Every year on Halloween night at the Bloody Popcorn house, after the kids are in bed—full of candy and probably dreaming about Christmas—we watch Trick ‘r Treat. No film captures the season better.
Ranking the segments in Trick ‘r Treat is hard as hell. It would be hard even if they were completely separated out into their own little bits, but since the story is interwoven and there are callbacks and non-linear stories going…makes it that much more difficult.
So, today, we each offer up our rankings…
Though they won’t be included in the actual ranking because they are not fleshed out stories, you can’t ignore the opening, which is just an essential part of the season, where Helo from Battlestar Galacatica and his girlfriend are the first victims of the holiday, or the wrap up, which puts all the elements of the film together in one final scene and basically ends each segment for good.
We discussed this in the anthologies episode of our podcast, so maybe that will help. If I remember right, my favorite story on that episode was undecided, between these two (I used Wikipedia’s segment titles and am not sure if they are official):
Surprise Party. Dominque Swain Anna Paquin, as Laurie, and her pack of friends are getting ready for Laurie’s big night, wherein she’s to lose her virginity. By the end of the segment, we learn that the ‘virginity’ is that she has never killed anyone, because they are werewolves. The party they’re planning is one part orgy and 72 parts killing dudes, with a whole lotta transformations going on. Laurie’s first victim winds up being:
The Principal. Yes, before we learn that Dylan Baker’s Steven meets his end at the fangs of X-Men’s Rogue, we learn that he is two things: the principal at a local school and a serial killer. Oh, and a third thing, he’s a dad who’s teaching his son the fine art of carving up dead people. This segment also features Bad Santa’s Thurman Merman, in one of the all-time grossest movie deaths, in my opinion.
The School Bus Massacre Revisited. Joanna made a good case for this one on our podcast. Most of this film deals with adults on Halloween, but this one is for the kids. Or, it’s about kids, not necessarily for kids. There are two stories going on within this segment. Five kids are collecting jack o’ lanterns to take to the site of a school bus crash that happened 30 years ago. One of the kids tells the story of a group of special needs children whose parents paid their bus driver to send them off a cliff on Halloween. The whole evening turns out to be a setup for a prank four of the kids are playing on the other, Rhonda. In the end, Rhonda gets away while the others are killed and eaten by the dead kids from the bus crash.
Meet Sam. Heretofore, Sam has been a sort of silent Cryptkeeper. That’s not really accurate, but he’s been at least in the background in the segments, as a sort of herald of Halloween death, I guess. In this final segment, Sam shows up at the home of Mr. Kreeg (Brian Cox), who is the next door neighbor of serial killer Steven and was seen in that story yelling at him from his house. After a struggle, Sam kills Kreeg and it is revealed that he was the bus driver that drove those kids off the cliff in 1977.
The School Bus Massacre Revisited. As Johnny’s mentioned, I outlined the argument for this in a previous podcast episode. Thankfully, I don’t really remember what I said. So, why do I choose this? It’s sweet and sad, with a heck ton of revenge. Plus, it’s full of jack o’lanterns and costumes — of the present and creepy yesteryear (you know, those poor kids on the school bus). Good on you, Rhonda, for surviving. Just keep being you.
Surprise Party. Obviously, this one is fun. And it connects back to “The Principal” in a great way. While one nasty serial killer thinks he snagging a helpless young college girl for the holiday, little does he know that the prey is about to become the predator. Like, literally … as the “virgin” Anna Paquin morphs into a she-wolf — and she’s quick with the one-liners. “My, what big eyes you have…”
The Principal. All stories have a twist — and this one is a little weird. While you think Dylan Baker is prepping to possibly kill his young son, he’s ultimately just passing the torch of killer-hood to the youngster. Johnny’s right about one thing — what happens to Brett Kelly is by far the worst thing in this movie (or ever?). It’s flat-out gross. Blech, the sounds. But this didn’t kill him — as The Kid comes back for another round of fighting while the Principal’s trying to bury him. But wait — so, was taking the head for a human jack o’lantern a happy accident? Now, I’m, confused.
Meet Sam. After seeing Sam quietly (for the most part) observe this town’s Halloween happenings, here we get to see Sam in brutal action. It’s a fine entry, and it’s kind of great seeing Brian Cox’s crotchety old man come to his Halloween senses — even if it was under duress. But … sorry, guys, it does piss me off that a dog gets killed here. That dog didn’t break any of Sam’s rules, did it? Whatever, at least this story brings us back to my #1 pick. It makes me hate Cox a little more knowing his past dealings with the school bus massacre, but Sam makes him atone for his sins.
Happy Halloween — we hope the season has treated you well.
See you on the flip-side when we’re talking about killer snowmen and psycho Santas! Okay, maybe a talking turkey will be thrown into the mix.