If The Devil's Rejects and Bubba Ho-Tep hooked up and had a love child, he'd be 10 years old and look something like Daniel Roebuck (TDR) and Chuck Williams (BHT). If that's not scary enough for you, read on.
This two-disc DVD, perfect for your Halloween party or just a dark night on your own, is a re-release of a magazine show style terror-tour (hosted by Roebuck, and sci-fi celeb Bob Burns) of America's best haunted houses, monstrous mazes, grotesque graveyards, and icky inns.
Taking a light-hearted, nostalgic look at the holiday, Williams and Roebuck have put together a fine presentation featuring frightful faves such as Robert Englund, Alice Cooper, Tom Savini, Doug Bradley, Tony Todd, Don Post Jr., and many more.
While the tours of the haunted houses are presented in the most visually interesting ways possible through use of creative editing, this really isn't the main attraction: for me, the best part was listening to the childhood memories of trick-or-treaters like Christa Campbell, John Gulager, and Don Coscarelli (these recollections are actually on both discs). There's also a bit about the history of candy-handing, a look at a variety of costumes, plus a run down of the best and worst edibles ever gotten.
On the second disc there's a TV chat show pilot called Raw Talk — it's a great idea, but unfortunately somewhat poorly executed. In a roundtable discussion set up something like Jon Favreau's IFC series Dinner For Five, Williams and Roebuck chew the gristle with a handful of horror icons and talk about everything from All Hallow's Eve to the current state horror movie remakes. The guests have interesting things to say and the hosts are gracious and funny, but the cinematography, sound, and editing could have been a lot slicker and snappier. (Still… it's not nearly as static as the Dinner with Uwe Boll extra on the BloodRayne DVD and the content is a lot more engaging.)
I also enjoyed the super-silly (yet compulsively watchable) country / rap / metal rock video of the song Comin' To Kill Ya by a beyond-obscure rock band called Hacker House (actually, I think it's a one-off promo item for the actual Hacker House haunted tour, but I was unable to find any info about it on the DVD).
Over all, the Halloween… The Happy Haunting of America: 10th Anniversary Edition is well worth the price of purchase. (And if you can find it, the new short film Night Visitor starring Chuck Williams and Lynn Lowry would be a fun addition to your movie night roster!)
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson