Exploiting the Archives: Trick 'r Treat and What We Do in the Shadows at Sub Cult 1.0


It is exceedingly difficult for a movie to become a genuine, bona fide, incontrovertible cult movie without receiving at least a token theatrical release. Movies that receive direct-to-video burials simply do not have the kind of profile and public exposure that leads to cult followings. They are cursed to live in the shadows of their theatrically released counterparts no matter how good or how original they might be. 

But there are exceptions. Hotshot screenwriter Michael Dougherty’s (X2, Superman Returns, Urban Legends: Bloody Mary) 2007 directorial debut Trick ‘r Treat, a Halloween-themed horror anthology boasting a seriously high-powered cast that includes Brian Cox, Dylan Baker and Anna Paquin did not receive a theatrical release. 


But instead of dying from lack of exposure the darkly funny horror anthology quickly developed a large and devoted cult following that only seems to have grown in size and devotion with each successive year. Trick ‘r Treat escaped the direct-to-video curse to attract the kind of following usually only attainable with a high-profile theatrical release and ensuing expensive advertising campaign. 

The legend and cult of Trick ‘r Treat has only grown in the decade plus since its release. Dougherty followed it up with another well-received holiday-themed horror-comedy, Krampus and snagged the plum role of writing and directing Godzilla: King of the Monsters, a big-budget sequel that most assuredly will not be going direct to video unless something goes very, very wrong. 


Trick ‘r Treat has spun off comic books and merchandise and this year was the very worthy recipient of a nifty Scream Factory Blu-Ray release. I wrote about Trick ‘r Treat for Sub-Cult one Halloween, and the next year, or maybe the year before, I wrote about another horror-comedy classic for the ages, Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s instant classic horror rockumentary What We Do in the Shadows

Like Trick ‘r Treat, What We Do in Shadows has blown up since its theatrical release, winning a reputation as one of the funniest comedies of this century, inspiring a New Zealand spin-off and an upcoming American FX TV adaptation from heavy hitters like Scott Rudin and Newsradio and Atlanta’s Paul Simms. 


Yes, there’s never been a better time to check out these spooky cult favorites than Hallo, oh shit, I missed Halloween, didn’t I? Fuck it. These pieces are still good. And go see the movies too! They’re great! 

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