Report: On Set of All Hallows’ Anthology, Tales of Halloween

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It’s a brisk December afternoon. I exit the van and stroll to the set of Darren Lynn Bousman’s Tales of Halloween segment. Pumpkins decorate a lawn, little bright balls of happiness line the walkway to a porch where a skeleton lounges patiently, greeting whoever arrives with a bony smile. Next to him sits a bucket of sweets, so riddled with sugar they’re sure to create a grin as chilling as the bucket’s quiet companion. In the streets, little lambs and demons, princesses and pirates swarm frantically, giddy with anticipation, happily swinging their pillowcases and dragging their parents by the hand to the next decorated doorstep. Bousman stands smiling behind a monitor and yells “Cut!” as the nearest costumed child bounds toward a camera placed a few yards away. The goal is to create a convincing Halloween night just a few days before Christmas, and Bousman and crew are succeeding. For a few hours, my favorite holiday is back, and all is right in the world. 

Most of the members of the “October Society” have been friends for years—already celebrating several holidays together—so when the idea came up to collectively craft a movie about Halloween, there was little question they’d all be willing to pitch in.

“Well, it was mainly Axelle Carolyn who had the idea to kind of bring it all together, but the reason that we thought of these people, and the project came to mind is that we’re actually all friends in real life,” says producer Mike Mendez. “We hang out together, you know, we celebrate Halloween together, we celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, whatever. This is our L.A. family, if you will, and it was just sort of high time, like we said, ‘Well how come we’ve never made a movie together or done a project together?’ So it seemed like a logical thing to do, since we felt like we had so many talented filmmakers, we just kind of all focused our energies in one direction to do an anthology film.”

Along with Mendez (Big Ass Spider), other members of the October Society include: Axelle Carolyn (Soulmate), Neil Marshall (The Descent), Dave Parker (The Hills Run Red), John Skipp (Stay at Home Dad), Paul Solet (Grace), Adam Gierasch (Night of the Demons),Andrew Kasch (Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy), Lucky McKee (The Woman), and of course, Bousman (Saw II, III, & IV, Repo: The Genetic Opera). Eleven directors are shooting ten segments that will interweave to create one grand omnibus, all taking place on All Hallow’s Eve.

TOH_KeyArt_newnamesBousman’s chapter, “The Night Billy Raised Hell”, concerns a little boy who learns the dangers that coincide with a harmless Halloween prank, if you play it on the wrong people. Though he’s never been one to celebrate Halloween before, Billy agrees to join a group of kids as they terrorize the neighborhood, egging houses and causing playful juvenile mayhem. Just when Billy begins to understand why so many people indulge in the spirit of the holiday, he steps on the wrong toes, and unknowingly subjects himself to a night of learning from the master. The devil himself emerges from the yolk-covered door, mad as hell and ready for payback. Egging houses is child’s play compared to what he’s got in store, as the Prince of Darkness teaches Billy how to really play tricks on Halloween night.

“He eggs the wrong person, and the wrong person is basically like, “This is a prank? Let me show you what a real Halloween prank is,” Bousman explains. “And it’s this person showing our kid how to do the ultimate Halloween prank. Just complete mayhem. It’s basically Grand Theft Auto

This film marks the second time that Darren Lynn Bousman has worked with Epic Pictures, but Bousman and screenwriter Clint Sears have known each other since they were kids. “Clint and I met each other in Middle School because we were dating the same girl. We threatened to fight each other, and then we started making short films together instead.”

“It’s like I’m still back with my friend, but all of a sudden, look at all of the stuff we have to play with, and it’s just awesome,” says Sears.

Star Barry Bostwick was thrilled to be a part of Darren Lynn Bousman’s segment: “I did Devil’s Carnival for him, and I’m a big fan of his, and I think he’s one of the real, young, talented directors in this town, and I wanted to do this film because he’s surrounded by many other directors who are on the same level as him, that I’ve never worked with.”

Despite Bostwick’s long resume, including Brad Majors in the iconic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, he still thrives on independent genre films: “I like this kamikaze filmmaking. I like that we’re filming this in two days. There are no mistakes because you don’t have time to iron out things, you just have to really be on your game for the moment the cameras start rolling and whatever comes out, if you’ve done your homework, and you have a certain amount of confidence, it just works.”

When asked about the overall tone, Mendez commented that it was altogether light-hearted, but that the idea was for the stories to exist in the same universe, while granting filmmakers the freedom to create their own unique, individual segments.

“They pretty much have free reign to write about whatever they wanted, as long as it was in the town, on the night, and it fit somewhat thematically in Halloween. But you know, that’s the part of the thing I think is so interesting in an anthology, is that yes, you have similar subject matters, but you want to hear different filmmaker voices, and in some ways, you kind of want someone to be out of line with what everyone else is doing. You want different tones, and you want different styles. Some are funny, some are dramatic, some are spooky, and I think that’s good. It kind of becomes like a little Halloween film festival where you’re getting all these different voices, and I’m very curious about how people are going to react to it.”

Carolyn has arguably the most multifaceted presence role on Tales of Halloween. She’s not only come up with the premise, but is also producing, and writing and directing a segment of her own called “Grim Grinning Ghost”. In her chapter, Carolyn focuses on the tradition of yesteryear, as opposed to the flashy, bright fixations of today’s celebrations.

“In some regions of America, they say that if you hear footsteps behind you on Halloween night, whatever you do, do not turn around, because whatever is behind you might not be something you want to see. And so the whole thing is: the girl that we’re following is driving home, her car breaks down, so she has to walk home.” Carolyn forgoes candy and excessive drinking in favor of ancient superstition and folklore, as she tells the story of a ghost who doesn’t wish to partake in the current customs of today’s youth.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of Halloween being the night where the souls come back to visit the living,” says Carolyn. “And I’ve always thought that the whole mingling with the dead, and not knowing who’s alive and who’s not is awesome, and it’s not quite literally that, but it kind of builds on that idea. It’s kind of like a ghost that doesn’t want to be seen. This is the one night that they can be there, but not everybody wants to party with the living.”

Expect Tales of Halloween later this year.

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