Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hallow’s End- review


Director: Jon Keeyes

Release Date: 2003

Contains spoilers

Do you remember Buffy the Vampire Slayer? How could you forget, it was, all things being fair, something of a TV phenomena. Well Season 2, episode 6 was a Halloween based episode called, strangely enough, ‘Halloween’. In that Ethan Rayne, recurring villain, comes to town and casts a spell which causes everyone to become their Halloween costume.

oh look, spell bookIn Season 4 there was another Halloween episode, episode 4 named ‘Fear, Itself’, in which a fraternity’s Halloween House became a Hell spawned trap when a mystic symbol is accidentally copied from a spell book to add to the decoration.

Now, take those two episodes and merge the major ideas (except for the accidental bit from ‘Fear, Itself’, the spell in this is purposeful). Got it… good… that saves me going through the main plot points of this film as it is a shameless rip off and I am only surprised that Whedon’s people haven’t sued. It is that blatant…

the gangWell, okay, maybe a little plot is needed. The kids are doing the Halloween House and it is run by Dan (Matt Moore), a thoroughly dislikeable chap. He loathes Tom (Stephen Cloud) because Tom used to date his girlfriend Jill (Brandy Little). Dan is a moron misogynist control freak who hasn’t realised that Tom is the least of his worries (especially as Tom has a new girl, Heidi (Amy Morris)) as Jill is having a lesbian affair with Kira (Amy Jo Hearron).

Jim Dunn as Pumpkin JackOkay… they, and many others, are there and an old bearded guy, who goes by the name of Pumpkin Jack (Jim Dunn), drops off a load of Halloween gear to help with the decoration. In the gear is a spell book, which we saw at the head of the film, used in a ritual that led to the slaughter of the monk-like people performing the ritual. The kids look at the book and realise it belonged to one of the town’s founding fathers. I was only surprised the writers didn’t call it the Necronomicon and get it over and done with.

Lily in her coffinAnyhoo, business goes on – for an inordinate amount of time it seems, the pacing of this was well off – and then Lily (Camille Chen) who is dressed as a vampire gets trapped in her coffin. At the same time other people get trapped round the house and we know something is up.

mighty pumpkinSuspicion falls upon a wicked looking pumpkin that lit itself earlier and is bellowing smoke. This does play a role as it bites the hand off Gary (John F Beach) who was dressed as a pirate and he becomes a monster pirate… Here we have the main difference between this and the Buffy episode – you become your costume when killed – though how Lily dies remains a mystery, she’s only trapped in the coffin for 30 seconds or so.

Lily goes for the throatHowever, our main heroes find Lily first and she is now a real vampire. She has got 'Buffy rip-off' lumpy face syndrome and is burnt by the cross and so, for a few moments, they believe they are dealing with vampires generally.

This theory isLily feeding defeated when she bites Kira who doesn’t become a vampire but becomes a zombie. At that point Tom exclaims, “I wish we were dealing with vampires because at least then we’d know the rules.” Well I wish it were solely vampires also, because that’s just the sort of guy I am, but instead we have a plethora of monsters – mainly of the zombie type.

In fact this nearly became an ‘Honourable Mention’ as Lily the vampire is only in this for a few short minutes, but the fact that her vampire persona confuses the issue for the main characters was enough to push this to a review.

come step in...The pacing needed work, especially as some of the slowness occurred when the script attempted to build red herrings that just weren’t explored. The acting was average at best, though I did like Cloud’s overly dramatic performance as he led patrons around the Halloween House, but generally this was a harmless way to spend 91 minutes. It has had vitriol thrown at it on imdb and yet, having looked carefully through the comments, no one seems to have picked up that its biggest sin was the absolute plagiarism involved in the plot.

Personally I thought it was a below average horror (in the loosest sense, there is no terror involved) that relied too much on the plot of a certain TV series and then set itself up shamelessly for a sequel. 2.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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