Halloween (2007) – Rob Zombie

Without even a hint of hyperbole or exaggeration whatsoever, I can say that Rob Zombie’s 2007 Halloween remake is not only a crime against the franchise, but against mankind and against nature itself. Not many people know this but Rob Zombie violated 2 UN treaties in the creation of this film and has been officially declared a war criminal. He is currently thought to be hiding out somewhere in the mountains of Argentina.

In his typical fashion, Zombie cranked up the grittiness, the brutality, the swearing, to make this already heavy-feeling slasher even heavier and darker. He brings an element of realism  to it that may be appealing to some fans but I think it takes away from the mystique of the Michael Myers character. I’ll get more into the plot shortly, but Zombie explains away Myers’ psychotic behavior by establishing a traumatic childhood. He takes Michael Myers and turns him into the fucking Columbine shooters.

Myers was so scary because he had no reason to snap and start butchering people. If you explain it away by saying he had a rough childhood and he was bullied, blah blah blah, I think it trivializes Michael Myers. I understand the approach of trying to make him more realistic as a source of more fear, but this changes the movie altogether. Rob Zombie is humanizing the monster. It’s scary in a different way to see an innocent little boy be tormented and mistreated to the point where he snaps. But that’s not Michael Myers. That’s not Halloween. 

The film is long. We spend a lot of time seeing Michael as a child. Zombie is just building his case for Michael to snap. Michael is growing up in a “white trash” kind of house. His mom is actually nice, but she’s got too much going on to take care of little Michael. Also she’s a stripper and kids harass him at school for it. His step dad is a drunk and he’s home all the time on some kind of disability. They scream and fight constantly. His sister Judith is nasty and she’s a skank. There’s a deadbeat boyfriend around too. Textbook toxic home life and family. No support for the kid. One day a bully is messing with Michael and he beats him to death with a log. Then on Halloween night, his mom has to work and his sister is supposed to take him trick-or-treating, but she stays in to bang her boyfriend instead. Michael starts slicing everyone up, except baby sister (Who will become Laurie Strode).

Michael spends 15 years in a mental hospital with Loomis (Malcolm McDowell). We see a good bit of his psychological decline over this time. They play up his obsession with masks and whit his surviving little sister. Finally, Loomis tells Michael that he has failed him because he’s not getting any better. He quits and leaves Michael alone in the hospital. Of course, one day Michael breaks out and heads straight for Haddonfield. Then we basically pick up where the original movie started. Things are mostly the same, though there’s a bigger body count, of course. The ending is a little different, but we’re still set up for a sequel.

In general, this movie has a different feeling or a different tone than all of its predecessors. It feels darker, more visceral, and more serious. It’s less entertaining to me, to watch somebody get killed in a really realistic fashion. I don’t quite know how to explain it. In all of the previous films, there is an inherent screen or filter that removes what we’re seeing from reality. This movie didn’t have that as much. I’m not sure exactly what I’m trying to say, but to me, it is a negative. To be fair, the same point might be seen as a positive from some other horror fans point of view. It’s just not for me.

I don’t think it can be disputed that Zombie took liberties with the storyline that he shouldn’t have. He trivialized the Michael Myers figure and he changed the face of the franchise. If his two installments are the last thing we see of Michael Myers, I’m going to be more than a little upset.

Again, to be fair, this isn’t the worst movie ever. Credit where credit is due. It has some solid scares and it actually tells an interesting story. In my mind though, it didn’t have to be Halloween. It could have just been another mediocre Rob Zombie blood-bath flick. I will say that he did a good job with the Michael Myers mask. Probably the scariest mask of the series. Also, Danielle Harris, who played Jamie Lloyd in H4 and H5 plays Annie-daughter of the sheriff and friend of Laurie’s from the first film.

Overall, the movie isn’t that bad if it stood alone, but I think it took advantage one of the best horror franchises out there and that is just unforgivable. Still, for die hard Halloween fans, it’s a must-see.

  1. Is it Scary: 4- There were some solid scares in this one. Nothing to lose sleep over (to be honest, I had trouble keeping my eyes open towards the end).
  2. Originality: 3- It’s a remake so it can’t be that original. It’s like they watched a 60 minutes special on the Columbine shooting and then watched Halloween and mixed the two.
  3. Blood: 6- True to form, Zombie made this one pretty gory, even for a Halloween movie.
  4. Believability: 4- I guess it was fairly believable. Maybe too much so. There were lots of little distracting issues though. At one point, Loomis is dumping his .357 revolver into Michael and you can clearly see the chambers are empty. Little things like that.
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 5: Zombie did an adequate job here. It definitely looks scary.

Final Score 22/50

Halloween Movie Showdown: The Best and Worst of Michael Myers.

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If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that I’ve recently been watching and reviewing all the original Halloween movies. I’m still going to do the Rob Zombie remakes before the big day but I thought I’d do a little recap and do some summative ranking of the movies.

It’s time for the big Halloween movie Showdown. Michael Myers has been busy these past 30 odd years and it’s time to give him credit for all his efforts. He’s been out there doing the Lord’s work. Executing heathens and sinners who would dare to drink, smoke, fuck, or take the lord’s name in vain. The world is a better and slightly less-populated place thanks to Michael Myers and I just wanted to give credit where credit is due.

I’ll be ranking the Halloween movies from best to worst. Then I’ll rank the masks used in each movie and I’ll pick the best death scene in each film and rank them also. I’ll be excluding H3 from the mask and death scene rankings because Michael wasn’t involved but I’ll still include it in the overall film rankings.

Let’s start with the masks. Michael dons a different mask in each film. Some of them are great and some of them are just terrible. Note: It was hard to acquire the best screenshots of some of these masks but I did the best I could. The rankings are not based solely on these photos but on the overall impression I got of the mask while watching the film.

7. Halloween 4. This one is the worst. It’s just too plain and blank. Not scary at all.

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6. Halloween H20. The issue here is consistency. They changed the mask during post production. Did some re-shoots with a new mask and did some CGI touch-ups. Some scenes just look foolish. Not scary.

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5. Halloween Resurrection. What’s up with your eyebrows bro? Too much detail on the face. Not scary.

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4. Halloween 5. A lot of it has to do with the eyes. His eyes are mostly blacked out in this one. Definitely makes it look scarier. Not too realistic but still has some nice detail. And I dig his hair in this one.

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3. Halloween II. This was very close to being number 2. It’s totally scary but something feels slightly clownish about this one. Maybe it’s those streaks of blood coming out of his eyes.

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2. Halloween 6 (Curse of MM). His hair alone looks crazy as shit and the mask just looks angry.

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1. Halloween. You can’t beat the original. The torn out eyes and the blank stare. Definitely the scariest of all.

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Now for the best Michael Myers Deaths. I’ll pick the best one from each movie and then rank them. To be fair, Michael did most of his slaying with a large butcher knife. He has a couple of other instruments but he doesn’t have the creativity that Jason had. Even so, he does a good number of people in with his bare hands. By my count he’s got 73 people all together in the 7 films he’s in. This is up for debate and there are a couple of questionable ones. Get at me if you think the count is off.

7. Halloween Resurrection: There were no amazing deaths here. Jamie Lee Curtis’ makes me too mad/sad so I’ll go with this one. Michael does a nice slash with his butcher knife and cleanly removes the head of one of the more annoying characters in this film.

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6. Halloween 5: Michael introduces some kind of gardening claw tool to this dude’s skull. They do not get along.

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5. Halloween 4: Ambulance Driver gets his head bashed into the wall repeatedly and then Michael shoves his thumb through homeboy’s skill into his brain.

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4. Halloween. Bob gets knifed through the chest and pinned to the wall. Again, I have some questions about the physics here, but I’ll take it. This one’s a classic. Mike will do this maneuver a few more times as well (in H4, he does it with a shotgun.)

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3. Halloween II. Boiled Nurse. Michael drowns/boils the nurse in the hot tub after turning the temperature all the way up past the danger level. All her skin comes off and stuff.

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2. Halloween H20. Joseph Gordon-Levitt gets stabbed through the face with an ice skate blade. I have some questions about the physics here, but it’s still a great death.

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1. H6. Michael stabs Laurie Strode’s uncle through the chest and then shoves him onto the fuse box causing his head to explode. That guy was such a dick. He deserved this one.

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Now for the final showdown. My overall rankings of the original Halloween movies.

8. Halloween 3. This one is a piece of shit. I’d rather have Michael J. Fox give me a vasectomy with a rusty fork than watch this again.

7. Halloween Resurrection. The worst of the Michael Myers Halloween movies. Who would have thought a horror movie with Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks would suck big time.

6. Halloween 5. This one felt too stylish and gimmicky to me. It had some interesting elements but I don’t think it was executed well enough.

5. Halloween 4. I always had issues with the whole plotline of 4 and 5. I guess they’re ok, but there was too much going on to be truly scary.

4. Halloween (6) The Curse of Michael Myers. This one gets a lot of hate. I thought they did a good job with making everything look really scary. I liked the storyline too.

3. Halloween H20. Laurie Strode is back. The plot was more simple and to the point. Jamie Lee Curtis should be in all these movies. Long live the queen.

2. Halloween II. It felt the most like the original to me. Dark, brooding and not overly fancy. It still holds up as one of the scariest in the series.

1. Halloween. I don’t feel that I need to explain my thought process here.

Well, That does it folks. Feel free to give me your input, feedback, bash my opinions, etc. you won’t hurt my feelings.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Halloween

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) – Joe Chapelle

After a 6 year hiatus, Michael Myers is back in the 5th sequel, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. We’ve got a new director, Joe Chapelle, and a new cast of characters, except for Myers and Loomis. In general, I think this film is flawed, but its one of my favorites in the saga. The plot is ludicrous and overcomplicated. They’ve done even more of the retrofitting backstory than in the previous sequels. In terms of plot, this one just goes too far, but there are a lot of redeeming elements for me and I think the 6th installment comes out as a win.

Also I should mention that I’m in the minority in having that opinion. Most people hate this movie but I think it’s underrated. Ok, I’ll grant you the plot is a mess, but visually, this film is awesome. The setting and lighting are perfect for setting the creepy mood. In general, this film is a return to form, of sorts. It draws on several elements from the original- I’ll talk more about these later. Let’s get the asinine plot out of the way and I can get to the good stuff.

Warning: This synopsis contains spoilers to the previous films.

The film is set 6 years after the events of the last movie. We open to a woman going into labor in some sort of medieval torcher dungeon. There are cloaked druid priests or something around and when the baby is born, they mark him in blood with the symbol we saw showing up in the previous film. Some sort of ancient blood ritual. The woman turns out to be Jamie Lloyd all growed up. Once again, the math on her age is a little off because she should be 15 years old. Ostensibly what happened is that after the man in black came and shot up the police station and broke Myers out at the end of the 5th film, he took Myers and Jamie away somewhere for 6 years. I guess she was impregnated there? It’s unclear what exactly happened during the downtime.

Anyway, Michael shows up and Jamie escapes with the baby. She stashes the baby in a bus station bathroom before Michael kills her with a large piece of farm equipment. Now, Remember Tommy Doyle (the kid Laurie Strode was babysitting in the first movie)? Thanks to some idiotic writing, he lives in the house across the street from the Myers house. Oh and Laurie Strode’s adoptive uncle (is that a thing?) and his family live in the Myers house. Doyle (played by Paul Rudd) has been obsessed with Myers for years and he finds the baby. Doyle and Loomis team up to protect the baby from Michael while he slices up the Haddonfield locals. There’s a whole big conspiracy and a pagan sacrifice and druid astrology blah blah blah.It’s irrelevant. It makes no sense.

Anyway, forget the plot. That’s not what this is about. There are lots of little things that pay homage to the original that make this one a lot of fun. If you know your stuff, you’ll remember that in 1978, little 8 year-old Tommy drops a pumpkin and it breaks everywhere. Here we see grown up Tommy accidentally scare a kid and the kid drops his pumpkin. There’s a scene where Laurie’s cousin and her kid are banging on a door waiting for Tommy to come downstairs and open it up that’s very reminiscent of a scene from the original. There are some shots of Michael standing still and staring in the window when only a little kid sees him. Then he just disappears. Just like in the original. We also go back to Smith’s Grove (the mental hospital where Michael went after he killed his sister) and there are some other fun little allusions in there too.

Like I said, the movie just looks awesome and scary. They do some great things with light and shadows that help the spooky atmosphere. It seems that they’ve figured out the “turn on a cold blue light” trick when it gets dark so that we know it’s dark but we can still see what’s happening. The settings are great. I love the scenes in Smith’s Grove.

My biggest problem with this movie, and the later part of the series, is the way they try to explain why Myers is the way he is. To me, it’s so much scarier when we have no idea why he’s like this. To try to explain it away with voodoo magic and druid curses and star alignments just takes away from the effect. You might as well say he got dunked in toxic waste or his mom stood too close to the microwave when she was pregnant with him. Remember Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds? Nobody knew why they started freaking out and killing everyone. That was part of what made it so scary. It’s the lack of a reasonable explanation that’s unsettling to us as an audience.

The best part is the Myers doesn’t give a fuck about all this voodoo nonsense. He will literally kill anyone and everyone including the priests conducting the sacrifices, rituals, etc. It’s a little unclear as to how he’s tied in with these people, but it doesn’t matter. They way he slices and dices, these people may as well be his sisters.

Anyway, you should watch (or rewatch) this one with an open mind. Don’t get too bogged down with the script and just have fun. Also, the 90’s distorted electric guitar playing the Halloween Theme was great. It’s as if John Carpenter hired Soundgarden to score the movie.

Sad note: Donald Pleasence (who played Dr. Loomis in the series) passed away shortly after this movie was complete. He made these movies great and he will be missed.

  1. Is it scary: 5- The sloppy writing and the over-explanation of Michael’s um, condition, take away from the scariness but the lighting and camera work add a bit.
  2. Originality: 4- Even though it was twisted and nonsensical, I have to give them some points for originality. Not a lot, but some.
  3. Blood: 5- On par with the rest of the series. It could have been bloodier but it got the job done.
  4. Believability: 2–This got a lower score than usually because there were just so many of those moments where you’re like “What? Why….?”
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 6- Old Smith’s Grove Sanitarium was awesome. You could tell there was a level of competence in the lighting and camera crew that wasn’t around in the previous films. It just set the mood and made everything look scary.                                                                                   

Final Score: 22/50

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) – Dominique Othenin-Girard

There’s no pretty way to describe it. If Halloween 4 was a washed out and blurry copy of a copy, Halloween 5 is not only a step further removed, but it officially jumps the shark. And in doing so, it takes away from the potential scares even more. Dominique Othenin-Girard’s 1989 installment, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, is overly-ambitious and it comes up short in terms of scares and quality. That being said, there’s something about this movie that I’ve always liked. So the verdict is its bad- so bad that you get a kick out of some of the absurdities. I still like to watch this one, but it’s certainly a guilty pleasure.

None of the other films have stooped to goofiness or stereotypical characters (maybe the 4th one a bit).  This one has a bunch of these boilerplate, cardboard cut-out characters that require and receive no development and have no depth. You know everything you need to know about them in the first 30 seconds on screen. And while they’re not interesting, they’re fun to watch in a train wreck sort of way. You just know they have a date with some sort of large farm equipment in the near future. Also, the characters’ clothes feel really gimmicky. In the first few films nobody’s outfit screamed out a certain decade. That’s not what it was about. Halloween 5 was really a style-over-substance movie.

Warning: This synopsis contains spoilers to the previous movie.

As we’ve seen with the other sequels, this film picks up right where the previous one left off. If you remember, Michael is cornered in front of a well and gets shot about 300 times by a bunch of cops at close range. He falls into the well and they drop a stick of dynamite down there. Of course, he narrowly escapes and finds a place to rehabilitate for an entire year. Just before Michael was shot, Jamie (Laurie Strode’s daughter) touched his hand and they were somehow psychically linked. Then she tried to kill her foster mother and now she’s spent the last year in a child’s mental hospital.

Of course, Michael comes back and starts killing again. The plot is somehow both convoluted and unimportant. Myers knows where Jamie is but he chooses to kill her friends and her friends’ friends instead of going right to her. The structure of the movie is flawed in this way. They clearly didn’t have a good story to tell, they just wanted to stack up some bodies and some cash. Throughout the film, we do see some shots of a mysterious dark, cloaked figure in dark, pointed boots. He has a small symbol tattooed on his wrist and at one point we see the same tattoo on Michael’s wrist. It becomes clear that they’re setting up something even bigger and more convoluted for the next movie. Anyway, the whole thing is a clusterfuck. I don’t want to give too much away, but there are people in this movie whom we’ve met before who don’t serve any purpose to further the plot other than to die (and to be sort of naked for no reason for like 10 minutes). The point is, the storyline sucks just enjoy the blood and make fun of the shitty acting and directing.

As I’ve been rewatching these movies all in a row, I’ve started to love Dr. Loomis. He’s a goddamn rockstar. Also, he’s fucking insane. I knew a bunch of psych majors in college-I even was one for a semester- and those people are all crazy. Loomis, a psychiatrist, is like the king of all psych majors. And been working with the king of all crazy for the past 26 years (and chasing/running from him for the past 11 years). Loomis is losing his shit. And it’s awesome to watch. At this point, he’s been burned so badly that he has hideous scars on his face and hands. It’s accidentally hilarious the way he talks to this traumatized nine year old girl. He is screaming at her with his scary face like two inches away from her face. It’s awesome.

One interesting thing about the movie is that they do a little humanizing of Michael Myers. They show him as being slightly weak and vulnerable. At the very beginning, after he’s been shot, we see him in need of help. An old man comes to his rescue. A couple of times Jamie and Loomis are able to talk to Michael and get him to stop his massacre for a few seconds. Laurie Strode was able to do this for a second in the second movie, but it was a little different. It is sort of cool to see the human side of this monster but ultimately, I think it takes away from the mystery behind the unstoppable killing machine. And for some reason they don’t really explore the psychic link between Jamie and Michael. I think it was an odd choice, and unnecessary, but if you’re going to include it go all the way with it.

Even after you excuse the poorly-executed plot and the horrific script, there’s still much left to be desired. I guess there are a couple of scary settings and some suspenseful scenes. Oh and while we’re on the subject, They used a completely different house for the Myers house (the house where Michael killed his sister 15 years before the events of the first movie). It looks totally different. Ultimately, inside it’s cooler and scarier, but come on. You’re not going to slip that one past me.

Anyway, you get the picture. Stupid but fun, and not as scary as it should be. It’s the cinematic equivalent of riding a moped without a helmet after 6 beers.

  1. Is it scary: 3- There are a couple of suspenseful scenes but you can basically call each and every death scene like 2 minutes out.
  2. Originality: 3- It just felt re-used. Nothing really novel about it. And don’t think you can keep retrofitting more storylines to trick us into thinking this is a good movie.
  3. Blood: 5- It was adequately gory, but in this sort of movie, if there’s no coherent story, the least you can do is give us some extra blood. I think you owe us that much.
  4. Believability: 3–This one was all over the place. I just kept thinking, “Nobody would do that.” “Why doesn’t she just…” “That’s not how…”
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 5- No fancy camerawork but at least there were some cool scenes. The inside of the Myers house was pretty cool to look at and pretty creepy.                                                                       

Final Score: 19/50    

                                                                                          

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1987) – Dwight H. Little

In case you recently watched the atrocious and inconsequential Halloween 3, you’re in for a treat. Michael Myers is back, and apparently he’s been doing pushups. The third installment was really pretty awful so if you’ve still got that taste in your mouth, here’s a trick- stick a wire coat hanger into a wall socket. This will shut down your central nervous system. Hopefully it will reboot and that 90 minutes will be erased from your memory. If you don’t restart automatically, you’ll probably be dead, which is preferable to living with the memory of that movie. So it’s a win either way.

Anyway, in Dwight H. Little’s 1987 installment, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, we travel back to Haddonfield and pick up 10 years after the events of the second film. Though this movie is far from perfect, it’s nice to have Michael Myers back in our lives. It feels a bit like a diluted, watered-down version of the original. I think Little tries to accomplish some of the same things that Carpenter did but he doesn’t quite pull it off. I think the biggest problem with this one is how overly-complicated the plot gets. It’s hard for them to focus on any one character or plotline because there’s so much going on. It’s like playing “just the tip” when you really want to play a game called “balls deep.”

Warning: This review contains some spoilers to the long-term story of the series-but not to this film itself. Go watch the first two before you watch this one or read any further.

If you remember, at the end of the second movie, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) was trapped in the hospital room with Loomis and Michael Myers. Loomis blew up the oxygen tanks and we all thought he and Michael burned to death. Magically, we find out that they both survived and that Michael is in a state hospital hooked up to machines keeping him alive. So he escapes on the night before Halloween and leaves a trail of bodies and destruction across the state on his way back to Haddonfield, ostensibly to go kill his sister Laurie. We soon find out that Laurie has actually died sometime between the films and that her daughter Jamie lives with a foster family in Haddonfield. The math on the daughter’s age doesn’t really work out because Laurie would have to have gotten knocked up about 15 minutes after the end of the second movie to have a daughter that age. But let’s not worry about that.

Somehow, Michael is able to surmise that Jamie is his niece-don’t ask me how- and he sets off to kill her and everyone in his path. Loomis recruits the Sheriff but while they’re out doing some recon, Michael does what he does best to the remainder of the police force. But don’t worry, a band of drunken hillbillies comes to the rescue and forms a pickup truck posse to hunt Michael. Jamie and her foster-sister Rachel barricade themselves in the Sheriff’s house with a couple of others to wait for the state police. Of course Michael gets in and starts killing everyone. I won’t go into too much detail about how this one ends but we do have 4 more sequels so you can bet that Michael and a few other stragglers will survive.

One of the best parts of this movie is that we see Michael making a transformation into something more than human. Loomis has been saying all the time that Michael is “not a man” that he’s “pure evil.” But it’s hard to trust Loomis because he always acts pretty crazy. He’s always right though. If people just listened to him all the time we wouldn’t be in this mess. But if you do the math, by the time this movie starts, Michael has sustained enough mortal injuries to make 50 Cent look like Wayne Brady. We always knew he was tough we start to see him becoming more supernatural than just freakish. He’s incredibly strong too. Throughout this movie, he crushes a guy’s skull in his hands, rips a guy’s head off while hanging onto the roof of a moving car, and stabs a guy through the chest with a shotgun. This is all after laying in a hospital bed as a vegetable for the past 10 years If you pay close attention to the background of one of Loomis’ rants, you can see Michael Myers ripping phone books in half. It’s sort of a double-edged sword though. For me, the further it strays from reality and possibility, the less scary it tends to be.

Also, I want to quickly mention the mask. I think they’ve been slowly changing the mask in each film. This one is the worst so far. It’s not as creepy as the others. I’ll have to find good screenshots of the mask from each installment and do a comparison.

In terms of scares, I don’t think it’s possible to live up to the original. This one just felt like a diluted attempt to recreate some of the atmosphere and tension from the first one but it didn’t quite hit the mark. Overall, it was good but I think they tried to accomplish too much.

  1. Is it scary: 4- It’s dark and creepy but it doesn’t pack the punch of the original. The acting and the script are really pretty bad ant that takes away from the overall feeling of fear.
  2. Originality: 4- Not much new here. The evolution of Michael Myers that I discussed before is interesting, but I think it’s been done in other films during Michael’s hiatus- (Friday the 13th was busy while Michael was away and basically took the reins of the American Slasher movie in the process).
  3. Blood: 6- This one was good and bloody. But I think they sacrificed scares for blood. That’s never the way to go.
  4. Believability: 3–I know Michael has some supernatural things going on but there are just too many logical plot holes. There’s just no way he could know some of the things that he knows. Also homegirl stays running up the stairs. It’s ridiculous. -1 point
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 6- There are definitely some creepy settings here. And some interesting camera shots too. Solid score here. Nothing amazing though.

 Final Score: 23/50

Halloween (1978) – John Carpenter

Ok so since it’s October, I’m going to run through all of the Halloween films (including the Rob Zombie remakes) and give you guys the definitive list of the best and the worst. I’m going to try to do one every day or so. I’ll probably do some sort of ranking at the end too. Halloween has always been my favorite horror franchise. The first of the series, (and the only one directed by John Carpenter) came out in 1978 and was, arguably, the first proper “slasher” flick. Though it’s fairly tame in terms of blood and guts, even for it’s time, it’s got that John Carpenter charm so it’s dark and brooding and creepy and it doesn’t have to rely on gore to scare you. Most importantly, it’s got that famous Halloween music. You know, this music. By the way, that music is written by John Carpenter himself. (He loves to score his own movies: Prince of Darkness and The Fog) And everything is lit and shot so well, the whole thing just oozes scary.

The pacing is great as Carpenter slowly builds the scares for the audience. We frequently see the mysterious masked man (Michael Myers) lurking off to the side somewhere and just staring at characters without their knowledge. It really gets into your head and you start to wonder if there’s somebody staring at you from out the window or even in the room with you. The first film in the series is great because it’s so simple. There’s no reference to some of the larger overarching plotlines of the rest of the Michael Myers saga. It’s unclear whether Carpenter had these plotlines in mind during the first film. I’m thinking not; it seems like he retrofitted the storylines when he wrote the sequel.

Like I said, the plot of the first movie is pretty basic. We start off with a long tracking POV shot of through the eyes of Michael Myers as a 6 year old boy. He slowly stalks around his house and after his sister enjoys roughly 30 seconds of hot sex with her boyfriend (who promptly leaves), Michael kills his sister with a big butcher knife. Fast forward 15 years. We meet Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance). He’s a psychiatrist who’s been treating Michael in an asylum since the murder. He’s convinced that Michael is pure evil and must never be let out of the mental hospital. Just then, he breaks out, steals Loomis’ car, and returns to his childhood house in Haddonfield, which is also the town where Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) lives now.

So it’s Halloween night and Laurie and her high school friends have plans to either babysit neighborhood kids or to bang their (boyfriends or both). Don’t worry, they’re all of legal age; they’re well into their late 20s or 30’s. (Illinois standardized tests be holding everyone back.)  Loomis tracks Myers back to Haddonfield and tries to find him before he starts killing again. Of course, he’s too late and Michael starts carving up the babysitters like a bunch of goddamn Thanksgiving turkeys. Well, wrong holiday but you get it. Of course, we’re all aware of the rules you must follow to survive a horror movie: Stand up straight, don’t drink, do drugs, have sex, or say anything like “I’ll be right back.” We basically know who’s going to die and when. Laurie decides not to take all this murdering lying down and she fights back, stabbing Michael about the face and neck with a series of non-lethal weapons. Well, at least she tried.

I’m not going to spoil the ending, though I’m sure you wouldn’t be reading this blog if you haven’t seen this one. Just go watch it. It’s fantastic. Halloween is consistently ranked among the all time scariest movies. It’s the slow building of suspense combined with the utter mystery as to why this little boy just snapped and became a soulless killing machine.

Lets talk about why Michael Myers is such a great killer. A big part of it is thanks to that mask of his. The face in the mask isn’t inherently scary. It’s not angry, or deformed. It’s just blank. Something about that cold emotionless face just staring at you from a distance or remaining blank while he’s stabbing you with a huge butcher knife is really kind of disturbing. And the sound of Michael breathing heavily through the rubber mask will echo in your head and haunt you long after the movie is over. Fun fact: Due to the low budget of the film, the mask is just a Captain Kirk (Star Trek) mask with some white spray paint and some minor DIY alterations. Michael’s black eyes peering out from that white mask will forever be one of the greatest images in the history of horror.  He never runs but he’s always following you. That calm, cold, relentless presence of his is hard to understand and it’s just really unsettling.

  1. Is it scary: 9- Music, pacing, acting, lighting, everything in this movie works so well together to make it really scary.
  2. Originality: 9- There had only been a couple of slasher-esque films before this but Halloween really set the bar and created the slasher as we know it today.
  3. Blood: 3- Like I said, this one was pretty tame, even for its time. But Carpenter shows us that you don’t need a lot of blood to scare the hell out of us.
  4. Believability: 7–For the most part this was all pretty believable. Towards the end, when shit is getting intense, A couple of the characters do things (or don’t do things) that I didn’t quite believe. Laurie runs up the stairs and hides in a closet. Minus 1 point.
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 8- Carpenter does some great things here with light and shadows. Things are dark and creepy throughout the whole movie. I also like the idea of turning a quiet suburban community into a slaughterhouse.

Final Score: 36/50