Ah, Hallowe’en. That favorite time of year for yours truly, as I’m certain it is for many (likely most) of you Fellow Fans. The air is cooler, the sound of rustling leaves greets your ears, the smells of fall fill the air…and you could almost swear that there was something moving out there, just out of your periphery…watching. It’s what us horror freaks live for; an entire night of the year dedicated just to us. One of my favorite things to do each of these wondrous times of the year is have a lineup of my favorite Halloween-themed films to watch; my own personal list after the rush of cable marathons and festivals: Halloween. Trick ‘r Treat. Sleepy Hollow; these are staples for me every October 31st, typically with several others thrown in when I can (meaning those rare Halloweens that I don’t have to break the spell to go to bed and get up for work the next day). Mebbe not all of them are the greatest movies ever made, but to me, they all have that certain something that makes them fun Halloween viewing.
All Hallow’s Eve, written and directed by special effects artist Damien Leone, is one of the latest to use my favorite holiday as its setting. Before I saw it, I had heard that it was cobbled together from some short films the director had done previously, so I was a little wary of what I was getting into. I hadn’t seen any of these shorts, and worried it would be some ham-fisted mish-mash of someone trying to bang out a feature.
We started out strong; I was easily lured into the opening scene of a babysitter with two kids, just back from trick-or-treating. Night of the Living Dead was on the tube (thus I was reminded of Halloween), and the trio were discussing carving the jack o’lantern. In short order, a VHS tape falls out of the little boy’s treat bag. After some discussion over the wisdom of the idea (God only knows what the hell some weirdo might put on a tape like that, after all), the two kids convince the sitter to check it out for them; she can always turn it off if it’s bad. We watch the video along with the three, and the first bit we see is a disturbing little vignette that prompts the sitter to send the kids to bed. Afterwards, her curiosity gets the better of her and she decides to watch the rest on her own…and we’re really off and running.
The rest of the film is two other short ‘episodes’ on the tape, and a wrap-around story with the babysitter. The mysterious VHS tape is a nice idea to showcase this little anthology (yeah yeah…V/H/S did it first, but I felt the plot device was more plausible here), and although the second chapter is disappointing on several levels, it still didn’t stink the place up enough to make me quit watching. The acting ranged from amateurish to pretty damned good, and as a whole the performances were solid enough to keep the movie watchable. The special effects were impressive; the blood flows quite freely and the body parts fly; gorehounds won’t feel left out. Each chapter kinda had its own vibe, and I found myself thinking ‘80s horror at some times, ‘70s grindhouse at others; in all cases the camera work, lighting and direction fit well. I was really taken with the feel of the film as a whole, each piece contributing to a creeping dread throughout. Finally, I can’t review this film without a mention of the character of Art the Clown, the tie-that-binds the whole movie together. He is very creepy, and if you have coulrophobia, you will definitely sleep with a night-light after this guy gets in your head.
Is this the horror film to change all horror films? Could this be the ground-breaking smash that pulls our genre out of the alleys and makes us all look at the movies in a different way? Hell no! I’m not trying to blow sunshine up your skirts, folks; the movie definitely has its pitfalls; it’s a nicely done indie flick that surprised me, but it still has a lot of room for improvement…I have to say, though, I enjoyed the damned movie. I sat there and had a bloody fine time while I was watching it. It was almost nostalgic, the feel and tone of the film, like those memories of the late show on Saturday night…it was fun. My initial worries were unfounded; for a low-budget indie flick, I was very pleasantly surprised with the quality of all elements.
My final word on All Hallow’s Eve?
Welcome to my Halloween 2014 lineup=)