As Metloaf once said, "two out of three ain't bad." That's the kind of overused reference that fits well with a lot of anthology movies - The ABC's of Death being the notable exception. Well, with the emergence of Tales of Halloween Meatloaf's soulful tune can't help us now because, "two or three out of 11," just doesn't have the same ring to it.
The entire month of October holds special significance for genre fans; an entire month to celebrate all things spooky culminating in the ultimate celebration, Halloween. The horror genre typically shines as all things macabre pair well for the coming 31 days so the concept behind Tales of Halloween seems perfect for the season. The anthology boasts an impressive list of talent contributing shorts (Neil Marshall, Lucky McKee, Darren Lynn Bousman and Paul Solet to name a few) under the moniker of The October Society and features killer pumpkins, urban legends, slashers, aliens, and much more.
Tales of Halloween utilizes the same approach to the anthology concept as ABC's of Death, but with the unifying theme of Halloween night in one suburb instead of the alphabet. That in and of itself makes Tales much more palatable, but doesn't save it from the same pitfalls that plague ABC's. Eleven directors contributed eleven shorts and not a single one of them can be described as "unwatchable" but more than half of them have very little to offer when it comes to content that will stick with you once its all said and done. For instance, "The Night Billy Raised Hell" directed by Bousman, is weird and kinda funny, but nothing about it leaves an impression. To a lesser extent, "Trick" manages to be memorable in a bleak and kind of disturbing way, but lacks the energy of some of the other segments.
There are three specific shorts that make Tales of Halloween worth the time invested into it. "Sweet Tooth" falls on the lesser end simply because it is one of the shortest segments and opens the film so it's easy for it to get lost in the shuffle. The short embodies the spirit of Halloween from a darker perspective while creating an urban legend that could easily be expanded to full length in the future. "Friday the 31st" fits perfectly near the end of the film and works best in its short format, but features a fun and hilarious twist on the slasher genre in an unexpected way. "Bad Seed" directed by Neil Marshall closes out the film wins not just for the best short of the bunch, but best title for a short also. It features a genetically altered pumpkin that comes to life and wreaks havoc about town, but takes on the tone of a serial cop TV show, cheesy one-liners and all.
Tales of Halloween is the trick or treating equivalent of getting your favorite candy bar taking a bite and finding it's inexplicably been filled with raisins. Raisins have their place in life, but they've got no business in my bag of candy. The good segments are good enough to make it worth checking out, but as the anthology cliche is a mixed bag.