HALLOWEEN AT AUNT ETHEL’S **** USA 2019 Dir: Joseph Mazzaferro 80 mins

“It’s close to midnight, and something evil’s lurking on your door.”

Well, it certainly lies behind mad old Aunt Ethel’s threshold in this madcap and creepy offering from Darkworks Productions. If you liked the ‘Thriller’ movie starring Michael Jackson then this teenage romp through a twisted and zany Halloween world will be to your liking.

The suspenseful soundtrack and sometimes dark and often sexual teenage party humour carries you along like a riptide sometimes feeling nervous but always chuckling as you discover more and more about the party lives of Mandy (Stephanie Town), Melissa (Madeleine Murphy), Mark (Sean Gloria) and the sexually frustrated comic character of Ricky (Chris Cavalier) who meets a suitable fate when he crosses Aunt Ethel’s path, a remarkable character who is portrayed beautifully as a professional schizophrenic and loony witch by Gail Yost.

The film ably flits between romcom style teenage text talk and weird tales of ‘pickled chocolates’ that Aunt Ethel dishes out to the local kids at Halloween in Yost Town if they are crazy enough to trick or treat her. In a dark, fun and compelling movie full of slapstick American humour and lashings of good gore special effects and craziness our trio of Mandy, Melissa and Mark are certainly up for a trick or treat night to remember with a dark twist. Whether this will be a joy or a curse is for you to discover if you watch this one and I recommend that you do.

All the acting, effects and visual shots are well placed in a crazy film that keeps you riveted right up to it’s bizarre finale. Aunt Ethel is larger than life (or death!) and at once makes you sympathetic for her whilst also knowing that she is a warped and ‘ psychotic bitch!!’ who, like a kind of panto Cruella De Vil collects body parts and samples instead of dog fur for coats but with the same cursed mentality that leaves Ricky justly in tatters in a darkly comic caper that is rich with scenes like Mark and Mandy’s robotic sex life and the superbly ‘Psycho’ shower scene with the more straight talking but shy Melissa. This is a riotous and dark Halloween romp that careers from pot smoking to murder and it is sure to make you laugh and your skin crawl in equal measure as the madness draws you right in as though you yourself are under a witch’s dark spell.

The overly squeamish should beware, but how can you resist mad old Aunt Ethel’s charming Halloween smile?

Review by Nathan Sandiford


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