Michael Dougherty’s “Trick r Treat” is a contemporary success story that’s enamored horror fans for a long time. Originally in 2007, Michael Dougherty’s horror anthology was kicked around various studios, pushed back, and shelved. When it finally re-emerged, it was pushed to a DVD release on 2009. Once unleashed on the fan base, it began life as a hidden gem, and has grown to become a bonafide horror classic, almost universally praised. To boot, “Trick r Treat’s” mascot, the burlap sack wearing, jagged lollipop adorning Sam has become one of the modern horror icons, whose bred a legion of fans (as well as a slew of merchandise).
“Trick r Treat” is a deceptively simple but brilliant horror anthology in the mold of “Pulp Fiction” that’s set in the fictional town of Warren Valley, Ohio. As entire town prepares for a massive celebration of the holiday including a parade, the enigmatic Sam lurks about in the shadows leading us along on a myriad sub-plots involving various characters. Among them there are a group of trick or treaters collecting pumpkins for a visit to a haunted canyon, a foursome of teenage girls prepare for a big party in the woods where one of them is looking for her “first,” a psychotic dad who is delighting in some murder for the holiday, and of course, there’s the grouchy neighbor Kreeg who is treated to an unwanted, relentless visitor on the night he hates the most.
Michael Dougherty’s film is an absolute gem and easily in the annals of the top horror anthologies ever made. Not only is “Trick r Treat” a wonderful horror movie, but it’s weird, it’s darkly funny, it’s wickedly clever, and wields an excellent narrative structure. Every viewing is a new experience with nuances Dougherty took obvious care with. He also directs a fine cast of character actors, all of whom provide stellar turns, including Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, and Dylan Baker who seems to be having a good time as the maniacal Steven Wilkins. Every sub-plot celebrates something amazing and menacing about the holiday, including Sam. Sam is both the innocence and joy of the trick or treater, with the horror of a supernatural being whose intentions are always ambiguous, even when his purpose has been explored thoroughly.
While the creeper and crypt keeper have always been more doorways in to the tales, Sam seems a part of this dark and twisted film. Sometimes he also seems to be the harbinger. As someone who’s written about the movie so many times before, “Trick r Treat” is absolutely pitch perfect horror cinema. Director and writer Dougherty concoct this amazing cinematic brew filled with vampires, witches, monsters, and even an enigmatic who has been rightfully embraced by fans. While some sections of the base have their preferences, “Trick r Treat” easily on my top five of Halloween films (taking the top spot over “Halloween”); its timelessness promises to win a new generation of horror buffs.
After some pretty okay releases on DVD and Blu-Ray, “Trick r Treat” garners a special edition that it deserves, with a new 2K scan of the original film and its elements, all of which were supervised and approved by Michael Dougherty. Ported over from previous releases, there’s an audio commentary with writer/director Michael Dougherty, who along with concept artist Breehn Burns, storyboard artists Simeon Wilkins, and composer Douglas Pipes offer straight forward looks at the creation of the project, the challenges, as well as Easter eggs, story beats, etc. “Trick ‘r Treat: The Lore And Legends Of Halloween” is a thirty minute extensive background of Halloween, the development of “Trick r Treat” and a fun dissection of the holiday and the film. There is a small selection of Deleted and Alternate Scenes with Optional Commentary by director Michael Dougherty, who discusses why he opted to delete or alter some scenes. There’s also a School Bus FX comparison showing how much FX were injected in the final shot, and the theatrical trailer.
Among the new extras, there’s “Tales Of Folklore & Fright: Creating Trick ‘r Treat,” which includes new interviews with writer/director Michael Dougherty, Conceptual Artist Breehn Burns, And Storyboard Artist Simeon Wilkins. “Tales Of Mischief & Mayhem: Filming Trick ‘r Treat” is an in-depth Interview with Michael Dougherty On The Making of “Trick r Treat,” “Sounds Of Shock & Superstition: Scoring Trick ‘r Treat” is a fun segment including interviews With Michael Dougherty And Composer Douglas Pipes, as they discuss the haunting and mischievous score for the film. “Tales Of Dread And Despair: Releasing Trick ‘r Treat” is a look at the film’s release, and the massive fandom that’s been built over the last decade, featuring commentary by Michael Dougherty and writer Rob Galluzzo.
One of the more entertaining new elements is a brand new 2K scan of the original 16mm elements from the short film “Season’s Greetings.” The animated short that inspired “Trick r Treat” and featured the first appearance of Sam, includes an optional commentary by Michael Dougherty. There’s a brand new storyboard and conceptual artwork gallery, a new Behind the Scenes still gallery, the fun FEARnet.com shorts from years prior promoting the 24 hour marathon for the now defunct network, and finally, “Monster Mash” a chapter from the “Trick r Treat: Days of the Dead”” graphic novel about a pair of Halloween obsessed boys mistaken for monsters who are thrust in to a dimension filled with monsters. Their friendship is tested, when one of them decides he wants to stay. It’s a great capper to a beautiful series of bells of whistles for fans.