All Hallows’ Eve reminds us to think twice before digging through our Halloween bags, and that you can’t keep a bad clown down, even if you try.
Released in 2013, Damien Leone’s All Hallows’ Eve has much of what one expects from modern horror. There are abundant attempts to shock, but not many successful surprises. The premise is straightforward: A babysitter named Sarah (Katie Maguire) returns home from trick or treating with two kids, Timmy and Tia (played by Cole Mathewson and Sydney Freihofer). In one of their treat bags is an unlabeled VHS tape. Foolishly, the babysitter puts it on while the kids are in the room, and it turns out to be a strange anthology horror movie, all involving (directly or indirectly) a creeptastic clown (Mike Gianelli), who is basically the mascot of the movie.
There really is not much of a story going on, even though it’s an anthology film with multiple stories (including the standard “wraparound”). We have things like demons, aliens, possibly demon aliens, and the clown himself (or itself), who may be a demon alien. His horn honking and sadistic smile are reminiscent of Pennywise. We learn early on that no one will be spared from the evil, and that torment and sadistic violence are the main goals for all these relentless creatures.
A few strengths:
1. The makeup for the clown (named “Art the Clown”) is well done, and I actually like the alien story, though it’s nothing profound — just fleeing from aliens and flashing lights.
2. There’s a story where Art pursues a female victim in a car, and the basic premise reminds me somewhat of the hitchhiker in Creepshow 2.
3. Sarah the babysitter is likable and cute. She’s one of the best reasons to watch All Hallows’ Eve, both in terms of her cuteness and how her character and dilemma actually aids the story. She is in the unique position of wanting to let the kids watch the movie, yet knows she shouldn’t. That’s probably a familiar problem during Halloween. How much is too much? Well, I’d say that when it comes to a demonic gang rape scene, that is when you should switch the movie off, apologize to the kids for what you let them watch, and explain that it’s only a movie. And, even if the kids want to keep watching it, I’d give them a straight “No.” However, as one might expect, there is more to that VHS tape than meets the eye. In the world of horror, it’s pretty much never just a movie, is it?
I’d say All Hallows’ Eve is pretty good for an anthology movie overall, though not quite as classic as Creepshow’s 1 or 2, or even Cat’s Eye. It relies more on violence and gore than on telling an interesting story. If you’re like me, that may be a possible drawback. You may need to be in a certain mood to enjoy it. It is ultimately a dumb movie, but it’s something you may still want to throw on after a stressful day at work, or if you want something slightly different this Halloween season. You could do worse. And, in the world of horror movies, you probably have.
As a random note: I wonder if anyone considered marketing it as a Halloween treat. Sure, it could result in lawsuits if some kid digs into his or her bag, throws this movie on and shocks the whole family — but it could be a cool marketing gimmick.