The celebrated horror anthology comes to Shout! Factory Blu-ray
There’s an idyllic vision of Halloween: leaves on the ground, a crisp snap in the air, autumnal colors of brown and orange bathing the landscape. Obviously there are certain regions of the world that lean more heavily to that aesthetic, meaning for some of us that most fitting vision of the holiday is best glimpsed though film. Capturing the feel of Halloween in film is more than just an aesthetic, or setting a slaughter on All Hallows Eve, which brings us to Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat, an anthology tale that delivers not just a great series of horror stories, but one that captures the spirit of Halloween like few other films have.
A creepy, darkly comic celebration of the scariest night of the year from writer-director Michael Dougherty (Krampus, Godzilla: King of The Monsters), Trick ‘r Treat stars Dylan Baker (Homeland, The Americans), Rochelle Aytes (Designated Survivor, Mistresses) with Anna Paquin (X-Men, True Blood) and Brian Cox (Succession, X2). The film takes the Creepshow and 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.
One night. Four stories. Woven together into a tale of evil acts and innocence lost in one small town on Halloween. The first features a father and son bonding in a rather disturbing way. The second has some college kids at a kegger find a group of girls are not quite what they seem. The third sees a group of young kids look to play a Halloween prank on a young girl, and finally, an old man encounters Sam, a small demonic entity who has been ever present in all the stories. While entertaining vignettes in their own right, each contributes to the whole, positioning Trick ‘r Treat as a true reflection of what Halloween is all about. Each tale draws on certain traditions associated with the holiday, both old and new, and uses different demographics and ideas, so there’s something here for even the most niche of horror fans. Whether your view of Halloween is as an opportunity for candy and danger, for a drunken sordid party, or an opportunity to glower out of the window and grumble about the kids outside, this film has you covered.
Sam is the through-thread, tying all these stories together, stalking the streets as an embodiment of Halloween spirit. He’s a pint-sized reminder that this holiday is today viewed primarily through the eyes of young children. His demonic origins remind you about the holiday’s roots in Pagan ritual; his actions and the actions of the other nefarious characters remind you of the purpose of the occasion and the rules too. Respect the traditions of the holiday, or there will be consequences.
It’s a very slick production, fluidly unfolding and flitting from one sequence to another. Like its title and the action of moving from door to door, unsure of what treats or what evils await, the film balances moments of levity and horror perfectly. Above all else, it’s fun, drawing on a game cast to deliver a sharp, entertaining script. It’s a production that showcases practical effects and exudes texture and Americana, with its depiction of a small town decked out for the season. Capturing this tone, as well as the legacy and current expectations of Halloween, ensures that Trick ‘r Treat is one of the best films celebrating the season.
The release presents a new transfer, sourced from a 2K scan of the original film elements, all done under the supervision of director Michael Dougherty. The image is crisp and not overly processed, impressively sharp detail, solid blacks, and with a warm natural palette. The release is stuffed with an impressive amount of quality special features:
- NEW Tales Of Folklore & Fright: Creating Trick ‘r Treat: A conversation with writer/director Michael Dougherty that largely focuses on the origins of Sam, and how he originally came to life in an animated short. He also talks the evolution of the anthology concept and how Stan Winston helped production along.
- NEW Tales Of Mischief & Mayhem: Filming Trick ‘r Treat: Running about 20 minutes, it provides a general overview of production; scouting locations, set building, design work, etc.
- NEW Sounds Of Shock & Superstition: Scoring Trick ‘r Treat: Interviews with Dougherty and composer Douglas Pipes about their approach to the score.
- NEW Tales Of Dread And Despair: Releasing Trick ‘r Treat: Dougherty and writer Rob Galluzzo delve into the production hell that held back the film’s release for a while, before discussing its growth into a cult hit since.
- NEW 2K Scan Of The Original 16mm Elements of Season’s Greetings: The aforementioned short that introduced Sam to the world is included here, great to see the beginnings of this iconic character — also features optional commentary by Dougherty.
- NEW Storyboard And Conceptual Artwork & Behind the Scenes Galleries: Really cool compilations.
- NEW Monster Mash — A Story From The Trick ‘r Treat Graphic Novel.
- NEW FEARnet.com Shorts: Weird promotional shorts.
- Audio Commentary With Director Michael Dougherty: You also have contributions from concept artist Breehn Burns, storyboard artist Simeon Wilkins, and composer Douglas Pipes. Overall a very enjoyable and insightful commentary.
- Trick ‘r Treat: The Lore And Legends Of Halloween Featurette: Generic making of featurette.
- Deleted And Alternate Scenes With Optional Commentary By Director Michael Dougherty: 8 scenes running close to 20 minutes in length. Really worth a watch largely due to the animated commentary from the director.
- School Bus FX Comparison: Very short, but interesting enough.
- Theatrical Trailer
The Bottom Line
Trick ‘r Treat is arguably one of the best Halloween films out there, not just in terms of delivering entertaining and spooky fare, but in capturing the tone of the season too. Dougherty deftly balances the dark with the humor, and the mythology of the holidays with the horror tropes you relish. Shout! Factory have put together a quality package to celebrate this timely release. Highly recommended.
Trick ‘r Treat is available via Shout! Factory from October 9th, 2018.
Shout! Factory will continue to present the on-going SCREAM FACTORY™ home entertainment series in 2018 with specific release dates, extras and key art. Meanwhile, fans are encouraged to visit the Scream Factory main website (www.screamfactorydvd.com), follow them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ScreamFactoryDVD) and Twitter (www.Twitter.com/@Scream_Factory) or to view exclusive video content on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/ScreamFactoryTV/Home