Trick 'r Treat: Collector's Edition [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Shout! Factory
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (27th November 2018).
The Film

The festival circuit is usually where horror films can build up a sizable buzz and generate that coveted viewer interest, and that’s exactly where writer/director Michael Dougherty’s horror anthology “Trick ‘r Treat” (2007) got a lot of people talking after a December 2007 screening in Austin, TX. The film was planned to be released in October of that year, but distributor Warner Bros. got cold feet. Long, well-known-story short, the movie languished in release hell for two years before being unceremoniously dumped onto home video in 2009. I was fortunate enough to catch a screening at Screamfest L.A. in October 2008 and, after loving every frame of footage, it was seriously frustrating watching Warner Bros. botch the release multiple times. This is a film that comes with a built-in cult, and it would have played well to audiences tired of the endless “Saw” (2004-2017) sequels each October brought. No further proof is needed than the fact “Trick ‘r Treat” is now cemented as a seasonal favorite and Sam, that cuddly burlap-faced monster, is a veritable horror icon.

Unlike many horror anthologies, “Trick ‘r Treat” doesn’t tie its tales together with a traditional wraparound but, rather, with a character: Sam (Quinn Lord). The pint-sized traditionalist brings either silent, approving observation or wild terror to each of the stories which, too, are interconnected via characters and locations. Dougherty has woven a tight web so that each facet of Warren Valley’s Halloween night dovetails seamlessly. Aside from Sam’s hijinks, the film follows a group of girls out on the town, looking for a few dates to wine & dine; a duplicitous school principal with a penchant for murder and theatrics; a bunch of asshole kids who use a local legend to taunt an outcast classmate; and Mr. Kreeg (Brian Cox), an elderly prick who is reminded of his haunting past thanks to a visit from Sam.

Considering horror and Halloween go hand-in-hand, it’s a wonder there aren’t more films set on everyone’s favorite holiday. My assumption is most filmmakers don’t want their picture to be seen as seasonal and not something to be enjoyed all year round. Dougherty goes a few steps further by not only planting a flag on the date and richly realizing that crisp fall atmosphere, but this film is a burning love letter to all things All Hallows’ Eve. Tradition is king. The film takes the time to remind viewers what Halloween is truly about, why it was started, and it stresses the importance of respecting long-forgotten rules. Each of the six sinister stories is slyly subversive, presenting viewers with unexpected twists that upend convention. One story – Laurie (Anna Paquin) and her girls – plays vastly different the second time around, once viewers know what they really are. Suddenly lots of innocuous dialogue takes on a terrible tone.

Dougherty allows his film to only run a scant 82 minutes and not a moment is wasted. The non-linear storyline and intercutting of narratives packs in plenty of character development and visual eye candy without sacrificing story; no tale feels incomplete. I’ll admit to not being the biggest fan of Principal Wilkins’ night, at least the first part, only because that segment has some questionable humor and every time that fat kid starts to throw up I have to look away. Dylan Baker is eerily adept at playing normal guys with seriously disturbing proclivities (see: “Happiness” (1998)). My favorite story is a toss-up between the sh*theel kids who play a prank on Rhonda (Samm Todd) and suddenly find themselves on the receiving end of retribution, and the pathetic tale of old Mr. Kreeg, who looks just like late 80's John Carpenter. Sam is the film’s holiday tour guide, escorting viewers across Warren Valley’s haunted history and making sure its residents stay within the traditional guidelines… or else.

Now, in 2018, “Trick ‘r Treat” is a holiday mainstay. A few years back, FEARNet ran a 24-hour marathon of the film on Halloween. Sam adorns nearly as much merchandise as horror icons like Jason and Freddy. Fans have been pining for a sequel since the first was released, something which Dougherty has expressed interest in producing. Maybe once his time on Monster Island ends he’ll return to the streets of Warren Valley. As unnecessary as most sequels tend to be, Dougherty doesn’t strike me as the sort of filmmaker to tread over the same path twice.

Video

Scream Factory touts this new Blu-ray as having a 2K scan from “film elements”, but to my eyes the 2.35:1 1080p 24/fps image looks nearly identical to the previous Blu-ray which, to be fair, looked great. Sporadic compression issues appear in only the darkest scenes, but for the most part black levels and contrast are stable. Film grain is active and cinematic. The earthy fall palette is perfectly reproduced with rich colors and crisp definition. Fine detail is strong throughout.

Audio

Audio is available in English DTS-HD Master Audio with either a 2.0 stereo or 5.1 surround sound option. Douglas Pipes’ score is brimming with energy, delivering notes of damnation with ghoulish fever. Rear channels add a nice layer of spooky ambiance to the sound mix, especially during Mr. Kreeg’s segment. Dialogue always registers high in the mix, balancing well alongside sound effects and score. Subtitles are available in English SDH.

Extras

An audio commentary is included, featuring Writer/Director Michael Dougherty, Conceptual Artist Breehn Burns, Storyboard Artist Simeon Wilkins, and Composer Douglas Pipes.

“Tales of Folklore and Fright: Creating Trick ‘r Treat” (1080p) is a featurette that runs for 16 minutes and 5 seconds. Dougherty gets into the influences on his film, discusses a bit of the creative process, and covers the pre-production phase, too.

“Tales of Mischief and Mayhem” (1080p) is a featurette that runs for 19 minutes and 46 seconds, this is a companion piece to the previous featurette, this time covering the production, location scouting, and story of the film.

“Sounds of Shock and Superstition” (1080p) featurette runs for 11 minutes and 10 seconds, composer Douglas Pipes discusses his influences for writing the score.

“Tales of Dread and Despair” (1080p) is a featurette that runs for 7 minutes and 23 seconds, Dougherty and co. discuss the film’s many release woes.

“Season’s Greetings” (1080p) is the original short film, featuring Sam, that Dougherty made in college. It runs for 3 minutes and 54 seconds and is available with optional audio commentary by Michael Dougherty.

“Trick ‘r Treat: The Lore and Legends of Halloween” (1080p) is a featurette that runs for 27 minutes and 26 seconds, learn the traditions of Halloween as this in-depth piece explores the holiday’s origins.

School Bus FX comparison (1080p) shows a scene with and without CGI.

Additional scenes (1080p) runs for 17 minutes and 13 seconds, with optional audio commentary by Michael Dougherty.

Storyboard and Conceptual Artwork gallery (1080p) runs for 19 minutes and 13 seconds, containing 231 images.

Behind-the-Scenes still gallery (1080p) runs for 13 minutes and 11 seconds, containing 160 images.

Comic book gallery (1080p) features an entire 34-page copy of the “Trick ‘r Treat” comic. It runs for 8 minutes and 37 seconds.

Fear.net shorts (1080p) runs for 9 minutes and 10 seconds.

A theatrical trailer (1080i) runs for 2 minutes and 27 seconds.

Packaging

The single disc comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keep case. The cover art is reversible. A slip-cover featuring the new artwork is included on first pressings.

Overall

One of the best horror anthologies of all time, and a no-brainer to watch every Halloween season, “Trick ‘r Treat” is a rare modern classic that hits all the marks and then some. This release is a bit superfluous but the wealth of extras is too great to ignore.

The Film: A Video: A Audio: A Extras: A+ Overall: A

 


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