Director: Damien Leone
Starring: Katie Maguire, Catherine A. Callahan, Marie Maser .USA. 1h 23m
I won’t even attempt to hide the fact that I get so confused with the history of Art the Clown. I vaguely remember seeing clips of him appearing in YouTube mixes and totally missed Terrifier (2011) which seems to have been remade in 2016, after this unsettling anthology All Hallows Eve, which successfully captures the spirit of Halloween in a very disturbing way and sets itself apart from all the other spooky anthologies.
The night of Halloween is very sacred for many horror fans, with is pagan roots drenched in disguises and mischief, the veil is thin and anything unearthly can happen but when it gets dark. It’s this uncertainty which Art the Clown uses to his advantage when he/it attempts to break through from the surreal to the real.
A babysitter finds a VHS tape in the candy bag of one of the siblings that she’s looking after on Halloween night. The kids are cute, bitching at each other and being brats but they are bearable. They start to watch the tape, thinking that it’s a shoddy series of b-movies and trailers and they persevere through the unique stories that all seem to be connected by a freaky grease painted faced clown.
The trailers, actually old films made by the director for his earlier movies including The 9th Circle (2008), carry a stylised VHS tracking aesthetic but this vanishes for most of the independent stories. Each have their own unique charm, but are all accompanied by a heavy booming synth soundtrack and include a mix of stories, from a twisted tale of a girl, trapped by cannibal psychos to a (painfully )slow motion alien invasion, the only constant is regular reminders that Art the Clown is pulling the strings and his appearance is usually a queue for gore and violence is about to commence and he keeps it all “together”, his moments stand out for their kaleidoscope of clown antics and mischievous fun. He hands a flower to a lonely girl at the train station filled with bugs, and gets kicked out of a gas station and chased off at one point, it’s funny seeing the creature we know as Art the Clown getting scolded, knowing what he’s capable of, and pretty soon the table turns. It’s not surprising that most of his victims are female, we make the best screamers and the louder you scream the scarier the movie.. right?
Overall it’s a fairly unusual set of movies, and genuinely taps into that edge of gore and horror that other anthologies like Southbound (2015) attempted to do. For me, personally I couldn’t not think back to the strange Italian horror Judy (2014) another grease pained freaky clown thriller. While All Hallows’ Eve couldn’t be more different from the other modern horror anthologies of the decade it’s a complex maze of ideas and conjures different emotions. At times it comes across a little weak and underpowered but this is Damien Leone’s style, he loves to play with horror tropes and there’s a brave attempt to do something, just anything different to create an unsettling atmosphere that the movie struggles to survive on. It’s weird but needs a touch more wonderful but I feel with Art the Clown’s popularity he has many chances to get it right with many sequels and tons of spin offs.
Related: All Hallows Eve 2 (2015), Tales of Halloween (2015), Terrifier (2011)
Lists:Coulrophobia Vol 1