[31 Days Of Horror ’19] Mini Reviews: Excision (2012) and Tales Of Halloween (2015)

Mini Review Day 20: Excision (2012)

Excision (2012) is a very strange film, a unique and interesting character study that delves into delusion and family drama. Writer/director Richard Bates Jr. has crafted a visually stunning film, with visions of gore and sex that are not easy to look away from not matter how turned off you may be by it. The family dynamic at play here is interesting and it really dives into just how far someone will go to win the approval of their parents.

Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord) is an 18 year old woman, attending High School with dreams of becoming a surgeon, she is what may be described as disturbed with fantasies of gore and blood that seem to turn her on. At school and at home she is the outcast, people find her weird and don’t understand her. Her mother Phyllis (Traci Lords) is controlling, her father Bob (Roger Bart) doesn’t get much of a say in anything and her younger sister Grace (Ariel Winter) suffers Cystic Fibrosis. Pauline decides to craft a plan to lose her virginity and ultimately win over her parents by what she sees as a good deed, but could have shocking consequences.

Visually this is a stunning experience, Bates Jr. has quite the eye for making the macabre look intriguing and almost beautiful. The fantasy scenes that Pauline has, which mix her interest with blood, gore and sex are shocking but also extremely fascinating to watch. Pauline is a strange character, but someone that clearly needs help and she doesn’t get it because no one truly understands her. She makes the film compelling and the performance by AnnaLynne McCord is extremely striking. Traci Lords is also really good here as Phyllis, the mother who aims to be perfect but virtually ignores or doesn’t pry deep enough to actually help her daughter or truly bond with her. The film includes some really fun cameo’s including John Waters and Malcolm McDowell, who add to the film even with limited screen time.

While the film is quite the ride, there just feels like something is missing. More depth into Pauline would have been beneficial, and the final act is gruesome but it doesn’t move past that last shocking visual and it just leaves things rather empty. Excision is a great film despite it’s flaws and for those who like their horror films unhinged this is a must watch.

Rating:

Mini Review Day 21: Tales Of Halloween (2015)

Horror anthologies are generally a lot of fun, at least some of the segments are guaranteed to be good. Creepshow (1982) is a standout where all of the segments are very enjoyable with excellent performances through out. Tales Of Halloween (2015) is a more recent venture into the horror anthology sub-genre and in scale it is rather epic with 10 segments, each directed by a different person. This could have gone either way, having so many segments and different film makers could have turned out to be a disaster, but for the most part the film delivers.

The film takes place in one town, with Adrienne Barbeau acting as narrator by the way of a radio DJ. The 10 segments sometimes are interlocking, but mostly their own story, each take place on Halloween and tell tales of the horror that can happen with supernatural elements. With 10 segments some do stand out above the others, the only real downside is ‘Friday The 31st‘, a segment that doesn’t fit the rest of the film with a tone that is far too silly and over the top, it doesn’t really work. The standouts are ‘Sweet Tooth’, ‘Trick‘, ‘This Means War‘ and ‘The Ransom of Rusty Rex‘ as they manage to do a lot with limited time and flow really well.

There is a lot of fun to be had with Tales Of Halloween, with fun cameo’s from horror directors such as Mick Garris, Joe Dante and Greg McLean and other cool cameos to pick out. It is also fairly well cast with great performances from Pollyanna McIntosh, Tiffany Shepis, James Duvall, Sam Witwer and Kristina Klebe just to name a few. The film feels like it was made with passion and a chance to celebrate Halloween in its own wicked way.

Tales Of Halloween certainly achieves what it set out to do, make a fun film to watch around Halloween time and not hold back on gore and scares. It is destined to become a cult favourite for October viewing, and it comes highly recommended.

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Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea

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