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John’s Horror Corner: All Hallows’ Eve (2013), the brutal gory horror anthology that spawned Art the Clown.

November 1, 2019

MY CALL: This film is a perfect example of what an early career filmmaker can do with a humble budget and a strong passion for brutal blood and guts. Everything is color-by-numbers horror reliant on the simplest tropes, and presented completely without storyline, explanation or purpose… but the gore is chunky and brutal. MORE MOVIES LIKE All Hallows’ Eve: For more evil clown movies, try Terrifier (2016), Stephen King’s It (1990, 2017), Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988), and maaaybe even Stitches (2012), Scary or Die (2012) and Clown (2014).

MORE HORROR ANTHOLOGIES: Dead of Night (1945), Black Sabbath (1963), Tales from the Crypt (1972), The Vault of Horror (1973), The Uncanny (1977), Creepshow (1982), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye (1985), Deadtime Stories (1986), Creepshow 2 (1987), After Midnight (1989), Tales from the Crypt Season 1 (1989), Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), Two Evil Eyes (1990), Grimm Prairie Tales (1990), The Willies (1990), Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993), Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996), Campfire Tales (1997), Dark Tales of Japan (2004), 3 Extremes (2004), Creepshow 3 (2006), Trick ‘r Treat (2007), Chillerama (2011), Little Deaths (2011), V/H/S (2012), The Theater Bizarre (2012), The ABCs of Death (2013), V/H/S 2 (2013), The Profane Exhibit (2013), The ABCs of Death 2 (2014), V/H/S Viral (2014), Southbound (2015), Tales of Halloween (2015), A Christmas Horror Story (2015), The ABCs of Death 2.5 (2016), Holidays (2016), Terrified (2017; aka Aterrados, a pseudo-anthology), Oats Studios, Vol. 1 (2017), Ghost Stories (2017), XX (2017), The Field Guide to Evil (2018), Shudder’s series Creepshow (2019) and Xenophobia (2019).

Babysitting two preteens on Halloween, Sarah (Katie Maguire; Terrifier) finds an unlabeled VHS tape in one of their treat bags and no one can explain how it got there. Curious of its contents, she watches as three stories unfold…

The three stories feature a cult of mutant demons sacrificing a young woman after she is abducted by an evil clown; an alien landing in the semi-rural suburbs and terrorizing a woman in her new house; and a young motorist who cannot seem to escape a murderous clown. All stories include a terrorized woman who is largely alone with her cell phone, some sort of assailant terrorizing her, and a clown in at least some capacity.

The sets are super low budget (e.g., using an apartment/dorm building as a train station set) and the acting varies wildly from one actor to the next. But this film is less about storytelling or highbrow film, and more about kicking the tires and taking a new filmmaker out for a gory spin.

In the first segment, the dismemberment effects are graphic, but the ensuing gore has chunky arterial heart. And while the fleshy mutant rubber-suited monster could look better (e.g., you see it fold over when he turns his head), it looks as good as it needs to for me to enjoy the scene. Other demon-faced make-up work has spirit—even if they are rigid latex masks with no mouth reticulation, they remain very creepy.

The alien creature in the second segment is truly hokey and moves like a pop-jazz dancer in slow-motion. Had that been the first short, I likely would have stopped the movie. This middle story offers zero substance and I wish it wasn’t in the movie at all.

The third segment is all about the clown, and goes full-tilt on gore—like, “watch me smile as I saw this guy’s head off” gore. I feel all the effects budget was sunk into this segment with the brutally faceless victim and the dismemberment (that would later be pushed to greater limits in Terrifier). That closing stitched-up naked amputee image was vicious.

The babysitter wraparound remains present throughout the anthology, and closes with a sort of “directly indirect” connection to the content of the VHS tape.

Writer/director Damien Leone (Terrifier, Terrifier 2) isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. Everything presented here is color-by-numbers horror reliant on the simplest tropes, and his three anthology shorts and wraparound are presented completely without storyline, explanation or purpose. They are simply horror vignettes; ideas or scenes realized on screen in complete absence of plot. And that’s fine, even if not what I generally prefer, in a horror anthology.

This anthology was entertaining (largely for the third short). But if I’m being honest, I’m glad I saw Terrifier (2016) first. Because All Hallows’ Eve would not have indicated to me that Leone was capable of erecting such a great silent villain or a plotted film—as we very satisfyingly find in the 2016 follow-up. That said, All Hallows’ Eve is a perfect example of what an early career filmmaker can do with a humble budget and a strong passion for brutal blood and guts.

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