The movie studios do many baffling things, but no worse in recent memory is their shelving of this dynamo Halloween insta-classic, which belongs in every horror lover's home, for keeps! Why did it get shelved? Probably because, um, they kill a lot of kids in it? Woo-HOO! I love anything that makes studio heads "uncomfortable" and slaughtering children in horror films is supposed to do just that. Meanwhile of course, torture adults for hours in tedious ways all you want and the ratings board barely bothers to slap an R on you. Why are the SAW movies always so successful on Halloween? Because they have the field all to themselves, since the other studios are chumps chicken to try and steal some of the thunder. I've never actually seen any of the SAW movies, but I've been forced to endure their dispiriting trailers and soul-crushing subway posters. I remember when anti-porn activists would put up pictures of violent torture porn in front of their tables on the street and I always thought it was so horrific, it's like, great, children walking by can see this, and they can't really otherwise, so you crazy ladies are actually spreading the very thing you seek to condemn, but such arguments are moot now with people hooked up to savage looking pain machines every year for the inescapable SAW sequels beaming sadly down from every Subway wall. Meanwhile TRICK 'R TREAT is a life (and death) affirming gas with almost no torture porn, just lots of fun, crazy, Halloween-empowering spookshow ghoulshit!
With its ingeniously interlocked multiple story narrative and eliptical framework, TRICK-R-TREAT is the CRASH, or even PULP FICTION of horror films: Dylan Baker (HAPPINESS) co-stars tas he sort of dad who packs razors into candy bars, then "does things" with the dead fat kid on the doorstep. His next-door neighbor is a hilariously game (and putty nosed) Brian Cox, who has to tangle with the crazy little demon child, Sam (seen on the posters), and that's not all: there's innocent virgin little Red Riding Hood Anna Paquin and her crazy buxom friends out looking to "score" while a vampire works his way towards them, and meanwhile a group of kids is headed off to the fog enshrouded quarry where a busload of Lechter-esque psycho-kids in the scariest bunch of masks you've ever seen went a crashin' 30 years ago (but shown in flashback, below). It's all given the comic book framing and gorily ironic climaxes we've come to expect from horror anthology films, but a lot more besides... including the most, and, dare I say it? the most elaborate and cool jack-o-lanterns in the history of cinema?
I mean, let's face facts: a lot of anthology horror films suck, and why? In my opinion they don't invest much care on the sometimes lengthy set ups for the shock twist endings. In other words, they're not in the moment, they presume no one is paying attention to the character development and just waiting for the pay off, so why bother crafting good shots or decor or characters? TRICK 'R TREAT is a film where every moment counts, each second is filled with some kind of macabre image and enough Halloween bric a brac and crazy character tics and touches to keep this interesting for dozens of viewings to come. Clearly a labor of love for writer-director Michael Dougherty (he wrote X-Men 2), it's the kind of thing that can turn you completely around on Halloween and horror films, the way THE WARRIORS can turn you around on urban grime!
The good news is that all this shelving and sitting on it has helped the film turn into something of a cause celebre with the geek circuit (it screened at a lot of horror and monster conventions), and apparently the DVD pre-sold well enough that a sequel is in the works, or at least running through Dougherty's mind. Do yourself a favor and make sure you're in on this. Not exactly scary, but plenty funny and filled with so much great detail and ideas that the scares and twists are almost just icing on the spectacular cake. If you really wanted to love CREEPSHOW but just couldn't shake the feeling that it was all too trashy and predictable (aside from the "I want my cake, Bedelia!" opener), then relax, my blood brothers and Margot Kidder sisters; take off your masks and lie down. Dougherty has a comfortable coffin all warmed up for you, and idling...