Ranking the Most Disturbing Deaths in ‘Trick ‘r Treat’

Trick r Treat

Like many horror anthologies, Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat is a morality tale wrapped in burlap. Horror icon (and eventual Spirit Halloween mascot) Sam, the cutest, pint-sized trick-or-treater you’ve ever seen, is judge, jury, and executioner for the rules of Halloween. Disobey them, and Sam (short for Samhain, a word Dr. Loomis doesn’t know how to pronounce) will punish you. Sam’s rules are dense, both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated. Respect the dead and protect the innocent—good, broad rules to follow, sure. But also, always wear a costume, hand out candy, and never, under any circumstances, blow out a jack-o’-lantern before midnight. Told nonlinearly, Dougherty’s Halloween opus follows five intersecting stories where rules are broken and the offenders are punished. Here, we’ll be ranking the disturbing deaths in Trick ‘r Treat by how much the victims deserved to die. Naturally, of course. It’s Halloween, and there are rules to follow.


Emma’s (Leslie Bibb) kicks Trick ‘r Treat off with a bang. Arriving home from a party with her husband, Henry (Tahmoh Penikett), Emma reasonably wants to take the Halloween decorations down. They’re having company the following day and it’s easier to just do it now. The division of labor in a relationship is a key contributor to interpersonal conflict. And yet rather than help, Henry races inside to put a sexy videotape on (it’s 2007, remember) while Emma is tasked with the bulk of the dismantling.

As someone who left their job at Spirit Halloween the day we were supposed to break down the store, I get it somewhat. I was also a kid then. As an adult, there’s no way I’m leaving my partner alone to do all the work. That Emma is killed soon thereafter, graphically carved up like a jack-o’-lantern, feels cruel. Sure, she violated the rules, but if anyone deserved it, it was Henry.

Trick-or-Treater Charlie

Not only does Sam demand you hand out candy on the scariest night of the year, but he also suggests you check it before biting into it—we’ve all seen Halloween II. Charlie (Brett Kelly) isn’t the nicest kid. He’s a vandal, galivanting around the neighborhood smashing pumpkins with abandon, and stealing candy from unattended bowls (don’t lie, we all did it). As comeuppance, Principal Steven Wilkins (Dylan Baker) gives Charlie a candy bar. Said bar is laced with enough cyanide to quickly kill him (but not before he vomits the night’s haul all over the steps). If Sam had chosen to punish Charlie for breaking the rules, that would be one thing. Instead, it’s Principal Wilkins, and Principal Wilkins isn’t the arbiter of Halloween last I checked.

The Teens

Teens are a lot. They say dumb things, do cruel things, and are often just regularly unpleasant to be around. That doesn’t mean they deserve to die, even if it is entirely of their own doing. Violating Sam’s rule to protect the innocent, teenybopper gaggle Macy (Britt McKillip), Schrader (Jean-Luc Bilodeau), Chip (Alberto Ghisi), and Sara (Isabelle Deluce) choose to spend their night pulling an elaborate (almost sociopathic) prank on classmate Rhonda (Samm Todd). Rhonda is sick as hell, and her desire to leave jack-o’-lanterns for the deceased quarry children is sweet as can be.

Teens are gonna bully, though, and the former four’s Trick r Treat plan is to lure Rhonda into the quarry, frighten her with the “Halloween School Bus Massacre” urban legend, and then convince her the legend has come to life. When Rhonda discovers the truth, she’s certifiably upset, abandoning the group in the quarry as she takes the elevator up. The real dead children appear, tearing the bullies apart limb from limb. It’s karmic justice, muted only by the perpetrators’ age.  

Principal Wilkins

Principal Wilkins didn’t just break Sam’s rules—he routinely broke the law. Wilkins pops up in several vignettes, disguised in costume murdering women around town. He sets his sights on Anna Paquin’s Laurie, unaware that she and her friends are a roving band of man-eating werewolves. In the woods, Laurie devours Principal Wilkins while Sam sits and watches with glee. After what he did to Charlie, it’s more than deserved.

Mr. Kreeg

Mr. Kreeg (Brian Cox) is something of a tragic figure, even if he deserves his fate more than anyone in Trick r Treat. Michael Dougherty loves his reveals—e.g. the masked killer is really Principal Wilkins—and in Kreeg’s segment, Dougherty reveals him to be the driver of the “Halloween School Bus Massacre.” Paid off by the parents of eight mentally handicapped children, Kreeg intended to kill the kids on Halloween. One child escaped the shackles, the bus crashed into a lake, and only Kreeg survived.

Years later, Sam returns to settle the score (it doesn’t help that Kreeg notoriously hates the holiday, even refusing to hand out candy, a big no-no). Trick r Treat’s standout sequence is a violent brawl between the Halloween icon and the curmudgeon. Kreeg survives by a twist of fate when Sam stabs a razor-bladed candy bar on Kreeg’s chest, enough to satisfy Sam’s wish that Kreeg hand out candy. The good fortune doesn’t last as the zombie kids, resurrected from the lake in an earlier vignette, arrive on his doorstep to seek vengeance.

That’s everyone who dies in Trick r Treat, ranked from least to most deserving. A holiday perennial with flair, it’s a treat worth revisiting time and time again. More than anything, it’s a reminder that the scariest time of the year has its own rules, and you’d better follow them.



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