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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

All Hallows' Eve 2 (2015) review


Andrea Monier (Girl in wraparound), Damien Monier (Trickster), Helen Rogers (Elizabeth), Tyler Rossell (Jack), Ron Basch (Jack), Emily Alatalo (Kate), Bob Jaffe (Abraham), Jared Mark Smith (Isaac), April Adamson (Andrea), Robert McLaughlin (Killer), Bill Oberst, Jr. (Sade), Griffin Gluck (Max), Christie Lynn Smith (Loraine), Michael Serrato (Mr. Tricker), Carrie Seim (Monica), Sergio Beron (Dale), Paula Carruega (Melina), Pilar Boyle (Alexia)

Directed by Jesse Baget, Bryon Norton, Antonio Padovan, Marc Roussel, Ryan Patch, Jay Holben, Jon and James Kondelik, Elias Benavidez, Mike Kochanskey, Andres Borghi

The Short Version: The terrifying Art the Clown is sorely missed in this second go-round of tricks and treats; instead, we get a standard slasher substitute that the credits refer to as Trickster, a far less scary, pumpkin mask-wearing killer with zero personality and a major flaw in how he/it fits into the plot. Damien Leone, director of the first ALL HALLOWS' EVE, returns as a producer and continues the anthology format; this time in the vein of THE ABC's OF DEATH with 8 (short) films to die for--all of which vary in quality. The first and last tales are stunning examples of horror and directors to watch for. Higher production values among many of the shorts means this sequel comes out more polished than the first time around. Even so, this 78 minutes (minus 12 minutes of end credits) of All Hallowed Horror is anchored by an incredibly weak wraparound that poorly repeats the one from the first film.

Alone on Halloween, a woman sees a mysterious figure watching her from the street below. Hearing a knock on her door, she finds an old VHS tape left outside her apartment. In an age of DVD and Bluray, she only has a VCR so she pops in the tape to view its contents. As the various stories unfold, the horror film-loving lady receives an unwanted guest later that night.

The first ALL HALLOWS' EVE (2013) was a nifty little experiment, stitching two previously made horror shorts with one new segment to formulate a full-length feature. This sequel does the same, amassing old and new shorts (one of which dates back as far as 2004!) with a newly shot wraparound; only this time, the approach is similar to THE ABCs OF DEATH (2013), with eight shorts, one of which was intended for ABCs OF DEATH 2 (2015). 

This idea of combining short films to make a feature isn't new, though; back in the 1970s, Shaw Brothers of Hong Kong had done the same thing; only in many cases, a film intended for theatrical release would be abandoned for whatever reason, finding an all-new purpose as part of an anthology instead. This happened with such films as FEARFUL INTERLUDE (1975) and their five film CRIMINALS series. It's a bit of economic genius when you think about it, although it doesn't guarantee a brilliant result.

Getting back to ALL HALLOWS' EVE 2, only three of the segments deal with Halloween; not counting the wraparound that simply, and quite lazily, copies the nerve-jangling, and far superior framing device of Damien Leone's original.

In the first AHE, Leone introduced a purely evil villain in the form of Art the Clown. Ostensibly a supernatural entity, Art was, in one way or another, a thematic link in each of the segments in the original movie. For this sequel, Art is abandoned (presumably Leone is using him in a full-length feature tailored for the character) and a new maniac, Trickster, is introduced. Aside from a second or two in between stories, he is only seen in the beginning and ending of AHE2. Compared to Art, Trickster has nothing up his sleeve and nothing to offer to make for an interesting antagonist. A totally weak villain, he is basically a Michael Myers clone wearing a pumpkin mask.

The stories run the gamut in quality as is the norm with anthologies; at least two are absolute crap, a couple average entries, and some truly impressive shorts. The acting is surprisingly good all around, as is the photography. As a whole, ALL HALLOWS' EVE 2 is weaker than its predecessor, but surpasses it in production values. Now about those stories....

The opening of the film presents us with an attractive lady all alone on Halloween tinkering with a Ouija Board seeking answers as to why a guy she's interested in isn't returning her calls. She's immediately interrupted by a noise outside and sees some weirdo wearing a pumpkin mask doing his best Michael Myers impression. She soon gets a knock on her door and not only finds a well-worn VHS tape on her doorstep, but the Michael Myers wannabe standing in the hallway doing that head tilt thing. Seemingly unfazed by this, she casually closes the door and pops the tape in a convenient VCR, ready to watch its contents on her LCD monitor television set.

This framing device dispenses with the babysitter and kids of part 1 to focus on a single woman; and unlike the original, the bits in between each story add nothing to the wraparound. Now, the point of the framer in ALL HALLOWS' EVE was that Art the Clown used the tape to make his way into our world. This sequel replicates that very thing, even though Trickster, as he's referred in the credits, is clearly seen in our reality before the woman ever gets a hold of the tape rendering the last few moments not only meaningless but pointless.


On Halloween Night, a babysitter and the boy she's watching carve a pumpkin with deadly results.

This first segment gets ALL HALLOWS' EVE 2 off to a delightfully morbid start with an 8 minute ghoulash about the dangers of pumpkin carving. Utilizing the urban legend of eating watermelon seeds as a foundation, the filmmakers substitute pumpkin seeds that equal the same disastrous results. The spirit of the holiday is beautifully captured in the short's brief running time. Playfully simplistic, its creativity recalls those 5-10 minute short films you used to see on the USA Network in the 80s used to flesh out a two hour timeslot. One of the best, and the goriest, of the eight segments.


Sometime in the near future, society has fallen into a dystopian nightmare. On Halloween Night, four trick 'r treaters have a sinister surprise in store for those who don't open their doors.

This is another good segment, a flashier version of a TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE (1983-1988) episode; not as enjoyable as the first, and lacking much in the way of a story even though it runs a little longer at 11 minutes. Some sort of apocalypse has taken place and kids, at least these four, still cling to tradition of going door to door for candy on Halloween... only these kids aren't what they appear to be. The main point of interest are some fantastic makeup effects adjoining a nice little punch at the end. Based on a comic book, this is the one short that fills like it's been edited from a longer piece.


A father and son travel deep within the woods one cold, winter night to leave an offering for something dwelling in the forest.... something not human.

The third short explains about as much as the previous entry; and at 7 minutes gets by on minimal tension created before the sort-of payoff. Some choice snowy photography enhance the scenario. Basically this father and son get together to drop off a bowel of fruit, a bird talon, and other items for a midnight rendezvous with whatever it is out in the wilderness. Unfortunately on this occasion, the father forgets one of the ingredients, the most important one. If you recall the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac then you'll know what's happening here. Hovering close to being an above-average entry, this award winning segment, while not showing much, offers a little more than expected.


Andrea goes to visit a friend and discovers she's been murdered and proceeds to hide from the killer who is still inside. Six weeks later the survivor is leaving work late one night and ends up on the elevator with the man she saw murder her best friend.

Arguably the best story of the eight and easily the most intense. Another festival winner, ALL HALLOWS' EVE 2 shows a bit of diversity with this 12 minute suspenser; a short film armed with a high caliber of quality from director Jay Holben. Claustrophobia is the theme, first within the confines of a closet then the main setting of an elevator. Props like a ringing cell phone are key to the terror quotient. The tone is psychological as opposed to supernatural of the preceding shorts.


Three boys go to a bizarre carnival where their attention is grabbed by an attraction called 'The Masochist'. Instead of throwing baseballs to knock down objects, you sling weapons of death to kill a bound and gagged individual.

Originally intended for ABCs OF DEATH 2 (2014/2015), this 3 minute waste of film is the absolute worst story of the bunch. Not putting the utterly bland framer into the equation, 'Masochist' is the first major bump in the road for ALL HALLOWS' EVE 2. The one saving grace is the acting of Bill Olberst, Jr. as the maniacal, rhyming carny beckoning the kids to hurl assorted weaponry at the title abuser tied up on a spinning wheel. Still, one gets the impression that this thoroughly weak segment might make for a better concept stretched out to feature length... akin to other carnival horrors, or something like CIRCUS OF THE DEAD (2015), which happens to star Bill Olberst, Jr.


A small boy with a vivid imagination, still mourning the loss of his military father, tries to convince his mother that a monster resides somewhere in his room.

Aside from the poor showing of the previous tale, 'A Boy's Life' is a major step up in quality, but feels woefully misplaced. Bearing a Spielbergian tone of child-like wonder, Elias Benavidez's mini-movie feels more like a dark episode of AMAZING STORIES (1985-1987) than a full-fledged horror short. Well acted and often touching, the patience of some horror fans will be strained by this story. Considering everything that's come before it (and the two after it) this tale is as alone in its thematics as the little boy in the story. At nearly 20 minutes (edited down from 23), it's the longest of the 8 segments. Again, the diverse styling is welcome, but this one barely qualifies as horror, never really venturing there till the last few seconds, culminating in an abrupt, tone-altering finish.


A neighborhood eccentric has an unusual preference for Halloween decorations.

It's difficult to discern which is worse, the 'Masochist' short or this atrocious 5 minutes of horror(ible). There's this John Wayne Gacy type killer who keeps victims tied up in metal dog kennels; even padlocking them, despite the fact they could easily stand up to escape. Elsewhere, the darkly humorous tone is upset by hinting Mr. Tricker might be doing other things with these young boys than torture and killing them. The narrative thrust is that this neighborhood psycho uses real corpses for his Halloween decor; nor does he let the light of day, out in the open, hinder him from getting into the haunted holiday spirit when an annoying neighbor shows up to admire his work.


Franco's ex-girlfriend, Alexia Thomas, committed suicide a year ago and tonight is her birthday. Already seeing another woman named Melina, Franco peruses Alexia's Facebook page, pondering whether to finally remove himself. Unfriending her, something sinister begins reaching out to him through social media.

Thankfully, ALL HALLOWS' EVE 2 ends its 8 tales on a disturbing high note, closing out with a superbly frightening 10 minute shocker. In this award winner from Spain, THE RING is an obvious influence. It would also appear the makers of the recent UNFRIENDED (2015) have essentially made a feature-length remake of Andre Borghi's short-film skin-crawler. The only negative of ALEXIA, which is no fault of the original filmmaker, is that the producers compiling the shorts couldn't be bothered with adding English subtitles (you can watch it subbed HERE)! This is a shame since ALEXIA is so well made, and manages to tell a story, via a simple Facebook conversation, within a ten minute time-frame. The imagery and grotesque makeup design sells the horror, augmented by nerve-shredding music found in all your finer vengeful ghost movies. Andre Borghi is certainly a talent to look out for.

ALL HALLOWS' EVE 2 (2015) succeeds in a lot of areas but is nearly paralyzed by a couple horrible shorts that are aided and abetted by an incredibly boring, soulless wraparound. The framing device is seemingly the only exclusive footage. It's unfortunate that the high quality of some of the shorts must carry the weight of a weak opening and even weaker ending--two points by which a film should grab you and leave you wanting more. Taking its strengths at face value, celebrating another ALL HALLOWS' EVE could become a holiday tradition.

This review is representative of the RLJ Entertainment DVD. Extras and Specs: 1.85:1/2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen; 91 minutes. There are no extras.


Kaijinu said...

I honestly care very little for this "sequel"; I, being a slasher fanatic, was very underwhelmed by this new Trickster character as, like you mentioned, he wasted a good slasher design by being "another one of Michael Myer's clones". yes, peeps, we get it, Michael Myers is the messiah of slashers, but be original. Like Art! (Do wish his film gets finished soon. Real soon!)

As for the shorts:

The one with the Pumpkin was pretty cool with is special effects and I did enjoy Alexia the most. Descent is pretty decent, but Masochist? Offering? The Last Halloween? What the frank did I just watched?

Boy's Life was really nice, too, but I can't help myself to love it anymore with that kind of crappy ending. Come on, let the boy go after his mum! That would make an amazing coming-of-age movie!

I can't remember the title of that other one with the fat bloke but...fudge it, that's the worst of it all.

personally, I would trash this one. I know the producer's intention was good but...BRING BACK ART!

venoms5 said...

What I liked the most about the first movie was Art was a presence in all three stories. This new character felt slapped on at the last minute. I liked The Last Halloween, mainly for the ending; the creatures were creepy enough and malevolent trick r' treaters is a good idea. The Offering I liked fairly well for its origins in religious tales and ancient practices. I think all of the shorts are available to watch online, actually.

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