COOL STUFF: TALES OF HALLOWEEN SPECIAL EDITION BLU-RAY!

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TALES OF HALLOWEEN (2015) Blu-Ray

Tales Of Halloween is a spooky fun 2015 Halloween anthology flick that has grown on me quite a lot since my initial review (see full review here) and has finally arrived on blu-ray a year later. This multi-story horror has been released by Epic pictures in a four disc special edition that is available from their website store, HERE.

As for the feature film itself, there is both a blu-ray and DVD version. As for the technical aspects of the blu-ray feature disc…

The picture is gorgeous, the colors vibrant and really represents well the visual styles of all the directors and their cinematographers on the ten tales told here. The disc is presented in the original 2.39.1 widescreen aspect ratio, preserving the film’s intended dimensions. The sound is in 5.1 surround sound with alternate 2.0 and basic stereo tracks for those without home theater sound systems. The menus are simple and easy to navigate. A nice presentation to enjoy this holiday horror!

Now on to the extensive extras which make this 4-disc set even more appealing!…

The extras start out with a production diary covering the 23 days of shooting that comes complete with interviews with cast and crew and some fun behind the scenes footage. In the bonus features, we get a behind the scenes reel…which does repeat a lot of what we saw in the production diaries…and an examination of the filming of one of the scenes from Mike Mendez’s gruesomely comic Friday The 31st, complete with storyboards. We also get a deleted scene from one of the best stories, Grim Grinning Ghost and are treated to replays of the segments Sweet Tooth, Trick, Ding Dong and This Means War all with additional bonus commentary, aside from the commentary track that accompanies the movie on the feature film discs. We also get eight short films from a few of the filmmakers involved, some of which are definitely worth checking out. There are also storyboards, a photo gallery, trailers and some pop-up video commentary that can be activated on certain stories on the feature blu-ray. A nice selection of extras.

The fourth and final disc is a CD featuring the film’s soundtrack which includes all the music from the segments and wraparound by artists like Lalo Schifrin, Christopher Drake, Joseph Bishara and more.

All of the discs are region free and can be played anywhere and the set also comes with two trading cards, too!

I really have come to appreciate and enjoy this flick beyond what my initial review reflects. It is now part of my traditional Halloween viewing, as it is loaded with Halloween spirit and imagery and I would love to see a follow-up with yet more filmmakers creating Halloween tales as in this film. If you liked this movie and have become endeared to it like I have, this 4-disc set is a must!

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: TALES OF HALLOWEEN (2015)

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TALES OF HALLOWEEN (2015)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Tales Of Halloween is an amusing anthology flick that has ten stories told by ten different directors with the obvious reoccurring theme of Halloween. The stories are loosely connected by the presence of Adrienne Barbeau as a DJ, much like her Stevie Wayne character from The Fog and some shared characters.

Created by filmmaker Axelle Carolyn, this is a good idea that disappointingly has only four out of the ten stories really being successful. The tone of the stories vary with some being goofy like Mike Mendez’ fun Friday The 31st, which has a Jason-like killer squaring off with an alien who possesses the body of one of his victim’s and Carolyn’s own creepy Grim Grinning Ghost, which has a woman crossing paths with an urban legend. Those two hit their marks, though the best stories are the opening and closing tales. Dave Parker’s Sweet Tooth, begins the anthology and is another urban legend centric story of a boy that took his love for Halloween candy to a ghoulish level. The closer, Neil Marshall’s Bad Seed, is a fun and gruesome story about a murderous jack-o-lantern. Darren Lynn Bousman’s self-explanatory The Night Billy Raised Hell is moderately amusing, as is Lucky McKee’s Ding Dong, about a strange couple. With unsettling Hansel and Gretel overtones and uncomfortable themes of spousal abuse and infertility, McKee’s tale is the most bizarre one. Ryan Schifrin’s The Ransom Of Rusty Rex is also somewhat amusing in it’s tale of a Halloween kidnapping gone very wrong. On the epic fail side, we have Adam Gierasch’s tale of murderous trick-or-treaters with a twist, Trick. It’s crude and violent without being scary or funny. Paul Solet’s tale of demonic revenge with a spaghetti western slant, The Weak and the Wicked, is just dull and has the least Halloween spirit while John Skipp and Andrew Kasch’s tale of neighbors battling over competitive Halloween displays, This Means War, is just boring and predictable. Add that up and we have four stories that work really well, three that are pretty decent and three that basically fall flat. There are some nice homages along the way, the SPFX and make-up FX are pretty good and the visual style varies from filmmaker to filmmaker. It always has the look of Halloween, with jack-o-lanterns everywhere, even if the spirit isn’t quite captured by the tale being told. This anthology’s heart is in the ghoulish right place, though, if not completely successful in accomplishing it’s overall goals.

The cast is rather large and even in the weaker episodes they seem to get the tone of the material and are having a good time. We have genre favorites like Lin Shaye, Adrienne Barbeau, Barbara Crampton, Lisa Marie, Caroline Williams and Clare Kramer. There are some veteran actors like Barry Bostwick and John Savage and director cameos such as John Landis, Stuart Gordon, Adam Green and Joe Dante. Then there are also familiar faces like Some Kind Of Hate’s Grace Phipps, Cabin Fever’s Cerina Vincent, Starry Eyes’ Alex Essoe, scream queen Tiffany Shepis and Adrienne Curry as herself, to name a few. Overall a good cast that helps the stories a lot, even when they don’t make the grade.

Tales Of Halloween is far from perfect and doesn’t succeed as much as we’d like. The stories that work are worth watching for and the middle ground stories are amusing enough to check out, too. Even the failures aren’t a complete waste of time and are short enough to be over mercifully quick. While not totally successful, it is a really good idea and hopefully next year, we get another and that one hits the ghoulish mark far more often. Not quite the Halloween classic hoped for, but when it hits it’s stride it’s ghoulish Halloween fun.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 jack-o-lanterns as the stories I liked, I really liked.

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: SOME KIND OF HATE (2015)

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SOME KIND OF HATE (2015)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Some Kind Of Hate is a vicious, vengeful and yet, sometimes heartfelt slasher about bullying and the effect it can have on those bullied.

Lincoln (Ronen Rubenstein) is an emotionally troubled young man who is bullied by his father (Andrew Bryniarski) and bullied at school for his quiet and withdrawn ways. When he finally strikes back viciously at one such bully, he is sent to the cult-like Mind’s Eye Academy for troubled youths. Nothing is different as the academy has it’s own bullies, such as Willie (Maestro Harrell), who, along with his thugs, starts to victimize Lincoln like back in high school. Lincoln has found some allies, though, one is the beautiful but troubled, Kaitlin (Grace Phipps) and the other is the vengeful spirit, Moira (Sierra McCormick) who died as a result of her cruel treatment at the academy. Now Moira begins to exact gruesome revenge on those who hurt her, using Lincoln’s hate as a driving force…but does Lincoln’s hate run deep enough to want to see his tormentors slaughtered?

Directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer who co-wrote with Brian DeLeeuw, this is a nasty tale of revenge from beyond the grave that is also a hard look at bullying and the effects it has on the victims. The hate and anger of those bullied towards their tormentors and themselves, for not being able to fight back, is personified in the cruel and vengeful spirit of Moira, who uses Lincoln’s fury (like Freddy Krueger used fear) to fuel her gruesome acts of revenge…and it is quite brutal. This is an angry movie at times and a nasty one, as not only are we treated to watching the mean Willie (Harrell) relentlessly provoke Lincoln, but the payback of the razor wearing and wielding Moira. Moira is not a wise-cracking gremlin like Freddy Krueger, but a deeply hurt and angry spirit filled with rage and hatred, yet still wanting the friendship of kindred souls like Lincoln and Kaitlin. It was a bit bold for Mortimer and DeLeeuw to give their ‘boogeyman’ such complex emotions, but she is symbolic, after all, of the victims of bullying and the turmoil they suffer. Making her a main character is also risky and sometimes the ‘rules’ of her appearance vary. At times she seems quite coporeal and can be touched and yet she can appear out of nowhere. To harm her victims, she has to inflict the wound on herself and it transfers to them without physically being touched by her razor blades. It all works most of the time, though and effectively creates a vicious slasher with some important issues felt with under all the blood and gore. Despite tackling the bully issues head on, the film never felt preachy and is very satisfying as the horror flick it’s meant to be.

We have a good cast here. Ronen Rubenstein is solid as the soft spoken, introvert Lincoln. He conveys not only the youth’s sadness at being the target of the abuse of others, but the anger and rage both at them and at himself for not being able to fight back…till pushed. Grace Phipps is not only beautiful, but gives her Kaitlin a sexy mischievousness on the outside and also her own inner pain, which draws her to the troubled Lincoln. Maestro Harrell is very effective as the bully Willie and the role is quite the contrast to his lovable Malik on Suburgatory. It shows the actors versatility and his Willie is certainly far from lovable. Sierra McCormick is very effective as Moira. She can make her cruel and hateful one moment but sad and sympathetic the next. It’s never quite clear if she was the ‘evil girl’ her victimizers make her out to be, or if that is just a defense they created to hide their guilt. McCormick does certainly gives her a maliciousness that makes one wonder if she isn’t as much a victim as Moira herself would have you believe. Also stars Lexi Atkins from Zombeavers, former child actor Spencer Breslin as Issac, who bonds with Lincoln and is his only friend at academy other than Kaitlin and Andrew “Leatherface” Bryniarski as Lincoln’s abusive biker father.

I really liked this slasher. It was nasty and vicious, but with an important message at it’s core…but one that is never obtrusive or preachy despite it’s weight. It has some very emotionally troubled characters as both protagonists and antagonists including it’s vengeful slasher spirit, Moira. The cast are all solid in their roles and there is a lot of gruesome carnage, though not enough to wash away the film’s anti-bullying theme. This horror is certainly offbeat and may not appeal to everyone, but it does provide the slasher goods and gives us a vengeful spirit who can hold her own amongst the more time-honored horror characters.

…and don’t forget to watch through the credits…

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 razors.

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: DARK SUMMER (2015)

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DARK SUMMER (2015)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

MINOR SPOILER WARNING: To discuss certain aspects of the film, I had to go into details which may be considered spoiler-ish, though I tried to remain as vague as possible.

Dark Summer tells the story of Daniel (Keir Gilchrist), a teen who is put under house arrest after cyber-stalking classmate Mona Wilson (Grace Phipps). Alone in the house with his mother away and his parole office (Peter Stormare) keeping a close eye on him, his incarceration looks to quickly become a living hell. A living hell indeed, as Mona phones him online, one night, only to commit suicide right in front of him. Soon after, it appears there is a malevolent presence in the house with him and it might be her. Fearing she is with him in the house to exact some sort of revenge, Daniel enlists the help of his best friends Kevin (Maestro Harrell) and Abby (Stella Maeve) to help him put a stop to it. The more they investigate Mona, though…and a way of ridding the house of her dark presence…the more they realize Daniel’s object of affection was not who they though she was…and he may truly be in grave danger.

There were things I liked about this teen-centric horror and things I didn’t. On the negative side, there are some clichés that we’ve seen time and time again that could have been used more inventively, such as the usual levitations and the Scooby-Doo-ish investigations by sleuthing teens. The biggest problem for me was that Daniel comes across as not only as a creep for cyber-stalking the girl, but a real jerk for the way he callously blows off Abby, who really cares about him. True, there are certain revelations later on that might explain some of this, but for a good hour, he remains unsympathetic to us, despite what is happening to him. If you don’t sympathize with the victim, the film looses impact. The positive is that director Paul Solet (Grace) does manage some creepy moments from Mike Le’s script and I will say the last act had some fun reveals and the film wraps up on a very disturbing note. So, you take the good with the bad and overall it’s a moderately entertaining low budget flick that ends effectively. I would have liked to have seen Stomare’s parole officer be more than just a creepy cop, but at slightly over 80 minutes, such character development is not given enough time and when you think his Stokes is about to become more interesting to the plot, the film ends. Solet’s 2009 Grace was a disturbing flick, so he knows what he is doing. Maybe he works better with his own scripts.

The cast are all adequate, but nothing to grab our attention. Gilchrist is fine, but the way Daniel is written, we never really come to like him or feel bad for him much. Even after all is revealed, we still don’t feel all that sympathetic towards him. Suburgatory’s Harrell has little to do, but look concerned, as the film focuses more on the efforts of the long-suffering Abby. It is Stella Maeve as Abby that generates the most sympathy and does the strongest work as a girl who has fallen for someone who doesn’t see her that way…and that same boy is currently haunted by a malevolent spirit of the girl he stalked. That sucks for Abby. Stormare is a veteran, but here just seems to be punching a clock as the creep of a parole office. Not even sure what overall purpose the character served other than the situation warranted he be there.

Overall, Dark Summer was a decent enough watch with some effective moments and a last act with some nice surprises and a disturbing final scene (part of which comes after the credits). Not everything worked and sometimes the clichés just got silly and it was the unlikability of the leading character that lends to detachment from sympathizing with his plight. Even though there were supernaturally extenuating circumstances, he still acted like a jerk on enough levels to not feel bad when faced with supernatural payback. Worth a look and has some spooky moments, but don’t expect too much.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 laptops that should never be used to stalk you classmates.

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