Posted: 09/21/2009


Trick ‘r Treat


by Jef Burnham

Coming to DVD and Blu-Ray on October 6, 2009.

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Trick ‘r Treat, from writer/director Michael Dougherty (who also penned X-Men 2, Superman Returns, and Urban Legend 3), was slated for release around Halloween 2007 and finds itself set securely in my list of top 3 horror films of this century (along with Shaun of the Dead and Audition). So if it’s that good, you must have seen it, right?

Well, probably not. Warner Bros. decided to postpone the release this gem (for reasons that I’ll get to), and at one point dropped the film entirely, until glowing reviews from critics and bloggers began to flood the internet after the film screened at a handful of festivals. Trick ‘r Treat will finally be released this October, though it will be sent straight to DVD.

Now, don’t let the stigma of “straight-to-DVD” dissuade you from checking this out. I caught a screening of the film at Terror in the Aisles 2 at the Portage Theater in Chicago, and I think Warner Bros.’ delayed the film’s release because it’s just too good. As Dougherty himself told the audience in a Q&A, “It’s not a sequel, it’s not a remake, and it’s not Japanese,” and we all know studios are afraid of challenging formulas. It took me back to the horror movies of my childhood that could be fun AND scary, like horror movies once were and had been from the start. But at some point, filmmakers and studios began relying on excessive gore and cheap startles to carry horror movies rather than originality.

Trick ‘r Treat is an anthology film, tying together four stories taking place on All Hallows Eve. And like many horror films, there are rules one must abide by to stay alive, but these rules are a little different. Sex, drugs and alcohol won’t send you to your grave, in fact, they seem encouraged. The rules are those of Halloween, based on its ancient traditions. It is this element and the inclusion of the newest horror movie icon, Sam (who you’re going to love), that really set Trick ‘r Treat apart from its peers. And that’s to say nothing of the super-talented cast, featuring Anna Paquin (True Blood, X-Men), Dylan Baker (Happiness, Fido), Brian Cox (Rushmore, Manhunter) and oh so many others.

When Trick ‘r Treat hits DVD and Blu-Ray on October 6, get out there and show your support for original horror films! If we’re lucky, studios may start taking some risks and we won’t have to see any more movies like Sorority Row or the remake of The Fog. And maybe, just maybe, Dougherty will grace us with a sequel that will actually be released in theaters this time.

Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of

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