HALLOWEEN HORROR ROUNDUP 2019: slashers and a couple of anthologies

Time to get to a load more Halloween flicks being released for public consumption in time for the holiday (for a full list of Halloween horror flicks, check out my holiday horror page). Some of these barely touch upon the holiday, some barely deliver complete, comprehensive stories, and one is a sequel. But are any of these five worth a yearly revisit in October?

THE CURSE OF HALLOWEEN JACK (2019)

The Legend of Halloween Jack was an okay indie Halloween slasher I picked up on DVD last year, so when I discovered there was a sequel, naturally I had to add it to my collection.

In classic sequel style, the scarecrow killer is resurrected through the most absurd means; a cult brings him back with a sacrificial ritual, and then Halloween Jack just goes around killing (mostly) random people.

In response to the killing spree in the first movie, the mayor decides to cancel Halloween. Yet the cancellation of the holiday has no bearing on the proceedings.

It’s only Halloween Jack who serves as a foil for the unfolding events—namely, kids decide to have a secret Halloween party.

The film introduces a few characters, including a gay guy who could have been fun and at least lands this one on the die, gay guy, die! page.

But unfortunately no core group is fully realized because they’re disposed of too quickly!

The only character that matters is the main girl. Luckily for her, some caricature wearing an eye patch comes out of the woodwork with all the answers about how to kill Jack.

While the first film had a nice, lengthy party massacre scene, the sequel falls disappointingly short—Halloween Jack busts into the party, but people run helter-skelter with no real payoff (aka: slaughter). If the goal was to avoid a mere repeat of the first movie’s massacre, then, well…maybe a Halloween party shouldn’t have been the focus of the movie again.

There’s a good body count, a number of meta references to other horror movies, and several scenes that seem to pay homage to John Carpenter films, but overall the film seems to just go through the motions. I much prefer the first film (but of course I’ll buy part 3 if one is made).

THE TRICK OR TREAT PICTURE SHOW (2019)

These days, the goal of trying to bring an 80s throwback feel to indie movies has become a huge cliché, and what’s worse is that most of them fail miserably.

Anthology film The Trick Or Treat Picture Show goes for the VHS tape vibe big time visually—the film quality is definitely hurting—and it’s drenched with 80s style synth music. However, it’s also padded with so many “intermissions” it gets annoying…not to mention, these clips look like they came from the 1960s, not the 80s.

The other big problem…the stories. Most don’t seem to bother to end. They go absolutely nowhere, an intermission begins, and then a different story starts and you’re left wondering why the previous one never concluded!

A few of the stories are even done documentary style…as in, a character is interviewed and essentially tells a story. There’s no actual visual story.

There is a total Michael Myers rip-off, and one of the documentary stories gets into the Amityville house a little, but none of that is enough to make this worth watching. Also important to note—the stories aren’t particularly Halloween themed despite the title. There’s more Halloween spirit during the intermissions.

ONE NIGHT IN OCTOBER (2017)

This anthology tries to interweave stories in the same universe, a la Trick r Treat.

However, it not only never ties them in fluidly, it also jumps back and forth between storylines throughout rather than focus on one tale at a time. And only one tale really relates specifically to Halloween.

One story follows two couples—straight and lesbian—that have car trouble after strolling through a cornfield, and begin getting hunted down by a scarecrow killer.

Another tale has a woman who just moved into a new home decorating her house for Halloween when she suddenly falls victim to home invaders in masks.

The third story barely feels like a story—just a guy and girl seemingly hashing out their relationship troubles—until it eventually presents a sudden horror element late in the film.

There are a few twists in the stories, but overall there’s nothing frightening or suspenseful here, and the way the stories progress is a little messy.

PUMPKINS (2018)

The title and plot make this an October movie, but not specifically a Halloween film, since the holiday is not referenced.

An old man protective of his garden is harassed and dies in his pumpkin patch.

His appreciative vines then resurrect him as a pumpkin-headed killer.

It’s not enough that he goes around killing random people camping in the woods, but the pumpkins from his patch also roll around chasing and killing victims.

It’s kind of goofy fun (for instance, there’s pumpkin POV), and there are some okay kills along the way, but overall the film and the characters run around aimlessly. For instance…the movie ends when the pumpkins simply decide to return to their home…leaving a whole bunch of the cast behind…and alive!

INTO THE DARK: UNCANNY ANNIE (2019)

Paul Davis, director of The Body, last year’s Halloween installment of the Hulu Into The Dark series, brings us a much less edgy, less unique, and less gory Halloween flick this year.

Uncanny Annie is generic teen horror stuff.


Cute, but inexcusable to dress for Christmas on Halloween…

Kids play a spooky board game on Halloween, get pulled into the game, and are terrorized by Uncanny Annie and her killer friends.

Basically the group dies off one by one as each player encounters the creepy figures drawn on the cards they select while playing.

And in true PG-13 horror fashion circa 2005, ghost girl Annie is pale-faced and riddled with cheesy flicker effects.

It’s serviceable if your itching for the familiar, but there’s nothing truly frightening happening here. I do love the title though.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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