When I saw the trailer for The Terror of Hallow’s Eve, I knew I was in for a treat. The characters in the film, however, only get the tricks. The Terror is a hilariously relatable Halloween cautionary tale, warning us to be careful what we wish for on that most hallowed night.
Written and directed by Todd Tucker, The Terror of Hallow’s Eve follows teenage outcast Tim on his journey to enact a bit of Halloween revenge. Tim is like a lot of us who grew up with a passion for all things dark and deadly. He plays pranks on other kids to scare them, lying in the grass with fake guts plastered to his torso. We see him picking up the latest issue of Fangoria at the local store, crushing on the girl behind the check-out counter (who’s way out of his league), and having the living shit beaten out of him by the high school jocks. And when he goes home, he argues with his mother, who’s just another person in the long line of people who don’t understand him.
Fed up with being mistreated and misunderstood, Tim angrily carves up a pumpkin and wishes he could scare them all to death. A drop of blood from his pummeled nose slips out of his nostril and lands inside the pumpkin. That’s what summons the Trickster, a Halloween spirit who has come to grant his wish. Together, they team up to punish the jocks who have caused Tim so much pain and suffering. But the Trickster doesn’t stop there, and by the end of the night, Tim finds himself on the receiving end of a trick he never wanted to happen.
The first thought I had while watching The Terror of Hallow’s Eve was how cliched and yet amazingly believable the characters were. The movie seems to hit every high school stereotype possible: the outcast kid, the cute girl next door, the bullying jocks, the abusive dad, the overworked mom. They were all there, and you would think that cramming so many stereotypes into one film would clog its character development, but that’s not the case.
There may be people who disagree with me on this point, but I felt that the character development was better than expected. This is possibly because the events we see in the first 30 or so minutes of the film were completely true to form, happening exactly as Tucker remembered from his own childhood. Yes, “Tim” is really “Todd.” A title card reads that the film is “based on true events,” and these events are those from Todd Tucker’s own childhood.
I believe that this element—keeping everything so accurate as to how the events occurred—is what kept the characters and story so believable. Of course it’s believable! It’s pretty much true. Sometimes, we forget that these “clichés” were part of our own lives, too. We may have been some of these characters once upon a time. They are stereotypes because they have some spot of truth to them. So feel free to disagree with me on this point, but the characterization was spot on.
Another surprisingly fun element of The Terror of Hallow’s Eve was the puppeteering. There’s a glorious scene in the film where one of the characters is invited to a rather gruesome puppet show. In fact, this character gets a chance to take center stage and becomes the main act!
This is the fate of just one character. The others are subject to their own, personal demise. This was perhaps my favorite element of the film: that we get a chance to see several different death scenes, each tailored to the specific fears of that individual. The audience gets a chance to feast upon a plethora of smaller horrors, while Todd Tucker gets an opportunity to show off his skills at make-up and creature effects.
Tucker and his company Illusion Industries, Inc. designed and created a variety of monstrous creatures for the film. In the story, we see sketches of these creatures pasted up in Tim’s workshop, and the Trickster helps bring them to life. I absolutely loved watching Tim sketch out a new and terrifying creature, only to see it manifest just moments later by the Trickster. Tucker is amazingly gifted at creature effects, and the variety of monsters we see in the film kept it fresh and engaging ‘til the end.
WICKED RATING: 9/10
Director(s): Todd Tucker
Writer(s): Ronald L. Halvas, Todd Tucker, Zack Ward
Stars: Caleb Thomas, Sarah Lancaster, Annie Read
Release: August 28, 2017 (Frightfest)
Studio/Production Co: Illusion Industries, Quixotic Productions
Length: 80 min