Showing posts with label michael myers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label michael myers. Show all posts

Nov 5, 2020

MOVIE MOMENTS: HALLOWEEN: H20 (1998)


As I’ve written before, one of the most anticipated cinematic moments of my then-young life was the 1998 release of Halloween: H20. The studio-prestige approach to a slasher series that had by then descended to dubious levels and flirted with going direct to video, along with the involvement of Jamie Lee Curtis, was a major reason to celebrate the real return of Michael Myers. Though easily the best sequel at that time, these days, in the face of changing sensibilities and especially 2018’s far superior rebootquel, Halloween: H20 feels more like a mostly positive mixed bag. Regardless of its flaws, however, it easily contains one of the best sequences from the entire series.

After surviving several encounters with her long-lost brother, who finally found her hiding place after twenty years, Laurie Strode has a clear path to escape in front of her – there are no barriers, no hurdles to overcome. She’s no longer trapped in a closet or pounding on doors that will never open. She’s got an idling SUV, an open security gate, and her son, John (Josh Hartnett), is begging her to get back in the car and go. But for half her life, Laurie’s been running from her past and hiding behind a pseudonym as the headmistress of a private school in the shadowy hills of Northern California. Her life is in near-ruins; she’s an alcoholic who wakes up screaming in the morning and has an army of prescription drugs waiting in her medicine cabinet to help get her through. And she’s tired of this version of her life – enough that she’s going to make the conscious choice to stop running. In Halloween and Halloween II, every blow that Laurie lands against her attacker is reactionary and based on in-the-moment survival. This version of Laurie, however, goes on the offensive and willfully takes on the role as predator instead of prey. After sending John away, Laurie shuts the gate, smashes its controls, grabs a fire axe, and enters the game, bellowing her brother’s name as the camera takes a God’s eye view of the abandoned school grounds and composer John Ottman’s orchestral rendition of the Halloween theme floods the screen. In a concept further explored in 2018’s Halloween, this is the scene where Laurie refuses to be the victim any longer, and if there were such a thing as immovable fate, as Samuels once wrote, then she’s going to do the impossible and deny that fate as the victim…even if she dies trying.

 [Reprinted/excerpted from Daily Grindhouse.]

Oct 19, 2019

HALLOWEEN (2018): ONE YEAR LATER

I wrote this archival piece nearly two years ago, and nearly one year before Halloween (2018) was released upon the world (exactly one year ago today, in fact). More than just a musing on what I thought David Gordon Green might add to the franchise, it was a reflection on growing up alongside the Halloween franchise, how it forged my love for the genre, and how absurdly, ridiculously excited I was, at fourteen years old, for Halloween: H20 (1998) -- the first Halloween sequel to seize on a 20-year anniversary, and to bring Jamie Lee Curtis back to the franchise. At this point, production on the next entry in the franchise, Halloween Kills, which returns all the major participants from Halloween (2018) for another go-round with the Shape, is well underway. While we all anticipate this next sequel, let's go back in time a little for a melancholy dose of watching both Michael Myers as well as the calendar...


As a kid, I was a devout Michael Myers fan. Granted, I was a horror junkie in general, but there was something about that white-masked boogeyman that fueled my imagination and struck fear into my bones like lightning. I can still remember my elementary-school self waiting impatiently in the living room, on Halloween, for my older brother and his friend to complete their dead hockey player costumes by gluing half-pucks to their faces. It took so long, and I was so antsy to get out there and trick-or-treat, that I flipped on the television hoping to find distraction in the cadre of Halloween-appropriate titles sure to be on. While surfing, a burst of screams and frantic chaos in the dark caught my attention. Feeling good about my choice, I’d put down the remote and began to watch.

That was how I first discovered John Carpenter’s Halloween.

Okay, fine, it was only the last ten minutes or so, but as a young horror-loving fiend, what better time to tune in? The film was at its frenzied peak, and the suddenness and ambiguity of the terror helped to heighten the experience. Who was this man in the mask? Who was this old man in the trench coat trying to stop him? Why here, why now? What is this?

I saw it all — Laurie Strode fleeing and shrieking across the street from masked maniac Michael Myers; her frantic pounding against the locked front door; the couch attack, the closet attack, and the final confrontation where Michael was unmasked and Dr. Sam Loomis shot him directly in the jumpsuit.

For a moment, everything was quiet. The shot had knocked Michael offscreen into a back room. Surely he was dead, right?

Loomis ran into that same back room after him. Michael waited in the darkness — still, and very much alive.

At that moment, seeing his unnatural stillness framed by darkness, I was petrified. Beyond petrified. I couldn’t move — something so simple as a scary mask in silhouette, with a bit of inhuman breathing, and I couldn’t fucking move.

Five more gunshots rang out. Michael flew backwards off the balcony and landed with a crash on the  cold hard October ground. Finally, he appeared dead.

But after a quick cut away, his body was gone.

And thus began a forty-year legacy.

After that fateful television viewing of Halloween, I was hooked. One by one I sought every remaining sequel, skipping Halloween 3: Season of the Witch, as I’d go on to learn that it didn’t feature the babysitter murderer known as The Shape. (I’d eventually mature and warm to this entry, which I now watch every Halloween.) This love for the series continued for years. I bought every Halloween available on VHS, including multiple copies of the original. I bought every magazine or book or figure or poster or anything that bared the face of Michael Myers. Had there been a Halloween secret society, I’d’ve been a charter member.

1995 rolled around and I was in the fifth grade. One Friday in September, a childhood chum named Barry and I were swapping weekend plans on the bus ride home.

“My sister’s taking me to see Halloween 6 tonight,” Barry said casually.

My face went full :O and I begged him to take me along.

He did, and soon after, he became a boyhood best friend.

Flash forward a few years. It’s 1998, and I’m in eighth grade. My love for horror continues, and sometimes I’m successful in forcing my friends to go along with it. Scream 2 had proved such a massive box office success that Dimension Films re-released the sequel for encore showings. And so of course I went. It was then, in the popcorn-smelling dimness of the auditorium, that one particular trailer stuck out among all others:


From the audience’s point of view, we glided down long hallways as heavy winds made curtains billow and dry autumn leaves dance across the floor. An ominous voice growled, “he has pursued her relentlessly…”

Meanwhile, the tick-tock piano music in the background sounded so familiar

“He has hunted her…everywhere…”

I knew I’d heard that music somewhere…

“Twenty years later, the face of good and the face of evil will meet…one last time.”

The music was a track called “Laurie’s Theme” from the Halloween soundtrack, and the trailer, which suddenly flashed to Jamie Lee Curtis looking through a window directly into the darkened eyeholes of Michael Myers, would end with the Halloween theme and the title Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later shrieking across the screen.

What I felt at that moment was indescribable — an insane amount of shock and surprise and excitement that I still haven’t felt for a movie to this day. It was euphoria. It was like meeting a superhero, or winning the lottery. A franchise that had seemed all but dead after the abysmal Curse of Michael Myers was suddenly back with a vengeance, and not only that, it was also hailing the return of Laurie Fucking Strode, the ultimate final girl.

In the dark, I could feel my friends look over at me and make their own :O faces. They didn’t care nearly as much for horror and the Halloween franchise as I did, but I could feel their excitement for me. And they were right. At that moment, I didn’t care about anything else. Once I regained my composure, I excitedly ran out of the auditorium and to the nearest payphone. (Yes, a payphone — it was 1998, ok? The only people with cell phones at that time were Mulder and Scully.) There was one person who needed to know – Barry, my horror movie/Halloween partner in crime – and he needed to know NOW. I was overjoyed, over the moon, and not thinking clearly. I felt like a celebrity, as if I had been the first person in the world to experience such groundbreaking news, and it was my privilege and duty to alert the masses.

Seeing that trailer was magical. To be taken completely by surprise still lives on in my mind as one of the happiest moments I’ve ever experienced. And here I am, nearly 20 years later, and the idea behind what I am saying – undying devotion for what is essentially Halloween 7 – sounds completely ludicrous. But that’s the kind of magic I suspect dies off as your childhood does.

By the time I got back to the auditorium, Jada Pinkett was already dead. I was so excited by this revelation that the exploits of Ghostface and the stabbing of Sarah Michelle Gellar barely registered in my mind. Suddenly, Scream 2 didn’t mean shit in the face of Halloween: H20.

For months after that, I waited impatiently for the poster to appear in the theater’s lobby — to confirm that it wasn’t all just a dream, but a reality. And once it arrived, I stared at that poster and marveled at The Shape’s mask, and took in the pure pleasure of knowing it was coming soon…


Consumer-grade internet had just become a thing (we’re talking AOL 3.0), so naturally, for the next several months until Halloween: H20’s release, I would Ask Jeeves and AOL Netfind everything I could about this new sequel. I’d click over and over on distributor Dimension Films’ official website and watch the trailers and look at the photos. Every fold of my brain needed to be saturated with every bit of info I could find. Though I’m now of the age where I depend significantly on an internet lifestyle, I can also remember what life was like before it. Back then, if you wanted to know about the next installments of Phantasm or Halloween, you only had Fangoria Magazine. And all you were allowed to know about their productions was what Fangoria allowed you to know – a quote here, description of a scene there, and topped off with a publicity still that, nine times out of ten, wasn’t indicative of the final film. Back then, I wasn’t in the habit of bookmarking film sites and receiving daily news updates about projects in production. Nowadays, as a grumpy adult with the internet on his phone, I can assure you that finding out about a new Halloween sequel coming soon in the form of an article by an online pipsqueak movie writer isn’t nearly as magical as seeing that same sequel’s trailer in a theater for the first time — the very first sign to you that it existed.

Always the pioneer, I began assembling my own version of Halloween: H20 “special features” on a VHS tape based on material recorded off television; it included a Sci-Fi Channel hour-long making-of special; an MTV thing where the cast and story writer, Kevin Williamson, hosted Dawson’s Creek trivia in between music videos; and multiple appearances of the cast on late-night talk shows. I watched that tape over and over until I could finally see the film for myself.

Opening weekend, I finally did — myself and a whole host of my chums I’d likely strong-armed into going. My eighth-grade self was not disappointed. Seeing Jamie Lee Curtis holding an ax and furiously bellowing her brother’s name gave me chills. By film’s end, I was legitimately shocked and a little heartbroken to see Michael lose his head. I was very happy with it, and my chums seemed to have enjoyed themselves as well. After months of foreplay, the big moment had arrived: the rolling out of Halloween: H20 felt like the successful culmination of a plan I had nothing to fucking to do with, yet I couldn’t have been more pleased with myself. At home I put together a framed Michael Myers memorial, complete with birthdate and death date, because I was a silly nerd/psychopath. Too young to understand the concept of commerce over creativity, I felt assured Halloween: H20 would be Michael Myers’ final hurrah (LOL), and while that made me sad, I felt that it was a perfect finale. (As an “adult,” I look at Halloween: H20 with a more critical eye, as its shortcomings are no longer veiled by childhood romanticism. The mask, which changes frequently, even relying on CGI for one scene, is terrible; the California shooting location lacks that small-town and autumn feel of Haddonfield, Illinois; the stuntman who donned Michael’s mask and jumpsuit was just a hair too pint-sized to be fully intimidating; and except for the lush and orchestral rendition of the Halloween theme, John Ottman’s score, Frankensteined with Marco Beltrami cues from Scream and Mimc, is all wrong. Those misgivings aside, I still think it’s the best Myers-centric sequel since Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers.)

What might be the longest intro in the world leads us to the point of all this.

I was born in 1984. By then, the original Halloween was six years old, though I wouldn’t know it existed until the mid-’90s. That’s ten years. When you’re a kid, ten years is forever. Halloween: H20 was the twentieth anniversary of the original film, but to me it was basically Halloween: H4VR. Anything that predated my existence didn’t jive with the timeline of my life. I couldn’t appreciate the full sense of that anniversary because I didn’t exist or wasn’t cognizant for most of it.

Halloween: H20 may as well have been the bicentennial.

Here were are, in 2017, just a couple weeks away from 2018. And with it comes the twentieth anniversary of Halloween: H20, and the fortieth(!) anniversary of the original. A new Halloween film is in production — for the intent of my point, let’s call it Halloween: H40. Like Halloween: H20, this new film will be ignoring all the sequels and getting back to the original’s roots of dread, suspense, and little emphasis on violence. And Jamie Lee Curtis returns as the embattled Laurie Strode.


If you can avoid getting caught in the petty trappings of the internet, Halloween: H40 has a lot going for it. The production is in good hands with Jason Blum, who has kick started the horror genre over the last decade by sacrificing multi-million dollar budgets in exchange for handing off full creative control to the films’ talented writers and directors (a refreshing change of pace from former rights-holding and extremely meddlesome Dimension Films/the Weinstein brothers), with this approach resulting in new classics Insidious, Sinister, and more. (Dude might also be nominated for an Oscar for producing Get Out — you read it here first.) Jamie Lee Curtis is returning, of course, but the casting of Judy Greer as her daughter shows that the production is more interested in talent than vapid Facebook-level recognition value. John Carpenter returns to compose and consult. And it’s being directed by David Gordon Green — an actual filmmaker — who, comedies aside, has a solid body of work, including the very underrated, Night Of The Hunter-ish stalker thriller Undertow.

As of this writing, not a single frame of Halloween: H40 has been shot, but it’s already as terrifying to me as the original was all those Halloween nights ago. Because, to me, Halloween: H20 is only a few years old. I remember everything about the excitement I felt in the months leading up to its release. I remember going to see it, that all my boyhood chums came with me, and what each and every one of them said about it after the credits rolled. I even remember, upon Michael’s first on-screen appearance, my friend Kevin jokingly whispering to me, “It’s him, the guy from the ad!,” quoting from an episode of The Simpsons — something we did constantly.

Within the confines and timeline of my life, Halloween: H20 feels like it just happened to me. There’s no possible way it’s been twenty years. Yes, I’ve lost friends and family; I’ve moved multiple times; I’ve gotten numerous jobs; I’ve been lucky enough to have fallen in love a couple times. Those childhood friends who went with me to share in my excitement of Laurie Strode’s return, all of whom I miss dearly, eventually scattered to different parts of the world, and it’s been years since I’ve spoken to any of them. All of that makes a solid case for a two-decade timeline. But there’s just no way. I can’t fathom it. And I don’t want to.

As a film fan, a horror fan, and a Halloween fan who has weathered some serious mediocrity over the years, I’m more excited than anyone for the coming of Halloween: H40.

But as a mere mortal keeping a wary eye on the clock and the calendar, it just might be one of the most terrifying films I ever see.


[Reprinted from Daily Grindhouse.]

Apr 4, 2019

HALLOWEEN (2018)


Multiple franchises have been quick to prove that long-delayed sequels are hardly ever worth the wait, and this ranges across all genres. Twelve years after Die Hard with a Vengeance came a bored, bald, tired, and profanity-free John McClane in the anemic Live Free or Die Hard. Seventeen years between Dirty Dancing and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights proved that studios could reuse a film’s title, but they couldn’t make ’80s-era zeitgeist relevant in 2004. Even the horror genre, where sequels are king, and thus have more opportunities to create a worthy follow-up, often shit the bed. Just ask the The Rage: Carrie 2 (and don’t even mention Phantasm: Ravager in front of me).

This year’s Halloween isn’t technically a forty-years-later sequel, considering the franchise has remained active since the 1978 original, but it does embark on the ballsy move of pushing aside alllll those other sequels and remakes and pretending they never happened (something many fans already do) in favor of branching off from the best and least complicated entry in the franchise. (Easter eggs abound, however, for the sharp-eyed franchise fan — there are nods to every single Halloween entry, including the much maligned Halloween: Resurrection.) It’s additionally ballsy because 1978’s Halloween is so beloved — by both critics and fans of the genre and film in general. Halloween is that rare title that transcends its place in horror — a title that most people would say is simply great, and not just great “for a horror film,” which is like saying that cheeseburger you just scarfed down wasn’t bad “for McDonalds.” (Horror don’t get no respect, I tells ya!) If a director says he’s going to make Halloween 11, expectations are pegged pretty low from the get-go. At that point, most fans just want a solid slasher. But when a director — scratch that, a filmmaker (yes, there is a difference) — enters the scene and says he wants to make a direct follow-up to a legendary title, expectations are reset. There’s less franchise baggage and mythological mud to wade through, and when said filmmaker doesn’t come from a world of music videos but rather a world where his previous films have been released by the snooty Criterion Collection, that’s a big deal for a slasher series. That’s unprecedented territory.


Halloween ‘18 isn’t as good as the original, but only because that’s an impossible feat — not because the original is a flawless endeavor, but because it became the new watermark to which all subsequent slasher flicks have been compared. Halloween didn’t create a handful of the tropes and techniques for which it’s celebrated, but it did perfect them, popularize them, and marry them together in a splendid genre film that was part slasher, part supernatural terror, and part haunted house spookshow fun. Halloween wasn’t the first slasher film, but it was the first to take the world by storm. John Carpenter’s film endures because it’s pure, well-made in the face of a meager budget, and contains horror’s most iconic masked killer whose creepiness has yet to fade. For a long time, most fans felt that 1998’s Halloween: H20 was the last respectable entry in the franchise, which saw a returning Jamie Lee Curtis once again doing battle against the boogeyman, who in that timeline was still her brother. Halloween ’18 has now rendered H20 as being near-irrelevant, proving to be the best entry since the original.

In these last forty years, cinema has changed, including the horror and slasher genres. Audiences have different expectations. Charming, near-bloodless thrills just won’t do — not in a film where the bad guy wears a mask and carries a huge knife. Halloween ‘18 is obviously the bridge that connects the classy and pure intent for terror of the original with modern-day audiences, who expect a certain amount of viciousness and grue in their slasher offerings. Yes, Halloween ‘18 is violent — perhaps as violent as Rob Zombie’s gritty, immature, and white trashy take on Haddonfield. But (head stomps aside), the violence in Halloween ‘18 works to its favor, because this isn’t Zombie’s take on Haddonfield — it’s still Carpenter’s, and now Gordon Green’s (and co-writer Danny McBride’s). Their Haddonfield is idyllic, quaint, even boring. In their Haddonfield, murderous rampages aren’t supposed to happen, and it makes those moments — like that gorgeous, unbroken tracking shot which sees Michael walking and slaying from one house to the next — much more shocking. In Zombie’s Haddonfield, where everyone is terrible and exists in a pit of despair, we’re waiting for the violence to unfold. In Gordon Green’s Haddonfield, where the events of 1978 are barely a memory and life seems just fine, we’re hoping the violence never comes, because we’re not sure if we can take it.


Halloween ‘18 is being referred to as the series’ #MeToo entry, and while that wasn’t the intention, that’s not wrong, either. It’s one thing to see, and to have become accustomed to, the “final girl” in the slasher genre, but we don’t often get to see that final girl return for another bout of bloody murder committed by her foe, and we certainly don’t see an adult actor return to her teenage stomping grounds as a haunted, ruined shell of a final woman. Halloween ‘18 is absolutely, positively, without question, Jamie Lee Curtis’ movie — one that honors and acknowledges her legacy in the horror genre, cements just how underrated of a performer she is, and boasts quite possibly her greatest performance in any genre. The Laurie Strode of 2018 is not the Laurie Strode you remember from the original; she’s now a grandmother, baring her scars both physical and emotional from her Halloween encounter forty years prior. She’s the genre’s ultimate defacto heroine, so naturally she’s still strong and tenacious, but only to a degree. It’s not often you see your hero break down in tears throughout his or her journey, and in Halloween ‘18, you’ll see that more than once. If you’ve invested yourself in Laurie’s struggles over the course of the franchise, and in Curtis’ real-life struggles over the years, your heart will break seeing her steely resolve crumble, leaving her a heaving mess in the arms of her somewhat estranged granddaughter. Judy Greer and a new-coming (and an excellent) Andi Matichak also bring life and complexity to their roles as next-generation Strodes, with the latter naturally drawing the most parallels with circa-1978 Laurie. They’ll prove essential to the inevitable sequel, and it would be to the series’ continued betterment that they return for another round of Halloween carnage.

As for Laurie’s pursuer, Michael Myers, aka The Shape, he’s scary again — not because he’s nine feet tall or cutting off entire heads and throwing them down the stairs, but because Gordon Green utilizes him the way he should be. For the most part, he’s back in the shadows, and he’s also back to playing his cat-and-mouse games — but sometimes he’s captured in blinding, brilliant light, mask or no mask, as a reminder that evil exists all the time, everywhere, and not just in the dark. The aforementioned tracking shot puts you directly at Michael’s back as he walks, unnoticed in his mask on Halloween night, up Haddonfield’s sidewalks, eyeing its people for his next target. You witness his decision-making in real time and see him veer off his path like a great white shark spotting an easy meal, and this extremely eerie and pulse-pounding sequence reinforces what made the original so disturbing: Michael’s murderous motivations weren’t based on him and Laurie being siblings, or because he was being controlled by an evil Celtic cult, or because there were a bunch of MTV douche bags wandering around his house and only Blackberries and the internet could save them. The original Halloween was horrifying because Michael’s motives were unknown, and his attacks were utterly random — the horror came from the not-knowing-why. It came from Michael watching Laurie approach the front door of his long-abandoned childhood house as he hid inside its dimness and thinking, “Okay. Her.”


Bolstering Michael’s presence is the phenomenal score — the best since the original and perhaps the best of the franchise — by John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies. It’s a marriage of old themes and new, which perfectly complements Halloween '18, because that’s exactly what the film is, too. Like the original’s film score, the music by itself, without any visual representation of Michael Myers’ mask or knife, is scary. Appropriately, free of its haunting visuals, the score for Halloween '18 achieves the same result. (Don’t believe me?) Not to mention, Carpenter and sons have pulled off the unthinkable: during the climactic showdown between good and evil, they’ve taken the most recognizable horror theme in cinema history (respect to JAWS) and re-imagined it to be free from fear and tension and re-orchestrated it to sound almost…hopeful. If music has ever made a moment work, it’s this one.

Though not without its problems (the Dr. Sartain subplot should have been entirely dropped, as it deviates the main story to a distracting degree), Halloween '18 gets so much right that to laundry-list its faults seems like salty tears. The fact is, a slasher sequel forty years in the making shouldn’t be as good as it is, so instead of dictating faults, let’s instead celebrate that this Halloween dream-team of David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Jason Blum, Jamie Lee Curtis, and John Carpenter have achieved the unthinkable: they revitalized one of cinema’s longest-running horror franchises and rebooted not just the property, but the respect it once carried. I’d give anything for this to be the final entry in the series, as it’s doubtful such a sequel could ever live up to what Gordon Green et al. managed to do, but they’ve proven one thing at least: if anyone can do it, they can.


[Reprinted from The Daily Grindhouse.]

Oct 22, 2014

#HALLOWEEN: THE MYERS HOUSE


"You're not supposed to go up there. Lonnie Elam said that's a haunted house. He said awful stuff happened there once."

Oct 28, 2013

ROB ZOMBIE'S HALLOWEEN (2007)


Once upon a time, a homeless man dressed like a hippie clown said, “I’ll make movies, I guess.” He then made House of 1,000 Corpses, which was terrible; it featured people with a lot of hair doing a lot of screaming. Then he made a sequel entitled The Devil’s Rejects, which was less bad; it featured a lot of people with hair doing a lot of screaming.

Then, one day, this happened:

THE WEINSTEINS
Rob Zombie, this is the Weinsteins. 
Would you like to direct Halloween 9?

ROB ZOMBIE
No way, that’s stupid. I’d 
rather remake the original.

THE WEINSTEINS
ROB ZOMBIE
Yeah, but, I’m an artist.

THE WEINSTEINS
That’s true. Your stage show has
a lot of skeletons! What would

you do with a remake instead?

ROB ZOMBIE
Tweak the original story to
make all the characters 
white 

trash and so repulsive and 
irredeemable that you have no 
one to root for.

THE WEINSTEINS
We’ve never actually seen the 
first film, but that all sounds 
fine with us. We’re artists.

ROB ZOMBIE
I'll write the whole script.
I can spell and stuff.I know 
ALL my letters. I’m an artist.

THE WEINSTEINS
We’ll leave you to it, as we’re 
courting Michael Berrymen to 
star in the direct-to-video 
Children of the Corn Something.

Rob Zombie, along with his unending supply of stupid hats, had never before made a film that existed in someone else's universe, as he had been primarily used to setting his stories in a magical land called Slime's Depression, but he rolled up his sleeves and prepared to dive into the Halloween universe, which took place in a rather picturesque town called Haddonfield, Illinois. Wisely, Rob Zombie chose to maintain this setting, quickly adding it to his script to assuage the fears of Halloween fans everywhere that he had their best interests at heart, that he wasn't going to let them down, and that he definitely knew how to spell "Haddonfield."


Cheap shots aside (which I do not plan on ceasing), John Carpenter's original film is a subtle exercise is slow-burn suspense and terror. It is low on violence, even lower on blood, and features a cast of legitimately likable and sympathetic characters.

Rob Zombie's film contains none of those attributes. It is a loud, flashy, ugly, unapologetic rock concert filled with unnecessary gore, not just unlikable but downright hateable characters, and an unnecessary retconning of Michael Myers' past. It is dumb. It is a film that endeavors to showcase psychological disorders, but is written by a man who knows absolutely nothing about them. This same man knows even less about screenwriting with an attempt for originality. In Rob Zombie's Halloween, cops asks, "Whatta we got?" Receptionists say, "Go in, he's expecting you." Bullies make fun of mothers. Halloween 2007 exists because Rob Zombie watched a few movies on television and said, "I can probably pull this off."

He didn't.


Michael Myers is no longer a mysteriously evil little boy from a middle-to-upper class suburban Illinois household. Because Rob Zombie wanted to explore the "why" of Michael's evil. So, true to his word, the film opens and little Michael Myers is already out of his mind, and arguably evil.

Is there an explanation for it?

No, there is not. But he does still live in Illinois (in the white trash section). This is so his entire family can all unrealistically scream at each other and make absurd sexual threats. Just like real life!

Then Michael goes to school, where bathroom bullies accost him and make absurd sexual threats about his mother and sister.


His mother, Deborah, who is a stripper at the Rabbit in Red Lounge (hey, someone rented the first movie at least once!) is having a meeting with the school principal and Dr. Loomis, a child psychologist. After the principal lets the cat out of the bag and tells Mrs. Myers her son is fucking nuts (by letting the cat out of his drawer [in a bag], get it?), she kinda believes him but not really.

Then Michael kills the bully kid from the Geico commercial, all the while the audience drowns in this overwhelming amount of explanation that Rob Zombie said he was going to provide for Micheal's back story.

Later, at Michael's house, everyone continues to be really mean. Even though his mother is fresh from a meeting in which she was shown the dead cat Michael had in his locker and the dozens of photos of animals he's killed, she shrugs it all off and lets Michael go trick-or-treating, anyway. She can't take him, though, because she's gotta work. And since the rest of his family hates him, looks like he's shit out of luck and shit out of trick-or-treating.

It then hilariously cuts to Michael sitting outside on a curb, looking immensely sad, as "Love Hurts" plays. I must say I am a little surprised, as I didn't know we were suddenly in Kentucky Fried Movie. Any doubt of what movie you're in is then suddenly washed away because look, there's the ass of the director's wife.

Upstairs, Michael's sister is in the seedy throes of pre-sex with her even seedier looking boyfriend. He takes out the iconic Shape mask and asks her if he can wear it while they bump uglies. She says no, much to my chagrin, as I would like this boy's face to go away forever.

And downstairs, Michael looks sad, eats some candy, and then thinks, "Oh, right, this is about when I go fucking nuts for no reason."

This is exhausting, isn't it?

Michael proceeds to kill everyone and then shove a baseball bat up his dead sister's ass, because Rob Zombie once watched the original Halloween and said, "This is fucking boring where's all the faggot references?" The only one Michael doesn't kill is his infant sister, whom he calls Boo. (Get it? Boo? Halloween? Can you stand the genius?)


At times, Rob Zombie's Halloween fools you into thinking it's actually trying to be a good movie. Notable examples include the sequence where Mrs. Myers comes home to her massacred family, which is complemented with the numerous news reports being transmitted at the site. With every character on screen freeze-framing so the only things moving are the lights from the police cars and Michael himself, it's actually  dare I say it well-executed.

Likewise, the sequences of young Michael at Smith's Grove Sanitarium don't hurt, and even threaten to be interesting, but unfortunately not enough time is spent here. Everyone's acting is downplayed and actually good, including Zombie's generally not-so-good wife, and the layering of Loomis' audio notes over choppy 8mm footage of Michael under observation works pretty well, offering it a sad-documentary kind of feel.

These sequences are the biggest red herring in cinema, as you fool yourself into thinking the film isn't a total junkyard filled with needless backwoods profanities, unrealistic characters, and unintentional humor.

But don't worry, the movie then resumes its usual level of painful mediocrity as we cut fifteen years later. Dr. Loomis peaces out of Michael's care because he's honestly given up. Instead he takes to the touring circuit to plug his book on the Myers case. Luckily he has a bunch of "Michael making mean face" pictures to support his claims that Michael is actually a psychopath!

Fortunately, I am watching the "director's" cut of this film, which means I get twice the rape with none of the enjoyment. What's interesting about the director's cut of the film versus the theatrical is that they are nearly completely different films. Only a filmmaker with a definitive vision is capable of shooting an entire film, then shrugging and shooting a bunch of other shit to see what he can do with it.

I hear that's how John Huston did it.

So, after these two redneck hospital orderlies shove a female patient into Michael's room so they can rape her in front of him and maybe try to get him to rape her as well (?), they are VERY surprised when Michael, who is ten feet tall and has hundreds of different masks hanging all over his cell and who is clearly out of his fucking mind, suddenly springs into action and commits violence upon them.


After a quick cameo from Clint Howard, we then see the scene that compelled Zombie to make this film the absolute unquenchable desire to answer the so-far unanswered question in the pantheon of unanswered questions which propelled Zombie towards his ultimate goal of fleshing out the origins of Michael Myers: we finally FINALLY find out how he got his jumpsuit. It was from...some guy taking a shit...while wearing a jumpsuit.

From this point to the end, the film becomes a beat-for-beat remake of the original Carpenter film, which means it's the same, only far less good. We can no longer even find distraction in all the awful "new" stuff. All we can do is sit and watch and be reminded of when this was done previously, and much, much better. Even the original film's soundtrack is utilized not re-orchestrated, mind you, but literally re-appropriated.

We meet Laurie Strode, perhaps the most famous heroine in all of horror cinema. Big shoes to fill even more than Dr. Loomis but Rob Zombie felt that Scout Taylor Compton was up to the task.

Let's just get this out of the way now: she just might very well be the worst and most irritating actress in all of everything. Try to contain your fury every moment she is on screen. Bet you can't it's really, really hard.

Her friends don't fare much better. Zombie's depiction of Lynda makes her worse than Hitler, and poor Halloween-series alumni Danielle Harris is saddled with a very obnoxious version of Annie. These girls curse like Tarantino, call each other "bitches," and do nothing to be individuals. They all talk the same, act the same, and annoy the same. They are not in the least bit likable.


Followed by:

We revisit the requisite Halloween beats: Sheriff Brackett makes his appearance, Judith Myers' tombstone is stolen, Loomis deals with a bunch of Smith's Grove bureaucrats.

Then:

  • Laurie babysits Tommy Doyle, educates him on the boogeyman, and looks bored with her life.
  • Dr. Loomis attempts to convince Sheriff Brackett that evil has come to his town.
  • Annie brings Lindsey Wallace over to the Doyle house.
  • Annie dumps Lindsey on her good friend, Laurie.
  • Annie tells Laurie she's set her up with Ben Tramer.

Dear god, we've seen this movie already. WE SAW IT THIRTY YEARS AGO.

Only this time with a sexy twist!


Followed by:


"It's so fucking warm!" Paul adds, apparently having sex with a living person for the first time.

Not long after this, we arrive at the third-act twist/non-twist, which is the big reveal that Laurie Strode is Michael Myers' sister. Once asked in an interview if he had lifted this from the finale of the original Halloween 2, he replied, "Honestly, no, I had completely forgotten about that." Funny, being that the song "Mr. Sandman," which famously appears in Halloween 2, also appears here. Must be some kind of insane coincidence!

But hey, who am I to call Rob Zombie a liar? It's not like he ever goes back on his word, like that time he said he'd never make a Halloween 2.

Halloween takes way too long to end, as Laurie is chased through two houses, a pool, and a police car (during which Dr. Loomis very amusingly shouts, "Michael, what the hell!").

The film ends as it began: limply, and with little care or talent.

So much of this film feels like a passionless Google project. I liken it to the Republicans Googling random GOP governors to see who would make a good Vice-President during the 2008 election and finding Sarah Palin. Even the fucking font chosen for the open and closing credit reeks of "Jeeves, what's that font they used for Halloween?" "Copperplate Gothic!" "Thanks, Jeeves." (It's not.)

And as these closing credits begin rolling (and I see "Based on a Film by John Carpenter and Debra Hill," as opposed to "Based on the Film," as if the connection between the two films were tenuous at best), I must admit I am terrified. Truly. Not because of anything the film presented, and not even by the idea that this film exists and is now attached to the legacy of the original Halloween forever.

No, what’s terrifying is…people actually like this thing. People have said this is better than the original.

But hey, we’re all allowed to have our own opinions, right? That's what makes us human, after all our own interests, passions, and ideas.

Having said that, if you want to slather yourself in cinematic excrement, be my...guess?


Where, indeed?

Oct 17, 2013

#HALLOWEEN: YOUR FINAL SACRIFICE

"When Michael Myers was six years old, he stabbed his sister to death. He was locked up for years in Smith's Grove Sanitarium, but he escaped. Soon after, Halloween became another word for mayhem... If there's one thing I know, you can't control evil. You can lock it up, burn it and bury it, and pray that it dies, but it never will. It just... rests awhile. You can lock your doors, and say your prayers, but the evil is out there... waiting. And maybe, just maybe... it's closer than you think."


Jul 31, 2013

HALLOWEEN 35th


For the 35th Anniversary Edition release, Anchor Bay and Trancas went back to the vaults to present the film as never before, creating an all-new HD transfer personally supervised by the film's original cinematographer, Academy Award-nominee Dean Cundey (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Apollo 13, the Back to the Future trilogy), a new 7.1 audio mix (as well as the original mono audio), a brand-new feature length audio commentary by writer/director John Carpenter and star Jamie Lee Curtis, an all-new bonus feature with Ms. Curtis, and select legacy bonus features from previous ABE releases. The new release is being made available in collectible limited-edition DigiBook packaging (only for the first printing), with 20 pages of archival photos, an essay by Halloween historian Stef Hutchinson and specially commissioned cover art by Jay Shaw.
"Anchor Bay Entertainment has been home to Halloween for almost 20 years," noted Malek Akkad, President of Trancas International Films and son of Moustapha Akkad. "I'm so happy that we're partnering with them to present the definitive edition of what is widely acknowledged as one of the seminal horror films of the 20th century."

Halloween: 35th Anniversary Edition features 1080p video, Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and Original Mono audio tracks, and the following extras:

  • All-new commentary track with writer/director John Carpenter and star Jamie Lee Curtis
  • "The Night She Came Home" new featurette with Jamie Lee Curtis (HD)
  • On Location
  • Trailers
  • TV & Radio Spots
  • Additional Scenes from TV Version



This sucker streets September 24. While I am glad we're finally getting an approved transfer from Dean Cundey, I remain cautiously optimistic about which older extras they'll be porting over. That feature-length doc from previous releases better be in place. Still iffy on the artwork, but it's growing on me.

And bring on that new commentary. Criterion's old one was good, but I hate that spliced-together approach. Put 'em in the same room, I say.

Oct 18, 2012

DAY 18: SHITTY FLICKS – HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION

Shitty Flicks is an ongoing column that celebrates the most hilariously incompetent, amusingly pedestrian, and mind-bogglingly stupid movies ever made by people with a bit of money, some prior porn-directing experience, and no clue whatsoever. It is here you will find unrestrained joy in movies meant to terrify and thrill, but instead poke at your funny bone with their weird, mutant camp-girl penis.

WARNING: I tend to give away major plot points and twist endings in my reviews because, whatever. Shut up.


"I met him fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no conscience, no understanding; even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and, the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes! I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil..."
– Great

"TRICK-OR-TREAT, MOTHAFUCKA."
– Not

To chart the regression of the Halloween series, one must compare it to a symbolic reversing of human civilization in its entirety. We must demote the human race from technologically advanced, intelligent, and mostly rational beings to hairy, misshapen, farting gorilla-men who smash bananas all over their straw beds and/or gorilla-wives.

If the original Halloween was to be personified as a valedictorian of his senior class in Yale who effortlessly scores with hot chicks, tells witty jokes to large laughing crowds, and manages to cure cancer all while singing a Latin aria, then Halloween: Resurrection would be the slow fat kid with thick glasses and a lazy eye who randomly shits himself and licks the window.

The series has had its ups (Halloween 2 [written by a drunk John Carpenter for shit's sake], 4, H20), its downs (5 and 6), and its black sheeps (Season of the Witch), but never has any franchise delivered such a hard, collective kick in the proverbial balls to its beloved fan base than Halloween: Resurrection. (The less said about Rob Zombie's abominations, the better.) Whoever thought this concept was a good idea should have their head and asshole joined in perpetuity until that fateful day when the waves rise and demolish the entire planet.

Michael regretted his infidelity, and vowed to stay on the
front porch until he was forgiven.

The movie immediately opens with narration from Jamie Lee Curtis, talking about “the tunnel” (aka death). The words are chilling, and warm thoughts of the surprisingly good Halloween: H20 dance like sugar plums in our heads, so we falsely think we’re in for another thrilling ride with Michael Myers at the helm.

We’d be wrong, though, as we so often are.

Two nurses in an insane asylum discuss the plight of Laurie Strode, who has been committed ever since beheading the man she believed to be her brother. See, because during the climax of H20, Michael Myers apparently decided to stop trying to kill his sister and instead think far enough ahead to capture some random dude, crush his larynx, and put his mask on him, all because his telepathic powers told him Laurie would believe that poor man was her brother and kill the fuck. This kind of cunning coming from the guy who walks through glass doors instead of opening them.

It’s bad enough when a sequel is shitty. It’s even worse when that sequel rewrites the ending of the previous film. But when your shitty sequel entirely retcons the last 20 minutes of that previous film, rendering the most exiting act as completely inconsequential, well that just fucking sucks. That’s like a sequel to Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles intimating that they were actually bears.

Even though we’re all here watching a movie essentially called Halloween 8, and should know what the deal is by now, Short Old Black Nurse annoyingly dictates the events of the past movie to Plain Young White Nurse anyway, providing exposition for the kind of audience who came to see a horror movie starring an obnoxious rapper and the kid from Rookie of the Year: people with awful taste and nothing better to do.

"Stay with me, George."

Jamie Lee Curtis, former godmother of the series, was contractually obligated to appear in this installment, a previous stipulation of making H20, and boy is it obvious, because she's only on screen for about five minutes before she is unceremoniously killed off. After the last stab that Michael's blade would ever inflict upon her person, her body slowly tumbles down through the foliage of the autumn trees (spoiler), as does the quality of this movie, only much quicker.

We then meet our Laurie Strode replacement, Sara (Bianca Kajlichcihchci), as she wistfully rides her ridiculous Vespa through her community college campus, which is the most development her character will receive: she has a Vespa.

She hooks up with her blond stereotype, Jen (Katee Sackhoff of "Battlestar Gallactica"), who mugs for the camera and embodies the type of girl you jerked off to in high school, but never considered marrying.

They go and meet Rudy (Sean Patrick Thomas). He's chopping veggies because he wants to be a chef. He'll reference food nonstop throughout the movie.

Character development for Rudy: chef.

The kids all provide additional exposition by discussing the "contest" they have entered – that of spending a night in Michael Myers's former home, now an abandoned house – for a grand prize of an anonymous sum of money.

Sara goes back to her dorm and chats with her online "mate," Deckard, a fifteen-year-old boy pretending to be older. Deckard's friend, who remains one of the most annoying actors I have ever seen in film, continues to over-enunciate every last syllable of his dialogue, spastically freak out over Deckard's lack of attention to him, and fail to keep his Parkinson's in check. All at once!

We finally meet Freddie (Busta Rhymes, in a performance so terrible that shitted-up toilets were offered their own web series). Freddie owns Dangertainment, some sort of entertainment company that the filmmakers don't even bother to explain.

He lives in a motel and watches royalty-free karate films.

His sideburns don't come close to symmetrically matching.

He smiles pretty much constantly.

Character development for Freddie: human cartoon.

"You know what, man, one day you won't have that fucking knife,
and then we'll see whose turn it is to mow the lawn."

We then meet the rest of the cast, who I won't even bother describing because they're all as vapid as the would-be love child of Kim Kardashian and a dick-shaped can of beans. I will, however, briefly detail Rookie of the Year's character: he's constantly thinking about boobs, and sex, and is supposed to come off as a jovial horn ball, but actually comes across as the creepy sex offender your mother warned you about. He'll spend the entire movie licking his lips and staring at skirts.

Deckard and his giant ball of nerves he calls his friend attend a Halloween party. Deckard, being the nerd that he is, immediately finds a private room with a ginormous computer monitor and tunes in for the Myers House online broadcast. Soon, the room is full of curious party-goers, all who would rather watch stupid kids wander around in the dark than drink, fuck, and listen to hip hop (and this takes place in America!).

So they all enter Michael's house, but…unsurprising twist…so does the homeowner. While the gang is exploring the house and "discovering" planted bullshit, Michael takes his good old time, dispatching each victim one by one.

By the way, what's with this musical score? This simple, brainless plucking of guitar strings that sounds like it should be complementing footage of old cowboys sitting around a fire and bitching about life?

Michael pops up and whacks off (LOL) Jen’s head, and as it bounces down the steps, I wonder when this series descended into nothingness.

Mm. Movies.

The talentless get stabbed, their heads get crushed, and their perfect bodies get impaled on rusty gates. Soon only Sara and Freddie remain (trapped inside by some apparently inescapable twenty-year-old boards nailed over the windows).

Deckard, watching the Internet broadcast, tries to warn Sara and Freddie of their impending doom via Sara's Palm Pilot, as the director lamely references Hitchcock's Rear Window.

Michael pops up to fool the audience into thinking this movie is the least bit frightening, but Busta karates him right out the window and he gets hung in some power lines.

But he comes back, though, you know. Because of that whole “three times” thing.

Though Sara attacks Michael with a chainsaw, she manages to barely hurt him. And because Sara doesn’t look quite stupid enough, with each saw swipe she blurts out, "This is for Rudy! This is for Jen! This is for all of them!" Then she falls, and heavy Foley board equipment falls on top her.

Surely this is the end of Sara and the movie...or this is the part where Busta pops in and really tries to act like a hero, but all he does is make a sour face. He swats at Michael with a shovel, and instead of beating his head with the metal part, he figures he'll just slap Michael's shoulder with the wooden part. Way to go, hero.

After doing "karate," Freddie is stabbed once and thrown aside. Why only once? Because idiotic 16-year-olds from the Bronx who test-screened this mofo wanted Busta to live.

Thanks, kids.

Halloween: Resurrection goes down the list of ways Michael hadn't yet been killed, picks the most ridiculous one, and utilizes it: electrocution of his dingle-thing.

With Michael as referee, Mortal Kombat would now begin.

After Michael's temporary demise, Busta realizes he has seen the error of his ways. Upon being asked by some reporters about his encounter with Michael Myers, Busta nobly responds, "Michael Myers is not a sound byte...Michael Myers is a killer shark in baggy ass overalls who gets his kicks from killing everyone and everything he comes across."

Mm.

But hey, it's finally over.

Or is it?

Well, since nearly every single Halloween flick has ended with promises of a sequel (except the previous one, which unfortunately led to this sequel anyway), why should this one be any different?

Yes, much like the ignorance of test screen audiences, the Halloween franchise will never die. Had the filmmakers book ended this film with Jamie Lee, still not giving her much to do during the bulk of the film, yet having her inexplicably show up at the end to kill Michael – and fine, die in the process – it would have made this film feel less unnecessary. Fans would have been happier and Jamie still could have honored her required 30 seconds of on-screen presence. The creators of Hypercube and The Birds 2 felt otherwise. And thus ends a series that started off brilliantly and ended with the cock-whip of a travesty called Halloween: Resurrection

…until Rob Zombie came along. But that’s for another time.