Release Date(s)2015 (September 13, 2016)
- Film/Program Grade: A-
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: A+
Tales of Halloween is one of the better horror anthologies to come along at a time when fans have been spoiled for choice. Made independently by the horror community for the horror community, it’s everything that’s great about the genre. Like most anthologies, the quality of each segment differs, offering up a tableau of stories with various tones, styles, and levels of performances. Of its ten stories, some are stronger than others, but the joy of watching them all in a row lies in the sheer variety.
Sweet Tooth by David Parker tells the story of a couple of babysitters who eat all of a kid’s candy, but their comeuppance is swift. The Night Billy Raised Hell by Darren Lynn Bousman tells of a young boy who eggs houses, but happens upon one with something evil inside. In Trick by Adam Gierasch, a group of adults are terrorized by trick-or-treaters, but for good reason. The Weak and the Wicked by Paul Solet tells of a young boy whose past will come to the fray against a gang of bullies. In Grim Grinning Ghost by Axelle Carolyn, a woman is followed home by an unseen force. In Ding Dong by Lucky McKee, a husband discovers that his wife has a murderous secret. In This Means War by John Skipp and Andrew Kasch, two men attempt to one-up each other with the best Halloween decorations, no matter the cost. In Friday the 31st by Mike Mendez, a serial killer runs into a mysterious trick-or-treater that’s out of this world. In The Ransom of Rust Rex by Ryan Schifrin, two kidnappers abduct a little boy from his wealthy father, unaware of what the boy actually is. And finally, in Bad Seed by Neil Marshall, a jack-o-lantern comes to life and runs on the loose, eating the humans it comes into contact with.
Tales of Halloween as a whole is unwilling to takes itself seriously, which is its strongest asset. The length of each segment makes it feel like a book of short stories, each giving you just what you need before moving on to the next. Besides being loaded with lots of fresh young actors, there’s an abundance of cameos by genre veterans. There’s also nods to many other movies. In spite of its modest budget, the effort put forth is definitely on the screen in Tales of Halloween.
This region-free Blu-ray features a presentation that’s strong without being absolutely perfect. Again, due to the chintzy nature of some of the visuals, it’s not going to look 100% pristine. That being said, there’s a high level of detail on display, whether it be costumes, close-ups, creatures, or carnage. The color palette is also lush with accurate skin tones, while black levels are thoroughly deep with a minimal amount of crush. Brightness and contrast levels are perfect, and there are no signs of digital tinkery. For the audio, three options are available: English 5.1 DTS-HD, as well as English 5.1, and 2.0 Dolby Digital. The DTS track is pretty much all you’re going to need, as its top notch. Dialogue reproduction is perfect, and both sound effects and score have plenty of depth and movement in the surrounding speakers. There’s loads of ambience and some great low end activity as well. Subtitles are available in English, French, and Spanish for those who might need them.
Epic Pictures’ 4-Disc Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release also contains a wealth of bonus material to cull through. Discs One and Two feature the film itself on Blu-ray and DVD respectively. On those discs, you’ll find a Select a Tale option, a pop-up facts subtitle track, audio commentaries on all of the segments in the film with the directors, and both the green and red band trailers for the film. On Disc Three, you’ll find a massive set of 23 Production Diaries. Under Bonus Featurettes, you’ll find a Behind the Scenes Sizzle Reel, Anatomy of a Scene: Friday the 31st, a deleted scene from Grim Grinning Ghost, the teaser trailer; bonus audio commentaries for Sweet Tooth, Trick, Ding Dong, and This Means War, and a still gallery. Here’s a nice bonus: There’s 7 additional short films available here, including The Halloween Kid by Axelle Carolyn, Brain Death by Neil Marshall, No Rest for the Wicked by Ryan Schifrin, Thirsty by Andrew Kasch, The Evil by Mike Mendez, Hot Rod Worm by John Skipp and Andrew Kasch, and Boily by Lucky McKee and Vanessa McKee. There’s also a trailer for Schism by Adam Gierasch. Finally, Disc Four is a CD soundtrack, containing fifteen tracks of music from the film. You’ll also find a random set of two Tales of Halloween trading cards inside the packaging.
If horror anthologies are your thing, then there’s no way that you should miss Tales of Halloween. It’s a genuinely good time, and to have a home video release of it that’s ridiculously overdone is just gravy. This is a terrific movie and most assuredly one that people will want to watch year after year. Highly recommended.
- Tim Salmons