[Review] ‘Tales of Halloween’ 4-Disc Set is Packed with Bloody Sweet Goodies
Last year’s must-see Halloween movie is now this year’s must-own Blu-ray, as Tales of Halloween has finally come home in an amazing four-disc box set that is overflowing with even more treats and goodies than the excellent, king size anthology film itself.
Tales of Halloween is likely most often compared to Trick ‘r Treat due to the obvious similarities that both are anthologies featuring a collection of short films that all take place on the same Halloween night in the same town with various characters from different stories popping up occasionally in some of the others, but that’s really where the similarities end, as Tales is actually a very different kind of beast.
Whereas Trick ‘r Treat is basically the Pulp Fiction of horror, with four stories masterfully interwoven into each other back and forth through time, it is ultimately the singular, unified vision of writer/director Michael Dougherty; but with Tales of Halloween, viewers are served up 10 unique visions of the best day of the year from a total of 11 varied and talented filmmakers, offering literally something for almost every taste.
The directors include Neil Marshall (Game of Thrones, The Descent, Doomsday), Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw 2-4, The Devil’s Carnival), Lucky McCee (The Woman, All Cheerleaders Must Die), Mike Mendez (Big Ass Spider, Gravedancers), Adam Gierasch (Night of the Demons). Paul Solet (Grace), Dave Parker (The Hills Run Red), Ryan Schifrin (Abominable), the team of Andrew Kasch and John Skipp (Never Sleep Again), and Axelle Carolyn (The Halloween Kid), whose initial idea it was to assemble this group now known as The October Society for the project.
I won’t get into how much fun these 10 shorts are, as you can read my original review of Tales of Halloween here, but instead I want to talk about the wealth of bonus material crammed into this Collector’s Edition box set release, which includes the feature film on both Blu-ray and DVD, as well as a whole additional DVD disc of extras and the killer soundtrack on CD.
The brief production diaries originally released on YouTube are all compiled here, offering a glimpse into each day of filming, in which we learn just how much work went into Bad Seed‘s pumpkin creation, among other cool tidbits.
Alex Essoe (Starry Eyes) says she is “the Ichabod Crane” of her segment, Grim Grinning Ghost, playing the “unwilling participant” of her story, while director Paul Solet explains that his tale The Weak and The Wicked is a Sergio Leone spaghetti western merged with The Warriors.
Nick Principe (Laid to Rest) rightfully calls the film “a passion project for horror fans by horror fans”, while we also learn how much Amanda Moyer loved doing some of her own stunts as “Dorothy” in Mike Mendez’s Friday the 31st, and there are some great anecdotes about the inspiration behind the battle of classic versus new horror in Andrew Kasch and John Skipp’s hilarious This Means War .
From the set of Bousman’s The Night Billy Raised Hell, Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) recalls an awesome story of Hollywood legend Jimmy Stewart (It’s a Wonderful Life) personally giving out candy himself to trick or treaters at his home on Halloween.
The Anatomy of a Scene featurette shows you side by side comparisons of how Mendez’s Friday the 31st went from script to screen with behind the scenes footage of the entire shoot.
A few of the directors even offer there own commentary tracks for their shorts, in which Dave Parker explains the origins of Sweet Tooth and all of its John Carpenter nods, and reveals that a quick shot of a model car in “Mikey’s” bedroom is actually a model of The Car, a 1977 horror gem starring James Brolin (The Amityville Horror) and Halloween‘s Kyle Richards.
There is also a highly informative feature length commentary with Neil Marshall, Adam Gierasch, Axelle Carolyn, and a few others sitting in, during which I learned a ton of great revelations, such as how many genre vets were approached to be a part of the project but turned it down for various reasons (usually due to scheduling conflicts).
While many iconic directors make cameo appearances in the film, including John Landis (An American Werewolf in London) and Joe Dante (Gremlins), the feature commentary reveals that John Carpenter (Halloween) himself was originally asked to do a cameo as a grumpy neighbor who yells at trick or treaters “Fuck Halloween!” That would have been epic.
It was also especially enlightening to hear Marshall explain that the soundtrack in his Bad Seed is meant to evoke specifically Halloween III: Season of the Witch, and the Clover Corp in the final scene is absolutely a reference to Silver Shamrock from Halloween III.
A few of the directors also have previously unreleased short films from earlier in their careers included in this box set, including Marshall’s student film Brain Death, for which he provides an additional commentary. The most entertaining of these bonus shorts for me is Axelle Carolyn’s poetic The Halloween Kid, which feels like a wicked mashup of Dr. Seuss and Tim Burton.
With a photo gallery, storyboards, a deleted scene from Grim Grinning Ghost, and lots more fun facts presented in optional pop up captions, this box set is the bottomless bag of Halloween treats that just keeps on giving, and all of it thankfully confirms that the entire film is the result of everyone’s honest love and passion for our favorite holiday.
And if the heap of bonus features somehow isn’t enough, the soundtrack CD, anchored by the title track by Jimmy Psycho, provides the perfect additions to round off your spooky playlist this Halloween.
It all comes packaged in a beautiful slipcase with the stunning artwork from the poster wrapped around, as memorable shots from the film are showcased when the gorgeous case is unfolded in all its glory, and it even comes with two limited edition trading cards featuring characters from the film! (For my cards, I was happy to get Adrianne Curry in her Legend costume from her cameo in The Night Billy Raised Hell and even more thrilled to get Grace Phipps as “Alice” from The Weak and The Wicked.)
You won’t find a better home video release to add to your Halloween movie collection this year.
You can view some photos of the beautiful Tales of Halloween 4-Disc Collector’s Edition in our gallery below, and then head over to the official website to order yours from Epic Pictures!
(Click an image to enlarge and view in gallery browser.)
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