Trick 'r Treat

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For other uses, see Trick or treat (disambiguation).
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 dates
  • 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 horror anthology film written and directed by Michael Dougherty. 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, that 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.[2] In October 2013, the filmmakers announced that a sequel, Trick 'r Treat 2, is in the works.



In the fictional Warren Valley, Ohio, Emma (Leslie Bibb) and her Halloween worshiping boyfriend Henry (Tahmoh Penikett), have set up numerous ghost-scarecrows for Halloween in their yard, despite the fact that Emma hates Halloween. After returning home from a Halloween party, Emma tries to blow out a jack-o'-lantern, but Henry tells her not to because it is against tradition to extinguish a jack-o'-lantern on Halloween; she blows it out anyway while his back is turned. While Henry is relaxing and slowly drifting off to sleep inside the house, Emma attempts to take down the Halloween decorations without his knowing but in the process of doing so, she is murdered by an unknown assailant with a large blade shaped like a pumpkin lollipop in front of a group of kids who were trick-or-treating, causing them to run away in surprise and fright. Some time later, Henry goes outside to search for Emma but when he finds she is gone, he then notices the limbs hanging by wires outside. Just then, one of the decorative scarecrows lights up. He approaches it and takes down the cover, only to cry out in shock at the sight of Emma's severed head speared onto the stick and wrapped in decorative lights, with her limbs chopped off and her mouth stuffed with a large lollipop.

The Principal[edit]

Steven Wilkins (Dylan Baker), the town principal, spots his young neighbor Charlie (Brett Kelly) stealing candy from his yard after a trip of smashing jack-o'-lantern (noticing the remains of them on his shoes) as he returns from the store with more. Smiling and seemingly taking the offenses in stride, he places him down at his front door and talks to him about candy and stealing, explaining rules of etiquette and how to properly respect Halloween while carving out a jack-o'-lantern, offering him a chocolate bar in the middle of it. Charlie eats the chocolate bar, which turns out to be poisoned with cyanide, and throws up large amounts of chocolate and blood before he dies while Wilkins reminds him of another important rule of Halloween; "always check your candy". As Wilkins is trying to take Charlie's corpse to the backyard to bury it (getting blood on his shirt while he's at it), his doorbell rings. The trick-or-treaters, among them a small boy wearing a burlap sack hood over his head with buttons for eyes and stitching for a mouth, take their candy without finding out what Wilkins has done. Wilkins then dumps Charlie's body in a large hole dug in his back yard next to an equally large hole where another unknown child's body already lies, and has a brief run-in with his neighbor, Mr. Kreeg (Brian Cox), and his dog Spite. After finishing the burial, Wilkins sees Kreeg screaming from his window, begging for help; Wilkins disregards this and Kreeg is knocked down by an unknown assailant. Later, Wilkins arrives in his basement, where he helps his son Billy carve a "jack-o'-lantern" in their basement, which is revealed to be Charlie's severed head. The sequence ends with Billy saying "But don't forget to help me with the eyes."

The School Bus Massacre Revisited[edit]

Four kids— Macy Rutherford (Britt McKillip), Sam "Schrader" Hader (Jean-Luc Bilodeau), Sara Perry (Isabelle Deluce), and Chip Winslow (Alberto Ghisi), the same trick-or-treaters who earlier visited Wilkins—meet up with a peer named Rhonda (Samm Todd) whom everyone considers a savant as they scour the neighborhood for jack-o-lanterns and ask for one of her own while also inviting her to come with them. Together, with Macy leading, they journey to the abandoned rock quarry while Rhonda talks briefly with Chip about the origins of Halloween and Sara asks why they're there as well as what the purpose of the jack-o-lanterns is. Macy tells them the local urban legend of "The Halloween School Bus Massacre".

Thirty years ago, in 1977, there was a group of supposed mentally challenged kids. Their parents were embarrassed by their conditions and saw them to be a burden to them; and as such, they were sent off to a school in another town so they would not face the townspeople's mocking. One day on Halloween; 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, so they would be freed of their burden. He drove the bus to the quarry, chained the kids to the seats, and while he was checking them, one boy managed to get free and went to the steering wheel, wanting to drive back home; however, he accidentally set the gear in forward instead of reverse before the driver can stop him and drove it over the edge of the cliffside into the lake of the lake, drowning them all. However, the bus driver managed to get out alive and was never heard from again. Some say the school bus sank so deep it couldn't be found. Others say the town didn't want the school bus to be found. 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.

After the story, the group walk to a rickety elevator; Macy, Sara, and Schrader get in with their jack-o-lanterns to go down to the lake. Since the elevator will only hold three at a time, thus Chip and Rhonda wait for it to come back for them. Once it is their turn, they hear the panicked cries and screams of the other three on the way down and watch as the lights of their jack-o-lanterns go out in the mist. Rhonda has Chip stay in the elevator with the remaining jack-o-lanterns, 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 the masks of the others floating in the water. She is suddenly attacked by two water-drenched figures covered in chains and runs to see a third in the midst of disemboweling Chip. As they chase her, Rhonda drops and accidentally steps on her glasses before tripping and hitting her head on a rock, knocking herself out. When she comes to, she sees the figures standing over her and cries out in fear; but one of them, actually Schrader in disguise, explains that it was just a prank played by all of them and tries to apologize for getting her hurt. The remorseless Macy kicks a jack-o'-lantern into the lake, where after as whispers and giggles suddenly echo out of the mist. After Schrader leads Rhonda to the elevator he hears the others screaming and thinks it is another attempt of Macy's at a cruel prank. However, when he meets up with them they they all witness the figures of the real eight dead children rise out of the lake, still tied in their chains. The undead children chase the group and manage to grab hold of the chains which Sara is wearing as part of her costume, dragging her away to be killed before she can reach the elevator as the other three make it there. Meanwhile, Rhonda has locked herself in the elevator leading out of the quarry, looking sullen yet calm. Despite the others begging her to open it, she ignores them and rides it up herself as the School Bus children corner them as revenge for the prank. As Rhonda steps out of the elevator and leaves the quarry, the other kids are heard being dismembered and eaten alive. Before Rhonda begins walking home with her jack-o-lanterns filled wagon, she turns and notices the small boy in the orange footed pajamas and burlap sack mask as he sits on an old cement pipe and nods respectfully at him as he seems to nod back.

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 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.

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 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 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 goes 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. 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 wearing fake fangs. The girls at the party, along with Laurie, suddenly transform into werewolves, removing their skin. It is revealed that Laurie's "virginity" actually signifies that she has never killed anyone before and Laurie desired one who she felt truly deserved death like Wilkins. Laurie begins to change herself and leans down to Wilkins to whisper "My, my...what big eyes you have," before lunging into Wilkins' neck. 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 absent-mindedly, and is almost hit by the laughing werewolf girls in their car, now in human form again and on their way back from the surprise party. Billy Wilkins is sitting on his porch handing out candy and wearing a costume to mimic his fathers first appearance, complete with glasses and bloody shirt, 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. A series of comic strip panels shows Kreeg being murdered and dismembered by them, the kids had gotten their justice.



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.[3] 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.[4]

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,[5] 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.[6]
  • 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.[7] 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.[8] Legendary Comics set the second Trick 'r Treat comic book, titled Trick 'r Treat: Days of the Dead, for an October 2015 release date,[9] and features Arts of Artist Fiona Staples and Stephen Byrne.[10] The comic will be released alongside the graphic novel adaptation of Dougherty's Krampus.[11]


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."[12] 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."[13] The film earned 10 out of 10 from Ryan Rotten of[14] IGN called it a "very well-crafted Halloween horror tribute" and "a scary blast", rating it a score of 8 out of 10.[15] 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."[16]



Michael Dougherty announced in October 2009 that he is planning a sequel,[19] but later stated that there were "no active development nor an attempt at a pitch."[20] 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."[21] 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.[22] 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.[23]


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

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