Like many a great 'ween tale, the dirt-cheap All Hallows' Eve opens with a babysitter and her young charges, one of whom got a little something extra dropped into his sack of candy: an unlabeled VHS tape. Because the household still has a VHS player, the sitter (Katie Maguire) is able to view the cassette's contents: three stories of young women in peril, whether dragged into hell at a train station, pursued by aliens in her new home, or chased by a murderous clown at a gas station.
That clown, Art (Mike Giannelli), plays a big part in the film, both literally and figuratively; to the former point, he appears throughout the stories, wraparound included, and to the latter point, he grants the no-budget project with several genuine scares — a rarity for a true indie. But what All Hallows' Eve lacks in production value, writer/director/editor/makeup artist Damien Leone makes up for in pure passion. One can tell this guy loves the spirit of the season, and it shows in his terror trilogy, which has all the makings of becoming a minor cult hit.
Standing at a much higher profile is Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear, an original production of the Chiller cable network. Because the made-for-Chiller movies thus far have been unimpressive, this quintet had the potential to best them all … and does, simply by virtue of being an omnibus. Don't like a story? Just wait a few minutes and all is not lost. Luckily, Chilling Visions is mostly winning.
A different director — or team of two, in one case — centers on one of the body's five senses, which the segments are named after:
• Nick Everhart's "Smell" sees a divorced slacker turn his life around via a bottle of rather unique cologne. Although warned not to overuse it, greed gets the best of him, bringing out the worst of him.
• Former child actor Miko Hughes (Pet Sematary's ill-fated Gage) goes behind the camera for "See," in which a strip-mall eye doctor extracts fluid from patients that allows him to view their experiences.
• Child prodigy Emily Hagins (Pathogen) tackles "Touch," wherein a blind boy must venture through the woods to help his parents harmed in an automobile accident.
• "Taste," by Eric England (Madison County), shows what happens when a job interviewee says "no" to a beautiful employer who won't take "no" for an answer.
• Finally, Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton's "Listen" is a found-footage piece about a song rumored to drive people insane.
While markedly more satisfying than the duo's 2010 film, Yellowbrickroad, their ambition again exceeds their grasp, but barely enough to merit true complaint. The same could be said for Hagins, who has yet to reach her potential, or anyone involved in the project, really, but why? With some nifty crossover threading, Chilling Visions is too fun to pick at imperfections. —Rod Lott
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