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Trick r Treat

October 8, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, Trick r Treat

Trick r Treat – Tradition

I know, I’m an anthology whore.  It started when I first got the box set for “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.”  Reading those stories had a profound affect on me and how I saw and understood horror in general.  I still go back to those books every once in a while and re-live the good old days.  What can I say, I love short horror stories, and it works perfectly for the horror genre.  You really don’t see drama or action anthologies, it just fits with horror.   From “Creepshow” to the under appreciated “John Carpenter’s Body Bags” it had been a while since a reputable horror anthology had come out, until “Trick r Treat” was finally released, on DVD in 2009.

I say finally because the film was a wrap in 2007 and it showed up at a few film festivals, however, Warner Bros. had no idea what to do with the movie for two years, kind of like MGM with “The Cabin in the Woods.”  The travesty is that “Trick r Treat”never made it to the theaters, where I think it would have made a killing with audiences. But it did finally see the light of day in 2009 when it was released on DVD, and the cult following started from there. The movie has some credentials; it was directed by Michael Dougherty, who wrote the excellent “X2” and the sub-par “Superman Returns,” was produced by Bryan Singer, and we all know what he’s known for, and stars the likes of Brian Cox, pre-Sookie Anna Paquin, and the underrated Dylan Baker.

“Trick r Trick” is more so the “Pulp Fiction” of horror movies since the stories are interwoven as opposed to the separate stories with a wrap around formula, giving the film some teeth, and making it more thoughtful than your average horror fare.  The basic idea of “Trick r Treat” revolves around Halloween tradition and mythology while introducing the audience to a brand new Halloween mascot “Sam.”  He is the one constant in all the segments and, in my book, the most recognizable horror icon since Freddy Krueger (sorry “Saw” fans, Jigsaw doesn’t really rank up there for me).

The acting is solid, it has great atmosphere and, for my money, should become a Halloween movie tradition right up there with “Halloween” and “Creepshow.”  “Trick r Treat” is tons of fun, without all the filler, and with the right distributor (I’m looking at you Lionsgate) could turn into a yearly (clever) Halloween franchise.

Fun Fact:  “Trick r Treat” is based on a cartoon short created by Dougherty called “Season’s Greetings” from 1996. 

October 5, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, V/H/S

V/H/S – Dizzy

Between you and me, I’m sick of found footage films. It all started with “The Blair Witch Project,” which, yes, was a very cool idea, and the fact that everyone bought into the fact that this really happened to three kids in the woods was amazingly effective, and in turn it still stands as one of the most successful independent films of all time.  We’ve come a long (annoying) way from 1999, where it’s now chic to make every film, and even TV (see the failed ABC experiment “The River”), another found footage vehicle.  First we had the torture porn phase, and we have transitioned to everything found footage, and horror auteurs wonder why people won’t take the genre seriously anymore.  I know, this seems like a rant, well I’m done, but I do believe in the thought that if you’re going to do something that everyone else is doing you might as well make it good (sorry “Paranormal Activity” you’ve run your course).  This brings me to 2012’s “V/H/S” and a slight ray of hope for the horror genre.

The premise is simple; five stories and one wrap-around that runs the gamut of zombies, haunted houses, aliens, and psycho killers.  But I will admit, within the first three minutes, I was feeling dizzy.  The camera just moves and moves and moves and moves.  Warning to any viewer who might be sensitive to motion sickness, this film will mess you up. 

Aside from the camera work, the stories are actually well constructed and fairly original.  The highlights to me include the first story “Amateur Night” where some raucous party-goers looking for the old “in-out, in-out” run into the proverbial “quiet girl,” and the last tale “October 31, 1998,” directed by the film collective Radio Silence, create a haunted house tale with a twist.  I can find something I liked in all the stories, but these two were the standouts.

Is “V/H/S” re-inventing the wheel….no, but it is a fresh look on the found footage genre that has been bogging down horror movies for the past few years.  I’m all for independent spirit, especially when it comes to horror films, and the guys behind “V/H/S” have a bright future as long as they build on their success with “V/H/S,” buck the found footage trend, and lead the genre into a renaissance.

Fun Fact:  VHS,short for “Video Home System,” was created in 1971 in Japan.

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