Halloween 2 (2009) – Rob Zombie

Happy Halloween Everyone. If you’ve been paying attention, over the last month, I’ve reviewed all the movies in the Halloween franchise from John Carpenter’s terrifying classic, to Rob Zombie’s over-stylized brutal remakes and everything in between. “The Shape” has been slashing throats and crushing skulls for over 30 years now and it’s not clear whether he’s done. At this point, I really hope there is another sequel, either to the original storyline or even to the 2000’s reboot. (Rob Zombie has publicly stated that he has no interest or desire to be involved with any sort of Halloween 3 which is good news for everyone.) Both storylines left the door open for another installment so from a true Michael Myers fan, I’m hoping we haven’t seen the last of him.

Rob Zombie’s 2009 Halloween 2 was an epic shitstorm. Like we’ve seen in several of the previous Halloween sequels, we’re seeing the filmmakers trying to retrofit this complex and convoluted backstory where it doesn’t belong. It takes away from the present storyline and the urgency of what’s happening to the characters. It over-explains things to the point of insignificance (I’ll get back to this). It’s fairly clear that Rob Zombie had no actual storyline left and he just wanted to make a snuff film. He even alludes to, but then awkwardly strays from the Halloween II storyline we know and love (Laurie strode in the hospital). The whole movie is poorly constructed and seems to be an attempt to upset the audience rather than entertain them. Some of the death sequences are so drawn out and painful to watch that it borders on torture porn. Also MICHAEL MYERS ISN’T EVEN WEARING A MASK MOST OF THE TIME. What the fuck, Rob?

Warning: This review contains spoilers to the previous film and some early parts of this film.

Ok, like the original HII, this movie opens right where the first one left off. If you remember, the first Zombie film ended with Laurie Strode introducing Michael’s cranium to a .357 Magnum round from a range of about 8 inches. That’s goodnight nurse, I don’t care who you are. They take her to the hospital and there’s a graphic, painful, and drawn-out surgery scene where she’s screaming and crying. It’s not fun to watch. Michael kills the morticians (He actually saws homeboy’s head off with a piece of broken windshield.) Then Michael heads to the hospital and plays a little more goodnight nurse. You’re like, “OK this is cool. Just like the original HII. But no. After 20 minutes of this, we realize the hospital scene is all a dream. Cut to 2 years later and Laurie is seriously traumatized and losing her shit- to the point where it’s annoying. One second she’s freaking out, screaming and crying and the next second she’s happy go lucky. I think this was sloppy writing/directing rather than complex psychology at play.

We find out that Michael’s body was never found and even though everyone thinks he’s dead, Laurie is still scared that he’ll come back. Malcolm McDowell is back as a snotty rich Loomis who wrote a book about the murders and all he cares about is publicity and book sales. This Loomis is a complete dildo. Nothing like Donald Pleasance’s Loomis or even the Loomis from the first Rob Zombie Halloween. There’s no cohesive story-line really. We just see Laurie unraveling and Loomis being a dickhole while Michael Myers killing random and inconsequential people for an hour and a half with or without a mask (By the way, without the mask, he looks like a giant Rob Zombie-I wonder if that was an accident). There’s a ludicrous showdown at the end and too many important characters get killed. It’s just like they gave up on writing-cranked out the last 15 or 20 pages in like a half an hour and started filming. After the hospital dream scene, this didn’t even feel like a Halloween movie.

One of the most annoying things was the way they tried to explain Michael’s rationale for killing even more. Occasionally we’ll see things from Michael’s point of view. We get a little further into his psyche and are subjected to a silly persistent hallucination he has. He imagines himself as the child in the clown costume from the beginning of the sage. His mother is there in a white dress egging him on to kill again. Ultimately, she wants him to kill his sister so their family can be together again. There’s some nonsense about a white horse and the Moody Blues song “Knights in White Satin” plays whenever Michael is coming. It’s all a little overcooked and yet underdeveloped. Nice try Rob but this white theme is a little heavy-handed for my taste and it didn’t quite land.

Ok, so the directing sucked, the writing was asinine, the characters were weak and underdeveloped, and the overall execution of the Halloween theme was questionable at best. Were there any redeeming qualities of the (so far) final page in the Michael Myers saga? Yes. The way this thing is shot is actually pretty great. It just looks scary. Zombie and the lighting/cinematography team did a great job making this thing look the part. There are some great back-lighting shots with cool silhouettes, interesting camera angles and tracking shots. You could make the argument that it was too dark at times to see everything but if you remember the original, that’s how Carpenter did it too. So props to Zombie on that. Also, true to his roots, Zombie picked a great horror score for this one. The music is not really my taste, but it fits well in this type of brutal horror movie. Heavy industrial music really sets the tone for what we’re watching.

Overall, the movie is a big swing and a miss, but if you’ve come this far, just watch it so you can say you’ve got the whole series under your belt. And who knows, I’d be surprised if this was the last we see of Michael Myers. Now, I think this movie will get a halfway decent rating below-which just proves that the rating system is not perfect- in fact, far from it.

  1. Is it scary: 3- Don’t make the mistake of confusing blood with scares. This had a few intense moments but overall, not conventionally scary.
  2. Originality: 3- It just felt like reprocessed, repurposed horror/Halloween stuff. It was like the Spam of horror movies.
  3. Blood: 7- Pretty Goddamn bloody. Almost too realistic and traumatic to be enjoyable.
  4. Believability: 2–The story and writing are ridiculous. Characters do the dumbest unbelievable things.
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 7- Like I said, Zombie did a good job here. The film is shot very well and really looks scary.                                                                 

Final Score: 22/50

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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 H20: Twenty Years Later (1998) – Steve Miner

Alright guys, We’re in the home stretch. Only 3 more Halloween films to go. Today’s installment: Steve Miner’s Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. As the title indicates, the 7th film in the series, takes place 20 years after the events of the original. And the best part is Jamie Lee Curtis is back. Wait a minute. I thought Laurie Strode was dead? We’ll get to that. Though this film ignores the events, plotlines, etc. of Halloween 3­ through 6, I can’t say that it actually defies anything that happened in those films either. It simply doesn’t reference any of it. There is a slight issue with Laurie Strode’s children/baby daddy(s), but it’s not a deal breaker. I’m not going to include it in this review but ask me if you’re interested and I can explain.

Overall, the movie is pretty solid. It’s not a home run, but it was a nice little trip down memory lane for people who loved Jamie Lee Curtis in the first two movies. She does a good job playing the still-traumatized, grown-up survivor of the Halloween massacres all those years ago. H20 tries to use elements from the original movie to bolster its slasher street cred, but ultimately I think it falls flat on the scares. The problem is that it may be a little too self aware for its own good though. Possibly to a fault, it is laden with allusions and little tidbits of horror nostalgia that keep the movie from really spreading its wings in terms of big scares. I think the choice to keep the plot simple and focused on Laurie Strode was a good one. It would have been too much to keep track of all the other plotlines in the previous sequels.

The story opens with a little scene in which we meet (the deceased) Loomis’s ex-nurse. In her house are all Loomis’ files on Michael Myers. For some reason Joseph Gordon-Levitt is there. Michael kills the nurse, Joseph and his friend after stealing files that lead him to the grown up Laurie Strode. We find out that Laurie has had her name changed and moved to California, where she is now Keri Tate, (Why you would choose the last name of a victim of another mass murder, I have no idea…) Headmistress of a fancy private school. Her son John (Josh Hartnett) attends the school as well. We first see Laurie Strode/Keri Tate on October 30th after she’s had a Michael Myers nightmare. John rushes to the medicine cabinet where we see she’s been prescribed enough pills to put down a herd of stampeding, depressed elephants.

The school has a field trip on Halloween night and all the kids leave. John remains behind with a friend and some girlfriends for a secret sexy Halloween sleepover. Laurie thinks that John is on the trip so she has some sexy plans of her own with her annoying boyfriend. As he is wont to do, Michael shows up and wrecks everyone’s sexytime. After 20 years of running and hiding, Laurie summons those Strode balls and goes on the offensive. She locks herself in the school with Michael, picks up a big axe and decides to face him. The ending is cool, though not particularly unexpected. Also for no reason at all, L.L. Cool J. is in this movie.

Ok so it’s not the best movie in the world. But it was cool to see Jamie Lee Curtis doing more than screaming and running away. The evolution of her character has been interesting. She’s gone from running and hiding from Michael to standing up to him and even seeking him out to confront him. There’s a great scene after she’s broken the lock on the outside gate where she’s holding an axe and she screams her brother’s name “MICHAEL.” It’s a great turn for her character.

Now, I mentioned that there were several allusions to the original and to other horror movies. They were somewhat interesting, but I think too much thought went into some of them and that took away from developing a scary atmosphere for the movie. There’s a scene where Laurie’s secretary (who is played by Janet Lee – from Psycho, and Jamie Lee Curtis’ real-life mother) says a line to her that the sheriff said to her in the first movie. Janet Lee then gets into the car that she drove in Psycho. There are also scenes in which people are watching other scary movies on TV. There are some other scenes that are reminiscent of the first film, but I don’t think they had the effect they wanted.

The verdict is, for fans of the series, it is a nice addition to the storyline. I always felt a little jilted that Laurie just died off screen in-between the movies and we never saw her again. Though this scenario feels a little cheap – tantamount to the “It was just a dream” realization at the end of a movie – I’m glad they got her back into the series and we got to see her character face Michael. Not the scariest thing you’ll ever see (not by a long shot) but a nice addition to the saga. OH. Except the mask. The mask is terrible. It might be the worst one.

  1. Is it scary: 4- They tried to build suspense but for me it just wasn’t there. The atmosphere wasn’t scary and I kept getting distracted by things. That kept me from getting sucked in.
  2. Originality: 4- This one drew too much from other sources. The whole thing was kinda textbook and not too surprising. There were some interesting elements- like killing a guy with a corkscrew that helped out a bit here. But just a bit.
  3. Blood: 4- I thought this one was pretty tame in terms of blood. There are a couple of good scenes but overall it was lacking.
  4. Believability: 3–There were quite a few continuity and production issues that distracted me. Like I could see the strings holding a dude up when Myers is supposed to be holding him up with a knife. Lame.
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 5- I have to say that I felt the setting was lacking. There was nothing particularly amazing about the cinematography either. It was all just so-so. Nothing that screamed ‘scary’ to me.    

Final Score: 20/50

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 II (1981) – Rick Rosenthal

Have you ever bought a gallon of ice cream that melts a little in the car on the way home and then you refreeze it but it’s just never the same? That’s what most horror sequels are like. Just with more blood, and fewer chocolate chips. They usually add some plot elements that make it more complicated and less scary. In the sequels, they generally ramp up the murdering and you tend to get a nice big juicy body count. You’ll also probably get to see some new and creative deaths. If you’re lucky, the director, writer, and main cast will remain intact, but don’t hold your breath.

Now, even though Rick Rosenthal’s 1981 Halloween II (John Carpenter co-wrote this one, but he only directed the first one) falls into most of these traps, it still stands up as a solid slasher, and a solid horror movie in general. It’s a little unfair to hold it up against the original, because that is one of the best horror movies ever made. Unfortunately, that’s what I’m going to do for most of this review, so suck it. It’s basically like comparing the store brand “Honey O’s” or whatever to real “Honey Nut Cheerio’s.” Close, but no cigar. Thanks for playing. But all comparison aside, this movie is awesome. It’s bloody, nasty, and suspenseful. Rosenthal holds on to a lot of what we loved about Carpenter’s directing and cinematography. And they’ve added some interesting elements to the story. It’s debatable as to whether these things make the story/better or worse, but they set the stage for the rest of the franchise.

The story picks up right where the first film left off. Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is being brought to the hospital, and Michael Myers, who was just shot a half dozen times and fell out of an upstairs window, has somehow survived and is on the loose again. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) and the cops are searching the town for the killer after the bodies of the kids from the first movie are found all strung up and hidden around the house. Michael overhears a radio broadcast saying that the survivor of the massacre is being brought to the hospital and he heads there to finish the job. On his way he chops up a few more people for no reason. Just to be a dick, I guess.

So Loomis and the cops finally figure out that Michael is hunting Laurie and they head for the hospital to save her. But it’s too late for most of the staff. Michael has sliced, diced, boiled, gutted, and injected a large syringe of air into nurses, doctors, ambulance drivers, and security guards. If you thought he head count was too low in the original, don’t worry because it more than doubles in this one. They don’t even have time to show everyone getting killed. Sometimes we just show up and find bodies lying around. Anyway, Loomis and the cops show up and shoot Michael a bunch of times. Thinking he’s dead, the cop stupidly stands over him and Michael pops up and turns the cop into a giant Pez dispenser. There’s a big standoff at the end with Laurie and Loomis and Michael. There’s also a big twist which I’m not going to spoil.

In terms of scares, this one doesn’t quite hit the mark like the original. It’s still got a good creepy atmosphere but something’s missing. Part of what made the first movie so scary was that everything was super dark, shadowy, and hard to see. The times that we did see Michael Myers, he was halfway behind something. There’s something about that being hard to see that made him even creepier. Now, this movie was pretty dark too, but it wasn’t quite the same. I don’t think it packed the same punch visually as the original.

Halloween had a sort of charm to it that this sequel didn’t have. The first had a low budget but they made it work. The whole thing took place in just a couple of scenes. This movie was bigger, flashier, and more expensive. I guess you could say that the first one was untested, unproven and breaking new ground. While the sequel was a little self-aware. You can almost sense that the filmmakers had a certain confidence about things that wasn’t there in the original. This one felt more like a “movie” instead of a “story.” I don’t know if that makes any sense. You can even see (hear) this in the music. The second movie tried to make the music better, more electronic, and fancy, but for that extra level of production, they’ve sacrificed some of the basics.

Listen to the two songs and you’ll see what I mean. I think this sums up the two movies pretty well actually.

The point is that the movie is good, but not as good. The moral of the story is fancier doesn’t always mean better. And I’m pretty sure you can say that if John Carpenter had been behind the camera, this might have been even better.

  1. Is it scary: 6- It’s still pretty dark, scary, and, suspenseful. Though it doesn’t haunt you in the way the first one did.
  2. Originality: 5- It’s still pretty groundbreaking. It’s basically like the Ramones second album. It still did a lot for punk rock, but not as much as the first.
  3. Blood: 6- Probably the only category that will get this one more points than the original. Michael made up for lost time in this one. He racked up a nice little body count here. After the modest showing in the first one, he had his work cut out for him.
  4. Believability: 5–More characters, more plotlines to follow, more scenery to keep up with. This was still decent, but it was more complicated than it needed to be.
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 6- Rosenthal did a pretty good job here. A dark empty hospital overnight is not a bad setting. He maintained a lot of the cinematography, lighting effects that we loved from the original.

Final Score: 28/50