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10/31 (2017)

Independent horror is a Halloween set anthology flick from the makers of such recent flicks as The Barn and Bonejangles. It takes place on Halloween night and has two kids (Aliese and Alexandria Kuhn) watching a horror movie marathon hosted by Malvolia, the Queen of Screams (Jennifer Nangle). As the horror hostess promises chills and thrills, it sets up our five tales by five indie filmmakers, all taking place on All Hallows Eve.

First tale is The Old Hag. It takes place in an old bed and breakfast where wannabe filmmakers Tyler and Kevin (The Barn‘s Nickolaus Joshua, billed here as Nick Edwards and Mitchell Musolino, respectively) are hired to do a Youtube commercial for the owner (Cindy Maples) on Halloween night. Tyler keeps seeing a creepy old hag (Jedediah Giacchino) while Kevin refuses to believe him…until it’s too late. The story is written and directed by The Barn‘s Justin M. Seaman and while it shows he has a great visual eye, it was a little flat until the final moments, which were unsettling. Segment had a great location and worthy story but should have been scarier.

Next up is the best of the bunch. Trespassers finds a first date couple Jeff (Chad Bruns) and Stephanie (Sable Griedel), trying to find something to do in the Halloween spirit after their horror flick turns out to be a bust. Stephanie takes Chad to the abandoned Martin farmhouse and tells him a tale of vengeful gypsies, a creepy scarecrow and a murder suicide. As the two roam the desolate property, they find that all urban legends have a basis in fact. Segment is written and directed by Zane Hershberger and really captures the Halloween spirit along with the feel of a creepy local legend. It was very spooky and had a very spunky, sexy characterization from actress Griedel as the Halloween loving Stephanie. Extra points for the very Carpenter-esque score by Matt Cannon during the segment, too.

Third tale has a bit of an Argento-ish flair with psychedelic lighting and a straight razor wielding killer. Story takes place at a roller rink as a costumed killer stalks a girl and her little brother (Bailey Ingersol and Noah Howland) at an after-hours Halloween party. Killing The Dance is directed by John William Holt from a script by Jason Turner and had a nice Giallo feel, some gruesome kills, an unexpected wrap-up and some cool music from Jake Siener.

The Halloween Blizzard of 1991 from writer/director Brett DeJager had potential and some amusing ideas though didn’t quite use them to full effect. Story has a family, Aunt April (April Johnson), mom Katie (Katie Walgrave Forrest), dad Allen (Allen Regimbal) and kids Ben (Fox Forrest) and John (Ethan Hemenway) trapped in the house on Halloween during an unexpected blizzard. They are besieged by not only three creepy trick or treaters (Fox and Egy Forrest, Xander Daire), but a vengeful Santa Claus (Lyle Kroon) who feels Halloween is ruining all the good kids. Segment had its moments but needed to pick and focus on a story. Was it about three demonic trick or treaters?…or a Halloween hating Santa, which sounds more fun.

Anthology finishes up with another of the best stories with The Samhain Slasher. A true nod to Carpenter’s classic, this tale has escaped serial killer Samuel LaCroix (Ryan Heumier) stalking a Halloween party attended by a girl (Jordan Phipps) who is mourning the suicide of her mother (Kirby Gocke). Not only does this segment have a score that strongly evokes Carpenter, but manages to mix in Ouija boards, a religious father (Greg Fallon) haunted by the death of his wife and the masked psychopath. As written and directed by Rocky Gray, who also scored, it’s atmospheric, has some very creepy moments and respectfully pays tribute to Carpenter, while also doing its own thing.

We finally return to our wraparound story which was directed by Hershberger and Hunter Johnson from a script by Hershberger, Gray and Jennifer Nagle. It’s a creepy finale and works within the context of the Halloween theme, leaving us on a chilling note which all good Halloween tales should.

Overall, this was a fun and spooky anthology from some up-and-coming filmmakers. It’s gives plenty of Halloween love and while the stories are a bit uneven, they all show potential and the ones that do nail it down, are quite fun and effective. An entertaining and spooky anthology with plenty of Halloween spirit! 10/31 is currently available on DVD and VHS from the makers here… https://screamteamreleasing.com/collections/10-31-merch …and there is talk of a VOD release later this year, probably near October 🎃!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) jack-o-lanterns.