Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy

All Hallows Eve

By Steve Anderson
March 1st, 2014

All Hallow's EveAll Hallows Eve
***
DVD
Directed by Damien Leone
Written by Damien Leone
Starring Katie Maguire, Mike Giannelli, Catherine A. Callahan
83 mins
NR
2013

Horror has so many exciting tropes to it that it's a wonder we don't see more of them crop up more often. "All Hallows Eve," a comparatively new title in horror that I've been meaning to catch for some time now, is one such title that looks to bring together a lot of these all in one handy package. But will all the intermingling do the job? Or will be looking at the Juicy Fruit of movies, too many flavors that often fade too quickly?

"All Hallows Eve" presents us with a fairly standard Halloween night. The kids are off trick or treating, and some of the parents are off partying. This leaves a bit of an opportunity for the babysitters to make some quick cash, and so one of them does. We join said babysitter in the midst of her job, when she discovers that one of her charges has a little something unusual in his trick-or-treat haul: a VHS cassette. Intrigued, the babysitter puts said tape on and discovers it's a lot more potent than should be expected from a kid's trick-or-treat haul. But what's on it is perhaps much worse: a slice of reality that's downright disturbing. And when elements of the film start showing up in reality, well, that's enough to get anyone unsettled.

That's an awful lot of tropes tossed into one central pylon, and things only get more disturbing when we discover that this is an anthology film. Anthology films are generally fun, if only because we see so few of them crop up any more. It's hard to find one of those three-vignette titles organized around a single umbrella story, and when they show up, it's a shot of nostalgia for the days of "Tales from the Crypt" and "Deadtime Stories" and the like. Throw in clowns with light-up eyes and it only gets weirder. Vastly so.

Some cracks do start to show up in the narrative, however, like the masks that astute viewers might well recognize from various Internet memes including the classic "creepypasta" figures--check out the one with the tiny eyes and the huge grin, for example--and similar fodder. Still, we don't see many movies based on creepypasta, so there's a certain amount of innovation here. Plus, owing to the anthology format, we get an interesting combination of start and stop, a kind of wave motion that's noteworthy in its own right and elevates this one a couple notches. Better yet, the anthology stories actually get better as they go; while the first one is just your bog-standard kidnapped women / baby sacrifice, the second one involves aliens. It's a nice ramping up of the whole affair, and that's unusually fun.

Special features here include trailers for "Aberration," "Shiver," "The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh," though none of these will show up on the main menu. We will, however, get a commentary track, which is all right, though I'd prefer subtitles for this sort of thing.

While it's a bit on the cheesy side, "All Hallows' Eve" is hitting a lot of those old classic notes. Creepypasta faces, evil clowns, a soupcon of gore effects, and a sufficiently retro good time that horror buffs really should be able to get behind. It's freaky, it's fun, and it's more than worth catching.

Want to receive an expanded version of Reel Advice as an E-Newsletter?? Email to thevideostoreguy@columnist.com with "The Advisor" in the subject line.  Steve Andersen, much to his own chagrin, is a five-plus year veteran of the direct to video market. He has spent an alarming amount of time in video stores and seeks to provide the public with advance information on all the video releases that they may never have heard of...whether they want to hear of them or not. Steve appears in one way or another weekly, biweekly, or monthly on such fine entertainment-related ezines as Film Threat, Dream Forge, Reel Horror, Acid Logic, Chaotic Culture Magazine, Malicious Bitch webzine, and many others. Readers, agents, or editors can email Steve at thevideostoreguy@columnist.com




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