A Halloween Double-Feature: Zombieland and Trick ‘r Treat!

Well, we’ve made it. It’s here. October has finally arrived. October: host to my favorite holiday.

I love Halloween. It is the one holiday that lets us be who (or what) we really want to. Sure, Christmas is great–seeing friends and family, eating lots of food, opening presents–but it’s Halloween that lets you cut loose and go against what is “socially acceptable”. Halloween encourages you to dress up–not in your nicest formal wear, but in make-up and rubber masks. It encourages you to eat candy like there’s no tomorrow. And, most importantly (some might argue), it’s the time of year when horror films are at their peak. In honor of this fine holiday and ghouls and ghosts who appreciate it, I want to review two “new” horror films: Zombieland and Trick ‘r Treat.

zombieland-poster-finalI’m sure many of you have heard about Zombieland. In a world filled with zombies, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) are in search of sanctuary–and hopefully, a Twinkie. Along the way they meet up with Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) and Wichita (Emma Stone), two sisters willing to do whatever it takes to survive. Hilarity ensues.

I’m not kidding. That line, “hilarity ensues”…it’s a little cliche, but it’s actually 100% accurate in this case. Sitting in a packed theater on Friday night, I literally cannot remember the last time a movie made me laugh that hard. Granted, being there with hundreds of excited, like-minded individuals–that is, people wanting to see slo-mo zombie mayhem–definitely can make one giddy, but Zombieland delivers the goods.

Many would be tempted to compare Zombieland to 2004’s Shaun of the Dead. Although they’re both in the zombie comedy genre, Shaun of the Dead was more of a horror movie with comedic elements. Zombieland, on the other hand, is a comedy that just happens to have zombies strewn about.

Zombieland‘s cast plays well off of one another. The actor’s are all in their element, portraying their respective characters believably. Columbus narrates the film, his various rules–which pop up in the world from time to time–eliciting more than a few laughs. On top of that, Zombieland has one of the best cameos I’ve ever seen (if you haven’t had it spoiled for you yet, do whatever you can to keep it that way).

I will say that the film does have some contrived parts, but if that sort of thing is going to make or break the film for you, you’re at the wrong movie. Zombieland isn’t meant to be heavily scrutinized. If you’re going to walk out debating whether or not they’re actually zombies because they were running, stay home. If you want a fun time with lots of laughs (and zombies), go check this out. I’d be surprised if you walked out disappointed.

Zombieland is in theaters now.


Next on the list is Trick ‘r Treat, a film by Michael Dougherty (writer on X2 and Superman Returns). I feel this film needs a bit of a preface. Trick ‘r Treat was originally set to be released, in theaters, in October of 2007. For some reason–many speculate it’s because of Superman Returns‘ poor reception–Warner Brothers shelved the film. Now, two years later, it’s finally getting a release.

Trick ‘r Treat is a collection of creepy stories that mixes fun with fear, candy with poison, and laughter with screams.
In the tradition of Creepshow and Tales From the Crypt comes four interwoven tales set on Halloween night: a high-school principal who moonlights as a vicious serial killer, a young virgin whose quest for that special someone takes a gruesome turn, a group of teens who carries out a cruel prank with disastrous consequences, and a cantankerous old man who battles a mischievous trick-or-treating demon.

Trick ‘r Treat is one of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen all year. In the decade of Saw films and remakes, it’s nice to see a film that pays tribute to the old days of horror. Walking a fine line, Trick ‘r Treat manages to be both nostalgic (think films like Creepshow) and contemporary.

Watching this film reminded me of my childhood, of ghost stories told to me by my parents as I sampled my Halloween candy before bed. I’d almost forgotten that an original horror film could still be made; Trick ‘r Treat restored my faith. This isn’t about traps and punishment or Asian ghosts or masked killers revived for the umpteenth time. It’s about stories. It’s about the things that go bump in the night. It’s about tradition.

The highest compliment I think I can pay Michael Dougherty is this: Trick ‘r Treat captures the spirit of Halloween better than any other film…ever. Yes, that includes Halloween. And that’s why it succeeds: spirit. It’s fun and it’s creepy, just like the real Halloween.

I only wish that Warner would have rethought their decision. Personally, I would have seen Trick ‘r Treat in theaters multiple times…I haven’t wanted to see a Saw film since the 3rd one. Trick ‘r Treat may not have had it’s chance in theaters, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead. If you’re tired of only seeing remakes and sequels, say something. Even if you give Trick ‘r Treat a try and it isn’t your cup of tea, encourage it. Original films are passed over all the time because Producers don’t think they’ll sell. Instead, they play it safe by regurgitating the same old…

Prove them wrong. Show the film industry that horror fans do still want originality. Support Trick ‘r Treat, support Drag Me to Hell. Otherwise, you might as well say goodbye to originality forever.

Trick ‘r Treat is out on DVD and Blu-ray tomorrow, October 6th.

Happy Halloween.

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  • I have to say, I don’t think I could write a review anywhere close to your review of Trick r Treat, good sir.

    Kudos to you, and I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments.


  • Adam E

    BOTH great movies

    What is funny is that I think I liked trick r treat more tho.

    HAHA Warner Brothers really Fked up by not taking it to theaters.

  • I agree. Trick ‘r Treat was an all-around better film. Zombieland was hilarious, but, like most comedies, I have to wonder how long it’s going to take before it loses its comedic appeal. Trick ‘r Treat is fantastic on many different levels so it will last. At least IMO.