A great horror movie makes more of an impression on the psyche than any other kind of film. Hell, even a bad horror flick can scar you for life. There’s a phrase that every seasoned horror fan loves to hear: “Have you ever seen . . . ?” For the next 31 days, John E. Meredith will unearth some of his personal favorites that fell through the cracks, that are not so obvious, the kind that might even sneak up on you while you’re trying to sleep. Trick ‘r Treat 2007, USA/Canada. Written and directed by Michael Dougherty. Starring Dylan Baker, Brian Cox, Anna Paquin, Rochelle Aytes, Lauren Lee Smith, Quinn Lord. The candy-corn hue of autumn trees. A scent of burning leaves on the wind. The taste of apples in the air. And something lurking in the shadows . . . Henry is obsessed with Halloween. His yard is a crowded sea of pumpkins, ghosts, and scarecrows, dominating the nice suburban neighborhood. His wife, Emma, is much less enthusiastic about the holiday. Matter of fact, she hates Halloween. After they return home from a costume party, Emma leans over to blow out a jack-o-lantern. Henry stops her, explaining that it’s against tradition to extinguish it before the night is through. Bad things could happen. She blows it out anyway, telling him that she’ll meet him in the bedroom once she takes all of the decorations down. Henry goes upstairs to wait, while Emma starts to dismantle the ghosts and scarecrows. But something is watching her. And it’s not very happy. Steven, the town principal, spots his young neighbor Charlie stealing candy from his yard as he returns from the store. Smiling, he sets down his grocery bag and a pumpkin, asking Charlie to sit down beside him. He gives Charlie some candy while he talks to him about stealing. As he speaks, he pulls out a knife and stabs the face of the pumpkin, carving out a jack-o’-lantern. Carving, he notices the bottom of Charlie’s shoes. “Ah. Smashing jack-o’-lanterns? Stealing candy? It’s okay. Believe it or not, I was just like you when I was a kid. Till my dad set me straight, that is. See, my dad taught me tonight is about respecting the dead, because this is the one night that the dead and all sorts of other things roam free . . . and pay us a visit. All these traditions, jack-o’-lanterns, putting on costumes, handing out treats, they were started to protect us, but nowadays . . . no one really cares.” It’s Halloween in a familiar suburban neighborhood, but there are strange things afoot on this special night. Michael Dougherty’s TRICK ‘r TREAT is a chain of interlocking tales, like a perfectly timed watch that’s permanently set on the witching hour. There are four basic storylines: the school principal (Dylan Baker) whose plans to carve pumpkins with his son keep getting interrupted by darker distractions; a 22-year old virgin (Anna Paquin) on her way through the woods to a party that might not be everything that it seems; five teenage, costumed kids who dare each other to venture into the rock quarry where a busload of mentally challenged children died many years ago; and a grouchy old bastard (Brian Cox) who hates Halloween even more than he hates little kids. Leading us through these stories is Sam, a little trick-or-treater wearing a burlap sack over his head and dirty old orange pajamas. If you respect Halloween’s traditions, Sam will leave you alone. But if you do something foolish . . . The original short that inspired the movie, SEASON’S GREETINGS, was made while Dougherty was at NYU. He was enrolled in the film program, but specialized in animation. It was all old-school, hand-drawn stuff, done over the course of seven months. For him, Sam became a kind of mascot for Halloween, a deity that disguised himself as a child so he could walk innocently around the streets with the other kids. But Sam kept haunting him and really seemed to need his own movie. So Dougherty wrote his first script (he would later go on to write screenplays for X-MEN UNITED, SUPERMAN RETURNS, and his own upcoming Christmas horror movie, KRAMPUS). He was given the opportunity to turn his short story into a feature, produced by Bryan Singer, but Warner Brothers decided to bone him instead. I can remember seeing previews for this Halloween flick that looked absolutely awesome, but then it never came and never came. After sitting in the WB vaults for two years, they finally dumped it, unceremoniously, into home video in October 2009. The joke was on them when word-of-mouth began to really push the movie along. Everyone who saw it fell in love with it, and it became a huge success for the director through an entirely different path. And then Sam showed up at the Warner Brothers offices and rammed a broken pumpkin lollipop up all of their asses. Like the characters in TRICK ‘r TREAT, I often wear a mask. We all wear them, and not just on the last day of October. This is merely the one day when some of us can playfully allow a little darkness into our lives. When we can be the vampire, zombie, serial killer, or sexy bitch that lurks down inside our heart. That thing that we sometimes think might be the real us. In the ancient days, the donning of MASKS and robes began as a means of protection. A ruse to ensure our safety as we passed through the depths of the darkened forest. This was known as GUISING, dressed and painted to look like ghosts and ghouls to make the real ones think we were one of them. The guisers would parade from house to house, filling the night with song and dance to intimidate malicious spirits and keep evil at bay. Just as you cannot deny the light, you can’t fight the darkness. Might as well embrace it, dancing and singing. Long ago there was another curious custom which took place on All Hallows Eve. Young men would dress in suits made of straw and disrupt the homes of those who kept their eligible daughters from the outside world. Known as STRAWBOYS, they would unhinge gates, dismantle carts, and stuff chimneys so smoke would back up into the houses. Sometimes they would force their way into the homes of spinsters to demand a dance, steal a bit of food. Nothing deadly, just a little bit of harmless, malicious fun. I am one of the Strawboys, come to make you dance. I am here, my Shadow beside me, looking for sustenance. I’ve come to ask for your hand as we embark upon a midnight stroll. I’ve come to make you look into the darkening heart of autumn and recognize its beauty. So take my hand, open your heart. And join me in a brooding waltz beneath the moon and the dying leaves. See larger image Trick ‘r Treat [Blu-ray] Trick ‘R Treat (Blu-ray) A creepy, darkly comic celebration of the scariest night of the year from producer BRYAN SINGER (director of X-Men and Superman Returns) and writer-director MICHAEL DOUGHERTY(co-scripter of X2 and Superman Returns). Trick ’R Treat takes the Creepshow/Tales from the Crypt approach to nefarious new depths with four interwoven tales set on Halloween night: a high school principal (DYLAN BAKER) moonlights as a vicious serial killer; the quest of a young virgin (ANNA PAQUIN) for that special someone takes a gruesome turn; a group of teens carries out a cruel prank with disastrous consequences; and a cantankerous old man (BRIAN COX) battles a mischievous trick-or-treating demon. New From: $15.85 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response Krampus (2015) - Psycho Drive-In December 8, 2015 […] If this sounds like Christmas to you, then you’ll feel right at home and ready to sip some hot cocoa with Krampus, the newest holiday-related thriller from Michael Dougherty (Trick r Treat). […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.