Monday, December 12, 2011

A Halloween retrospective- 200th review

Much of modern horror owes a lot to the Halloween franchise. The idea of a faceless, unstoppable killer has been so over done that it is cliché.  The series itself owe much of its fame to the movie “Psycho” for which there is a direct inspiration.  In fact the Dr. Sam Loomis character that was played by Donald Pleasence was named after the boyfriend in “Psycho”.  Still, the movie has made its mark in movie history and through good times and bad the series continues to flourish.

Yeesh! I think I need a bigger knife.
The first movie is genius.  John Carpenter directs and we have a young Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode.  Michael Myers escapes from a mental institution and Dr. Loomis, played by Donald Pleasence, is after him like a modern day Van Helsing.  Michael kills some babysitter before attacking Laurie in a chilling chase scene.  We even get to see him briefly unmasked before Dr. Loomis fires six bullets into the killer’s body.  He falls off a balcony and his body vanishes.  This sort of keeps with the theme of the movie; that the boogey man is real.  It works and it’s creepy and really done well.

Halloween 2
“Halloween 2” takes off immediately after the events of the last movie.  Laurie is taken to the hospital. Dr. Loomis goes looking for Michael with the authorities.  Eventually we discover that Michael is Laurie’s brother.  He killed his sister many Halloween’s ago and now he aims to kill Laurie as well. He hunts her down to the hospital and there is a great final chase scene.  Dr. Loomis kills Michael by blowing up the room with himself inside.  The last we see of Michael his is a flaming corpse.  It was a fitting end to the horrors of Laurie Strode.

Halloween 3: Season of the Witch
No more Silver Shamrock commercials please!
This movie has no real place in the same world as Michael Myers.  It’s still a damn good movie.  It involves an evil corporation and a mass conspiracy to kill children on Halloween using masks.  The reason it’s so different is that the producers were going to make Halloween into an anthology style of movie where each film would feature a new story.  The audience was confused by the lack of Michael Myers though.  So they decided to bring him back and scrap that anthology idea despite how cool it might have become.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Where have we seen this before?
It is suggested that Michael went into a coma after the explosion at the hospital and was being kept alive.  He escapes of course and now goes after his niece Jamie Lloyd, played by a talented young Danielle Harris.  Jamie is the daughter of Laurie Strode who apparently died in a car accident.  Dr. Loomis is still alive and only has a minor face scratch despite being blown to crap along with Michael.  After many deaths Michael is hunted down and shot multiple times until he falls down a mine shaft.  Before he died he touches Jamie’s hand and she goes home and kills her foster mother which makes this movie seem really eerie since it’s as if the little girl is going to take over as the new evil of Michael Myers.  This movie is the start of what is known as the “Thorn trilogy” in this series. 

Halloween 5: The Curse of Michael Myers
You just got face forked!
The movie takes place the same evening as fourth movie.  Michael survives his gunshots.  Jamie is placed in a mental care facility and seems to have some sort of psychic link to Michael Myers.  Dr. Loomis uses her as bait most of this movie to try to find and kill Michael eventually they find a way to put him in a jail cell where a mysterious man in black breaks him out.  Danielle Harris is still great as her role as Jamie in this movie and it shines big time.  Luckily she comes back to the series but not as Jamie. I’ll come back to that in a bit.

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
Good now Paul Rudd can bland Michael to death.
Six years after the events of the last movie Jamie is now pregnant and is giving birth in front of an evil cult.  She escapes and is being pursued by Michael. She hides the baby but is killed. Tommy, the boy that was babysat by Laurie in the first film, played by a dull as dishwater Paul Rudd finds the infant and takes care of it while trying to protect a local family from the return of Michael Myers.  He discovers that Michael is powered by a curse of the thorn.  Dr. Loomis shows up for his final appearance in a Halloween movie before Pleasence’s death and Tommy is able to thwart Michael by beating him to death with a metal rod.  This movie is really weak.

Halloween: H20
Help? I'm in a washing machine!
I really enjoy this movie despite the fact that it retcons an entire 3 movies.  In this case now Laurie Strode is alive and played by Jamie Lee Curtis again, she has a son and not a daughter and its 20 years after the events of Halloween 1 but not 2 since it implies that he was never found.  She is a teacher at a private school and she is paranoid for the safety of herself and her son.   Still, Michael eventually finds her.  However, she fights back in a very awesome scene that was very fun to watch.  She eventually pins Michael between an ambulance and a tree and decapitates him with an axe.

Halloween: Resurrection
Feel the music of the night!
Any fun that “Halloween H20” brought to the table. Halloween Resurrection shoots itself in the foot. The movie retcons itself AGAIN.  She apparently doesn’t have a son in this movie.  This time they are saying that the man that Laurie Strode killed was an ambulance driver that Michael dressed up to look like himself.  This caused Laurie to go nuts and commit herself.  Michael comes to kill her and SUCCEEDS.  This movie kills Laurie Strode.  The rest of it is Michael in a house filled with Tyra Banks and other weirdlings that are pretending to make a reality show inside the Myers house and getting picked off one by one.  Busta Rhymes shows up and does kung fu on Michael which is about where any sane person would walk out of the theater.  Michael dies of electrocution and it seemed like his franchise would as well.

Did they give Michael steroids?
Rob Zombie made a pretty fair interpretation of “Halloween” it’s got good points and bad points.  For one thing the cast is great.  It’s got Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Loomis and they have brought back Danielle Harris as Laurie’s best friend.  There are many other cameos that I could spend a lot more time with as well.  They focus a lot on what made Michael the monster that he is showing his broken home and abusive family life.  I think it’s a lot more scary to not know.  Also they cast Tyler Mane as Myers which is an odd choice.  I think making Michael Myers a thug like Jason Voorhees makes him just intimidating but not scarier.  The movie itself has a great soundtrack and is visually appealing and the dialogue is fresh.  It’s made in that Grindhouse style way that Rob Zombie is good at. As a whole it’s pretty hit or miss.

Halloween 2 -remake
A steam tunnel killer?  Sounds like a Freddy Krueger thing.
This was Rob Zombie’s follow up to “Halloween”.  This time the hits and the misses are lot more obvious.  For one I was bummed to see them kill off Danielle Harris. The cast is still great and the soundtrack is still wonderful.  The problem is the movie tries to be a tad too surreal for what I imagine when I think of “Halloween.”  There are scenes when Michael is taking to the “ghost” of his mother in his little kid voice. When I think of little boy in the mind of a giant murderer I think of Jason Voorhees, not Michael Myers.  It also had Laurie kind of take the mantle as the new killer at the end which just felt wrong. However, it wasn’t nearly as wrong as hearing Michael Myers grunting and talking.  Michael Myers is a lot of things but he has always been a silent killer.  When he shouts “Die!” to Dr. Loomis I died a little inside.

According to Wikipedia there are plans for a Halloween 3D but it is in development hell.  I am sure it’ll get off the ground eventually since there are always going to be fans of these movies.  As long as there are Halloween’s to celebrate we can be sure there will be stretched out painted William Shatner Masks for us to put on and scare the crap out of babysitters.  It’s nice to see that for some of us the boogey man is still out there even if he is sometimes credited as “The Shape” or by his name of Michael Myers.  Let’s hope he can keep up the good work.

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