Cinepocalypse 2017 Presents: ‘The Terror of Hallow’s Eve’ (2017)

Movies about a person getting revenge on the assholes who bully them make up a pretty big subgenre in the land of horror. When you think about it, everything from Let the Right One In to The Craft to Terror Train to Trick or Treat (1986), to more recent films like UnfriendedWish Upon and Friend Request all have people – mostly teens – getting revenge on the people who bullied them. Stephen King has cornered the market on the bullying subgenre, leading the way with Carrie, Christine, IT, The Dark Half and Stand By Me. Now Illusion Industries Inc. is bringing horror fans yet another vengeful bullying tale in the form of The Terror of Hallow’s Eve, showing this year at Cinepocalypse.

Timmy Stevens is a socially awkward 15-year-old obsessed with horror movies and frequently beaten up by high school bullies. Timmy’s wish for vicious revenge unwittingly unleashes a particularly nasty creature known as The Trickster on Halloween night.

Makeup FX genius Todd Tucker (Bram Stoker’s Dracula 1992, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl 2003) directed The Terror of Hallow’s Eve after creating the story with fellow FX master Ronald L. Halvas (Rottentail 2018). A Christmas Story’s Zack Ward penned the script. Disney channel regular Caleb Thomas stars as poor, bullied Tim, along with familiar faces Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight 2008) and Hellboy’s Doug Jones. The film also stars Sarah Lancaster (Saved By the Bell: The New Class TV series) as Tim’s harried mother and Leverage’s Christian Kane as his MIA dad. Annie Read (Awkward. TV series) plays Tim’s love interest, April, Roommates actors JT Neal and Niko Papasteganou team up with newcomer Mccabe Gregg as the teen’s tormentors, and Carpenter veteran Peter Jason earns a paycheck in the epilogue as Dr. Hamilton. Even the director makes a cameo as an older version of Tim.

The score for The Terror of Hallow’s Eve was composed by Jeffrey Alan Jones (#Screamers 2016) and Grammy nominee Chris Walden, who also incorporated songs from John Carpenter’s Lost Themes album into the mix. Last but not least, the special effects and makeup were created by Michael Valenzuela (Flight of the Living Dead 2007), Padraic Culham (The Godfather 1972), Martin Astles (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 2008) and Tim Jarvis (War of the Worlds 2005).

What Works

This Faustian tale takes place primarily in 1981, where we’re introduced to Tim, a talented artist and introvert who has found a way to express himself through horror, although that’s not always appreciated by those around him. He’s also pretty small for his age, so he makes a perfect target for bullies. The “bad things happen to good people” storyline, the young protagonist and relatively light first half of the film reminded me of an episode of Goosebumps. Once the simpering Trickster (Jones) showed his cadaverous face, however, The Terror of Hallow’s Eve became dark and disturbing. The boy’s wish for retribution sent Tim’s bullies on a course of action that twisted their most indulgent fantasies of food, euphoria and sex into a cavalcade of nightmarish terror. The backlit, jittery scarecrow and the twisted, Punch and Judy-like puppets were especially horrifying. The glassy, buggy eyes of the Trickster evoked both sympathy and terror, two feelings that should never go together.

I loved the nods to classic horror films, especially Halloween – most notably in April hiding behind the louvered closet doors and a character named Dr. Curtis who works at an asylum called Haddonfield Mental Hospital – and the huge Alien Queen/Pumpkinhead/spider from IT combo creature. These monstrosities were beautifully concocted, and Tucker’s background in special effects was wholly apparent. The surreal, off-kilter creations turned a straightforward revenge tale into a bleak, twisted horrorscape.

What Doesn’t Work

Despite the title card revealing the year to be 1981, the era seemed to be fluid, with things like vehicles, television set styles and clothing pointing to other times, sometimes implying more than one decade in a single scene. This may have been intentional by Tucker to create a more relatable experience for viewers of different ages, but for me, the time warp dropped my suspension of disbelief like a lead balloon. I was also disappointed with the Alien/Spider creature. Compared to the scarecrow, the Trickster and the puppets, this contraption was mediocre at best. I’m also curious about the Based on True Events title card. Was this a nod to Texas Chain Saw Massacre or am I supposed to believe that, at some point in time, a wish-fulfilling creature really did pop out of a jack o’lantern on Halloween to kill off some kid’s shit-talking bullies?

Final Thoughts

The Terror of Hallow’s Eve is a decidedly enjoyable way to spend an evening. While it may not make my top ten list of Halloween movies, it’s still a fun, twisted film that I do recommend. The creative and disturbing creatures alone make this film worth a watch. So if you’re all caught up with your usual Hallow’s eve fare and you’re looking for something different, check out Todd Tucker’s The Terror of Hallow’s Eve. You’ll be glad you did.

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of PopHorror.com, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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