Tales of Halloween Blu-ray Review
Aimed fairly and squarely at the adolescent market
Darren Lynn Bousman, Axelle Carolyn, Adam Gierasch, Neil Marshall, Lucky McKee, Mike Mendez, David Parker, Ryan Schifrin, John Skipp & Andrew Kasch and Paul SoletHorror anthologies have been around a long time, but seldom have so many stories, told by so many talented horror directors been brought together in one film. The list of directors (above) is truly impressive, and each brings their own take on their own little segment of this unique whole. Stories are many and varied, whether it is an alien taking on a deranged killer after being refused a ‘trick or treat’, killer pumpkins, malevolent ghosts, child eating witches or vengeful children - there is a story here to bring a smile to your lips or run a chill up your spine. Indeed there are a total of ten different stories all with an overarching theme of them occurring in the same town on the same night and loosely tied together by Adrienne Barbeau’s (The Fog inspired) radio DJ. Indeed there are plenty of nods to horror icon’s present and past, from cameos, to themes, to music to Carpenter (chocolate) bars!There is a ‘tongue in cheek’ feel of Tales of Halloween – it is aimed fairly and squarely at the adolescent market, although it helps to be longer in the tooth to catch all the references – which is somewhat at odds with the tone of the piece. Due to the nature of all the differing stories there are monumental tonal shifts throughout, from comedy to creepy to horror to slapstick, and while this is clearly the intent (putting the ‘fun back in Halloween films’) it makes for an uneasy (not in a good way) watch. The heavy use of practical effects is fabulous, and everyone involved gives it their all, even if there are some hammy moments. But I never felt that the stories were connected by any serious means, this, along with the tonal shifts, makes for a disjointed watch, despite all the positives. Whilst I applaud the effort, its more adolescent specific nature and overall lack of cohesion means it falls short of becoming a classic.
Picture QualityThe disc presents a widescreen 2.35:1 1080p transfer using the AVC codec and is Region locked to B.
Quite an impressive amount of detail on show from skin texture to clothing weaves; indeed the make-up and prosthetics look remarkably good and hold up very well. The sets hold keen edges with the various Halloween paraphernalia looking fine. When the film does venture to location shoots (or director’s houses!), edges are just as keen, pavement, grass, trees, etc. are all well seen.
Colouring is bold and strong, some stories have huge swathes of reds and greens to add to the visual flair of the piece, and all are represented very well. Blue, too, is just as vivid. A horror film needs a strong black level and thankfully brightness and contrast are set to give just that; there is plenty of depth to the frame and added punch to the image. Shadow detail is available when called for, but pitch black is also pitch black.
Digitally there are no compression issues or edge enhancement, while the source material is in pristine condition with nothing to take away from the image.
Sound QualityThe English DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround soundtrack does a very good job of invoking a sense of unease with the surrounds being used to fill out the room with spooky noise, while the shock value stingers are suitably sharp. Equally the score and effects add to the comedic value (in those segments) and are well layered into the mix. Dialogue is clear and coherent and never lost and given some directionality when required. While bass is reasonable, LF effects are utilised well, though there is nothing to plumb the depths of the very best. The decent surround environment has effects pinging around the room nicely, as well as above and below – pretty good for a 5.1 mix!
ExtrasAudio Commentary - Mike Mendez, Adam Gierasch, Darren Bousman, Andrew Kasch, Neil Marshall and joining the melee half way through Axelle Carolyn, give a hodgepodge of over-talking, informative, hilarious, noisy and over-the-top discussion on the film, its segments, construction, themes and experience.
Exclusive Shorts – Hides six short films from the directors of the main feature in what is a bizarre mix of old, new, stop motion and VHS films, but nevertheless quite an interesting and eclectic mix.
Brain Death (21 minutes) - directed by Neil Marshall, student film on VHS – zombies galore!
The Halloween Kid (7 minutes) - directed by Axelle Carolyn – Visualised poem.
Boilly (00:30 seconds) - directed by Lucky Mckee – Stop motion madness!
Thirsty (14 minutes) - directed by Andrew Kasch & John Skipp – Wonderfully perverse and utterly insane Slushy fetish.
Hot Rod Worm (4 minutes) - directed by Andrew Kasch & John Skipp – Odd music video madness.
No Rest for the Wicked (15 minutes) - directed by Ryan Schifrin – Most accomplished piece with plenty of named actors in an oddly compelling story.
Deleted Scene – A few seconds cut from ‘Grim Grinning Ghost’.
Anatomy of a Scene – Storyboards played along with the finished feature of ‘Friday the 31st’.
Photo Gallery – Slideshow of Behind-The-Scenes shots from Bad Seed
Storyboards – Slideshow of drawings from Ding Dong
VerdictTales of Halloween is a horror/horror-comedy anthology piece that tells ten different stories, from eleven well respected horror directors, all (very) loosely tied together by the town that is being affected. Each story is pretty good but there is precious little holding the whole together, save the valiant effort by the last instalment, as such, everything is quite disconnected and the flow is constantly being interrupted by the stopping and starting of the individual episodes. This is compounded by the individual styling and crucially the tone of each piece – some are very comedic, others far more serious, some ideas are fresh, others recycled, so that the whole is difficult to categorise and get to grips with. Whilst I applaud the effort, its more adolescent specific nature and overall lack of cohesion means it falls short of becoming a classic.
I applaud the effort, but the film falls short of becoming a classicAs a Blu-ray package the set from Arrow is pretty good; the picture is nicely detailed, colourful and with terrific black levels, while the DTS-HD 5.1 surround sound ticks all the right boxes to invoke atmosphere and shock value. The extras are varied, with the highlight being the ‘exclusive shorts’ which add much to the overall package.
You can buy Tales of Halloween on Blu-ray here
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £9.99
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.