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 rocks his HAPPINESS cred as the 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 grouchy (and putty-nosed) Brian Cox, who has to tangle with the crazy little demon 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 looking to "score" at the big country solstice costume party (wherever this town is, you'll want in) and a group of kids heads off to the fog-enshrouded quarry where a busload of Lecter-esque psycho-children once did plummet. The eerie quiet of these kids in their ugly deformed masks all chained up in the school bus is pretty unforgettable. 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, at times maybe even too much. The movie studios do many baffling things, but no worse in recent memory is their shelving of this dynamo Halloween insta-classic! Why did it get shelved? Probably because, um, they kill a lot of kids in it? Awww... hawhaahah!
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 scenarios and the ratings board barely bothers to slap an R on you. Why are the SAW movies always so successful on Halloween? They have nothing to do with fall, as far as I know. It's because they have the field all to themselves, since the other studios are chumps. 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. Shit disturbed me, man.. deep.
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! So what if it's a little overstuffed with elaborate pumpkins and set decor and adds up to less than the sum of its parts, and leaves the fate of a poor doggy all but forgotten? That last part does bug me, but you can't ever perfect everything to have.
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. Writer-director Michael Dougherty (he wrote X-MEN 2) makes it 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.
So 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, Bedilia!" opener), then take off your mask, open up your chest and lie down. Dougherty has a comfortable coffin idling...