Before going in to this film, I was unaware of its source material. Despite being unaware of its context, I came away from my viewing thinking it was a fun, gripping movie. Getting the chance to learn more and even interview its creator really solidified my high opinion of the film in its entirety.
The Terror of Hallow’s Eve begins with a 1980s setting and a 15 year old boy with an affinity for scary pranks. Levity soon turns to gravity as he is dragged away by the ear by a neighbor to his mother. Timmy (Caleb Thomas) has been puling pranks on the neighborhood girls again, and his mother (Carol Lancaster) is more than a little worried about the possible consequences. If only pulling pranks was Timmy’s biggest problem. School bullies and ill-fated crushes bear down on this poor kid to the extent that I would have excused any of his later actions. The revenge fantasy comes to mind- being a teenager again. For some of us, these childhood moments are reminiscent of our own past lives. For writer and creator Todd Tucker (co-founder and president of Illusion Industries), these early scenes are almost exact parallels of his own childhood.
The theatrical posters for this film include a bug-eyed elf creature peeking innocently out from behind the letters of the title. Doug Jones plays this “adorably creepy” elf, and is the embodiment of a malevolent spirit of Halloween. Timmy has no idea what he has stumbled upon, but uses it to his advantage regardless.
Several of this film’s conceptual elements had me thinking more “Christmas” than “Halloween,” but in all fairness that probably upped the creepiness factor for me anyways. The Terror establishes traditions of “Hallow’s Eve,” and a strong message of “be careful what you wish for.” All of these things are reminiscent of childhood holidays, disappointments, anxieties, conflicts. Todd Tucker successfully takes us into a world where we’re just young kids again, taking our lives one day at a time, and wishing they were totally different. Had this film been a mere work of fiction, the drama and severity of the work would not have come across. Learning that some of the most poignant and painful moments of the film were reenactments left me so impressed that it has been granted a permanent position in my collection of the best horror films to date.