The Terror Of Hallow’s Eve begins with the somewhat cheeky claim that the film was based on true events. As director/co-writer Todd Tucker would explain it, much of what happens in the movie did actually happen to him as a kid. The bullying, the creating of monsters in his garage, etc. The stuff with Doug Jones’s creepy Trickster, and his subsequent misdeeds, not so much.
Our hero is Caleb Thomas’s Tim, an outsider kid who terrorises the locals (including neighbour Eric Roberts) with makeshift horror toys. We watch as he purchases a Fangoria-esque horror mag, flirts nervously with a local girl and gets beaten up by a group of stylishly on-point eighties bullies (one of them is wearing a Rush tee). “What a nerd” quips one guy. Indeed.
After following a Halloween pumpkin into the woods, as you do
(well, I would), Tim happens upon The Trickster, a cute yet creepy little fellow who speaks in rhymes and promises to make all of his Halloween wishes come true. The bullies who have followed Tim home soon find themselves at his mercy as the house becomes a funhouse-like playground for revenge on those who’ve wronged him.
Everything is very three-dimensional, tactile and designed with impeccable attention to detail. The colour pallette encompasses lots of oranges and blacks (of course) while the amount of knick-knacks on show in Tim’s garage is hugely impressive. Likewise, the legendary John Carpenter blesses the movie with some of his coolest synth strains to date.
The thing is cool overall. Humour comes from puppets killing someone with lots of tiny knives, a monster chomping on another unfortunate fellow’s guts, or some trick-or-treaters thinking Tim’s beat-up face is a costume. It feels natural and effortless, the film never betraying the fact it was shot over eighteen(!) days for practically nothing.
Tucker’s horror bonafides (a reference to Haddonfield Mental Hospital is well-judged), crazy creature FX and enthusiasm carry the flick through its slower moments. Once The Trickster shows up and the kids are ensconced in Tim’s house, there isn’t a whole lot more to the story. And the kills are a bit stab-happy, which is a shame coming from such a demonstrably visual artist.
Still, The Terror Of Hallow’s Eve is an impressive sophomore feature from the dude behind Monster Mutt (check for it next time you’re in Tesco, UK readers) who, by all accounts, clearly knows his shit. It’s easy to imagine this becoming part of the Halloween rotation, if only for the fact its festive spirit makes it kind of impossible to resist.
WICKED RATING: 6/10
Director(s): Todd Tucker
Writer(s): Todd Tucker, Ronald L. Halvas
Stars: Caleb Thomas, Sarah Lancaster, Doug Jones, Eric Roberts
Studio/ Production Co: Illusion Industries
Length: 80 minutes