Trick 'r Treat

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Trick 'r Treat
Trick r treat.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMichael Dougherty
Written byMichael Dougherty
Produced byBryan Singer
CinematographyGlen MacPherson
Edited byRobert Ivison
Music byDouglas Pipes
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • December 9, 2007 (2007-12-09) (Butt-Numb-A-Thon)
  • October 6, 2009 (2009-10-06) (United States)
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited States[1]
Budget$12 million[2]

Trick 'r Treat is a 2007 American anthology horror comedy film written and directed by Michael Dougherty and produced by Bryan Singer. The film stars Dylan Baker, Rochelle Aytes, Anna Paquin and Brian Cox. It relates four Halloween horror stories with a common element in them: Sam, a trick-or-treater wearing orange footie pajamas with a burlap sack over his head. The character makes an appearance in each of the stories whenever one of the other characters breaks a Halloween tradition.

Despite being delayed for two years and having only a limited amount of screenings at film festivals, 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 2017, a Trick 'r Treat themed "scare zone" was added to Halloween Horror Nights, an annual event held at the Universal Orlando Resort, followed by a haunted house in 2018.[5][6][7]


The film is framed by Halloween night in the fictional town of Warren Valley, Ohio. The plot follows a nonlinear narrative, with characters crossing paths throughout the film. At the center of the story is Sam, a peculiar trick-or-treater in a burlap pajama costume, who appears to enforce the "rules" of Halloween.


In the opening scene, Emma and her Halloween-loving husband Henry return home after a celebratory night. Emma, who hates Halloween, blows out their jack-o'-lantern before midnight, against Henry's superstitious advice. As Henry relaxes and falls asleep in his house, Emma begins tearing down the front lawn decorations without his knowing; but is then ambushed and murdered by an unseen assailant. Hours later, Henry discovers her mutilated corpse on display with the decorations.


Charlie, an overweight child who vandalizes jack-o'-lanterns, is caught stealing candy from an unattended bowl left by his school principal, Steven Wilkins. Seemingly taking the offense in stride, Wilkins offers Charlie a candy bar while lecturing Charlie about the importance of respecting Halloween rules and traditions. Charlie gradually feels more unwell, until he begins to vomit chocolate and blood. As Charlie dies, Wilkins reveals that he laced the candy with cyanide. While clumsily attempting to hide the murder, he hands out candy to trick-or-treaters; including Sam. Wilkins attempts to bury Charlie in his backyard along with the body of another victim, but is continually interrupted by his young son Billy and his cantankerous elderly neighbor, Mr. Kreeg; along with his pet dog Spite. The other victim turns out to still be alive and struggles in his sack, forcing Wilkins to violently beat him to death with a shovel before anyone can discern the noise. When Wilkins returns indoors, he briefly notices Kreeg at the window, screaming for help before something seems to attack him. Wilkins guides Billy downstairs to carve a jack-o'-lantern, hiding a knife behind his back. After some hesitation, Wilkins appears to stab Billy. However, Billy is unharmed and it is revealed that the knife was plunged into Charlie's severed head, the "jack-o'-lantern" they are about to carve.

Halloween School Bus Massacre[edit]

A group of teenage trick-or-treaters, Macy, Chip, Schrader, and Sara, are collecting jack-o'-lanterns when they meet Rhonda, a Halloween traditionalist dressed as a witch. The group, led by Macy, visits a flooded quarry where she tells the urban legend of the "Halloween School Bus Massacre". In this legend, eight children with disabilities were killed by a school bus driver on Halloween. The children's ableist parents, weary of the burden that came with caring for them and resenting them for their disabilities out of embarrassment, wanted nothing more than to be rid of them; so they had paid the driver to dispose of them. Given the nature of the crime and the way the legend is depicted, it can be assumed that it took place during a time when disabilities were not fully understood and those who had them were perceived as unhealthy and defective; likely sometime between the pre-1930s and the mid-1950s. However, before the driver could complete his plan, one child escaped his shackles and took control of the bus. The boy wound up causing the bus to fall into the quarry, killing the children; though the driver survived.

Macy leaves eight jack-o'-lanterns by the lake as tribute to the deceased. The group splits up, leaving Rhonda and Chip behind. Rhonda is pursued by horrifying figures, but once she is reduced to tears the other teens claim responsibility, revealing that they disguised themselves as the dead children in an attempt to prank her; all planned out by Macy. Schrader realizes that the trick has gone too far and comforts the terrified Rhonda while a bitter Macy kicks a jack-o'-lantern into the water. The dead children emerge from the lake, attacking Macy and Sara. Sara is dragged away and killed while Rhonda escapes, abandoning the other three teens to their gruesome fate as revenge for the heartless prank they pulled on her. As she leaves, Rhonda encounters Sam and exchanges a nod of respect towards him.

Surprise Party[edit]

Laurie, a self-conscious 22-year-old, joins her sister (Danielle) and friends (Maria and Janet) for Halloween. She winds up with a "Little Red Riding Hood" costume that (in her opinion) makes her "look like ['she's] five" in comparison to her friends' revealing outfits. A staunch traditionalist, Laurie misses just trick-or-treating which her sister and friends casually disregard. The other girls pick up dates, but Laurie declines in favor of staying to enjoy the town festival instead. She later encounters a hooded man dressed as a vampire who follows her into the woods and attacks her. She defeats the assailant, and Laurie's friends unmask the incapacitated man at a bonfire when she forcibly brings him along. He is Steven Wilkins, revealed to be a serial killer who had sought out victims at the festival. Laurie's friends are then revealed to be werewolves, shedding their clothing and skin before feasting on their deceased dates. Laurie, having decided to make an exception and join them for this occasion, is the last to transform and kills Wilkins before devouring him. Sitting on a log nearby, Sam witnesses the werewolves feast.


Kreeg, Wilkins' curmudgeonly Halloween-hating neighbor, scares trick-or-treaters off his doorstep. As the night proceeds, Kreeg encounters escalating phenomena: The house is egged, the lawn is filled with ornate jack-o'-lanterns, and the hallways and ceiling are scrawled with Halloween and Samhain greetings.

Kreeg is ambushed numerous times by Sam and eventually manages to unmask his assailant, whose head resembles a frightful hybrid of a skull and a jack-o' lantern. Kreeg shoots Sam several times with a shotgun, and pumpkin innards spray from the wounds. Sam proves difficult to kill and, after badly injuring Kreeg, he eventually has the old man cornered. Instead of killing Kreeg, Sam impales a candy bar in Kreeg's lap; completing the tradition of "handing out" candy on Halloween. Satisfied, Sam spares a confused Kreeg and ominously departs. Meanwhile, photographs burning in the fireplace reveal that Kreeg is the driver from the School Bus Massacre.


A heavily-bandaged Kreeg gives candy to trick-or-treaters. While on his front porch, he observes the street; where he witnesses other characters in the film mill about observing Halloween traditions. Billy sits on his father's porch, handing out candy to trick-or-treaters and enjoying himself. Rhonda crosses the street casually pulling her wagon filled with jack-o'-lanterns along, and is nearly run over by Laurie and the girls' van as they drive by laughing to each other. Emma and Henry arrive at home, Henry relaxing in his home while Emma blows out the jack-o'-lantern as Sam moves in for the kill for breaking a Halloween tradition. Kreeg retreats into his home, but immediately hears a knock on his door. These last trick-or-treaters are the children from the bus, they mockingly greet him before proceeding brutally tear apart and devour Kreeg as revenge for their murder.



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.[8] The film 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.[9]

Filming location and delays[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 home media in 2009.[2]


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.[10] 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,[11] 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 on Blu-ray in North America on October 6, 2009, in the UK on October 26, and in Australia on October 28. Shout! Factory released a "Collector's Edition" Blu-ray on October 9, 2018, with all extras from previous DVD/Blu-ray releases included as well as new extra content.[12]


  • Sideshow Collectibles created a 15-inch vinyl figure based on the film's scarecrow-like character Sam.
  • NECA created a 5+12-inch 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.[13]
  • 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.
  • Funko created a deluxe POP! figurine of Sam sitting on a boulder, alongside a jack-o-lantern and a burlap sack; it was released as a Spirit Halloween exclusive September 24, 2020.[14]

Spirit Halloween also released a line of "Trick 'r Treat" themed decor and props. They released a lollipop that mimics Sam's, and a Life-sized Sam animatronic that they used in their themes.

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.[15] 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.[16] Legendary Comics set the second Trick 'r Treat comic book, titled Trick 'r Treat: Days of the Dead, for an October 2015 release date,[17] and features Arts of Artist Fiona Staples and Stephen Byrne.[18] The comic was released alongside the graphic novel tie-in of Dougherty's Krampus.[19]


Critical reaction[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 83% based on 29 reviews, with an average rating of 7.40/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A deftly crafted tribute to Halloween legends, Trick 'r' Treat hits all the genre marks with gusto and old fashioned suspense."[20] 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."[21] The film earned 10 out of 10 from Ryan Rotten of[22]

IGN called it a "very well-crafted Halloween horror tribute" and "a scary blast", rating it a score of 8 out of 10.[23] 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."[24]


Possible sequel[edit]

Michael Dougherty announced in October 2009 that he is planning a sequel,[27] but later stated that there were "no active development nor an attempt at a pitch."[28] A sequel was announced in October 2013,[29] but there was a change in Legendary's management. Dougherty has continued to express interest in a sequel but said the film stands on its own.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Trick 'r Treat (2007)". British Film Institute. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Barone, Matt (October 28, 2013). "The Scary-Good Afterlife of "Trick 'r Treat," The Movie That Should Be Halloween's Answer to "A Christmas Story"". Complex. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
  3. ^ Watercutter, Angela. "Cult-Favorite Halloween Flick Trick 'r Treat Streams on Facebook Tonight". Wired. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  4. ^ "Trick 'r Treat Sequel Update from Director Michael Dougherty". August 25, 2016.
  5. ^ Squires, John (August 17, 2017). "'Trick 'r Treat' Scare Zone Coming to Halloween Horror Nights!". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  6. ^ Sposato, Sean (September 7, 2017). "VIDEO: Sam invades Halloween Horror Nights 2017 in new Trick 'r Treat scare zone at Universal Orlando". InsideTheMagic. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  7. ^ Pearson, Ben (May 16, 2018). "'Trick 'r Treat' Mazes Coming to Universal's Halloween Horror Nights". /Film. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  8. ^ "Cool Horror Videos: Michael Dougherty's Season's Greetings – the short that inspired Trick 'R Treat". JoBlo. October 23, 2013. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  9. ^ Lane, David (October 28, 2013). "FEARnet Airing a 24-Hour Marathon of TRICK 'R TREAT's on Halloween with Giveaways and New Content by Director Michael Dougherty". Collider. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  10. ^ Carolyn, Axelle (October 23, 2009). "The Problem with Trick 'r Treat". IGN. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  11. ^ (translator) Rupert Bottenberg. "Fantasia 2009 Schedule". Retrieved February 1, 2012. {{cite web}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  12. ^ "Trick 'r Treat [Collector's Edition] - Blu-ray :: Shout! Factory".
  13. ^ [1] Archived June 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Sam Funko Pop Figure Deluxe - Trick 'r Treat -". Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  15. ^ "00's Retrospect: Bloody Disgusting's Top 20 Films of the Decade". December 17, 2009. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  16. ^ "Trick 'r Treat: Tales of Mayhem, Mystery and Mischief by John Griffin, Insight Editions, 110 pages". October 18, 2009. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  17. ^ "Legendary Comics Haunt Your Holidays With Trick 'r Treat and Krampus Graphic Novels". October 18, 2009. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  18. ^ "Legendary Comics to Run "PACIFIC RIM," "TRICK R' TREAT" Sequel Tie-ins". October 18, 2009. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  19. ^ 'Trick 'r Treat' and 'Krampus' Get Graphic Novel Adaptations!
  20. ^ Trick r' Treat (2007) at Rotten Tomatoes
  21. ^ "Dread Central Review of Trick r' Treat". Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  22. ^ Turek, Ryan (October 16, 2008). "Review of Trick r' Treat". Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  23. ^ Cindy White. "Trick 'r Treat DVD Review". IGN. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  24. ^ "00's Retrospect: Bloody Disgusting's Top 20 Films of the Decade...Part 3". Bloody Disgusting. December 17, 2009. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
  25. ^ 2008 Screamfest Winners Archived March 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ "2009 Toronto After Dark Film Festival Winners". Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  27. ^ "'Trick 'r Treat' Sequel in the Pipeline?". October 8, 2009. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  28. ^ "Michael Dougherty Talks Potential 'Trick 'r Treat' Sequel!". Bloody Disgusting. October 18, 2012. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  29. ^ Highfill, Samantha (October 29, 2013). "'Trick 'r Treat' gets a sequel: Michael Dougherty talks what's next". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  30. ^ "Michael Dougherty Offers Latest Thoughts on 'Trick 'r Treat 2'; Is It Ever Happening? Should It Ever Happen?". October 22, 2019.

External links[edit]