If there’s anything to take away from Horror Anthologies, it’s that they’re hard to appreciate nowadays. Hell, even the Horror Anthology movie is difficult to endure. Tales from the Darkside was a 1980s TV show that lasted four seasons, and from what I’ve heard, is reasonably good.
“Trick or Treat” (a quite fitting title for a horror series, if you ask me) is the first taste of what kind of horror Tales from the Darkside will productively portray. Straight off the bat, it’s more fascinated with spooky creatures and ghouls than it is with atmosphere, and by no means is that bad. Really, nothing should be taken away from this episode, other than a few cheesy scares, and a somewhat worthy life lesson.
Written by Horror maestro George A. Romero, “Trick or Treat” follows wealthy old man Gideon Hackles at his favorite time of the year: Halloween. For a long time he’s been providing certain townspeople money that leaves him with a stack of IOU’s. You see, Hackles is rather cruel and what he does on Halloween night establishes that rather greatly. The man loves seeing the fear in people’s eyes, and one way he does this is by inviting the children of parents’ loaded with IOU’s to visit his house. Somewhere Hackles has hidden the stash of IOU’s, and whichever kid finds it, their parents are free of debt. It’s not entirely explained how long this have been going for, but it’s been a long time.
Barnard Hughes, or better known as Grandpa in the 80s horror classic The Lost Boys, is both humorous and despicable – a combination that rather works for him. I couldn’t help but like his presence, even though his character is cruel to the max. His idea of this hunt gives him immense pleasure, which may raise the fact to why? All we know is he’s an old wretched human being, but never does he admit to hurting a child. He only particularly hurts them with fear. As kids nervously word “trick or treat” at Hackles’ door, their parent is watching them, urging them to go forward.
One by one, the kids fall victim to a manufactured scare by Hackles. Imagine him sitting in a secluded room, pulling strings and whacking buttons, throwing together an ultimate scare. Things take a turn, though, and a creepy-as-fuck witch turns up at his door. This is where the episode gets absurdly fast. Basically, the witch scares Hackles by disposing the money from his safe all over the house, leading a paper trail towards a red lit room, suggested to be hell. It’s quite neat to think that the old man wasn’t entirely fearful of the flying witch, but rather over the fact that his money wasn’t in his possession.
Oh, the life lesson? Don’t be cruel to children. That’s pretty much it.
VERDICT: An enjoyable and somewhat creepy start to the show that honestly shows a lot of promise. That witch is a killer, but turns up with no explanation.