Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Happy Halloween! A Review of the Halloween Films Pt. 2

Continuing on my review of the Halloween franchise, covering the final five films in the series.  I hope that you all enjoy! xx
The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers Poster
Six years after the events of the previous film it is revealed that the man in black who kidnapped Michael at the end of the previous film as also captured Jamie, who is now 15 and pregnant.  Jamie gives birth to her son, on October 30th, who is quickly taken away by the man in black who is the leader of a cult.  Later that night one of the nurses helps to free Jamie and her son, before being killed by Michael.

Jamie flees from the cult and takes shelter within an empty bus station.  She phones into a local radio station, asking for help but is ignored by the presenter.  Hiding her baby Jamie flees, pursued by Michael.  Michael chases Jamie to a farm where he kills her, he then discovers that she does not have the baby.

Meanwhile, Tommy Doyle, the boy that Laurie Strode babysat in the first film is watching the family that has moved into the Myers house across the street from him.  The family being relatives of the Strode’s.   Tommy has become obsessed with Michael Myers over the years since the original Haddonfield massacre, and when he hears Jamies pleas over the radio he goes to the bus station and finds her baby. 

Tommy takes the baby into his care and names the baby Steven.  Tommy runs into Dr. Loomis at Haddonfield Memorial Hospital and tells him of the baby and the family living in Michaels old house.  The two of them become convinced that Michael is returning to Haddonfield.

Tommy approaches Kara Strode and her six year old son Danny and brings them back to his home, where he reveals to them the story of Michael Myers and tells them that he believes that Michael is being controlled by a druid cult to kill people.  The curse placed upon him by the cult would explain Michaels seemingly supernatural abilities.

The mysterious man in black who kidnapped Michael arrives at Tommy’s home and is revealed to be Dr. Wynn, friend and colleague of Dr. Loomis from Smiths Grove Sanatorium.  His people, the ‘Cult of Thorne’, attack and drug Loomis and Tommy, taking Kara, Danny, Steven and Michael back to Smiths Grove Sanatorium.

Loomis and Tommy follow them to Smiths Grove and rescue Kara and the children, freeing Michael from the cult’s control, Michael proceeds to attack and kill his former captors.  Fleeing from Michael, Tommy, Kara and the children find themselves in a lab where the cult has been trying to create a baby that has the abilities and evil of Michael inside them, which ultimately led to the birth of Steven.

Tommy fights Michael in the lab, injecting him with several tranquilizers and chemicals before repeatedly beating him with a metal pipe.  With Michael defeated Tommy, Kara and the children leave the hospital.  Loomis remains behind because he has ‘a little business’ to attend to.  Inside the hospital we see Michaels mask lying on the floor, before we hear Loomis scream in the background.

Kara Strode and Tommy Doyle are chased by Michael.
The Curse of Michael Myers takes some of the plot points introduced in the previous film, the introduction of a supernatural element in the series, and run with it in a whole new direction.  They take Michael and turn him from a serial killer into a magically controlled attack dog for a crazy cult that lives under Smiths Grove Sanatorium.  I don’t like this.

Everything that I enjoyed about the previous films seems to have been thrown out of the window with this film, and the film makers seem more concerned with trying to create a back story for Michael and explain events from previous films than to create a good film of their own.  As a result the film feels out of place. 

I discovered that many of the films problems have stemmed from the amount of edits and cuts made to the film, and that the unreleased ‘Producers Cut’ is a much better film that makes a lot more sense.  So if you can manage to find one of the bootleg copies, watch it instead of the release version. 

This is the last film Donald Pleasence made, and his last appearance as Dr. Loomis, and I think that it’s a shame that his last Halloween film is one of the worst. 4/10.

Halloween H20:
20 Years Later (1998) 

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later Poster

Set twenty years after the events of Halloween 1 & 2, and discounting the events of the other films in the series, the film returns to the character of Laurie Strode, whom it is revealed did not die in a car crash but instead faked her death and went into witness protection under a new identity to escape Michael.

Now the head of a private school, Hill Crest Academy, she lives there with her son John and is in a relationship with the school guidance counsellor Will.  Despite this Laurie is still haunted by the events of 20 years ago and is fearful of the day that Michael might return.

Meanwhile Michael enters the home of the now deceased Dr. Loomis and discovers that Laurie is living under a new identity.  Killing the house’s new resident, Dr. Loomis’ nurse and friend, Michael heads to Hill Crest Academy to find his sister.

Laurie confides the story of her past to Will, revealing her true identity, but in doing so realises that Michael will be returning as he killed his older sister when she was seventeen, attacked Laurie when she was seventeen and will be coming for John as he has just turned seventeen.

Unfortunately the realisation has come too late and Michael is already inside Hill Crest and is stalking John and his girlfriend Molly.  Laurie and Will attempt to stop Michael but Will is killed in the confrontation.  Laurie helps John and Molly escape Hill Crest, but remains behind to confront Michael and stop him once and for all.

The two siblings battle across Hill Crest and eventually Laurie is victorious.  However, Laurie knows her brother too well and when his body is being taken away by the coroners, steals the vehicle.  Whilst driving way Michael breaks his way out of the body bag and attacks Laurie.  In the ensuing struggle the van crashes, trapping Michael in the wreckage.  Taking her opportunity Laurie uses an axe to cut off Michaels head, finally bringing her nightmare to an end.

Laurie and Michael come face to face once again.

I love Halloween H20, it’s one of my all time favourite Halloween films.  It’s great to see Jamie Lee Curtis back as Laurie Strode after so many films without her, and it’s great to see her change from a victim to a fighter.

At the heart of it that’s what H20 is about, it’s not so much about Michael and his quest to kill his family, but abut Laurie stopping running and finally facing her fears and confronting them head on.  It’s brilliant to finally see someone not just running from Michael, but actively seeking him out in an attempt to stop him for good, and Laurie does it in ways that Loomis never did.

The finality of the last five minutes is great, with Laurie being the one to finally stop Michael forever.  A great film that celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the original film.  9/10.

Resurrection (2002)

Halloween Resurrection Poster

Three years after the events of H20 we discover that Laurie Strode is now a patient at a psychiatric hospital due to killing a man she believed to have been Michael Myers.  In an attempt to explain away the apparent death of Michael in H20 it is revealed that Michael injured a paramedic and switched clothes with him, allowing him the chance to escape and causing Laurie to decapitate an innocent man.

Once Halloween night comes around again Michael enters the hospital to find Laurie.  Knowing he would be coming for her Laurie has prepared for Michaels inevitable attack and lures him into a trap on the roof.  Breaking free, Michael stabs Laurie in the back and throws her from the roof, finally killing her after over twenty years.

One year later Michael is living in the tunnels beneath his old home when a group of college students enter the house as part of an internet reality show in which they must attempt to discover the truth behind the legend of Michael Myers.

Michael begins stalking the students through the abandoned house, killing them one by one until only one student and the shows producer remain alive.  In a final confrontation Michael is electrocuted and trapped in the house as it burns to the ground. 

In a final scene Michael’s body is taken to a morgue.   When the coroner opens his body bag Michaels eyes suddenly open and a terrified scream is heard.

Michael finally kills Laurie Strode.

I hate Halloween: Resurrection.  I think the explanation for how Michael survived the last film is awful, and doesn’t make any sense.  When you watch that scene knowing what they plan on doing in Resurrection it just doesn’t make sense.  Okay, so Michael crushed his larynx so that the paramedic couldn’t talk, but he had loads of opportunities where he could have just taken the mask off, and why did he attack Laurie.  It’s stupid and it doesn’t work.

Killing Laurie off is a mistake as well, especially after they put her in a psychiatric hospital for three years.  It takes away all of the growth that the character went through in the last film, all of the strength she showed and throws it all away before casually killing her.  Resurrection ruins the character of Laurie Strode.

After the poor opening the rest of the film doesn’t fare any better, with boring characters that are just there as cannon fodder for Michael rather than to serve any story purpose or entertainment.  The lead is so underwhelming and boring that I almost found myself rooting for Michael to kill her.

A very poor movie that uses what came before it to create a bad story, but shows no respect to the previous instalment.  Watch at your peril.  2/10.

Halloween (2007)

Halloween Poster
On Halloween night a ten year old Michael Myers, who has already shown signs of psychopathic tendencies, murders the school bully, and later his step dad Ronnie, his sister Judith and her boyfriend Steve.  Returning home to find the slaughter His mother Deborah calls the emergency services and Michael is taken into custody.

Eleven months later Michael is found guilty of first degree murder and is sent to Smiths Grove Sanatorium under the care of Dr. Samuel Loomis.  Initially Michael co-operates with Dr. Loomis, but eventually begins to slip further and further into psychosis.  After he attacks and kills one of the nurses at the Sanatorium Deborah Myers can no longer handle the pressure and kills herself.

Fifteen years later Michael manages to escape from his room and makes his way through the Sanatorium to freedom, killing anyone who comes across his path.  Now free Michael heads to Haddonfield to find his baby sister.

In Haddonfield Michael’s sister, Laurie Strode, and her friends are busy preparing for the Halloween season and the night ahead.  Michael finds Laurie and follows her throughout the day.  Halloween night arrives and Laurie heads out to babysit Tommy Doyle, with Michael not far behind.

Dr. Loomis learns of Michaels escape and heads to Haddonfield in hopes of stopping him from finding and killing his sister.  Dr. Loomis manages to convince Sheriff Brackett that Michael has returned to Haddonfield to find his sister.  Brackett attempt to call the Strodes to warn them, but Michael has already murdered them.

Michael attacks Laurie, and after a short confrontation takes her captive and returns to his old family home with her.  There Laurie breaks free from Michael’s hold and tries to escape.  Dr. Loomis arrives in time to stop Michael and apparently saves Laurie.  Unfortunately Michael attacks once again and both Laurie and Loomis are both badly injured.

Laurie manages to gain the upper hand and uses Loomis’ gun on Michael, apparently shooting him in the head.
Michael grows up in Smiths Grove.

Upon first viewing I wasn’t very fond of the Halloween remake.  I found that focusing so much of the film on Michael in the sanatorium was boring and unwanted.  I didn’t need to see that, I didn’t want to know what goes on inside his head or what made him who he is.  This time round, however, I found that these scenes help to make this film stand out from the original and give us something that we’ve never seen before.

Rob Zombie manages to use a combination of the original story and brand new content to create a film that feels very familiar and completely new all at the same time.

His cast are great, with Scout Taylor-Compton giving a wonderfully realistic performance as the new, up to date Laurie Strode, who whilst is very different from the original portrayal by Jamie Lee Curtis, is true to the spirit of the character.  Dr. Loomis is here performed by Malcolm McDowell and is once again a very different version of a character we all know and love, and whilst he’s no Donald Pleasence he does a good job with the role.  Along with a cast featuring many well known faces from horror the new Halloween also returns Danielle Harris to the series, having originally played Jamie Lloyd in Halloweens 4 & 5, she now plays Laurie’s best friend Annie Brackett.

With brand knew insight into the character of Michael, a mixture of the familiar and brand new and a cast that portrays some very fun and very realistic characters Halloween is one of the better movies in the franchise.  Rather than suffering for being a remake of a cinema classic, this movie stands on its own as a great piece of film making.  8/10.

Halloween 2 (2009)

The film begins with a short flashback of Judith Myers visiting a young Michael at Smiths Grove Sanatorium, giving him a statue of a white horse as a gift.  Michael tells her that the horse reminds him of a dream he had about Deborah’s ghost, all dressed in white and leading a horse down the sanatorium hall towards Michael, telling him that she’s there to take him home.

Jumping forward fifteen years we pick up where the previous film ended with a bloodied and injured Laurie being found by Sheriff Brackett.  Police and ambulance crews arrive at the Myers house and help the injured Laurie and Dr. Loomis.  Michael’s body is loaded into a coroners van and taken away.  When the coroner had a traffic accident Michael awakens and walks away from the accident towards a vision of Deborah dressed in white.

Michael appears at Haddonfield hospital and kills several members of staff in an attempt to get to Laurie.  He chases and corners Laurie, but before he is able to reach her Laurie wakes up, revealing the events at the hospital to be a dream. 

It is now one year later and Laurie is living with Sheriff Brackett and Annie whilst attempting to put the pieces of her life back together and come to terms with the horrific ordeal of the previous Halloween night.  Meanwhile, Michael is continuing to have visions of both his mother and his younger self, who tell him that it is time for him to return to Haddonfield.  Whilst Michael approaches Haddonfield Laurie begins to have hallucinations that mirror Michael’s, of a ghostly Deborah and a younger Michael in a clown costume.  She even begins to see herself acting out Michaels murders.

After the events of the first film Dr. Loomis has gone on to write a book about Michael and the events at Haddonfield.  Touring around the country to promote his book he receives criticism as people blame him for Michaels actions and for exploiting the victims.  Due to the release of his book Laurie learns the truth about herself, that she is in fact Angel Myers, Michaels sister, and that the events of the previous year were not as random as she once believed.

Michael arrives back in Haddonfield and kills several of Laurie’s friends before finally capturing her and taking her prisoner in an abandoned cabin.  When she awakens Laurie sees the same visions as Michael, with the ghostly Deborah forcing her to say ‘I love you mommy’. 

The police arrive at Michael’s location and surround the cabin.  Loomis, having heard the news of Michael’s return and the danger Laurie now faces, arrives on the scene to help.  He enters the cabin in an attempt to get Michael to free Laurie.  Laurie is unable to leave with Loomis though as she believes that the younger Michael is holding her down.  Whilst telling her that there is no one there and imploring her to maintain her sanity Michael attacks and kills Loomis.

Sheriff Bracket sees Michael through the cabin window and shoots him, knocking him back onto the spikes of some farming equipment.  Apparently free of the visions, Laurie takes Michaels knife and stabs him to death.  Laurie emerges from the cabin, covered in blood and wearing Michael’s mask.

In the final shot of the film Laurie is in a psychiatric ward, grinning at the camera whilst seeing a vision of the ghostly Deborah.

Michael brutally attacks the staff at Haddonfield Hospital.
Halloween 2 is a very different animal from the other Halloween films, even the movie directly before it.  Whilst Rob Zombie’s first Halloween film took what was already in place in the original film and expanded upon it, this time round he is able to take the series in a whole new direction of his own choosing.

The returning characters from the first film are all handled well and have some great character growth, with both Laurie and Annie being damaged survivors, Sheriff Breaker becoming an even more devoted father for the two girls, and Dr. Loomis becoming something of a dick.  No one could play Loomis like Donald Pleasence, so instead of trying to emulate his character they have Malcolm McDowell create a truly different interpretation of the character.

The exploration of Michaels psyche, and the similar ways in which Laurie’s mind also work is a stand out and visually different experience from anything else we have seen in the Halloween franchise up to this point, and continues the theme of adding more depth to a character that has almost always been portrayed as a blank slate.  They even have Michael vocalise for the first time in this film, with grunts and yells as he viciously kills his latest wave of victims.  Rather than taking anything away from the classically silent slasher, it makes Michael all the more frightening.

An interesting new direction stylistically than the other films that continues to build upon the success and innovations Zombie made in his first film.  7/10.

Well there it is, my thoughts on the Halloween series.  I hope that you all enjoyed it and that you might be inspired to go out and watch at least one of them this Halloween night.  Have a great Halloween everyone.

Amy Walker Facebook
Trans Girl Writer Facebook Fan Page
Amy Walker Twitter

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Happy Halloween! - A Review of the Halloween Films Pt. 1

Horror Icon Michael Myers

Halloween is one of the most well known and well respected horror franchises in cinema.  With ten films and names such as John Carpenter, Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnet, Rob Zombie, Malcolm McDowell and Donald Pleasence to its credit it stands tall amongst its competitors as a series to be taken seriously and given respect.

Now that Halloween itself is upon us, and I have a housemate who loves horror movies, I decided that it would be a good time to re-watch the Halloween franchise from start to finish, and here are my thoughts on each.  Hope you enjoy!
Halloween (1978)

Halloween Poster
On Halloween night 1963 in Haddonfield, six year old Michael Myers brutally stabs his sister, Judith Myers, to death with a kitchen knife.  After spending fifteen years in Smith's Grove Sanatorium, under the care of Doctor Samuel Loomis, Michael escapes and returns to Haddonfield.  Fearful of the evil within Michael, Doctor Loomis follows him and begins to hunt him down.

Once back at Haddonfield Michael sees teenager Laurie Strode and begins to stalk her.  Throughout Halloween night Michael begins his killing spree, murdering Laurie’s friends before coming for the girl herself.  During her desperate battle for survival Loomis arrives on the scene and shoots Michael several times, knocking him from a balcony.  After checking on Laurie’s safety Loomis returns to where Michael fell to find him vanished.

Laurie fights for survival against Michael.

The first Halloween film is an all time classic.  Its cast is great, the two stars, Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode and Donald Pleasence as Samuel Loomis, elevate the film from simple slasher with their acting abilities.  Halloween even helped to launch the career for Curtis, paving the way for her to become a Hollywood star.

Movie legend John Carpenter uses the limited time and budget constraints to his advantage, crafting a wonderfully visual piece that’s filled with tension throughout, even when Michael is stalking Laurie in broad day light he manages to keep the scares and tension to a consistently high level.

The music and visual style help to make the movie more than it’s humble beginnings of a man who kills babysitters to a visually moody piece where we focus more on Michael stalking his victims rather than the actual killings themselves.  For a slasher movie there is relatively little gore or blood, instead the scares come from Michael suddenly appearing in frame and disappearing again as quickly unbeknownst to the characters on screen.

Halloween is a suspenseful and frightening film that introduces some great characters and an instantly iconic movie killer.  Well above many of its companions in the slasher genre Halloween stands out as a beautifully cinematic experience.  9/10.

Halloween 2 (1981)

Halloween 2 Poster
Halloween 2 picks up straight where the first film ends, with Dr. Loomis saving Laurie from Michaels attack, and Michael’s subsequent disappearance.  Laurie is sent to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital for emergency treatment whilst Loomis continues with his hunt of Michael through the streets of the town.  Following after Laurie, Michael enters Haddonfield Memorial Hospital and proceeds to eliminate the staff within. 

 During his hunt for Michael, Loomis learns the true reason behind Michael returning to Haddonfield, to kill his younger sister.  A sister who had since been adopted and now goes by the name of Laurie Strode.  Realising that Michael did not randomly target Laurie, Loomis rushes to the hospital.

Together Loomis and an injured Laurie lure Michael into an operating room and use the oxygen tanks to kill Michael with a massive explosion that also claims the life of Dr. Loomis.  Safe from Michael, Laurie is loaded into the back of an ambulance.

Michael hunts Laurie through the hospital halls.
Despite having been made three years after the first film Halloween 2 seamlessly picks up where the first film left off and continues the story of Halloween night 1978.  Despite the fact that John Carpenter did not plan for a sequel to the first film, when watched with the original Halloween 2 feels like the second part of a pair, with the two films complementing each other well.

Due to the success of the first film, however, slasher movies had become more popular to film going audiences and the effect of this can be seen clearly in Halloween 2.  The deaths have become bloodier and more creative, which much more screen time being handed over to the demise of character than was given in the first film.  There is one scene in particular where one of Michaels victims has been drained of her blood, with more blood in that one scene that in the whole of the first movie!

The returning cast from the first film do a sterling job once again, though with Laurie sedated in hospital for much of the film Pleasence is given much more screen time this time round as Dr. Loomis.  7/10.

Halloween 3:
Season of the Witch (1982)

Halloween 3: Season of the Witch Poster
Called into cover a night shift at his hospital, Dr. Dan Challis finds a patient suffering from severe shock, repeating the words ‘they’re going to kill us all’ and clutching a Halloween mask made by Silver Shamrock.  The patient is murdered by a strange man in a suit, who then proceeds to leave the hospital and kill himself by setting himself on fire.  Witness to these events Challis is deeply disturbed.

Challis and the patient’s daughter, Ellie, decide that something was terribly wrong with what happened and decide to investigate matters further.  Together the two of them travel to the small town of Santa Mira, home of Silver Shamrock.  Upon arriving in the town they find that Silver Shamrock effectively own the small coastal town, with many of the people there working at the factory and everyone claiming that the town owes everything to Mr Cochran, the man behind Silver Shamrock.

Managing to get a tour of the Silver Shamrock factory Ellie discovers her father’s car hidden within, guarded my more of the mysterious suited men.  Challis and Ellie return to their motel and attempt to call for help but discover that they cannot reach anyone outside of Santa Mira.  Ellie is then kidnapped by the suited men.

Challis proceeds to Silver Shamrock and breaks into the factory.  Confronted by one of the men in suits Challis fights him, only to discover that he is in fact an android created by Cochran.  Challis is captured by the androids and Cochran reveals his plan to kill children on Halloween night.

It is revealed that the Silver Shamrock logos on the Halloween masks contain a computer chip and a small fragment of one of the rocks from Stonehenge.  When the Silver Shamrock commercial airs on Halloween night the mask will kill the wearer and release a swarm of insects and snakes to kill those close at hand, in an attempt to appease the god Samhain, whose festival of Halloween has become subverted.

Challis escapes and with Ellie manages to destroy both Cochran and the factory.  Whilst fleeing back to town Challis is attacked by Ellie, who it is revealed has been replaced by an android copy.  Challis defeats the android and runs to a local gas station.  From here he calls the television stations in an attempt to get them to stop the commercial from playing.  All but one station do so, leaving Challis screaming for them to stop it as the film abruptly ends.

Challis tries to stop the deaths of millions.

Halloween 3 is a great film.  It’s also the only film in the series that has nothing whatsoever to do with Michael Myers.  Halloween 3 was made following the completion of the Michael Myers story and the creators wanted to give audiences something different, and keep producing Halloween films as an anthology series, much like the Twilight Zone, with each new film focusing on another aspect of the Halloween season.

Unfortunately when the film was released it was not looked upon favourably, and as such some consider it to be the ‘black sheep’ of the series, which is a shame because I loved it.  This was the first time I had seen Halloween 3, and I knew that it wasn’t a Michael Myers film going into it, and as such I had no idea what to expect from it.

Whereas the other Halloween films are your basic stalk and kill slasher movies, Season of the Witch had more plot than the first two films, more mystery and a villain that wasn’t just driven by the desire to kill, but has a big complicated plan that took years to come to fruition.

Tom Atkins is great as Dr. Challis, giving us a vastly different hero from others in the series, and Dan O’Herlihy is on top form as the villainous Cochran.  Together with an intriguing plot and some horrific effects during the activation of one of the masks, Halloween 3 is a brilliant stand alone movie.  8/10

Halloween 4:
The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers Poster

Michael Myers, who survived the explosion at the end of Halloween 2, has been in a coma for the last ten years, but whilst being transferred from one hospital to another overhears the paramedics talking about Laurie Strode, who it is revealed died since the second film, but is survived by her daughter Jamie.  Michael attacks and kills the paramedics and escapes, heading back to Haddonfield to find his niece.  Dr. Samuel Loomis, who also survived the explosion ten years previously, learns of Michaels escape and swiftly follows him to Haddonfield to once again stop his murderous plans.

In Haddonfield, eight year old Jamie is living with a foster family and is aware that Michael Myers is her uncle, and frequently has nightmares about him.    When her foster parents leave town for Halloween night Jamie’s foster sister Rachel is given responsibility to look after her.

Meanwhile, Dr. Loomis arrives in Haddonfield and teams up with Sheriff Meeker to find Jamie and prevent her from falling victim to Michael.  Finding the girls being chased by Michael whilst trick or treating the two of them return to the police station for help, but find that Michael has already been there, and has killed all of the other officers in town.  When news of this breaks a lynch mob forms in an attempt to find and kill Michael.

Loomis and Meeker retreat to the sheriff’s house with the girls and secure it against Michael.  Unfortunately Michael breaks into the house and Jamie is forced to flee.  In a desperate chase that leads to an old mine, Michael is cornered by Sheriff Meeker and the lynch mob and is subsequently shot multiple times before falling down an old mineshaft, where he is presumed dead.

Jamie and Rachel return home, where her now returned foster parents are waiting.  The girls are consoled by their parents before Darlene, the mother, goes to run a bath for Jamie.  Jamie proceeds to don a clown mask and brutally stabs her mother with a pair or scissors, similar to Michael’s original crime.  The film ends with a blood covered Jamie with Dr. Loomis screaming and Rachel and Meeker looking on in horror.

Michael hunts his niece Jamie.
Halloween 4 is a fine return to the formula of the first two films, with the welcome return of both Michael and Loomis.  Unfortunately Jamie Lee Curtis was no longer willing to be part of the franchise due to her success as an actress outside of the Halloween series, and as such as killed off off-screen.  Fortunately Danielle Harris does sterling performance as Jamie Lloyd.  Plus its fun to see Michael chase a victim who needs to rely on others to help her, teenagers can fight back against Michael, a child can’t.

Whilst both Loomis and Michael were killed in the second film they are quickly brought back to life with some simple lines of dialogue that state they survived the explosion at the end of the second film.  Whilst this is highly unlikely, the explosion was massive, I found it quickly acceptable as I just wanted to watch Loomis chase Michael all over again, and as such didn’t become hung up on these ret-cons. 

The kills are gain getting more and more creative, probably due to the need to compete with other slasher movies, but aren’t too over the top gory like many other horror films.  It’s also fun to see the residents of Haddonfield step up and take action into their own hands once the mention of Michael Myers is made, the brutal murders of the first two films still fresh in their minds.

A competent sequel that manages to revive a series and characters that were effectively put to bed in Halloween 2, that also introduces us to some great new characters such as Sheriff Meeker and Jamie Lloyd.  7/10.

Halloween 5:
The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers Poster

Beginning where the fourth film left off we see that Michael survived his fall down the mine and escapes into a river, where he is found by a local hermit.  The hermit takes care of Michael, who falls into a coma for the next year.  Waking on October 30th, Michael kills the hermit and heads back to Haddonfield to find Jamie once again.

In Haddonfield we see that Jamie has been admitted to a children’s psychiatric ward and has been rendered mute due to psychological trauma.  During this time she also begins to exhibit signs of a psychic link with Michael, and discovers that he is returning.  Aware of Jamie and Michaels link Loomis tries to convince Sheriff Meeker that Michael is coming back to Haddonfield.

Michael kills Jamie’s foster sister Rachel, and begins to stalk Rachel’s friend Tina.  Aware that Michael is pursuing Tina, Jamie leaves the hospital and goes to the Halloween party where Michael is trying to kill Tina.  Tina sacrifices herself to save Jamie and Michael escapes.  Jamie then agrees to help Loomis lure Michael into a trap.

Using Jamie as bait Loomis and Meeker devise a trap at Michael Myers’ old home.  Michael arrives and chases Jamie through the house, killing several officers in the process.  Loomis manages to catch Michael in a chain net and shoots him with several tranquilizers, allowing the police to take Michael into custody.

Michael is locked up in the sheriff’s station, waiting to be transferred to a maximum security facility, when a mysterious man attacks the station, killing all of the officers within, including Meeker, and escapes with Michael as his captive.

Loomis confronts Michael in the Myers house.

Halloween 5 was released only a year after Halloween 4, and you can tell.  The film feels rushed throughout, with a poor story that is the first major let down in the franchise so far.  The characters no longer seem to have character, but are simply archetypal horror movie victims, there simply to be killed in creative and gory ways.  There is no real investment in any of them.

Even the returning characters seem to be poorly done by, with Rachel being quickly dispatched to make way for the character of Tina, and Jamie being psychologically traumatised by the events of the previous film.  Loomis seems to do little to nothing different in this film also, simply being used because it’s his job to hunt Michael.

The inclusion of the psychic link between Jamie and Michael seems to come out of nowhere and adds an element of the supernatural that has this far not been included in the Michael Myers films.  The link itself is never explained or used well in the course of the film.  One minute Jamie is able to prevent someone being killed by Michael, the next Michael is able to spring a trap on Jamie, one she surely should have seen coming because of this link.

Halloween five was a great disappointment from a series which up till then had been a pleasure to watch.  6/10.

In the seconnd part of my Halloween review I will be looking at Halloween 6, H20, Resurrection and the two Rob Zombie movies.

Amy Walker Facebook
Trans Girl Writer Facebook Fan Page
Amy Walker Twitter

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Robin, Batgirl & Nightwing Year One Review

I was lucky enough to purchase part of a large graphic novel collection recently, and now have loads of great new Batman books to read.  Three of the books that I received were Robin Year One, Batgirl Year One and Nightwing Year One, a trio of books written by Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty, and focus on the early exploits of the titular characters.

Robin Year One

Robin Year One tells the story of Dick Grayson’s first year as Batman’s sidekick and ward, focusing on both his training as Robin and his personal life as Dick.  We follow Robin foiling a sex trafficking plot by Mad Hatter when one of his classmates is kidnapped.  From there we see Dick go on to foil plots by both Killer Moth and Blockbuster.  

The story takes a darker turn, however, when Two Face becomes involved.  Blaming Batman for his disfiguration he plots revenge against him by planning to kill Robin.  Creating a scenario that allows him to capture both Batman and Robin, Two Face proceeds to brutally beat Robin with a baseball bat, only stopped short of killing him when Batman manages to break free.  Batman decides that this was too close a call and retires Dick of his mantle of Robin.  Dick runs away from Wayne Manor in defiance.

From here we follow Dick as he falls in with a group of young criminals and killers who are under the purview of the League of Assassins.  Despite having almost died, being fired by Batman and joining a group of criminals Dick’s true nature shines through and he assists Batman in bringing the group to justice.

Robin Year One is a very enjoyable read with beautiful artwork throughout.  Dixon and Beatty craft an interesting story that doesn’t feel the need to re-tread Dick Grayson’s origin story, but instead focusing on his first days as Robin.  Both Batman and Robin are written as well rounded characters with a great deal of personality. 

As a fan of Robin, especially Dick Grayson, I couldn’t recommend this book enough.  It’s full of great character moments, humour and emotion and despite the fact that it’s retelling the story of a characters past it never once feels boring or that it’s something you’ve read before.  A great all round read!

Batgirl Year One

Batgirl Year One follows Barbara Gordon, the first batgirl, as she creates the persona of Batgirl for herself, going up against not only villains, but the disapproval of both Batman and Commissioner Gordon.

The story begins with Barbara already in the mantle of batgirl, fighting against Killer Moth and his gang of thugs, but quickly jumps backwards in time to show us how an ordinary girl ends up as a masked vigilante.  We see in the flashbacks that Barbara was desperate to do the right thing and fight crime, but her father will not allow her to train to become a police officer, and she doesn’t meet the physical requirements to join the F.B.I.

With no traditional ways of fighting crime open to her, and drawing inspiration from the cities costumed crime fighters, particularly Black Canary of the JLA/JSA, she decides that it is the only option left open to her.  Barbara proceeds to hack into the police computer network, using her father’s access, to gain information on the JSA.  Breaking into their Gotham headquarters she leaves a note for Black Canary, requesting to become her apprentice.

Unfortunately for her, the letter is intercepted by JSA member Wildcat, who does not pass it along to Black Canary.  Wildcat informs her not to try and become a crime fighter and Barbara is left without a mentor, and yet another crime fighting career denied to her. 

Joining her father for a masquerade ball Barbara decides to poke some fun at him by dressing up in a modified Batman costume.  However, events soon spiral out of control when Killer Moth attacks the ball.  Barbara reacts quickly and engages Killer Moth and his gang, allowing their target, Bruce Wayne, to escape.

From these events Batgirl is born, and an enemy is made in Killer Moth.   Throughout the rest of the book we witness Barbara facing Killer Moth again, alongside his new partner Firefly, as well as the animosity Batman has towards her and the beginning of the romance that will develop between her and Robin.

Once again Dixon and Beatty have crafted a fine tale of a characters origin story that feels completely fresh and new, despite being set in the past.  The book is full of beautiful art, and some of the most stunning covers I have ever seen.  A great follow up to Robin Year One that improves upon the formula of the original.

Nightwing Year One

In Nightwing Year One Dick Grayson rushes to assist Batman against Clayface, coming straight from a mission with the Teen Titans.  Due to him arriving late and his attention and time being divided between Gotham and the Titans Batman proceeds to fire Dick from the position of Robin.

Looking for guidance and a friendly face to talk to Dick heads to Metropolis to speak to Superman.  Helping to prevent a presidential assassination dick proves that even without the mantle of Robin he is still a hero who will do the right thing.  Superman tells Dick of an ancient Kryptonian hero named Nightwing, and the influence he had on his decision to become a hero himself.  

Taking Superman’s advice onboard Dick heads home to Haly’s Circus where he lived with his parents before their murder.  There he takes up his old position of high wire acrobat, working alongside Deadman’s brother, Cleveland Brand.  It is here that Dick stumbles across old pictures of his father as a solo acrobat and draws inspiration from his costume, creating the persona of Nightwing.

Returning to Gotham Dick sets about making sure he’s know about town, meeting Commissioner Gordon and Batgirl, as well as breaking up every crime he can find, and even breaking into Arkham to torment the inmates there, making sure that in that one night Nightwing is a name to be known in Gotham.

During all of these events Batman is in the process of training his new Robin, Jason Todd.  A brash and arrogant street kid, Jason is a headstrong Robin that sees Dick’s time as Robin as something to beat, rather than honour.  As such, when the two finally meet and have to work together to rescue Alfred we see a hostile relationship gradually make way from a form of mutual respect.

Nightwing Year One is a nice mix of Dick Grayson and Jason Todd stories that not only tells the origin of Nightwing, but the passing of the title of Robin.  The final part of the ‘Year One Trilogy’ does not loose any quality that the previous two books displayed and continues to present a fresh enjoyable take on the bat family and their adventures.

 All three books are great reads, either individually or as a set, and it’s nice to read a Batman book that focuses as much on the characters and their relationships with each other as their crime fighting adventures.

Amy Walker Facebook
Trans Girl Writer Facebook Fan Page
Amy Walker Twitter