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.

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