I watch a lot of horror movies, whether it’s Halloween or not. It’s my genre of choice so I’m extremely guilty of watching and re-watching favorites like Scream, The Mist, Poltergeist, The Descent, A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, just to name a select few. Any movie with bumps in the night, creatures and/or serial killers can be branded a Halloween-appropriate film, but because my days are filled with blood and guts year-round, on the holiday, I like to go with one of the best Halloween-themed films out there, Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat.
Trick ‘r Treat is a horror anthology with five core stories. There’s the situation with Emma (Leslie Bibb) and her Halloween-loving husband, what goes down after the school principal (Dylan Baker) gets a visit from a candy stealer, Laurie’s (Anna Paquin) effort to lose her virginity, Mr. Kreeg’s (Brian Cox) encounter with Sam (Quinn Lord) and, my personal favorite, what happens when Macy (Britt McKillip), Schrader (Jean-Luc Bilodeau), Sara (Isabelle Deluce) and Chip (Alberto Ghisi) try to play a prank on Rhonda (Samm Todd) using the legend of the Halloween school bus massacre.
All of the individual stories are fantastic, but one of the things that makes Trick ‘r Treat such a standout horror anthology is how well they’re woven together. Anthology films like the V/H/S series and the ABCs of Death films are good fun, but Trick ‘r Treat’s strong connective tissue puts it on another level entirely and also, in my opinion, makes it far more enticing to re-watch.
And I don’t even mean re-watch as in putting it on once every Halloween; I mean sitting through multiple viewings a month, a week or even in one day for that matter. Even though I own the DVD, ever since FEARnet started hosting that 24-hour Trick ‘r Treat marathon back in 2011, I leave my TV on the entire day and wind up watching it more times than I care to admit. (Sadly that won’t be the case this year because FEARnet is long gone now.)
You know when you’re not planning to watch a movie or just don’t have the time for one, but then catch a quick glimpse, it sucks you in and there’s nothing you can do about it? That’s Trick ‘r Treat right there! There are so many unforgettable sequences, kills and characters that even if you tune in for a moment, you’ll have to watch it through. I say “The School Bus Massacre” is my favorite segment, but even if I started watching right there, I still couldn’t bear to miss the big party scene or Sam’s fight with Kreeg.
Sam is also just a brilliant idea for a killer. In fact, if tasked to put together a list of iconic slashers, he’d absolutely make the cut right alongside legends like Freddy, Jason and Michael Myers. Sam is essentially a kid in orange pajamas with a burlap sack on his head who walks around carrying a broken lollypop and dragging a dirty bag around. That’s big screen gold right there. And action figure gold as well. I actually have the Sam Funko POP! toy sitting on my desk right now and also have that giant James Fosdike Trick ‘r Treat poster in my apartment, too. It’s my pride and joy year round, but seeing it hanging there when Halloween’s right around the corner gets me particularly revved up for the holiday.
Trick ‘r Treat embodies everything I love about horror movies and about Halloween as well. I’ve got favorite films in all genres, but there’s just nothing quite like the thrill of being terrified or totally grossed out and having an absolute blast in the process, and Trick ‘r Treat does just that while tapping into loads of holiday essentials – candy, carving pumpkins, costumes, parties, urban legends, monsters and more. A Halloween night out in New York City can be tons of fun, but I’m definitely nostalgic for the days of suburban trick-or-treating, decorating houses and creepy, secluded get-togethers, and Trick ‘r Treat lets me get a little of that back. Plus, at this point, Trick ‘r Treat is just as much a Halloween staple to me as any of that stuff.
[Note: This feature was initially published at a prior date, but seeing as how Halloween is approaching, now felt an opportune time to re-highlight this original feature.]