All Hallows’ Eve (2013)

Perhaps All Hallows’ Eve was meant to be the ultimate meta experience for fans of trashy low budget horror movies. Is there any greater commentary on the genre than making a bad horror movie about a woman who is sitting at home watching bad horror movies? Or maybe writer and director Damien Leone had a couple of cheesy short films he previously shot and just repurposed that footage to make a feature length film.

There’s definitely no shame in following in the footsteps of such legends as Roger Corman, but he wisely recycled action scenes like the infamous exploding elevator shaft or special effects shots such as the ones borrowed from Battle Beyond the Stars.

Here the recycled scenes are used in a fashion that makes the film a quasi-anthology feature except that the footage somehow manages to not really seem like three separate stories with any point and also to not really matter to the framing device involving the babysitter. (The whole point of the film apparently relates to how as the babysitter watches the movies, a clown featured in them somehow materializes in her house. Needless to say, there’s no explanation for how or why this happens. It just does and hey, who cares because clowns are scary, right?)

Sarah is babysitting two kids on Halloween and she would be in the running for worst babysitter of all time even if both kids didn’t end up with their heads severed by a clown. In one of the kids’ bag of Halloween candy is a mysterious VHS tape with no markings on it. Any normal person would have seen enough movies to know that this is undoubtedly simply the latest release in the straight-to-video cursed videotape genre.

Sarah initially does the right thing and refuses to let the kids watch without her first screening it. But then she plays the video and as a panoply of terribly gruesome things unfold, she just sits and watches with the kids, even as she is so grossed out by what is happening that she has to look away.

The first scenario in the video has the clown kidnapping a girl where she ends up in the clutches of a satanic cult. This is highlighted by a pregnant woman having her fetus cut out of her which you would think would be something that you could expect your babysitter not to expose your children to without having to specify it before leaving for the evening.

This sequence feels like one of those pretentious arty foreign films with its random collection of bizarre imagery including a flower with big roaches crawling out of it, a hobo pushing a shopping cart with a twitching arm in it, a deformed monster apparently eating people and the cult full of douches wearing spooky masks and drinking blood from chalices. All Hallow’s Eve‘s most shocking moment is that Sarah keeps returning to watch the videotape after sitting through this tedious tripe.

The second scene on the video is the most straight forward of the trio and also the blandest. It involves a woman being stalked in her house by a short person in a silly looking alien costume that you might expect to see if a child was cosplaying at an X-Files convention.

It’s all rather dull as he chases her around, the only thing that must have kept the babysitter from fast forwarding to an even more cursed part of the movie is  waiting for the mystery painting to be revealed which the lady made a big deal of at the beginning of the story. And since it has to be tied in to the rest of the film, you know immediately what’s in the painting. It really just comes across as filler that doesn’t even fit the tone of the rest of the film. (This was apparently the part of the “videotape” that was not originally one of Leone’s short films.)

The final tale on the video brings the clown back to the forefront of things as he menaces a woman driving at night. She’s an annoyingly stupid horror movie stereotype doing everything in her power to put herself in harm’s way, even stopping her car to check on a parked car while the killer clown is after her instead of doing what anyone else would do and just keep driving to safety. The ending is gruesome but also doesn’t really mean anything as to the rest of the story, merely occurring for its sheer shock value.

Once Sarah is done watching the video, the clown appears in her reality, causes offscreen mayhem briefly and the movie ends.

Nothing that happened feels like it was related in any sensible way. The audience is just expected to do all the work and fabricate the connections (which truly aren’t there) for all the disparate pieces that were edited together to make the film. The clown who is the centerpiece of all this is less than one dimensional and utterly fails as a villain let alone something to build an anthology film around. He’s a complete cipher, with no motivation and no background, literally just a guy in a clown suit and a low rent, forgettable dull clown suit at that.

While the film is fine from a technical perspective and the special effects are done well, it works better as a demo reel than on any storytelling level. Despite the tired been-there,done-that evil clown gimmick featured here, there’s one man apparently not that tired of it as Leone has him return in Terrifier.

© 2017 MonsterHunter

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