ALL HALLOW’S EVE (31 Days of Horror)

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I love Halloween time. For an entire month, it seems the entire country lives in anticipation for some of the same things I get enthusiastic about all year round. There is a celebration of spookiness in the air. It’s also the time when I take part in the 31 Days of Horror Challenge, which involves watching at least one horror film a day for the duration of the month. This isn’t really too far from what I usually do anyway. But here’s the dark side of the 31 days I rarely touch upon in public. It’s exhausting.

It’s not the fault of the time of year, nor is it the fault of anyone else in the 31 Days of Horror activities. But for me, I try to do a bit more. So, I watch at least one horror item a day, usually more. I’m also writing about these items and if you’ve seen the other reviews on this site, you know I tend to go on. Like many people, I listen to music while working. The most conductive music for my writing and editing is usually the heavy stuff – punk, hardcore and recently, quite a bit of metal. So, I’m devouring hours of horror on a daily basis, writing about them, maintaining connections with like-minded people in the field, all to a soundtrack of heavy beats, grinding guitars and guttural screams. That’s me every day during the month of October, and don’t get me wrong, I love every moment of it. And yet, there comes those times when your brain tells you that it’s time to step back from the edge and unplug for at least a day or so. These are voices worth heeding because there are few things as depressing as overdosing on the things you love and burning out on the whole experience altogether. Even in this heavy month, I take a step back every couple of weeks so that my true love remains fresh and wonderful in my mind. No Dario Argento today, it’s time to catch up on BOB’S BURGERS reruns. Sorry, Venom. Today, the heaviest thing I’m listening to is Laura Brannigan. Keep the hellfires burning.

Does that make me less hardcore? I don’t think so, but whatever you want to believe. Do I care? Not one damn bit.

After these breaks, I find I sometimes get an aggressive shove right back to the edge again. That’s what happened with ALL HALLOW’S EVE. A blind watch, it’s an anthology film that couldn’t start with a more basic opening. A babysitter is watching a couple of kids on Halloween night. They’re dividing up their candy and watching the “just try and sue us for using it” classic, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD on television. But uh-oh, someone slipped a videotape into junior’s bag. After many protests from the babysitter, they begin to watch the tape. That this family still has a VCR hooked up in present day isn’t the strangest thing that’s going on here.

This is the moment when anything quaint and ordinary flies out the window, because let me tell you – ALL HALLOW’S EVE is one freaky little movie.

We get three stories, four if you count the wraparound. Each one involves a lone woman being stalked by someone or something. But director Damien Leone keeps things just different enough to make it interesting. The first segment seems to be headed towards a torture porn bent, only to become a demonic blood orgy. The second involves otherworldly visitors terrorizing a woman in her home. The third uses many editing filters to appear like an old school grindhouse flick, which in this case actually helps make this tale of a relentless killer better than it would have been otherwise. And in all of these stories, we have Art the Clown (Mike Giannelli), a silent clown who seems like a mere portent of evil until he eventually takes a more hands on approach and we see how truly evil he is.

Each of the stories, filmed at various times over several years, manages to ratchet up the tension, despite sharing essentially the same scare model. An ordinary opening turns into something full of scares. And while Leone is focused mainly on suspense, the film manages to be surprisingly gruesome.

It’s no one’s idea of a classic, and I’m not sure how this film would hold up on repeat viewings. But ALL HALLOW’S EYE has plenty of moments to make you feel creepy all over.  Recommended.

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RATING SYSTEM AND CRITERIA

  • What was the film trying to accomplish and how well did it meet those goals? 
  • In addition to (or sometimes despite) that, how does the film hold up on sheer entertainment value?

The Best – Reserved for the absolute cream of the crop.
Highly Recommended – Very good. Far better than your typical film and one that I will remember for some time.
Recommended – Just what it says. This is a good film and earns a recommendation. Don’t think that because it’s not one of the top two categories that these films aren’t worth your time. The “recommended” tag is a winner and nothing to sneer at.
Barely Recommended – The middle of the road. Those films where I didn’t feel it was a complete waste of time, but it didn’t set my world on fire either. Not bad, but leaves me feeling bored and/or apathetic.
Disappointing – Close but no cigar. Does a few things right but is ultimately a whole lot of wasted potential. Not recommended.
Awful – A bad movie. Pure and simple. Not worth your time.
The Worst – The Britta Perry of ratings, though not as entertaining. The bottom of the barrel.

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