Tonight, I’ll venture into the good old days of television where you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a horror anthology. I’m not sure why you’d be swinging a dead cat, but hey, whatever floats your boat. Today’s review comes to us from Tales of the Darkside.
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YApg_T2s3M0
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaNEW0m0Pcc&feature=related
The episode I chose was a no-brainer. First of all, it’s allegedly one of the series’ best, I haven’t seen enough of Tales to really judge, it was director by the wonderful Tom Savini and it’s set on Halloween.
We begin with a really great montage of kids trick or treating. It’s the kind of thing that would have seemed perfectly normal when the episode aired, but now has a lovely air of creepiness about it. We venture inside the house and find an elderly man who hates Halloween. His middle aged son, Michael, is there listening to him complain about how much he hates the holiday, and the tricks kids play on him. Michael tries to convince him that they only do it because he doesn’t give them any Halloween candy. The way he says “Halloween candy” annoys the hell out of me for some reason.
Michael tells him a brief story about how when he was younger they would play tricks on the mean old lady who refused to give out candy. Any moral of the story is lost on the old man, who delights in the fact that because that old woman is dead, he’s now the meanest on the block. Michael reveals that he brought candy to give out because he doesn’t want to have to clean up after any pranks. His father doesn’t seem to care, and spouts off more paranoia about what the neighborhood kids might do to him. Despite his concerns, he refuses to go to Michael’s house for the evening. Michael leaves, and of course his father yells at the first trick-or-treater that comes to the house.
Turns out the old man is right to be worried, as soon has he closes the door, the little rabbit kid produces a can of spray paint from his basket. This is a terrible neighborhood. The old man manages to catch the kid before he can do anything, and he scampers off, but it’s not long before another trick-or-treater shows up to bother the old man, this one even more sinister than the last.
After refusing a few more, the old man gets an idea for a trick of his own. He takes the bowl of candy that Michael left and pours in honey, glue and mayonnaise. When the next trick-or-treater comes by, he pours the mixture into his bag, proclaiming it to be “Goblin Candy”
His plan seems to work well, as he’s left undisturbed for awhile and drifts off to sleep. He’s is awakened by the doorbell at 11:30. Doorbell is a really poor way to describe it, it’s just a buzzer, and it’s more annoying every time it’s pushed. It’s really hard to fault the old man for being pissed off. He peers out his window, but doesn’t see anyone at the doorbell, but it continues ringing all the same. His door eventually opens to reveal a very small, and very deep voiced trick or treater.
As you can problem guess, he essentially tells the kid to get bent and slams the door. This particular trick-or-treater is really adamant about getting candy however, and continues to jiggle the doorknob while bellowing “Trick or Treat.” The old man continues to refuse, informing him that it’s too late to be out trick or treating and that he should go home and tell his mother that he’s a wicked child. The trick-or-treater is undeterred, and when the old man opens the door, he pushes him out of the way and takes some candy.
The old man shoves the little guy down, it was the 80’s, you could do that, only to have him do a backflip and then jump backwards and perch on his porch railing. He then waves gleefully at the old man, as the front door swings closed. When the old man opens it again, the goblin is gone. A little while later, the old man notices a burlap sack making its way across the floor. When he gets up to investigate, several hundred cockroaches pour out of the bag.
The old man tries to call Michael, but can’t get through. Instead, he does the most logical thing: Sit in his armchair and fall asleep. When he awakens later, he’s surprised to find that it’s still midnight and he apparently hasn’t slept at all. He’s also surprised to find that his kitchen is now completely infested with roaches. He also finds he’s no longer able to leave his house, as the doors and windows won’t budge. The goblin returns, this time saying “Treats or Tricks” for some reason. He also has a relaxing time on the Old Man’s porch swing.
The old man realizes he’s left the front door open, but it’s too late. The little goblin is soon upon him, frightening him terribly and making him fall over an end table. With the old man seemingly unconscious, the Goblin wanders up, pats him on the head and says “Trick or Treat” one more time before leaving.
Michael arrives the next morning, finding the house a mess. He wanders into the living room where his father fell, and is shocked by what he sees. We cut to a few hours later, with a detective informing Michael that he should get a lawyer, because this is an obvious case of neglect. Yes, Michael’s father has died, apparently from starvation. According to the detective, it appears that he subsisted for several weeks on nothing but a bag of Halloween candy.
Of course before we leave, we get one more glimpse of the goblin, once again telling us “Tricks or Treats”
This is why I love reviewing things I’m watching for the first time. Every so often I’ll find a gem like this, that is just absolutely excellent. Sure, it’s the same old story of the cranky old man tormented on Halloween night, but that is a great story whenever it’s done well. This is a much better version of it than the Beyond Belief episode I covered a few days ago, that’s for sure. I’d venture to say it’s almost on par with the version seen at the end of Trick ‘r Treat, which you need to seek out and watch immediately. This episode is rock solid though. The creature effects are excellent, which isn’t surprising considering Tom Savini was behind them, and the old man did a great job of coming off as completely unlikable, yet still vulnerable and completely overwhelmed by what was happening. He also looks like John Carpenter. It also features a wonderfully dark ending, something I always appreciate. If only Michael could have pronounced “halloween candy” without sounding like a tool, I’d have no complaints.