Effective Low-Budget Horror Anthology
by Nav Qateel
Damien Leone’s All Hallows’ Eve, is based on at least one of the writer/directors shorts Terrifier, that introduced me to his killer clown, Art (I admittedly haven’t seen his other). This is Leone’s first foray into full-length feature-films with moderate success, but effective for all its low-budget trappings. What it lacks in effects it more than makes up for in style, acting and cheesiness, with direction that tells me Leone appears to know what he’s doing. I can’t claim expertise in horror, but I do know what works in film and what doesn’t. This worked just fine. I’m more than familiar with the movies Leone has given a few nods to, but it doesn’t matter if what you do has an impact on the viewer. My 14-year-old daughter would need therapy after watching this, which she won’t for a few years yet, I hope.
All Hallows’ Eve starts off with a babysitter chatting to a boy and a girl who have recently returned from Trick or Treating. The boy finds a VHS cassette in his bag of candy and eventually persuades the babysitter to put it on for them to tune into. The first tale is about a woman who’s snatched from a small train station waiting room. She ends up chained in an underground tunnel with two other women, one of whom is heavily pregnant. This one had the cheapest looking effects but the acting saved this from being less effective, plus I laughed at the attempts at gore and makeup, that weren’t really great.
The second and cheesiest, saw an alien invade a home and attack a woman who has just moved from the city to the countryside. Her painter husband is away and she’s getting used to the place when she sees a strange, glowing light outside. She tries to run but everything electrical has failed; her car won’t start and the phone is messed up. Then the funniest-looking alien tries to get her to ingest a rubber insect (that’s what it looked like to me), but she decides to fight back. The acting is great here too and the creep factor is also a huge plus for this one. The fact that the person doing the crazy looking Doctor Who-like alien was pretending to be an octopus made this brilliant entertainment and had me almost doubled over with laughter after doing such an excellent job building up tension. Highly entertaining.
The final short on the tape had a grungy thing going on with deliberated flecks and spotting laid over the video to give a 70’s grindhouse look. This was the best of the VHS tape for several reasons. It had better all-round quality and the acting was of a very high standard, although, in fairness, the acting was very good by just about everyone throughout the entire production. It sees a woman drive her car into a small gas station and come across the killer clown we meet in the first short. She walks in on him dismembering a body and now he comes after her, and no matter where she runs he’s always one step ahead. The wrap-around tale has the babysitter terrified as the VHS tape now becomes her reality. The kids are safely in their beds, or, are they?
This is a low-budget film and it mostly looks cheap, especially the VHS shorts that the babysitter and kids watch, but it has value exactly as it is. It’s nice to think what a filmmaker could do with a budget behind them, but they can sometimes lose the very thing that made them fun to begin with. I appreciated this film for exactly what it was. Cheap, cheesy, excellent fun.