To celebrate one of the greatest days of the year, I thought I’d try something a little different on this blog. And while this isn’t exactly writing related, maybe we could call it screenwriting related? Well, maybe not.
But what we can call it is FUN. It’s a quick review of all ten Halloween movie, the good, the bad, and the ugly. And trust me, some of these get very ugly.
So I hope you enjoy this post, watch lots of scary movies tonight, and eat candy until you get sick.
Here we go with the original…
A psychotic murderer (Michael Myers) institutionalized since childhood for the murder of his sister, escapes and stalks a bookish teenage girl (Laurie Strode played Jaime Lee Curtis) and her friends while his doctor (Dr. Sam Loomis played by Donald Pleasence) chases him through the streets.
The Good: Everything. It’s October. It’s Halloween. And rumors of the Boogeyman are everywhere. The perfect soundtrack sets the mood and the setting brings it to life. I should mention that there are some slow parts early on, but they do serve a purpose; they give you the feeling that you’re being watched just as the characters are. The pacing in the first half of the movie is set up to do just that. By the time the killing starts, you’re thinking, “holy hell, this could happen to anyone.” Without giving away any spoilers, its ending is ambiguous enough to make you want more, but also provides enough closure to make you feel fulfilled.
The Bad: I’ll admit that some of the acting is a little forced and some of the characters can be annoying, but come on–it’s the 70’s.
Closing: This is the movie that started it all; the movie that brought the slasher genre to the mainstream. If you haven’t seen this, you owe it to yourself as a patriotic American to see it. And there’s no better time to watch it than right this instant.
Halloween II (1981)
Picking up right where the first one left off, Laurie is sent to a hospital to recover from the injuries Michael Myers gave her in the first movie. Unfortunately for her, Michael tracks her down at the hospital. Unfortunately for him, Dr. Loomis follows.
The Good: If you like the first one, you’ll like this one. Same actors, same music, lots of kills. What more could you ask for?
The Bad: The whole movie takes place in a hospital, so if you’re looking for the Halloween feel, it’s lacking.
Closing: I really like the fact that this takes place right after the first one and doesn’t try to do anything too fancy. In fact, the two almost run together as a single movie. To me, this is how a sequel should work. Otherwise you have Halloween 6, or even worse, Halloween: Resurrection, but we’ll get to those in a little bit.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
The Halloween series tried taking a new direction with this film and made it without Michael Myers. Instead, it was about a costume making company that planned to kill millions with a traps set in their masks.
The Good: It’s really not as bad as it sounds. The movie’s got an interesting concept and if you take the Halloween label of it, it would make a pretty good B-Movie popcorn flick.
The Bad: Besides the obvious fact that the story didn’t involve any of the previous characters, this movie did have plenty of flaws. The most glaring is this. They play the song continuously throughout the movie and once it gets stuck in your head, only something as awful “Blurred Lines” can chase it out. (But if you want my opinion, I’d rather hear “8 more days ’till Halloween” on repeat for eight straight days than subject myself to even three minutes of Robin Thicke.)
Closing: This gets a really bad reputation because of no Michael Myers, but it’s not the worst Halloween movie in the original series. In fact it’s not even next to last on the scale. It’s better than parts 6 and 8. Go ahead and watch this if you need a silly background movie to put on while you’re handing out treats tonight.
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
Michael Myers is back and this time it’s to chase after a new relative, his eight-year-old niece, Jaime Lloyd (played by Danielle Harris). Donald Pleasence returns as Dr. Loomis to track down the killer.
The Good: This is a fun slasher film. Coming out ten years after the first one and following a decade of Freddy and Jason, you won’t see anything in this that you haven’t already seen in a dozen other horror movies, but that’s okay; it’s Michael Myers being Michael Myers and bringing up his body count. Donald Pleasence is still great in his role and Daniell Harris is good in hers. So good you won’t even notice the lack of Jamie Lee Curtis.
The Bad: One problem with this movie is that it takes Michael Myers down the path of becoming a Jason clone, which is pretty ironic, because Jason started out as a Michael Myers clone. This can definitely come off as a generic slasher film, so if you’re not in the mood for one of those you might want to avoid it.
Closing: If you only watch three of the ten Halloween movies, watch 1, 2, and 4. It serves as a good follow-up to part 2 and it’s ending is good enough to forget that parts 5 & 6 even happen.
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Shock of shocks, Michael didn’t really die in part 4. He actually stumbled into a river, fell into a coma, and lived with a hermit in a comatose state for a full year. He awakes on October 30, killing the hermit who took care of him (of course) and sets off to Haddonfield to take care of the unfinished business with his niece.
The Good: Things are starting to get bad here, but not quite Halloween 6 bad yet. And for a cheep slasher film, this movie still manages to be watchable. The two saving points of this movie are the relationship between Jamie and Michael and Dr. Loomis’s obsession with him.
The Bad: The dude seriously lays in a coma with a hermit for a year and then wakes up and kills him. I didn’t even know there still were hermits. Another big problem is that there is just so much filler in this one. Jason Michael just wanders around killing too many useless teens. Oh, yeah, there’s also a mysterious man in black wandering around who, much to the pain of the viewer, is revealed in part 6.
Closing: If you liked part 4, go ahead and watch this, just make sure to keep your expectations in check. There are some good kills, some decent acting, and just for kicks you get to see Michael Myer’s face. Don’t worry–he looks nothing like Austin Powers.
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
And…this is where it all falls apart. You know what? Instead of trying to summarize this mess myself, here’s the intro from wikipedia to give you the basic plot setting:
Six years after the events of Halloween 5, the “Man in Black” seen throughout the previous movie has rescued Michael from the Haddonfield Police Station and abducted his niece Jamie Lloyd (J.C. Brandy). Jamie, now fifteen, has been impregnated and her baby is born on October 30, 1995. The baby is carried away by the Man in Black who appears to be the leader of a Druid-like cult. Later that night, Mary (Susan Swift), a nurse, helps Jamie escape with her baby whom she warns is in harms way. Michael (George P. Wilbur), in pursuit of Jamie and her newborn, kills the nurse. Jamie and the baby flee in a stolen pickup of a drunk motorist (who quickly becomes Michael’s next victim) and hides at a dark and deserted bus station. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween:_The_Curse_of_Michael_Myers)
Druids. OK then.
The Good: Well, it’s not the worst Halloween movie…
The Bad: Wow. So Michael wasn’t some deranged kid who killed his sister and then grew up to become a psychopathic killer hell bent on tracking down the rest of his family? No, silly. He was programed by the “Cult of Thorn” to make a blood sacrifice from his family. Or something. The leader of the cult is one of the extras from the first movie, a guy named Dr. Wynn. He programmed Michael from the beginning to do whatever it was he’s supposed to do…I don’t know. The whole thing is a gigantic disaster. Apparently there’s a director’s cut and a producer’s cut and one of those are supposed to make more sense, but to be honest, I’m not interested enough to try to figure out which one is which (or which one I even watched).
The REALLY Bad: Michael impregnates his niece.
Closing: What made Halloween so good and frightening was that Michael had no motive. He just killed his sister and then kept killing. This whole druid cult thing just screws everything up. Unless you’re a horror film completest like me and need to see every freaking sequel of a movie if you like the first one (sadly this includes Paranormal Activity, but that’s a story for another day) just stay away from this mess of a film and go right onto Halloween H20 instead.
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
Movie Exec: “Hey, guys, it’s twenty years since Halloween. Let’s make a new one.”
Screen writers: “How the hell do we write ourselves out of the hole we dug for part 4-6?”
Movie Exec: “…”
Screenwriters: “What if we just ignore them?”
Movie Exec: “Okay.”
And that’s just what they did. Halloween H20, the seventh installation of the Halloween series, billed itself as a sequel to parts 1 & 2, ignoring 4-6.
So twenty years after part 2, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is living a new life, with a new name, a new teenage son, and teaching at a private school. Michael returns (from the grave?) and finds her, chasing her down and killing every teen who gets in the way.
The Good: Well, after part 6, this was definitely a breath of fresh air. It was also nice to see Jamie Lee Curtis return, although I thought Dr. Loomis was a much more interesting character. Again, it’s just another cheep slasher film, but worth watching if you are in the mood for it.
The Bad: As much as I love Scream, it kind of ruined horror films in the late 1990’s & 2000’s because every horror move that came out after it had to feel just like it. This was no exception. It also adds some “comic relief” with LL Cool J that I could have done without.
Closing: This is another one where you could get away with watching just parts 1,2, and 7 (H20) if you don’t want to watch the whole series. Personally, I felt part 4 was way better than this one, so I’d still suggest watching 1,2, and 4 instead. The one good thing about H20, though, is that it finally ends the original Halloween series. Michael is decisively dead and Laurie stands as the clear winner, ready to move on with her life and live happily ever after.
What’s that? Halloween: Resurrection? You don’t mean this? With Busta Rhymes and an internet reality show? That was a joke, right? Or a poorly made fan fic pic? They didn’t actually make that?
Oh, but they did. And it is as bad as it sounds. Keep reading…
Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
Three years after the events that happened in California, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) had been sent to a psychiatric hospital after it is revealed that she had beheaded a paramedic instead of her brother Michael; the paramedic had located the body of Myers in the dining hall of Laurie’s school, but Myers had attacked the paramedic, crushed his larynx so he wouldn’t cry out and forcefully switched clothing and his mask. Myers then goes into hiding for the next three years.
On October 31, 2001, still in captivity, Laurie, pretending to be heavily medicated, prepares herself for the inevitable confrontation with Michael. When Michael finally appears, Laurie lures him into a trap, but as she attempts to kill Myers, she second guesses herself and goes to remove his mask to make sure that it is really her brother this time. Myers takes advantage, and stabs her in the back before sending her off the roof to her death. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween:_Resurrection)
So there you have it. Michael didn’t die in the previous movie. He put his mask on an extra and that’s who Laurie beheaded. And then she faked mental illness so that she could live in luxury in a psych ward for three years waiting for him to come and find her. He does. Then they fight for a little while and Michael pushes her off a roof to her death.
You know, I guess if you read it like that it doesn’t sound like that terrible of a movie. There are some flaws, sure, but nothing beats Michael Myers chasing around Jamie Lee Curtis for Halloween.
There’s only one thing I forgot to mention. This summary is only for the opening scene. Yes, they bring back Jamie Lee Curtis, only to kill off her character, the iconic Laurie Strode, in the first fifteen minutes of the movie. Not only was her death pointless, but it was also an extremely anti-climatic way to kill an important character. It’s like that awful first Star Trek: TNG movie, Generations, where they brought in William Shatner just to kill Captain Kirk in an unceremonious way that did nothing for the character.
So anyhow, after Laurie falls to her death, we move forward one year and go back to Haddonfield, where Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks are hosting an internet reality show featuring six college kids spending the night in Michaels Myer’s old house.
This is where it where it really starts getting painful. Busta Rhymes (who’s character is named Freddie, har har) dresses up like Michael in order to scare the college kids, but then the real Michael shows up and starts killing people. In the end, Freddie (cringe) overpowers Michael and electrocutes him, saving the surviving pretty girl from the burning house. Thank God for Busta Rhymes.
The Good: You know what? The first 10-15 minutes are actually pretty fun. Watch that and just pretend that it’s an extended ending to Halloween: H20.
The Bad: I think it’s safe to say we’ve already covered that…
Closing: I know I gave too much away in this quick movie, but just consider yourself lucky that I did so you can avoid watching this atrocity.
This is definitely the worst movie in the original Halloween series, but is it the worst movie to bare the Halloween title? Far from it. What’s left to come will make Halloween: Resurrection seem like a cinematic masterpiece. Stay tuned. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The Good: Well, if this didn’t take the Halloween name, it would be a fairly decent slasher film. It manages to mix the current trend of Scream-like filming with a more gritty and gory Devil’s Reject feel.
The Bad: There was no reason to call it Halloween and use the same character names as the Halloween series. This should have been stand-alone horror film and that’s all. Instead, Zombie takes the Michael Myers mystique and ruins it by giving him the back-story of a troubled and abused kid who just took a liking to killing. This in itself should disqualify it from being able to call itself Halloween. What made Michael Myers awesome is that he was evil incarnate. He had no motive (unless you count the druid cult stuff from part six) and that for reasons we’re never told, he is obsessed with killing his sister(s). Again, there was no reason, outside of Rob Zombie’s fan-boy fantasies, to call this Halloween when it could has stood on its own as a regular slasher film.
The REALLY Bad: From the very bowels of Hell arose a sequel to this movie called Halloween II.
Closing: I’ll tell you what. Forget that it’s a Halloween remake and just pretend like it’s some other run-of-the-mill slasher film and it’s not too bad. Give it a look if you have time. But if you haven’t seen the original, watch that instead.
So there is now one movie let. I have you warn you about it. I know it’s Halloween and all, and getting scare is part of the fun, but as you get ready to say “Trick or Treat,” I can guarantee what you’ll find is not a treat, but a very bad trick. On all of us and on the entire world.
And the dreamy white horse we rode in on.
Halloween II (2009)
How bad? It’s so bad that after I watched it, I logged in to imdb.com and changed the rating of all my 1’s to 2’s and all my 2’s to 3’s so that this would be my only 1 ranking. And yes, that even includes Santa With Muscles and It’s Pat.
This movie is so bad that it caused me to retroactively hate anything ever affiliated with Rob Zombie, including The Devil’s Rejects and former WWE wrestler, Edge.
It’s so bad that I can’t even watch A Clockwork Orange anymore due to Malcolm McDowell’s involvement in this piece of trash.
It’s so bad that not even a cameo by Weird Al Yankovic could save it.
So where do we begin?
Let’s start with Laurie. She never talks. Instead she screams, she shrieks, she screeches, she yells, she curses, and cries throughout the entire film. Even in casual conversations.
Next, let’s move on to Michael Myers. Gone is the silent mysterious killer with evil in his eyes. In his place is some weird bearded man who appears to be a renegade member of Hillbilly Jim’s family from 1980’s World Wrestling Federation.
But it doesn’t stop there. In fact, that’s not even the worst part of what Rob Zombie has done to Michael Myers. You see, while Michael wanders around looking for Uncle Elmer and Cousin Luke, he has conversations in his head with young version of himself (ten years old, I think) and his dead mother and her horse. With fancy faerie music playing in the background.
But enough about Michael for a moment. Let’s talk about Dr. Loomis. Remember this awesome hero doctor of the first few movies?
He is long gone. The “new” Dr. Loomis is no longer the elegant psychiatrist played by Donald Pleasence and obsessed with stopping Michael Myers. He’s now a money-hungry shyster and fraud, played (terribly) by Malcolm McDowell. I just can’t find a good clip on youtube, so here’s the Weird Al clip again. It’s the best I can do, but it does show a quick glimpse into the personality of the new Dr. Loomis.
And now onto the “plot.”
The movie begins with some lame flashback about about Michael, his mom, and a toy horse. After that, it jumps to the present, where Michael survives an ambulance crash and then takes off down the road following, you guessed it, a vision of his dead mom and a white horse.
In the next scene, Laurie wakes up in the hospital and just like in the original Halloween II, Michael comes after her there. He kills everyone and corners Laurie, but just as the axe comes down–it’s a dream. Yes, Rob Zombie pisses on every fan of the real Halloween II by recreating it for twenty minutes and then making it a dream. It’s like he says, “hey here’s what a GOOD movie should look like, but screw you guys. Now back to Michael Myers and his ethereal white horses.”
And then we find out that we’re one year later, Laurie is living with her friend Annie, the fake Dr. Loomis wrote another book and is doing the talk show circuit, and Michael Myer’s body was never found. The next, oh four hours or so is spent with Laurie screaming and shouting and cussing out anyone within earshot until she (being Micheal’s sister) also begins having visions of 10-year-old Michael, his mom and that stupid horse.
Michael eventually shows up and kills a whole bunch of people and then traps Laurie in an abandon shed. The cops come, and then the fake Dr. Loomis shows up too. Michael kills Loomis, and then the cops shoot Michael. Laurie takes a break from the chat she was having in her head with her mom and ten-year-old Michael long enough to help out the cops and stab Michael repeatedly in the chest, shrieking the entire time, as was par for the course. After that, Laurie comes out of the shed wearing Michael’s mask (obviously) and then the scene transitions to Laurie sitting in a psych ward grinning at a vision of the mom and the horse.
In closing, I’ve got to hand it to Rob Zombie. It isn’t easy producing and directing the worst film ever made, but he’s managed to do it. We can only hope that he learned from this and promises to never expose society to a similar atrocity again.
So enough about that fiasco. Let’s end on a positive note. I’ve got to say I had a lot of fun doing this review and maybe I’ll do it again with another series next year. Have a Happy Halloween. I hope you watch lots of scary movies tonight and eat nothing but popcorn and candy. I know that’s my plan.