Directed by Justin M. Seaman (“The Old Hag”), Zane Hershberger (“Trespassers”), John William Holt (“Killing the Dance”), Brett DeJager (“The Halloween Blizzard of ’91), Rocky Gray (“The Samhain Slasher”), Hunter Johnson (“Malvolia: the Queen of Screams” wraparound)
Written by Justin M. Seaman (“The Old Hag”), Zane Hershberger (“Trespassers”), Jason Turner (“Killing the Dance”), Brett DeJager (“The Halloween Blizzard of ’91), Rocky Gray (“The Samhain Slasher”), Hunter Johnson (“Malvolia: the Queen of Screams” wraparound)
Starring Hanleigh Baker, Chad Bruns, Barry Clifton, Greg Fallon, Egypt Forrest, Fox Forrest, Jedediah Giacchino, Kirby Gocke, Abraham Gray, Madison Gray, Renee’ Gray, Sable Griedel, Ethan Hemenway, Ryan Heumier, Bailey Ingersoll, Nickolaus Joshua, Wendy Keeling, Cindy Maples, Star McCann, Brittany Moore, Derek Moore, Jessica Moore, Mitchell Musolino, Jordan Phipps, Allen Regimbal, Katie Walgrave, Darius White, Angel Wright, & Jennifer Nangle as Malvolia – Queen of Screams!
Find out more about this film here!
10/31 is a low budgeter, but proof that you don’t have to have a big budget to deliver quality stories filled with fun and thrilling scares. As the title indicates, all of the stories take place around Halloween night with the wraparound segment set up as a midnight movie hostess named Malvolia, Queen of Screams (played by Jennifer Nangle) creeps out some kiddies staying up late and shoving candies down their gob. The film quickly dives into the collection of shorts that make up this anthology. There are five of them and below is what I thought of each.
“The Old Hag” is about a director and a producer scouting an old bed and breakfast on Halloween night in order to make a commercial. One of them keeps seeing an old woman creeping around in the upper floors. This would be an average spook show if not for the fun script and the way the lead character Nick Edwards responds to all of the paranormal crap that’s happening around them. Sporting some nice old age makeup and a few nice jump scares, this is a strong short to lead with by filmmaker Justin M. Seaman.
Next is Zane Hershberger’s “Tresspassers,” another one that relies on a strong script to propel it through some typical Halloween scares. A bad movie date leads a couple to seek out something a little scarier, which takes them to a local house with a very dark past. This one has some decent and bloody scares, but it’s the performances from Sable Griedel and Chad Bruns that make this one stand out. They have a lot of fun banter that keeps the short interesting. I always love scarecrow stories and this one’s got a cool one with a diabolical history.
My favorite of the bunch of the retro-tastic “Killing the Dance,” a slasher style film set at a roller disco. I really think this one could have been expanded to full length and make a cool feature. The story has strong performances from its lead Bailey Ingersoll who plays a counter gal at the roller rink who is attempting to break up with her boyfriend while working and watching her creepy little brother who only speaks though a mechanical voice box. All of this, of course happens on Halloween night. When a weirdo in a mask shows up brandishing a razor, it means nothing but trouble for everyone on wheels. This one has cool music, awesome kills, roller skate fights, teen drama, and a retro-vibe that reminded me of PROM NIGHT and more recently THE GUEST. This one, by John William Holt and Jason Turner, is full of devious twists and turns.
“The Halloween Blizzard of ‘91” from filmmaker Brett DeJager is a fun short that mixes both Halloween and Christmas traditions as a blizzard cancels Halloween and makes Christmas come early. But with this mix-up of seasons comes some twisted representatives of the season as a creepy Santa and three odd looking trick or treaters come a knocking at one unlucky home. The result is well orchestrated chaos with lots of fun bloodshed and spooky moments. While it ends abruptly, the unnatural look of the children wearing people masks and the morbid way in which the family is murdified makes this one stand out.
Rocky Gray’s “The Samhain Slasher” is a bizarre one about an escaped murderer, a worried father, and a rebellious teen all set on a collision course. I liked this non-linear way this story unfolds and the fun dream logic at play throughout. It’s not the most cohesive of shorts, but it has quite a few chills and thrills to deliver. I loved the look of the Samhain killer, who wears a white facemask that reveals the cold dead eyes, It is an original and creepy look for a killer.
All five segments don’t last too long, so even if you aren’t fond of one of them, you know another will be coming up next. I liked parts of all of these little shorts which showed a lot of ingenuity and style, despite their meager budgets. There is a heaping dose of chills and thrills and quite a few moments where I gasped and laughed all at once. 10/31 has a Part 2, which I’ll be covering next, and I can’t wait to do so given the quality of this awesome anthology.