Retro Review: All Hallows’ Eve (2013)

  • Starring:  Katie Maguire, Mike Giannelli, Catherine A. Callahan, Marie Maser, Kayla Lian, Cole Mathewson, Sydney Freihofer
  • Directed by:  Damien Leone
  • Written by:  Damien Leone
  • Runtime:  83 minutes
  • Rated:  Not rated (for language, extreme graphic violence)
  • Reviewed by Michael Juvinall

I like a good anthology film.  The anthology or omnibus is a film format that has been around since the dawn of cinema.   The format seemed to be most prevalent from the 1960s through the 1980s, but has been making a comeback within the last five years or so with films like V/H/S, The ABCs of Death, and Trick ‘r Treat.  What I like most about these types of films is you normally get 3 or 4 short vignettes with a wraparound story that is supposed to tie everything together if it’s done correctly.   Let me tell you, All Hallows’ Eve is a fine example of an anthology film done mostly correctly. I like the short films because you get to the payoff much quicker than a full feature film, maybe that’s the impatience in me coming out. 

Now I don’t normally find creepy clowns all that scary, they’re everywhere and I don’t understand what makes them scary to people, but in this film, Art the clown played masterfully by Mike Giannelli, is the stuff nightmares are made of.  Art is the link that binds three short vignettes together along with the main wraparound story. 

Sarah (Katie Maguire) is in charge of babysitting two precocious kids, Timmy (Cole Mathewson) and Tia (Sydney Freihofer) on Halloween night.   While going through their trick or treat bags Timmy discovers that someone had slipped an unlabeled VHS tape into his bag.  Giving in to the kids pleas to see what’s on the videotape, Sarah allows them to pop in the tape and watch. 

In the first short, we follow a woman who is drugged by Art and then wakes up chained to a water pipe in some dingy underground tunnel and has to deal with demonic creatures.  The next short features a homicidal alien who is stalking a woman in her new house.  In the final segment, a young woman witnesses a gruesome murder by Art, the demented clown and then stalks her to a nightmarish finish. 

Sarah sends the kids to bed after the first gruesome short and after curiosity gets the better of her, she watches the other films on the tape.  While watching alone, strange occurrences begin to happen to Sarah, leading up to a nightmarishly shocking finale. 

As far as an anthology film goes, the filmmakers do a pretty good job of making it work.  Art the clown is featured in one way or another in each of the segments as well as the wraparound story.  Disappointingly, the stories are not interrelated in any way like the best anthology films of the past have been done before.  I feel the filmmakers could have found some way to link the stories together which would’ve made a much more cohesive storyline.  The first two shorts are passable and manage to work but are nothing spectacular.  Where the film begins to really shine is with the third segment and then the wraparound story.   The third segment is the best of the bunch and is designed to simulate a grindhouse-style film effect and looks really interesting, making it a pretty creepy story. 

The highlight of the film is actor Mike Giannelli’s brilliant portrayal of the main character Art the clown.  Combined with the excellent prosthetic makeup for Art, Giannelli’s silent performance really creates one creepy ass clown.  The other standout performance goes to Katie Maguire as Sarah the babysitter.  She delivers an effective role in the face of a pretty good story.  The makeup effects by director Damien Leone are appropriately gruesome and look realistically gory.  Director Leone does a great job in shooting the film and giving it an effectively retro look to it. 

I am very impressed with Leone’s first feature film effort.  It is a thoroughly entertaining and disturbing flick with a very creepy new horror villain in Art the clown.  I look forward to seeing more supernatural appearances with Art in the future.  All Hallows’ Eve reminds me of the quote by silent film legend Lon Chaney Sr. still holds true…”There is nothing on earth more frightening than a clown after midnight.”

4 out of 5 Pentagrams!

Watch the trailer for All Hallow’s Eve here:

About Michael Juvinall (4317 Articles)
I am a devoted husband and father. I have been a voracious horror fan since the early age of 5 and metal fan since I was 14. I watch all horror films but my great loves are classic horror films: Universal Monsters, Werewolves, Hammer Horror and an all-around affinity for things that go bump in the night! I'm also a huge fan of extreme metal music.

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