Trick 'r Treat

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Trick 'r Treat
Trick r treat.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michael Dougherty
Produced by Bryan Singer
Written by Michael Dougherty
Music by Douglas Pipes
Cinematography Glen MacPherson
Edited by Robert Ivison
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • December 9, 2007 (2007-12-09)
Running time
82 minutes
  • United States
  • Canada
Language English
Budget $12 million[1]
Box office $13.5 million

Trick 'r Treat is a 2007 American-Canadian anthology horror film written and directed by Michael Dougherty.[2] The film stars Dylan Baker, Brian Cox, Rochelle Aytes, Lauren Lee Smith, Leslie Bibb, and Anna Paquin. It centers on four Halloween-related horror stories. One common element that ties the stories together is the presence of Sam, a mysterious child trick-or-treater wearing shabby orange pajamas with a burlap sack over his head, who makes an appearance in all the stories whenever someone breaks Halloween traditions.

Despite being delayed for two years and having a small number of public screenings, the film received much critical acclaim and has since garnered a strong cult following.[3] In October 2013, the filmmakers announced that a sequel, Trick 'r Treat 2, is in the works. In 2016, Michael Dougherty and Legendary Pictures teamed up with AtmosFX to create a series of digital Halloween decorations that feature Sam.[4]



In the fictional town of Warren Valley, Ohio, Emma (Leslie Bibb) and her holiday worshiping boyfriend Henry (Tahmoh Penikett) return to their home after a night of festivities, the front of their home all decorated with numerous 'ghost-crows' (scarecrow-style ghosts) and various lit pumpkins. Emma takes a jack-o'-lantern to blow out the light, but Henry warns her that it's against tradition to un-decorate before midnight. Emma asserts that she wants all the decorations gone before the next morning, saying that the yard looks like a "crime scene". Henry, a true fan of the holiday, promises to remove everything early the next morning and decides to relax inside to revel in the wonders of the night. While he goes inside his house, Emma blows out the jack-o'lantern behind his back without him knowing or noticing and starts to take down some of the decorations, uttering "I hate Halloween" thus expressing her true thoughts on the holiday. As she removes the sheets off one of the ghost-crows, it envelops her, covering her in the white cloth. In the ensuing struggle, Emma tumbles onto the sidewalk where passing trick-or-treaters take notice. Under the sheets, an unknown figure takes a bitten pumpkin-shaped sucker and slits Emma's throat. Her blood stains through the sheets and the children make their way from the mysterious scene. The hidden assailant drags Emma's body back to the yard as Henry lies upstairs, sleeping peacefully and with the TV on high volume. Some time later (likely many hours), he wakes up notices Emma has not come inside and goes down to the front yard where he notices all the decorations still in place and that one of the ghost-crows now has lights attached to it. He removes the sheet and cries out in shock at the sight of Emma's mutilated body parts on a stake having been made part of the decoration, the pumpkin sucker lodged in her mouth.

The Principal[edit]

A portly boy walks through the neighborhood knocking over jack-o'-lanterns. He stops at one house and walks up to the porch where it appears no one is home. A bucket full of candy is set out with a sign saying 'please take one!' The boy begins to put the entire contents of the bucket in his bag when someone startles him from behind. The boy recognizes the man as the town's elementary school principal Steven Wilkins (Dylan Baker) who addresses the boy as Charlie (Brett Kelly). Wilkins sits down on his porch, seemingly taking Charlie's offense in stride, inviting Charlie to sit and talk with him as he offers him a chocolate bar. Wilkins explains rules of etiquette and how to properly respect Halloween. When Charlie begins to cough, Wilkins acts casually at first, seeming to not notice. However, he then has a mock moment of surprise, explaining the most important rule of Halloween; "always check your candy". Charlie violently vomits blood and chocolate and dies, the bar having been poisoned. Wilkins drags Charlie into the house, the blood and chocolate mixture oozing onto his shirt, just as his doorbell rings. Struggling with the body, he answers and sees three young teenagers who ask if they can take his jack-o'-lantern. He agrees and gives them all some candy, including a small boy wearing orange, footed pajamas and a burlap hood with buttons for eyes and stitching for a mouth. Wilkins then dumps Charlie's body in a large hole dug in his back yard where another child's body already lies. As he tries to bury the bodies his young son, Billy (Connor Levins), appears in the upstairs window and shouts down to him repeatedly, asking for help on his jack-o'-lantern and if they'll hand out candy. Wilkins, desperate, tells him each time to be quiet and wait for him inside. Meanwhile, the neighbor's dog approaches the fence and starts barking as the first child in the grave begins to moan, reaching out from under dirty sheets with a costumed arm. Wilkins stabs the boy's arm with his shovel and severs one of his fingers, throwing it over the fence and distracting the dog. However, its surly owner, Mr. Kreeg (Brian Cox) comes into the yard and peeks through a hole in the fence to speak to Wilkins, still struggling with the costumed child. Wilkins passes off his activity and the smell as a septic tank leak and Mr. Kreeg goes back into his house, shouting back to Wilkins to "keep his kid out of his yard". Wilkins finishes the costumed child off with a blow from his shovel and completes burying the bodies, even placing plants over them which he waters. As he walks back into his house, he notices a frantic Kreeg motioning to him from his window across the way. Wilkins bitterly ignores him and goes into the house as Kreeg is tackled by something. In the kitchen, Billy jumps out from behind a counter, scaring Wilkins and asking for help on his jack-'o-lantern. Seemingly annoyed, Wilkins takes a butcher knife from the knife block and follows Billy to the basement. Billy runs ahead to a table covered in carving materials and Wilkins approaches behind him. Billy says "let's make a scary face this time" as Wilkins puts his hand on Billy's head and brings the knife down, blood glistening on the blade as he draws it back. But Billy smiles and says "don't forget to help me with the eyes" as they look together at the severed head of Charlie on a wooden turntable.

The School Bus Massacre Revisited[edit]

Four costumed teenagers, the same trick-or-treaters who earlier visited Wilkins, scour the neighborhood for jack-o-lanterns and stop at the home of a peer named Rhonda (Samm Todd), dressed as a witch, whose yard is decorated with dozens of them. Despite the fact that she's thought to be a savant by the leader of the group, Macy (Britt McKillip), dressed as an angel; Schrader (Jean-Luc Bilodeau) asks politely for one of her jack-o-lanterns and invites her to come with them, complimenting her on her witch costume and getting complimented on his skeleton one in return. Macy leads them onward while Rhonda talks briefly with Chip (Alberto Ghisi), dressed as a pirate, about the origins of Halloween. They arrive at an abandoned rock quarry and Sara (Isabelle Deluce), dressed as an alien, asks why they're there and what the purpose of the jack-o-lanterns is. Macy explains to all present that the quarry is the site of a fatal bus crash thirty years prior that has become the stuff of legend, the local story of "The Halloween School Bus Massacre".

The bus was carrying eight supposed mentally challenged boys, clad in freakish Halloween costumes and so troubled that they had to be chained to their seats. That fateful day, the driver (Gerald Paetz) deviated from his normal route while taking the kids home. Their parents, no longer able to stand the strain and humiliation of caring for them, paid the driver to put them out of their misery by driving the bus into the lake at the bottom of the rock quarry, intending to make it look like a horrible accident. However, while double checking the restraints on all of the kids (and handing them candy), he fails to notice that one of them, a masked vampire (Richard Harmon), is able to free himself and attempting to hijack the bus, repeating that he wants to go home. Disturbed and confused as he is, the boy accidentally puts the bus in gear and drives it over the edge of the cliff-side into the lake before the driver can stop him. Macy says that the driver survived, but was never heard from again and the bus was never recovered; possibly because the rest of the town just didn't want to bother.

The eight jack-o-lanterns collected represent the eight souls lost that day and are meant to be left at the lakeside as an offering. They walk to a rickety elevator and Macy, Sara, and Schrader get in with their pumpkins to go down to the lake. Since the elevator will only hold three at a time, Chip and Rhonda wait for it to come back for them. On their way down, they hear the panicked cries and screams of the other three and watch as the lights of their jack-o-lanterns seem to go out in the mist. Rhonda tells Chip to stay in the elevator with the remaining pumpkins, saying that they will protect him, as she goes to investigate. Walking through the mist, she eventually comes to the wreckage of the half submerged school bus and sees what appear to be the masks of the others floating in the water. She is suddenly attacked by two water-drenched figures covered in chains and runs back to the elevator to see a third in the process of disemboweling Chip. As they chase her, Rhonda drops and steps on her glasses before tripping and hitting her head on a rock, blacking out. When she comes to, she sees the figures standing over her and cries out in fear when one of them, revealed to be Schrader in disguise, attempts to explain that it was just a cruel prank played by all of them and tries to apologize to a livid Rhonda. Macy is unregretful of the endeavor and kicks a still lit jack-o-lantern into the lake casually as whispers and giggles slowly and suddenly echo out of the mist. Schrader leads Rhonda to the elevator and, when he hears the others screaming, tells her to stay put while he goes to see what's wrong while suspecting another ruse. However, when he meets up with the others they all see the figures of the real eight resurrected children rise out of the lake, still tied in their chains. They run for the elevator though Sara is caught by a strand of chains on her costume and dragged away to her death. The other three make it to the elevator to see Rhonda locked inside with the rest of the jack-o-lanterns, looking sullen yet calm. They beg her to open the door but Rhonda, looking resolute, presses the button to go up while briefly waving goodbye at them and leaves the others to their fate as the resurrected children surround them. Rhonda exits the elevator and takes leave of the quarry, towing her pumpkins in her red wagon; Macy, Schrader, and Chip's screams all heard behind her as they are ripped apart and eaten alive. She briefly looks at the small boy wearing burlap sack mask sitting inside a cement pipe, and shares a respectful nod with him.

Surprise Party[edit]

Laurie (Anna Paquin), a self-conscious 22-year-old virgin, is getting ready for Halloween with her older sister Danielle (Lauren Lee Smith) and their two friends Maria (Rochelle Aytes) and Janet (Moneca Delain) who try to boost her confidence by taking her to a party. The girls all dress in fairy tale costumes while Laurie is stuck as Little Red Riding Hood, a choice she feels uneasy with while her sister tells her "it's tradition". They walk through town on the way to the party picking up dates among the local men, but Laurie is uninterested (she is more into the traditional Trick or Treating). Annoyed by their talk about boys, she stays behind to enjoy the town festivities and plans to join back up with them later.

Meanwhile, a young woman makes out with a masked man in an alley. He affectionately kisses her neck but, when she looks down, she sees blood running down her body. The man smiles, revealing blood on his fangs; he is a vampire. The woman screams and makes her way to the street where the people are gathered for the parade who all ignore her, thinking she's just another drunk party-goer covered in make-up blood. The woman turns around to see the vampire standing behind her and screams as he swings his cloak over her. He leaves her dead body on the sidewalk leaning against a building, making it look like she's merely passed out, and walks away casually into the parading people.

Later, as Laurie walks down a dimly lit path in the woods, she senses someone is following her and calls out for whoever is nearby to show themselves as she is in no mood for games. When no one responds, she turns and comes face to face with the vampire. He grabs her by the neck and holds her against a tree, saying, "My, my, what big eyes you have", before biting her neck as she cries out in fright.

In the meantime, Maria, Janet, and all the other girls present are enjoying their party at a bonfire in the meadow (known as Sheep's Meadow) with the men they brought, with Danielle worried about Laurie. Maria and Janet assure her that Laurie's fine but Danielle is not assured, saying that their mother always called Laurie "the runt of the litter". After some time of waiting, one of the party goers then screams in shock a cloaked body falls out of a tree near the fire, startling all of the girls. Danielle nervously approaches the body and removes the cloak to see the vampire, bleeding and begging for help. Laurie then appears and assures everyone she's alright, despite the blood oozing from her neck, and that she will also join in their festivities now. Maria decides to check up on the vampire and removes his fake fangs. His mask is removed and the "vampire" is revealed to be Principal Wilkins in disguise. The girls at the party, along with Laurie, suddenly begin transforming into werewolves. It is revealed that Laurie's "virginity" actually signifies that she has never killed anyone before and Laurie desired one who she felt, like Wilkins, truly deserved death. Laurie herself begins to change, and leans down to Wilkins to whisper "My, my...what big eyes you have," before lunging into Wilkins' neck. In an act of poetic justice, the serial killer in the guise of a monster has met his own end at the hands/paws to a real beast of the night. The other werewolf girls begin to finish the remains of their own dates, howling at the moon. All the while, the same small boy in the orange footed pajamas and burlap sack looks on from a nearby log.

Meet Sam[edit]

Kreeg, a Halloween-hating man, lives alone with his dog, Spite, as his only companion. Kreeg shows his disgust for Halloween by scaring away trick-or-treaters and stealing their candy. While at his house, Kreeg proceeds to burn old pictures in his fireplace before settling in his chair to watch TV. Since there is nothing on TV that doesn't have anything to do with Halloween, Kreeg turns it off before seeing an egg hit his window. He runs to the front door and opens it to see that his entire yard is now decorated with dozens of jack-o-lanterns. After finding his bedroom with words scribbled all over the walls and ceiling ("trick r treat, give me something good to eat" being repeated over and over again), he is attacked by Sam (Quinn Lord), the same small boy in the orange footed pajamas who has watched over all of the events of the evening. During the struggle which involved falling down his staircase which is now covered in small pieces of candy and razor blades, Kreeg rips off the sack over Sam's head to reveal his head to be a cross between a jack-o-lantern and a human skull instead of a human child's face underneath. Kreeg runs to his window calling for Mr. Wilkins to help him, but is tackled by Sam. Kreeg gains the upper hand when he manages to fire his shotgun at Sam, seemingly killing him, as well as shooting off one of Sam's hands in the process. As Kreeg dials 9-1-1, the line goes dead and Kreeg is stabbed in the leg again by Sam's severed hand before it crawls back to Sam and reattaches itself to the stump. Sam gets up and puts his mask back on as Kreeg backs up against the wall, knocking a table and its contents to the floor. Sam removes a pumpkin sucker from his pocket and takes a bite out of it, showing the sharp-edged bite marks. He approaches Kreeg, arm raised to stab him and bring the sucker down on Kreegs chest. Instead of stabbing him though, Sam lodges the sucker in the discarded candy bar Kreeg had opened earlier, which had landed on his chest after he knocked the table over. Sam proceeds to chew on the candy bar and takes his leave, now satisfied that a puzzled Kreeg has fulfilled a tradition of Halloween. Meanwhile, pictures burning slowly in a nearby fireplace show a class photo of the masked children from the "School Bus Massacre" and the bus driver, who is revealed to be Kreeg.


Bandaged and bruised from his encounter with Sam, Kreeg answers his door to give candy to trick-or-treaters. While on his porch, he spots Sam walking over to Emma and Henry's house just after she blows out the jack-o'-lantern, revealing himself as Emma's killer in order to punish her for not following Halloween's rules and tradition. Rhonda then walks by along the street, pulling her jack-o'-lantern wagon in an absent-minded manner, and is almost hit by the laughing werewolf girls in their car (in human form) and on their way home from the surprise party. Billy Wilkins is sitting on his porch, handing out candy and wearing a costume to mimic his father's first appearance, complete with glasses and bloody shirt, enjoying himself while unaware that his father is now dead. Kreeg then walks back inside when there is another knock at the door. He opens the door to find the kids from the School Bus Massacre standing there with their bags outstretched, their leader in a vampire costume saying, "Trick 'r Treat", and, suddenly recognizing them, stares in shock. As the credits roll, a series of comic strip panels shows Kreeg being murdered and dismembered by them, the kids having gotten their revenge.



Season's Greetings[edit]

Season's Greetings is an animated short created by Trick 'r Treat writer and director Michael Dougherty in 1996 and was the precursor of the film.[5] The movie featured Sam as a little boy dressed in orange footy pajamas with his burlap sack head covering, as he is being stalked by a stranger on Halloween night. The short was released as a DVD extra on the original release for Trick 'r Treat and was aired on FEARnet in October 2013 as part of a 24-hour Trick 'r Treat marathon on Halloween.[6]

Trick 'r Treat[edit]

Trick r' Treat was filmed on location in Vancouver, British Columbia. Originally slated for an October 5, 2007 theatrical release, it was announced in September 2007 that the film had been pushed back. After many festival screenings, it was released on video in 2009.[1]


Theatrical screenings[edit]

The first public screening took place at Harry Knowles' Butt-Numb-A-Thon film festival in Austin, Texas, on December 9, 2007. Subsequent screenings included the Sitges Film Festival on October 7, 2008, the 2008 Screamfest Horror Film Festival on October 10, 2008, a free screening in New York sponsored by Fangoria on October 13, 2008, and another free screening in Los Angeles co-sponsored by Ain't It Cool News and Legendary Pictures on October 23, 2008. The film was also screened at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International, the Fantasia Festival on July 29 and 30, 2009,[7] the film festival Terror in the Aisles 2 in Chicago on August 15, 2009, and the After Dark film festival in Toronto on August 20, 2009 at The Bloor.

Home media[edit]

Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures released the film direct to DVD and Blu-ray on October 6, 2009 in North America, October 26 in the UK, and October 28 in Australia.


  • Sideshow Collectibles created a 15" vinyl figure based on the film's scarecrow-like character Sam.
  • NECA created a 5½" scale figure of Sam that has been released as part of NECA's "Cult Classics" line of movie figures; the figure includes a stand, pumpkins, "candybar," lollipop, sack, and interchangeable, uncovered head.[8]
  • Palace Press and Insight Editions published a 108-page coffee table book entitled Trick 'r Treat: Tales of Mayhem, Mystery & Mischief. It documents the making of the film, and includes storyboards, concept art, cast and crew biographies, and behind-the-scenes photographs.

Comic books[edit]

DC Comics partner Wildstorm Comics had planned to release a four-issue adaptation of Trick 'r Treat written by Marc Andreyko and illustrated by Fiona Staples, with covers by Michael Dougherty, Breehn Burns and Ragnar.[9] The series was originally going to be released weekly in October 2007, ending on Halloween, but the series was pushed back due to the film's backlisting. The four comics were instead released as a graphic novel adaptation in October 2009.[10] Legendary Comics set the second Trick 'r Treat comic book, titled Trick 'r Treat: Days of the Dead, for an October 2015 release date,[11] and features Arts of Artist Fiona Staples and Stephen Byrne.[12] The comic will be released alongside the graphic novel adaptation of Dougherty's Krampus.[13]


Critical reaction[edit]

Despite only a handful of public screenings, the film has received critical acclaim. Based on 21 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an overall "Fresh" approval rating from critics of 86%, with an average score of 7.4/10 and a critical consensus that the "deftly crafted tribute to Halloween legends, Trick 'r' Treat hits all the genre marks with gusto and old fashioned suspense."[14] Dread Central gave it 5 out of 5 stars, stating, "Trick 'r Treat ranks alongside John Carpenter's Halloween as traditional October viewing and I can't imagine a single horror fan that won't fall head over heels in love with it."[15] The film earned 10 out of 10 from Ryan Rotten of[16] IGN called it a "very well-crafted Halloween horror tribute" and "a scary blast", rating it a score of 8 out of 10.[17] Bloody Disgusting ranked the film ninth in their list of the 'Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade', calling it "so good that its lack of a theatrical release borders on the criminal."[18]



Michael Dougherty announced in October 2009 that he is planning a sequel,[21] but later stated that there were "no active development nor an attempt at a pitch."[22] He went on to say that "[the] more fans continue to support and spread the movie, the more likely it is that Sam will rise from the pumpkin patch once more."[23] Dougherty helped create a short promotional Easter trailer for FEARnet's Trick 'r Treat 24-hour marathon for Halloween 2011; the trailer showed a family's Easter celebration turning into one of horror, with Sam watching the chaos outside whilst wearing rabbit ears.[24] In October 2013, Dougherty and Legendary Pictures officially announced a sequel, titled Trick 'r Treat 2. Dougherty said he plans to "shake it up a little bit" with the sequel.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Barone, Matt (2013-10-28). "The Scary-Good Afterlife of "Trick 'r Treat," The Movie That Should Be Halloween's Answer to "A Christmas Story"". Complex. Retrieved 2015-01-12. 
  2. ^ Trick ’r treat (2009) Directed by Michael Dougherty. Available at .
  3. ^ "Cult-Favorite Halloween Flick Trick 'r Treat Streams on Facebook Tonight". Retrieved 2013-02-11. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Cool Horror Videos: Michael Dougherty's Season's Greetings - the short that inspired Trick 'R Treat". JoBlo. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  6. ^ Lane, David. "FEARnet Airing a 24-Hour Marathon of TRICK 'R TREAT's on Halloween with Giveaways and New Content by Director Michael Dougherty". Collider. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  7. ^ — translation: Rupert Bottenberg. "Fantasia 2009 Schedule". Retrieved 2012-02-01. 
  8. ^ [1] Archived June 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ "00's Retrospect: Bloody Disgusting's Top 20 Films of the Decade". Retrieved 2012-02-01. 
  10. ^ "Trick 'r Treat: Tales of Mayhem, Mystery and Mischief by John Griffin, Insight Editions, 110 pages". 2009-10-18. Retrieved 2012-02-01. 
  11. ^ "Legendary Comics Haunt Your Holidays With Trick 'r Treat and Krampus Graphic Novels". 2009-10-18. Retrieved 2012-02-01. 
  12. ^ "Legendary Comics to Run "PACIFIC RIM," "TRICK R' TREAT" Sequel Tie-ins". 2009-10-18. Retrieved 2012-02-01. 
  13. ^ ‘Trick ‘r Treat’ and ‘Krampus’ Get Graphic Novel Adaptations!
  14. ^ Trick r' Treat at Rotten Tomatoes
  15. ^ "Dread Central Review of Trick r' Treat". Retrieved 2012-02-01. 
  16. ^ Turek, Ryan (2008-10-16). "Review of Trick r' Treat". Retrieved 2012-02-01. 
  17. ^ Cindy White. " Review of Trick r' Treat". Retrieved 2012-02-01. 
  18. ^ "00's Retrospect: Bloody Disgusting's Top 20 Films of the Decade...Part 3". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2010-01-03. 
  19. ^ 2008 Screamfest Winners Archived March 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ "2009 Toronto After Dark Film Festival Winners". Retrieved 2012-02-01. 
  21. ^ "'Trick 'r Treat' Sequel in the Pipeline?". Retrieved 2012-02-01. 
  22. ^ "Michael Dougherty Talks Potential 'Trick 'r Treat' Sequel!". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  24. ^ "Half Way To Halloween". FEARnet. Retrieved 2012-02-01. 
  25. ^ Li, Shirley. "'Trick 'r Treat' gets a sequel: Michael Dougherty talks what's next | Inside Movies |". Retrieved 2013-10-29. 

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