October 29, 2013 (U.S. DVD)
Katie Maguire as Sarah
Mike Giannelli as Art the clown
Catherine A. Callahan as Caroline
Marie Maser as Woman
Kayla Lian as Casey
Cole Mathewson as Timmy
Sydney Freihofer as Tia
The best anthology films are those that provide for some kind of “hook” between each of the vignettes, and have a wraparound story that can bring the whole thing together into one cohesive package. A few horror films have achieved ‘Getting the formula right’ over time, and All Hallows’ Eve is definitely one of them.
The set-up involves a babysitter named Sarah (Katie Maguire, looking a TON like “Grace” from “Will and Grace”, but with a better nose) is spending Halloween with her two charges, Timmy (Cole Mathewson) and Tia (Sydney Freihofer). Somehow the parents of these two little tykes convinced Sarah to not only spend Halloween evening working as a care-giver, but also into taking the kids out for their trick or treat festivities. At some point over the course of the evening Timmy realizes that someone has placed a VHS tape in his bag in lieu of candy.
After quite a bit of begging by the kids, Sarah agrees to allow the children to watch the feature contained on the tape, and it’s (of course) a horror film that stars an extremely creepy clown and a hungry monster with a machete. After that first vignette comes to a close Sarah has the kids run off to bed, but cannot resist watching the second, and then the third horror shorts for her self. What she cannot know is that all of these films are part of a master supernatural plan, and she is the next star attraction.
All Hallows’ Eve is a great total package for the Halloween season – this film is very scary, yet will lull audiences into a false sense of “that’s not scary” security along the way. Interestingly, in picking apart each of the vignettes contained here there are many flaws to be found, some of them quite annoying indeed, but the format allows for those nuisances to quickly reach their conclusion and go away, being replaced by an overall sense of dread and true scariness. The fact that several of the actresses in the first vignette are generally ridiculous and the monster looks likeThe Toxic Avenger is quickly forgotten when that clown appears, and the reactions of Sarah and the kids watching the film shows that they are appropriately frightened and hiding their eyes. The aliens in vignette number two, with their goofy masks and wavy hand motions are immediately pardoned when the face of the clown again appears and Sarah hears noises outside the window in the house where she’s watching the fright fest. The third feature is where the action really happens, as the cat and mouse chase between the clown and the poor female victim spills over into a reality of that same clown finding it’s way into “real life”.
As is probably apparent at this point, the star of the show is that damn clown, and what a clown he is. The artwork and design of this particular clown is stunningly perfect, simultaneously macabre and non-threatening, harboring murderous thoughts while honking on a horn. The temptation to make a very obviously evil clown is resisted by writer/director Damien Leone, as is the other extreme of making a seemingly happy clown (ala IT) who goes bad – no, this clown is definitely evil, and looks evil… but then he doesn’t. This could be “any clown”, like the kind we all see sitting at bus stops and ordering Frappuccinos at Starbucks every day. This is the kind of clown that makes people hate clowns. For those who actually don’t hate and fear clowns this day and age, watch All Hallows’ Eve and you definitely will.
All Hallows’ Eve is a fantastic horror movie for the Halloween season. There are some films that are literally made to watch during this most spooky of holidays, Halloween certainly coming to mind as well as the more recent Trick r’ Treat. Adding All Hallows’ Eve to the big night’s lineup is a sure bet as it captures the low budget vibe of Halloween while reminiscing on the series of scary stories that Trick r’ Treat deploys, to bring together a perfect night of horror movie fright.
Make sure you watch until the very end – otherwise, you may be left out of the next feature showing. If you’re not sure what that means, you’ll definitely understand after seeing this film. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear something outside and I’m going out alone (in my underwear) to investigate… I’ll be right back.