright-fests. What better to watch in-between handing out candy to the kiddies than this and, say, some of the oldie-but-goodies? I’m a sucker for Halloween movies, and this new-comer’s stolen my still-beating heart right out of my chest.
Final ‘Risk Assessment: ****/*. Far from being a perfect movie, Tales of Halloween is still a great way to get into the holiday spirit.
Happy Halloween, boys ‘n’ girls………