When talking about Halloween and the movies one thing becomes apparent quite quickly. There are very few films which actually deal with the idea of Halloween as an event. While Christmas has films about what that time of the year means Halloween has been lacking.
This is strange given how fantastical it all is. Monsters, ghosts and zombies and assorted creatures of the night, should be celebrated, and deserve a film which is as much about Halloween as it is about scaring you.
Some of you may say, but what about John Carpenter’s Halloween? And if they had followed the initial plan of each sequel being a new story set at that time of the year (as was attempted in Halloween 3: Season of the Witch), instead of bringing Michael Meyers back, then I would agree. Alas it was not to be.
The closet thing we have had is The Nightmare Before Christmas, but that is a film to watched in-between Halloween and Christmas, and arguments still rage as to whether it is more a Christmas film, or a Halloween film.
But one that definitely is a Halloween film through and through, is 2009’s Trick r’ Treat. Written and directed by X Men and Superman Returns scribe Michael Dougherty, the film was finished in 2007, but languished in the vaults of Warner Brothers for two years, before being unfairly thrown onto direct to DVD (some suggest as punishment for the failure of Superman Returns).
Set on the night of Halloween itself, Trick r’ Treat tells 5 interlinked stories, which all happen in the same town, on the same night. A school principle who has a nasty batch of chocolate, some kids who accidentally raise the spirits of the dead, a girl who is attacked by a vampire (but not is all as it seems), and a bitter old drunk who hates Halloween, and is terrorised by a boy with a pumpkin for a head, all feature.
A great cast comes together for the film, and include recognisable faces such as Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin and Brian Cox. The child actors are all terrific as well, bringing to mind the 1980s Amblin movies of Joe Dante.
The film has blood, but more important than that, it makes you get into the spirit of the night. Houses covered in decorations, teams of children roam the streets in their costumes, and the spirit of the season itself takes physical form. In a couple of the stories, punishment is brought down upon those who disrespect Halloween. And that includes nasty children who aren’t nice to others.
There is an EC Comics vibe through much of the film, and is very much a sibling to George A Romero’s Creepshow. Some stories are black comedy, others are out and out horror. The final short is Halloween’s very own A Christmas Carol, with Brian Cox playing a man who hates the night. But instead of being scared into redemption. He is simply scared and scared some more.
Trick r’ Treat encapsulates just what makes Halloween so much fun, and does so in a playful way. Sadly this year, the night falls on a Monday, so the chances of celebrating it properly will not be possible, due to school/work the next day. You could therefore do a lot worse than track this movie down, and settle in for the night.
Just make sure you have some candy to give out. Just in case.
Rob can be found on Twitter.