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Thursday, October 24, 2019

10/31 (2017)




This is an anthology that I’ve been hearing great things about. It starts off with a wraparound story with an Elvira type horror host. It is Halloween and she is about to kick off a horror marathon, which is how each story is presented. We get five stories, each set on Halloween at different locations and characters. My review will be formatted with me talking about each segment separately. With that established let us jump right in.

The Old Hag has a couple of guys getting their big break. They are fledgling filmmakers and got a job filming a commercial for a Bed and Breakfast. Again, like all of the other segments it takes place on Halloween and as soon as they arrived the creepy stuff starts to happen. One of them starts seeing a hag and we get some background on the locals and how they call it the “Gingerbread House”. This leads to more talk of the legends of hags and sets the stage for what comes later.

This segment is great. Probably my second favorite of the bunch. First the creature design and makeup used to bring the hag to the screen is stellar. We get to see a lot of the monster, so it is important that it looks good. This is also the scariest of the episodes with a lot of jumps and tension being built up. The house that they filmed in is amazing, so they nailed the location as well. I can’t say anything bad about this one at all, and it isn’t even my favorite one!

Trespassers follows a couple on their first date. We meet them as they are leaving a movie early because it was terrible. Being Halloween, the girl wants to be scared and drags her date to the local murder house. After some background on the legend of the family and their curse she takes him to look at the creepy scarecrow. Of course, she can’t leave well enough alone and decides to cut it down. You know that you shouldn’t mess with creepy ass scarecrows on Halloween, right? Bloody shenanigans ensue.

This was my favorite of the bunch. First the filmmakers nail an eighties vibe with some very Carpenter like music that sets the scenes. Lots of synth adds to the atmosphere and we even get the spooky figure in the shadows bit as well. This is another creature design that is killer as they unmask the scarecrow to find a goblin looking critter underneath. I think it was supposed to be a demon, but regardless it looks awesome. There are some kills and blood, which the first segment was sort of light on. Heads get lopped off and a neck gets torn out. Plus, the ending had a twist that I really enjoyed.

Killing the Dance might be the most fun of the three and has my favorite character from 10/31, Mikey. A girl goes to her last day of work at the local roller-skating rink as they lock the doors for an all-night skate on Halloween. She has a creepy boss who I guess she was dating but is now planning to leave. They explain a lot more about that, so I don’t want to spoil the fun. We also get a creepy younger brother that wears a werewolf mask and uses a weird voice modulator when he talks. That is Mikey and he is awesome! A killer shows up and starts to make short work of everyone, which leads to a showdown with the final girl.

The cowboy is a great kiler!
“Aids Baby”. Mikey keeps repeating that after hearing his mother berate his sister on their way out of the house. I know that shouldn’t’ be funny, but it really is. Especially with the voice modulator. That is the comic relief for what is otherwise a solid short about a slasher murdering a bunch of kids at a roller rink. The kills are plentiful as we get fingers cut off, flesh sliced, and guts hitting the floor. All of this work is accomplished with a razor blade. This one is also heavy on the practical effects work and I loved what I saw.  

The Halloween Blizzard of 1991 is the fourth segment and it is here that they sort of went off the rails. A family is stuck in the house watching movies when trick or treat is cancelled because of a blizzard. They have two small boys, one who loves Halloween and one who loves Christmas. Some creepy ass kids show up for candy, in spite of the weather, and then leave. They do eventually show up again to kill a couple people. Santa Claus also shows up to take the son who loves Christmas to the North Pole to work for him… WTF!

This one makes no sense. It feels more like a situation where the filmmakers found themselves with a location, a dude that looked like Santa Claus and shot a bunch of stuff. None of it is very good and is impossible to make sense of. What do the creepy trick or treaters have to do with Santa Claus? Why would he open the door to let them in? Why do they need to be let in when they were already in the house? Like I said it makes no sense. There isn’t any gore, the kills are tame, and the acting is by far the worst of any of the shorts included in 10/31. This one was very disappointing.

The Samhain Slasher
The Samhain Slasher is the final and most straightforward of the bunch. A mental patient breaks out of jail and goes on a killing spree. We meet a bunch of random characters who are killed off until the twenty or so minutes of the story have elapsed and then he walks into a cornfield. Pretty much a by the number’s slasher, which is totally okay with me.

I can take or leave this one. It is well executed, has some decent kills, and gives you exactly what you want from a story like this. It doesn’t try to explain too much or give the killer a motive, which is a good thing. This is a short film so why waste time? I liked the kill where the girl is hung by her own intestines which is accomplished with practical work. But then we also get some pretty sketchy CGI beheadings and stabbings that honestly look like crap. Again, I’m sort of ambivalent with this one. It was okay.

Three great stories, one okay, and one bad out of five total is pretty good. I can see myself showing 10/31 to friends and revisiting it around October. This is a movie that is well worth checking out. I recommend it.


© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer



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