Saturday, November 20, 2021

Trick Or Treat

I have mentioned this a million times on this blog:  the pilot episode of Tales from the Darkside is my personal favorite Halloween special/Halloween episode/Halloween movie/Halloween TV show/etc ever made.  All of the links I've posted on my blog have long since been broken.  Happy to have found the full episode featured on the great Petrichor & Pumpkins blog.  

If you've never seen it, you're in for a treat.  This thing still holds up.  It's brilliant.  And it will leave you thinking about it long after you've watched it.  My brother and I still get into debates about the old miser and who was more wrong:  The parents for forcing their kids into his house or the old miser for creating the tempting solution to the parents' debt.  To me, the old guy is the victim here, and definitely doesn't deserve the fate forced upon him.  

The first parent who was offered the option of sending their poor kid into that Haunted House could have told Mr. Hackles where to go.  But greed took over, and the parents forced their kids into a terrible situation.  Poor Gideon Hackles.  He loved Halloween too much.  He loved HAUNTING too much (this should speak to all of us).  His love for our High Holiday got away from him, and he became slightly obsessed with his props and scares.  But as he states in the episode, he never harmed a single hair on a single head (life-long emotional damage harms no hairs, you see).

I always thought of it this way:  To be mad at poor Gideon is to be mad at your own credit card when you max'd it out.  You're the one who hosed up, not the credit card company by offering you a credit card.  Poor Gideon.

I will rest my case with this fact:  When the new farmer in town told Mr. Hackles that he wouldn't be sending his kid into his Haunted House Debt-Relief program, Gideon offered an empty threat that he would increase the farmer's monthly debt payments.  To which the farmer declared "Go ahead! Take the farm!  I'd rather that than let my boy visit you tonight.  I'm just surprised the others let their children do it!"  To which poor Gideon replies "Most parents MAKE their children do it."  And that was it.  It is very much implied that by standing up to Gideon that he backs down, and his teeth have no bite.  

It's crazy fun to ponder this episode.  It's brilliant writing, in fact.  And on a personal side note:  The ONE time I met George Romero at a horror convention, I was relaxed enough (unlike my meeting with Bruce Campbell) to tell him that of all of his works my personal favorite was Tales from the Darkside's Trick or Treat, which he wrote.  He looked puzzled and asked me to repeat that statement.  I did.  And he said "I'm so sorry, but I have no memory of that."  And we both laughed.  

Click below for the blog post over at Petrichor & Pumpkins, and definitely watch that sode!



Mike C(JASONV123) said...

I'll echo pretty much what you've already said. I haven't watched this in a few years now, thanks for the nostalgia this evening! Now, George Romero?? I try not to be a fan boy when I meet celebs and people I adore. I never had the chance to meet the godfather of Zombies... im sure he's watching over our haunts and, he's approving!

Tworivers said...

I need to get all those on dvd. Never seen the pilot, or at least dont think I have. I will watch it tomorrow.

Nebulosus said...

Heya, thanks for the mention! My previous links for that episode were broken too, and I hunted high and low til I finally found it, so glad I did. Wicked cool that you got to meet George Romero! It's a shame he didn't remember writing one of the finest short horror films in all of history, tho.

Undeadpumpkinbread said...

I absolutely love this episode. Tales From the Darkside, has been one of my favorite shows, since I was a kid. The opening music still gives me chills every time I hear it. Trick or Treat was destined for greatness. George Romero written, directed by Bob Balaban, (apparently his debut) Barnard Hughes was the perfect miserly old coot, and the classic Halloween imagery. I am completely in love with the witch! She is the epitome of what a Halloween witch should be! I hadn’t seen this in a couple of years, so I had to pull out my DVDs, after reading your post.
At the surface, it seems like Hackles is a villain, but I can never feel that way about him. All the hard work he put into his little haunted house, fills me with joy, especially when I see how gleeful he is about his scares. I have delighted in scaring people from a very young age, so I definitely identify with him. Do his business practices warrant him going to Hell? No! How about the guy that admits to beating his kid with a strap, to “toughen him up”, so he can clear HIS debt?

George Romero was such a talented, nice guy. I met him back in 2008, after I heard an ad on the radio for a convention called Texas Frightmare Weekend. The part that dropped my jaw, was that Tom Savini was going to be there. I have been a huge fan since I was a kid. Romero was also going to be there, along with several others that had been in his numerous zombie films. It was the anniversary of, Night of the Living Dead, so to honor him they had a Zombie Walk. My sister and I, got up at 4am so I could do our makeup. I went with the latex/toilet paper method, and was going for an “Evil Dead” look. There was lots of makeup, nicotine tooth wax, and fake blood. I will tell you it was a very, very long day. After several hours doing the walk, meeting various guests, and other convention activities, we were finally in line to meet Mr. Romero...for over three hours. In painted on latex. Sticky blood, that we had also been swallowing all day (it was mint flavored), in poor choice of clothes/shoes, having not eaten all day...unless you count the blood, with practically no sleep. Each second that passed was agony. But then, we met the man! He was so cool. So nice. So friendly. He complimented us on our makeup, took photos with us, signed autographs, and treated us like he hadn’t been doing this for hours, and was excited to meet us. I chose a photo of him, with Tom Savini, and Stephen King in his Jordy Verrill attire. Creepshow lives in my heart. I have a feeling that photo will never be complete, with Mr. King’s signature, and it makes me sad.
Over the years George Romero came back to the convention a few more times. We would stay in the hotels that they used for the event, so that meant getting to run into celebrities that were also staying there. I remember breakfast one morning, when Mr. Romero was sat at the table right next to us, and it felt like the closest thing to sharing a meal with him that we could get.
I cried the day he died. I still think of him often.

I also got to meet Bruce Campbell, FINALLY, a couple of years ago. (Major bucket list person) But, I think that will be a story for another time, as I’ve rambled long enough, haha!

Rot said...

Great comment. Thanks for sharing all of that. LOVED hearing about the zombie event. That is really quite hilarious.

Regarding Trick or Treat, I think my issue has always been that Gideon was never offered a chance to be redeemed. Sure he followed his money straight into literal Hell and someone could say he could have pleaded with the Devil for a second chance, but I feel like he was already caught up in the punishment phase at that point. Or maybe if he begged the Witch for mercy and said he would leave the IOUs in an extremely obvious place for the next kid that came along... But he kindof just said, upon realizing Witches were real, "MY MONEY!!!!" haha

Eh, who knows...maybe he WOULD have been offered redemption had he simply ASKED for it. But that right there is why this story was so well-written. I didn't want another A CHRISTMAS CAROL... I don't WANT to see a nice Gideon who now loves Life and being charitable. I wouldn't change a single thing.

And had he given those IOUs to the next kid...the new kid in town... I bet that dude who beat his son would have beat his poor son harder for being bested by the new kid.

I met Bruce Campbell once... it was an unmitigated disaster. One of these years I'll blog about it.

And I've said similar things about Romero over the years. Met him SO long ago but I will never forget how genuinely happy he seemed to meet everyone. So much energy to endure a hot convention room stuffed with fans. But he acted like everyone was the first person he got to meet. It's insane to ponder that kind of attitude and energy.

Thanks again for sharing all of that.

Undeadpumpkinbread said...

Thank you so much! I enjoyed getting to share. When I logged in to comment, I discovered I’ve had an unused blog, for 11 years, that I have no recollection of creating, haha. Might be a good time for posting old photos, and stories of my own.

I had those exact thoughts. A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite stories. I read/listen to the book each year, as well as watch numerous adaptations. The one with Alastair Sim, is the best in my opinion, but the Muppets are a close second, haha! But, no matter how much I love it, I wouldn’t want Trick or Treat to follow in its footsteps. I think Gideon was too far gone in his greed, to ever beg for change, and forgiveness. The greatest threat to his life was losing his money, and he couldn’t see any different.

For sure! I feel extra bad for that kid, because the newbie got rewarded at the end, and didn’t actually do anything. Yeah, all the IOUs were no longer a problem for anyone, but what about the wads of cash?

I would definitely want to read about you meeting Bruce. I have instances of my own, from meeting celebrities, that still haunt me. I think about them from time to time, to relive the embarrassment. Probably because I’m a masochist or something. I always hope that they meet so many people, that they forget. Even if I never will.

Yes! He was more energetic, and congenial than people half his age, and younger. He was a treasure.

Rot said...

I'm a George C. Scott SCROOGE loving guy all the way. haha
Muppets is definitely my second as well.

And i agree about that kid at the end. I've often wondered how that town would have handled Gideon's disappearance. Debt erased I presume, but that kid essentially has stolen property. And I'd imagine the firm of Bindle & Bundle would have some involvement in the estate. haha

Oh, i have told myself for over a decade that bruce gets so many whackos that he SURELY doesn't remember my disaster of a meeting with him... But I totally will never forget. And I will definitely write about it soon. Therapy.

Undeadpumpkinbread said...

I wonder as well. “Sure kid, a floating witch dropped the money to you from the sky...where did your father hide the body?!”

Ok, so maybe I need to break it down a bit more. There are still several versions I haven’t seen yet, but of the ones I have, it goes:

Traditional: Alastair Sim, Albert Finney, George C. Scott
Non-tradional: Muppets, Scrooged, Mickey Mouse
Ones I will never watch again/ever:

Jim Carrey- I expected to love this, but the practical one man show, got old. And I didn’t like scenes that they added to make it more “exciting” or whatever they were going for.

Guy Pearce- The trailer looked horrendous! It reminded me of the version that Frank Cross plays at the meeting, in Scrooged!

Fun fact about the George C. Scott version. I was engaged to a guy from Shrewsbury, England where it was filmed. I had the opportunity to stay with his family for a month, years ago. It’s a very pretty little place.

Haha, exactly.

Rot said...

And then there's the Patrick Stewart version...where a reviewer cracked the best, funniest, and most accurate review I've ever started with "A performance that would make William Shatner cringe..." haha

It was HORRIBLE. Stewart is a total ham and no one really sees that. And he was a horrible Scrooge.

That IS a fun fact.

Undeadpumpkinbread said...

Hahaha! I nearly mentioned that one. I recall watching it when it premiered, but I don’t actually remember anything about it. I’ve always been somewhat of a Trekkie, and my favorites were, Next Generation, and Deep Space 9. So I expected to enjoy the Patrick Stewart version. But, I have read/heard that it is horrible. I’m still tempted to watch it, just to see how bad it is. Probably wouldn’t spend the money on it, might see if I can get it from Netflix or something. I actually enjoy watching bad movies, as a form of entertainment. I’m just trying to resist the urge to break out the, A Christmas Carol(s), until after Krampusnacht.

I am trying to envision Patrick Stewart being hammier than William Shatner. I don’t know if you have read/watched Little Women, or if that is anything that interests you, but I have always loved the Winona Ryder version. Well, I also have the version from the 70s, that has Shatner in it. He plays the character Friedrich Bhaer, whom I love very much. I mean, I love him in the book, and the 90s version, (Gabriel Byrne) I have not actually watched the older one yet, because I saw a clip of Shatner doing an atrocious German accent, and it made my nervous system shrivel with cringing.

Yeah, when I watch it, I still think “I’ve been” Haha.

Rot said...

I never read nor watched, but I just looked up Shatner's performance on youtube and I want to die.
And I love Shatner, and think he gets a bad rap (Star Trek III is his greatest Kirk performance), but his accent was literally like how anyone would impersonate a Freudian therapist...literally anyone. Ugh.

I love Stewart in TNG, so it was a shock to see him give such an over-the-top performance as Scrooge.

Here's a small flavor:

Rot said...

and to be fair...his performance wasn't as bad as I remembered.
I was just flipping through and it's not horrible... just moments of horrible haha

Undeadpumpkinbread said...

I love Shatner too! But, he is still over the top many times, which is part of his appeal. It’s all the ze’s and zat’s. I’m thinking they may have skipped the accent coach. Did you see the part about him wanting to teach the girl German? I just....geez.

Even with all the warnings, I was still not prepared. I thought maybe in this version, Scrooge dies anyway. He looked like he was having a heart attack, or a fit of Consumption. Oh wait, no...he just that second was learning to laugh, like a real boy.

I will no doubt still watch it, but I’ll probably need to be on muscle relaxants to get through that scene again.

Rot said...

I too thought he was dying. And I don’t know if that scene was just a dumb idea to be in the film or if his weird acting was making it seem more like a heart attack.

I didn’t see that scene with Shatner, thankfully. And I don’t know if I’m ready to!

Undeadpumpkinbread said...

I’m going to with his acting. Maybe a stuttering, halting laugh to start with, would have been better than coughing up a lung.

Haha. I don’t think you ever could be.