08th Oct2014

‘Halloween Haunting’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Richard Tyson, Sherri Eakin, Jeremy Ivy, Jeremy Sande, Corlandos Scott, Kara Riann Brown, Armand J. Campbell Jr., Randy Hicks, Shannon Box, Mark Tunstall | Written and Directed by Terron Parsons

hayride-cast

Some DVD companies really do take the proverbial piss don’t they? Originally titled Hayride for it’s US release, then originally solicited on Amazon as Pitchfork Murders, this throwback slasher hits DVD shelves across the UK as Halloween Haunting - complete with knock-off title treatment and cover than make this look, for all intents and purposes, as a new entry in the long-running Halloween franchise. It’s not. And there’s no way in hell it could EVER be compared to even the worst of that series!

On paper Halloween Haunting sounds like a great idea for a horror flick, blurring the lines between fact and fiction, urban legend and reality:

Steven Summers returns home to southern Alabama from college with his girlfriend Amanda to attend his uncle’s annual Halloween hayride. Unaware that an escaped killer is on the loose, Steven will soon face the real life embodiment of Pitchfork , a character his uncle created for the Hayride and Steven’s childhood tormentor. Steven will soon realize that not all childhood fears are imagined when the legend of Pitchfork suddenly becomes dangerously real…

Yeah, that’s not quite what we get in the finished product. Instead this is a jumbled mess. Flitting back and forth between the escaped killer and Richard Tyson’s “Captain Morgan” who is setting up for the Halloween festivities at his farm-come-theme-park, there’s no real cohesion to the film – not even when the two “halves” of the movie finally come together and all-hell (supposedly) breaks loose. I say supposedly because the majority of this wannabe-slashers kills are either a) off screen; b) are shot in almost darkness so you can’t see a bloody thing (pun intended); or c) consist of little more than characters reacting to “something” then blood dribbling from somewhere.

Filmmakers take note: If you’re going to make a slasher movie make sure that there’s some “slashing” actually going on! Oh, and if you’re going to recreate that famous chainsaw vs. machete scene, make sure you have the budget and the effects crew to pull it off.

I can see what writer/director Terron Parsons was TRYING to achieve with Halloween Haunting – there’s a return to the slow build-up, with scenes where we get to know some of the characters (even if those scenes just feel like a rip-off of the camp fire scene in Friday the 13th); there’s a real sense of trying to build an urban legend-like tale (again like the Friday the 13th series); and the films villain is a hulking brute, and almost unstoppable killing machine (Friday the 13th anyone?). Only the problem with Parsons film is that, even for a low-budget independent horror movie, this feels completely amateur-hour – there’s no spark of originality, not a shred of imagination and a cast that are, frankly inept. Only Richard Tyson saves the day – and even he looks like he’s phoning it in.

With flashbacks that look like they’ve been run through a myriad of retro-filters to give them that “Instagram” look and a twist (and final “sting”) that comes so far out of left-field that it feels like a total joke, Halloween Haunting isn’t going to win anyone over. There’s a reason it’s been retitled and mis-sold to horror fans here in the UK.

Halloween Haunting is released on DVD on October 13th, courtesy of Point Blank.

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