On October 5th, 2007 the first horror anthology movie in quite awhile was supposed to be released theatrically by the folks at the WB. It wasn’t. Why, you ask? Well, it’s not because the movie isn’t very good. On the contrary, it’s excellent. It’s not because the movie was too expensive and that they wouldn’t make their money back, because it cost less than 15 million to make. It’s not because there wouldn’t be an audience for a horror film that takes place on and is released near Halloween, who’s only real competition is the latest SAW sequel, because I believe it would have done great. So why WB? WHY!? Why are you dumping this film on DVD with no fanfare except the cult-like buzz it has gotten by the few people who’ve been lucky enough to see it? I don’t know the answer to this, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that studio execs are brainless idiots that are born without spines, guts, or balls. I mean, that’s got to be it, right?
The problem with TRICK ‘R TREAT is that it’s just too damn clever and a bit too original for a studio system that is only interested in marketing a pre-sold property. If TRICK ‘R TREAT was a remake or a sequel, or if it was based on a popular video game or graphic novel, then no problem. It would already be a franchise and therefore, a bankable property. But the WB can’t be expected to get behind something that’s new and original, because then they could possibly lose some of their precious money and then some executive douchebag might lose their job, which they don’t deserve anyway, so let’s greenlight that FRIDAY THE 13th remake/sequel instead and fuck what the people want, right? WRONG!
I saw TRICK ‘R TREAT a full year ago with a packed house of horror maniacs at a special screening held in Hollywood by the folks at AIN’T IT COOL NEWS and the reaction was phenomenal. I know others who saw it at the ’08 L.A. Screamfest and even before that at The Alamo Drafthouse’s annual BUTT NUMB-A-THON in ’07. After the success of these screenings, I thought for sure the WB would realize their error and release it theatrically the following October with all the bells and whistles. EPIC FAIL!
So now TRICK ‘R TREAT has finally seen the light of day on home video and I guess we should be thankful for that, but this a movie that really needs to be seen in a theatre with an audience, to be truly appreciated. Luckily, I live in L.A. and there were a few screenings of it at the two best revival theaters in the city, the New Beverly Cinema and the Cinefamily @ The Silent Movie Theatre, this past weekend. I attended both.
Both screenings were a lot of fun! The Cinefamily threw a costume contest before the movie and I went as the DARK WIZARD (which won me 3rd prize and an autographed TRICK ‘R TREAT poster!), while my companion Grae Drake from The Popcorn Mafia went as a sexy ZOMBIE SCHOOL GIRL, with a pencil sticking out of her cheek. She looked awesome and did her own makeup too!
The New Bev featured TRICK ‘R TREAT on a double bill with one of the greatest horror anthology movies ever made, 1982’s CREEPSHOW. Both screenings included an introduction and Q and A from the director, MICHAEL DOUGHERTY, who seemed ecstatic over how well received his film was by both audiences.
The best way to describe TRICK ‘R TREAT is that it is an anthology film in the spirit of TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE, CREEPSHOW and THE TWILIGHT ZONE MOVIE, only presented in an non-linear narrative similar to PULP FICTION, that features interwoven characters and stories.
The first story centers on a school principal (played with dark humor by DYLAN BAKER), who happens to be a candy poisoning, child killer bent on teaching his son how to carve a pumpkin the “right” way.
The second story involves a prank thrown on an autistic girl that involves an old “legend” about a bus of mentally challenged kids that were driven off a cliff to their deaths. This segment is like THE GOONIES with a body count.
The third tale features a group of attractive, twenty-something girls who are throwing a costume party in the woods, so they can “feed” their animal instincts. ANNA PAQUIN is a virgin trying to find a date, dressed like Little Red Riding Hood. Virgins, vampires and werewolves. Oh my!
The final story is about a mean old man (BRIAN COX) who refuses to celebrate Halloween in any way, shape or form. No decorations, costumes or candy from him, just a lot of bad attitude. Unfortunately, SAM is a stickler for the rules of the holiday and makes sure they are being followed by all. This bizarre little creature serves as the film’s mascot (ala the Crypt Keeper) and in this story he proves to be a real menace to anyone who doesn’t want to play along.
TRICK ‘R TREAT is an instantly iconic horror movie for horror movie geeks, made by a horror movie geek. MICHAEL DOUGHERTY has created one of the most Halloween-ish movies about Halloween ever. Not even HALLOWEEN is as Halloween as TRICK ‘R TREAT! The incredible art direction by TONY WOHLGEMUTH and beautiful cinematography by GLENN MacPHERSON creates the most richly detailed setting I’ve ever seen. Every corner of the frame virtually explodes with amazing images of pumpkin patches, costume parades, and lavishly decorated neighborhoods where every house has a carved Jack-O-Lantern and all the kids are dressed as pirates, monsters and ghosts.
There is also a great deal of gore and a pervasive tone of mirth and malice that reminded me a lot of the kind of horror movies I grew up on in the 80’s. And that’s where those dummies at the WB had their biggest problem with the film. MICHAEL DOUGHERTY kills off 15 kids in this movie and I admire the balls it took to do that. We live in an age where the very thought of harming a child in a movie is considered taboo, even if the kid really deserves it. What puss-ified times we live in. It’s just a movie, people!
Following the TRICK ‘R TREAT screening at the New Bev, was a screening of the classic GEORGE ROMERO and STEPHEN KING collaboration, CREEPSHOW. I loved seeing it again so much and it complimented TRICK ‘R TREAT beautifully. CREEPSHOW still has a great deal of SCARE power left in it, as there were a lot of screams from the audience. The term, “they don’t make ’em like that anymore” would fit here, if it wasn’t for the fact that MICHAEL DOUGHERTY did do just that.
To hell with renting TRICK ‘R TREAT, just go ahead and buy it. It’s worth it and trust me, you’ll be watching it every Halloween from now on. Just be sure to watch it with all the lights turned off and don’t forget to follow all the rules, or you might find yourself in trouble with SAM! Trick ‘r treat!
Tags: Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, cinefamily, Creepshow, Dylan Baker, George Romero, Glenn MacPherson, grae drake, Michael Dougherty, Stephen King, the new beverly cinema, the popcorn mafia, the silent movie theatre, Tony Wohlgemuth, Trick 'R Treat