Trick ‘r Treat

Michael Dougherty probably never imagined his directorial debut would become a cult hit before it was even released. Then again, he probably didn’t expect so much trouble in actually getting it released, either. Originally planned to hit theaters in October 2007, “Trick ‘r Treat” spent the next two years sitting on the shelf collecting dust, all while the anticipation among horror fans continued to grow. The movie has finally been released on DVD in time for this year’s Halloween celebration, and though it’s not nearly as good as the hype suggests, it is one of the most original and entertaining horror films in years – and this coming from a relative non-fan of the genre.

An anthology film in the same vein as “Creepshow” and “Tales From the Crypt,” “Trick ‘r Treat” spins four tales about mischief and mayhem in a small Ohio town on Halloween night. Dylan Baker stars as a high school principal who moonlights as a serial killer; Anna Paquin plays a young virgin on the prowl for her perfect man; Brian Cox faces off against a murderous little demon that doesn’t approve of his disregard for Halloween traditions; and a group of teenage pranksters get a taste of their own medicine.

Combining creepy imagery with some really dark humor, all four stories work well individually (especially the ones starring Baker and Cox), but it’s the way in which they’re skillfully interwoven that makes it such a blast to watch. Maintaining a sense of chronology to the film by placing characters from some stories in the background of others, Dougherty does a fabulous job with keeping the audience interested throughout the film’s brisk 82-minute runtime – even if some stories are better than others. It’s just a shame the movie didn’t get the attention it deserved, because while horror fans are stuck watching the same shitty sequels and remakes year in and year out, “Trick ‘r Treat” is exactly the breath of fresh air that the genre desperately needed. It really makes you wonder how Warner Bros. dropped the ball on this one, because while “Trick ‘r Treat” isn’t quite an instant classic, it’s a film you won’t mind revisiting every Halloween.

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Watch NBC’s “Kings,” Or I’ll Shoot This Dog

Last Sunday, I pleaded with you, the readers of Premium Hollywood, to watch the premiere of NBC’s “Kings,” describing it as “an epic drama with the kind of scope that you rarely see on television in series form” and assuring you that “it needs to be a hit right out of the box, lest it be canceled without ever having a chance to build on its concept.”

How did that request pan out?

Well, I think the opening sentence of the Hollywood Reporter’s piece – “NBC’s ‘Kings’ had a devastating premiere Sunday night.” – says it all, doesn’t it? (Actually, the headline did a pretty good job in its own right: “NBC’s ‘Kings’ dethroned in ratings.”) To borrow a line from another great yet under-appreciated series, the facts were these: the premiere of “Kings” drew only 6 million viewers and was the lowest-rated program between 8 and 11 p.m. on a major broadcast network.

The ever-snarky but nonetheless generally well-informed Nikki Finke over at L.A. Weekly‘s Deadline Hollywood Daily wasn’t afraid to lay the blame for the series at the feet of NBC’s long-suffering executive, Ben Silverman:

I’m told NBC Universal spent a whopping $10 million on Sunday’s two-hour opener for ‘Kings’ and another $4 million per episode. That’s a staggering amount of money to lavish on any drama series, especially one that’s a bomb. Nor does Jeff Zucker have anyone to blame but himself for this disaster. Because I hear that Ben Silverman was hands-on. ‘Kings’ was supposed to move into the Thursday 10 PM ‘ER’ slot (once coveted when the network was still Must-See TV) but has now been banished to Sunday at 8 PM where it can’t do any harm since no one is watching NBC that night anyway. This latest failure follows NBC’s derivative restaurant reality series ‘The Chopping Block,’ also receiving a pathetic 4 share in 18-to-49 demos for its debut Wednesday. No wonder Ben has less and less to do with programming — which was why he was hired in the first place — and more and more to do with liaising with advertisers.

Y’know, I’d say, “Ouch,” but it’s not like this is anything even remotely close to the worst thing Ms. Frinke has had to say about Mr. Silverman.

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