28th Aug2017

Frightfest 2017: ‘The Terror of Hallow’s Eve’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Caleb Thomas, JT Neal, Annie Read, Juliet Landau, Eric Roberts, Doug Jones, Sarah Lancaster, Christian Kane | Written by Ronald L. Halvas, Todd Tucker, Zack Ward | Directed by Todd Tucker

terror-of-hallows-eve

Growing up is hard and for fifteen-year-old Timmy Stevens it’s no exception. Scrawny and nerdy, he’s relentlessly tormented by the town bullies. His only escape is his love of horror and the creatures he creates. A chance run-in with his tormentors in a convenience store parking lot on Halloween leaves Timmy brutally beaten. Walking home he stumbles upon a mysterious pumpkin. Despondent from the vicious attack he escapes to his private world and begins carving the pumpkin, wishing for revenge. Unknowingly, Timmy summons the Trickster, an ancient evil, who offers to grant his wish: scare the bullies to death.

I’ll be honest, The Terror of Hallow’s Eve was THE film I was anticipating the most at this years Frightfest. Why? Because Todd Tucker is the man behind one of this decades BEST kids movies: Monster Mutt, which is an old-school family film in the most traditional sense. There’s no swearing, no violence and no sex, it really is the epitome of a family movie… and features the huge titular dog rendered in practical effects!

Almost the antithesis of Monster Mutt, The Terror of Hallow’s Eve is Goosebumps meets R.L. Stine meets Tales from the Crypt film for grown ups. In so much as there’s a real morality play at work here – be careful what you wish for, and treat others as you wish to be treated (oh, and f**k bullies) – and a sting in the tale that adds an extra layer of fun and nastiness. There’s a real Tales that Witness Madness vibe to Tucker’s movie too: each person suffers personal nightmares, locked away from their friends and confronting their own personal demons/desires, which in turn cause their demise.

I said Tucker’s latest film was “almost” the antithesis of Monster Mutt because both films have a number of things in common: with a teen-led cast this film, if not for the gory effects, could be just as kid-friendly – in an Are You Afraid of the Dark way – as his previous effort; and both films are packed wth fantastic effects work: with The Terror at Hallow’s Eve featuring creature designs that are as unique as they are deadly. Though given that Todd Tucker’s background is in both practical and visual effects, it was pretty much a given that this movie would feature some rather fantastic effects work.

Not only are there some grisly special effects in the latter half of the film as the Trickster goes on his fun-filled and bloody rampage; but the Trickster himself – played by Doug Jones and rendered in a combination of practical and visual effects – is a sight to behold. At first a cute and mischievous in appearance, somewhat kid-friendly in fact, the transformation of the character is phenomenal and terrifying. Oh and for those, like me, who love a good killer puppet movie – this does not disappoint!

Whilst many similar “deadly wish fulfilment” movies (like Wishmaster et al.) end on a happy note – the hero often managing to outwit the evil and in many cases reset what has happened, The Terror of Hallow’s Eve bucks the trend and goes for a more downbeat, sombre ending. And though many will say the ten years later epilogue seems tacked on merely to set up a sequel, I for one would welcome more evil escapades of the Trickster.

As brilliant, warm, inventive and fun as his first film, only this time with an added evil streak and a dose of black humour, The Terror of Hallow’s Eve truly lived up to my [admittedly] high expectations. I just hope Todd Tucker doesn’t leave it quite so long between features next time!

***** 5/5

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