Trick or Treats
trick or treats | gary graver | jacqueline giroux | peter jason | chris graver | halloween | mental hospital | slasher | david carradine | carrie snodgress | steve railsback | jillian kesner | dan pastorini | tim rossovich | paul bartel | jean clark
Film: Trick or Treats
Director: Gary Graver
Writer: Gary Graver
Starring: Jacqueline Giroux, Peter Jason and Chris Graver
This was a film that I actually heard about through podcasts, or at least I think I did. There were two different films in the 80’s that had similar titles so I decided to check this out as it was available on streaming. In the end, I realized that the one I was looking for is the other one. The synopsis here is a baby sitter is stuck watching over a young brat on Halloween night that keeps playing vicious pranks on her. To add to her trouble, the boy’s deranged father escapes from an asylum and is planning on making a visit.
We start this off with a couple out on their porch having breakfast. Malcolm O’Keefe (Peter Jason) is reading the newspaper and his wife Joan (Carrie Snodgress) tries asking him a question. He gives her a look and she stops talking. Things then take a turn when the doorbell rings and she lets in two attendants from a mental hospital. After a struggle, he’s taken away.
It then shifts several years into the future. Joan is now married to Richard Adams (David Carradine). We learn that Joan also has a son, with Malcolm as the father. The boy’s name is Christopher (Chris Graver). He is really into magic. His mother is upset with him, but we see that he’s kind of a momma’s boy. Her and Richard are going to party so he will have a babysitter.
This turns out to be Linda (Jacqueline Giroux). She is an aspiring actress and she upsets her boyfriend Bret (Steve Railsback) who is opening in a play tonight. She is missing it as she will be the babysitter for Christopher. She goes over to the house and has a weird interaction with Richard who comes on to her and wants her to have a drink with him. Joan walks in and doesn’t really acknowledge what happened. She does give her the lowdown of what to do with Christopher.
We also see Malcolm who is still in the mental hospital. The doctor humors him telling he will get out soon, but we see that’s not the case. It is said that Malcolm is as mad as a hatter. He does come up with a plan to get out of there and go home to get the revenge for him being where he is.
Now I went a bit lighter with the recap here, because there’s not a lot to this story. If I’m going to be honest, I feel like there’s a lot missing from the script and the film just feels empty because of it. To start with, we never really learn why Malcolm is committed and they just keep saying his crazy. All I saw from it is that he’s gone psycho from being institutionalized when there didn’t seem to be anything wrong. I feel like this should have been fleshed out to work.
Joan also seems horrible to me. She reveals to Linda that she’s a gold-digger. It is interesting is that Malcolm looked like he was pretty successful. The other thing is that Malcolm is out to get his revenge. They have Joan go to the party, so when he arrives at the house finally, he is stalking Linda. I don’t mind this, but I also think that Joan should be punished or at least feeling some of this to actually work for the set up we got.
The other major issue I had with the movie is that it focuses way too much on Christopher playing tricks on Linda. It actually makes it feel more like a bad comedy with some of things that he does. Some are definitely more horror focused, but it really just got repetitive and it almost seemed like they were going for the ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ angle. I mean she even tells him the story, but it doesn’t go anywhere. I know in part is to think the phone calls are Christopher, it just seems like it would work better if the boy is messed with and Linda not believing it.
Because of what they focused on, I think that the pacing is definitely hurt as it doesn’t build tension. I was quite bored with this as it takes almost half the movie for Malcolm to escape and he doesn’t show up to the house until the last 20 minutes. There’s just way too much stuff that doesn’t matter going on and it really hurt the overall product. The ending has an interesting little idea, but it doesn’t really matter for me.
I will say that the acting wasn’t all that bad though. I did think that Giroux was fine in her role, just a little bit uneven. I think it would work better to have her humor Christopher and then ramp up to her getting mad. We kind of get her going from scared, to angry and back again so it really just didn’t progress. Jason I thought was fine as the psychopath here, but I just think we needed more back-story to him or at least a look at why he’s put away. Graver was really annoying. I will give him credit though, that’s what he was going for and he was spot on. Carradine and Snodgress are really just bit roles here, but both were fine. The rest of the cast don’t really stand out, but rounded out the movie for what was needed.
There’s not really a lot in the way of effects in this either. The kid does have some masks that look store bought. There’s some blood, but most of it looks fake and I’m fine when Christopher is pulling pranks. We do get a death at the end that the film hides, which is fine. The only problem I have to say though is the blood is the same color as what is supposed to be the fake stuff. I won’t take points away for that, since I guess it could be considered really good fake blood that Christopher has. The film though is shot fine overall.
Now with that said, this film really was just boring to me. It focuses on things that don’t matter and doesn’t give us really any substance. I don’t even think there’s a lot that would have been needed to really deepen what got as it just didn’t give us anything. The film therefore is boring for focusing on trivial things. The acting is fine for a movie like this and the effects are about the same. The problem is that it really doesn’t have enough really. The soundtrack didn’t really stand out to me, but it also didn’t hurt the film either. It fit for what was needed I would say. This isn’t a good movie though and I really can’t recommend this.
My Rating: 3 out of 10