In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Monday, February 19, 2018

White Halloween

Another weekend, another horror marathon it seems. This time it was all eight Halloween films. Fortunately, some atrocious weather that day made it very conducive to sitting on my friend Serena's couch for fifteen hours.

Halloween is a series very near and dear to my heart and though it has followed a trajectory similar to Nightmare on Elm Street (start strong, lose itself in sequels then bounce back at Part 7 before being killed by a shitty remake) I was always most intrigued by the lore of The Shape. Michael Myers was seemingly invincible, but I never really saw him as supernatural like Freddy or a zombie monster like Jason. Those two are both powered by vengeance whereas Myers is just evil incarnate.

Anyway, things got rolling about eleven in the morning. We watched all eight films (the pair of Zombie reboots can ess a dee) with some of Halloween related videos curated by Serena in between, such as the Haddonfield-set segment of Body Bags, the Angry Video Game Nerd's review of the Atari 2600 game and the trailer for the XXX version of Halloween (which I certainly did not watch the next day...)

I'm not going to switch up the order this time, so here we go.

So here it is, the mother* of all slashers, John Carpenter's Halloween. I've seen it so many times, watching it is like donning a favourite piece of clothing. This viewing I realized however, was the first time I'd watched it since I visited the actual locations. It was a little surreal.

If I was asked to make a list of my favourite scenes from horror movies the iconic bit where Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is locked out of her house while Myers (then played by Nick Castle) strides across toward her would be among the top. I even remember re-enacting that scene with a childhood friend of mine using my backyard gate. I first saw this movie when I was about six, so it was likely the film that introduced me the art of suspense.

What else can I say that already hasn't been said? It's a masterpiece.

For me, Halloween I & II are like one long movie. I understand their tones are completely different, Carpenter's was about suspense & atmosphere and the sequel's full-on slasher, but to me they're intrinsically linked. The sequel was still a fairly new concept in 1981, so a horror movie - or any movie for that matter - picking up right where the last movie left off was extremely exciting to me as a kid. After my family got our first VCR, I would often watch the first two movies back-to-back.

As a child, I didn't notice part II wasn't as well made as its predecessor, or that Curtis was wearing a wig - something Serena never stops giving me shit for - I just obviously responded to the higher body count. Oh and the therapy tub scene. I'm thinking Pamela Susan Shoop may have been the first time I got a good look at onscreen boobies.

Ahem, where was I? Part II brought up several topics of contention. Aside from said wig, there was also talk of whether Jimmy still lived in the theatrical version (as we know he does in the TV version) and whether or not Shoop's character could be killed that quickly by boiling water. I say absolutely, as holding my breath is the last thing I'm going to be thinking about while my face is peeling away.

Halloween III is the black sheep of the family. In theory, the idea to turn Halloween into a one-off anthology series was intriguing, but in the eighties fans wanted to see their favourite slashers stalk the screen. Part III was much maligned when it first came out, but has since gained favour with the horror community. This is good because it's a pretty bad-ass movie with some mean gore and frankly nihilistic attitude. And the Silver Shamrock jingle is almost as iconic as the Halloween theme itself. 

After this misstep, the producers regrouped for six years before bringing The Shape back to the screen.

I have a special place in my heart for Part 4 because it was the first one I ever got to see in the theatre. I was fourteen and my brother & I went to the local multiplex to see it. I still remember bobbing in my seat when the theme kicked in as Myers was being wheeled out to the ambulance in the pouring rain. 

I was crushing on both Rachel (Ellie Cornell) and Kelly (Kathleen Kinmont) and I think Danielle Harris gave one of the best child performances I've ever seen. It's pretty ridiculous what they put that kid through over the course of two movies and it's a miracle that she wasn't scarred for life. Like the Friday films, it was very fortunate that even though they switched out the dude playing Myers every film, they always seemed to hit pay dirt.

I really like that ending too. It has a cyclical element to it that really would have been a good image to finish on. But you know how things go in this business.

Part 5 was where things went south for this franchise. I mean, you could blame the fact that they rushed the movie out, but it goes deeper than that. Fundamentally, there are some huge problems here. I believe the most perturbing for me is how unceremoniously Rachel was dispatched from the series. It was shocking, but it throws off the rest of the movie. We're left to hang out with the most annoying characters. Tina (Wendy Kaplan) should've been dead by the second act yet she sticks around foooorever. I mean, that barn sequence seemed to go on for half the movie.


I think the other problem was Myers. While this was also where the production started having problems with the mask (tuck it in for fuck's sake!!!) it also showed a change in Myers' behaviour. That prolonged sequence where he's pretending to be Tina's boyfriend was just so out of place. It's one thing to put a sheet over your head, but another thing entirely to drive her around for ten fucking minutes.

This is also where they set up the Man in Black which leads us into Halloween's second biggest misstep.

The conclusion of the Thorn trilogy was a mess for many reasons, but mainly it was due to the competing visions of the director and producer. We watched the theatrical because it's gorier and (somewhat) less convoluted. It's not a good movie, but I think the bigger faux pas was trying to explain what Myers actually was. It's never a good thing to throw light on the monster.

Funny, never noticed that before Part 5...

I liked that they brought back George P. Wilbur as Myers and it's funny to see Paul Rudd in a horror flick, so there were some pluses. However, there are far more offensive things about Curse. How Jamie (now played by J.C. Brandy) was dispatched was really offside (I can only imagine how upsetting it would've been if it was actually Harris splayed out on that farm equipment) and the allusion that her baby was born of incest with Myers was just fucking gross, guys. 

Then, there's the sad passing of Donald Pleasance shortly after shooting which means the last memory of the iconic Dr. Loomis is, depending on which version you watch, him either standing outside the hospital looking lost or screaming in anguish. It's really unfortunate.

So hey guys, remember those last three movies. They never happened! H20 is twenty years after Part II and Laurie (aka Karen Tate) is now living in California.

Being post-Scream, it does have that air to it - I mean, look at the poster ffs - but this movie was a return to form. Curtis is fantastic, as is the supporting cast which included Michelle Williams, Josh Hartnett and Adam Arkin. I still can't believe all the bumbling around with the Myers mask - like how is this shit not sorted before you go to camera? - but the last act of H20 really makes up for the last two movies.

I love the moment where Laurie has a chance to leave, but she's like, no we're ending this now. Curtis fights the boogeyman and wins once and for all. Right? No? Shit.

I have to admit I had never watched this one. I had heard what happens in the first & last scenes and quickly pressed the boycott button. The explanation about how Myers was still alive after H20 is laughable. Watching this movie now was painful. I'd rather re-watch Hellraiser: Hellworld than this.

I hear that is was actually the Halloween Internet fan-sites that helped get this made. Fuck, fanboys (and girls) are our own worst enemy. This was a steaming pile. After three movies, THIS is how you kill off Laurie? And why are there catacombs under the Myers house now?

The biggest surprise for me was that the “trick or treat muthafucka” bit was not the dumbest scene involving Busta Rhymes. That comes when he & Myers are both standing masked and face-to-face. After Rhymes lays down some smack talk, Myers just wanders away. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?! There is no universe where Rhymes doesn't take a knife to the face during this exchange. So fucking stupid. And this is how the series sputtered out. What a waste.

I was doing great the entire marathon, but after the brain-numbing shitshow that was Resurrection, I just curled up into a fetal position on the couch and went to sleep.

This Halloween, we have another iteration coming out. This one apparently ret-cons everything after the 1978 film, which I guess means that Laurie & Michael are no longer even related. I'm still iffy on the writer/director, but Curtis is in and to some capacity, so is Carpenter so I'm giving it a chance.

It has to be better than Resurrection. IT HAS TO.

*Let's call Black Christmas (1974) the “grandmother” of all slashers.

No comments: