Updated: Nov 15, 2019
Halloween at Aunt Ethel’s is written and directed by Joseph Mazzaferro (Scathing, Anne) and tells the tale of Aunt Ethel (Gail Yost – Anne), a crazy old lady who, rumour has it, kills kids every Halloween and makes them into treats.
Maybe this year will be different as Melissa (Madeline Murphy - Reflections), Mandy (Stephanie Town – Phantom Flyer) and Mark (Sean Michael Gloria – Terror Talk) are going to find out if the rumours are true.
And straight away, we run into problems with the story.
You see there’s this whole thing about Aunt Ethel supposedly killing kids every year, but the police can’t do anything because without any bodies there’s no crime. Really? She has a fridge full of body parts. It shouldn’t be that difficult to arrest her. They even state that she burns the bones in a huge pile at the back of her property, so again, there’s going to be physical evidence, not to mention all the forensic evidence too.
Now, I could tear into this film for ages due to the number of problems it has and I probably will so let’s go over some positive things for now.
Firstly, the directing is actually pretty good. Joseph clearly has an eye for how he wants his shots to look and the images are nice and clean with a satisfying lack of shaky-cam that means that, for the most part, the film looks fairly nice for something with such an obviously low budget.
The other thing that stands out for such a little indie title is the acting abilities of Madeline Murphy, Stephanie Town and Sean Michael Gloria. These guys are good and they seem to give their best with what little they have to work with. Madeline Murphy was especially noteworthy and I really hope that she goes on to bigger and better things. In fact, I hope they all do. It’s hard to be an actor on the indie circuit, especially when having bills to pay means that you take what jobs you can, but they all do a far better job than I was expecting. Too many low-budget indie flicks end up with the director’s family and friends in them who couldn’t act believably if their lives depended on it, but these guys all do really well. They don’t overact or ham things up, they just give pretty solid performances within the limitations of the story.
So, well done to them.
But then, we get to the bad stuff.
The worst thing about this movie is the main antagonist, Aunt Ethel herself. And, considering there’s a character in the movie named Ricky (Chris Cavalier – The Best of Enemies) who spends most of his screen time peering at girls through their windows whilst furiously masturbating, that’s saying a lot.
Aunt Ethel as a character doesn’t work because she is just way too kooky and goofy. So much time is spent showing her dicking around in her house muttering inane shit that her presence on screen just becomes the absolute worst thing in the movie.
Maybe Gail Yost is a good actress, but if she is, she sure doesn’t get to show it here as the impression given is that the camera was just pointed at her and then she was given the direction of, “just be really wacky and overact as much as possible.”
The character just kills the whole thing. Which is a real shame.
I’m sure there were moments here that looked good on paper and were fun to film but when they’re actually on screen, it just falls apart. It needed a better script or at least a script that was better translated to the screen with less time-wasting on moments that either go nowhere at all or are so overdone that the whole thing becomes really tiresome.
As I said, it’s a real shame as there is potential here and there are a few comedy moments that work really well. I especially like a scene where Melissa has taken her nephew Gio (Jovanni Mazzaferro – Scathing) to a playground and he’s wearing his Judo outfit and asks Melissa if he can “choke out” a little girl. Naturally, Melissa’s says, "No." but she's not paying attention and he actually chokes the girl out. That was a pretty good moment and certainly worked better than the so-called humour derived from a chronic masturbator. Christ, Ricky even whacks one off to Aunt Ethel and she must be the last resort in the town for masturbation material because she’s not exactly a looker. That’s not meant as a slight to the actress, I’m sure she’s a wonderful person, but as she stomps around under a bad wig and overdone make-up, you have to wonder what kind of fetish Ricky has going on. Doesn’t this guy have the internet to find his spank material?
Wow. I’ve spent far too long here talking about Ricky and his constant tug-o-war with cyclops. Let’s change the subject.
There are boobs in the movie and who doesn’t like boobs? Count them, there’re six boobs and only one penis, so boobs win again.
Hooray for boobs.
Unfortunately, this just isn’t a good movie and certainly isn’t anything to recommend. Maybe if you’re a 15-year-old boy or have the mentality of one you’ll get a kick out of the silliness but, then again, if you are 15-years-old you’re not old enough to be watching this movie so it’s hard to really pinpoint the audience here.
Still, with a runtime of only 80 minutes or so, it doesn’t overstay its welcome, especially as the actual movie is a lot shorter that than that as the runtime also includes an after-credits, cringe-inducing, Aunt Ethel themed rap song and some out-takes. It is, however, a disjointed mess and even with some actors that will hopefully find something better than this to showcase their talents, it just doesn’t do anything to justify its existence.
And yes you read that right, a rap song, about Aunt Ethel. It’s bad. That’s all I can say.