Halloween Scene: The Halloween Marathon

halloween poster I wasn’t very creative when it came to my Halloween movie marathon this year. On the 30th, I was flipping through Netflix to see what was available on Instant when I realized I should ring in one of my favorite holidays with my favorite slasher movie, Halloween. As it turned out, I was too tired to finish the film (I seem to be turning more and more into an old man with each passing day), but I did wind up watching the rest of the original, 2, 4, 5 and Curse on Halloween. I popped the discs in my computer and watched them pretty small, but with a toddler running around, it’s not like I can watch these movies on what she calls “the big TV.”

As I mentioned in my list of movies that scared me, the original Halloween still gets to me. Since I’ve reviewed all of these movies before, though, I’ll probably just drop a few highlights and things I wanted to point out. I can’t believe I didn’t point this out before, but most of the kids in Haddonfield are complete asshats and are throughout the series. I also like how you don’t get much explanation for why Michael is the way  he is or how he can do the things he does. Also, it’s crazy how much you see of Michael in this film.

One question was answered for me on this watching. I’ve always thought it was crazy how Michael could plan out his kills so well and pose them and all that. This time, I noticed that Loomis said he’d been basically planning this night for 20 years. Makes sense to me! Here’s something else to think about: while Michael was planning, do you think he knew that he couldn’t be killed or did he go in thinking he was human?

I also realized another reason why this movie is so effective: it has so many different scary elements going on. There’s Carpenter’s score, the sense of being followed in broad daylight, the primal fear of the night, the kills, all of the performances from the young women, everything about Michael from his size to his faceless appearance, the fact that Laurie’s protecting children (something I never really thought about before). Chances are pretty good, this film hits on at least one of your fears.

halloween 2 poster Halloween II, which was penned by original writers John Carpenter and Debra Hill with Rick Rosenthal directing, carries on that legacy of combining multiple fears, this time adding in new elements: the fear of hospitals, the fear of being drugged and helpless and that sense of dread that comes from knowing what Michael can do and him still being loose (if that makes sense).

One big story detail that I never really thought about much was how young Michael Myers is. Loomis says he’s 21. That’s super young! Also, while the first one felt a lot more planned out — because it was, as noted above — Michael is a lot more reactionary in this one, trying to get the one that got away. This movie also picks up on something else I thought about while watching the first movie: Michael wasn’t super secretive about being out on Halloween, so people must have seen him, right? That’s mentioned a bit in this film.

I think this is a pretty solid sequel, but it lacks a little focus when it comes to characters. First it seems like the one nurse is the focus, then it switched to the one who gets drowned/burned, then back to the blonde nurse. Laurie’s of course up for the part, but she doesn’t really do much throughout the film until the end. And, as usual, Loomis is all over the place. That plus, the fact that Rosenthal’s no Carpenter, makes this movie not quite as good as the original, but still a solid offering in my opinion.

halloween 4 poster I skipped Season Of The Witch because I watched it casually a few weeks ago and it also holds no bearing on what I like to call the main series. For what it’s worth, I still love that weird movie. Anyway, the slasher’s story continued with Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers. This one introduces Laurie Strode’s daughter Jamie who shares a strange connection with her uncle Michael who has been kept in an asylum for the ten years between 2 and 4. First and foremost it needs to be said how damn good Danielle Harris is as Jamie in this and the next film. She has a heaviness to her that doesn’t come easy for actors, especially child ones.

Anyway, this film continues a few of the themes I’ve noticed. The kids in this movie are even worse than the ones in the original. They straight-up make fun of Jamie for having a dead mom. Even worse, one of the kids sullies his MASK costume by being a total jerkwad. This film also expands on the parties involved in the Michael Myers threat. In the first one it was Loomis, teenagers and eventually the cops. With the second the teens were swapped out for hospital employees. In this one you get the hick-ish lynch mob as well. Plus, since we’re dealing with a story that takes place 10 years after the original, there’s people who have lived with that initial tragedy. I think there’s an interesting commentary here about how we bury our past to the point where it can come back and stab us with a shotgun.

Another more esoteric thing that came to mind while watching these movies is that they’re as much about regular people trying to comprehend the idea of an unkillable man as they are about the man himself. In the real world you can write certain things off as tricks of the light or your mind playing tricks on you, but in these movies, some of the characters discover that those things might also be Myers. They also have to deal with the insanity that comes from experiencing these things. In Loomis’ case, these recurring meet-ups have clearly played with his sanity.

Halloween 5 poster

Halloween 5 picks up where 4 left off, showing how Michael survived the end of the previous film and catching us up on Jamie since she stabbed her step mom. She’s not speaking now, which leads to some super creepy and sad moments, but now shares an even stronger connection with her recently revived uncle.

I actually don’t have too much to add to my initial review of this film. Harris is still awesome as Jamie. Michael’s still scary. Loomis is still increasingly crazy. One element of this film that really stood out to me this time around was how dangerous it felt. In addition to terrorizing a child, Michael kills Rachel, a character you would think was off limits.

While watching this movie I realized that one of the great things about the Halloween series is that the sequels are so easily distinguishable. After a while the Friday The 13th films get really confusing, same with the Nightmare movies, but each Halloween flick is different enough that they’re pretty easy to keep straight.

Halloween-The-Curse-of-Michael-Myers-movie-poster

The first time I went through and watched the sequels, I was surprised with how much I liked 4 and 5, and wound up not liking Curse. Much like my recent re-watching of Jason Goes To Hell, though, I found myself liking this film a lot more the second time around. I think a big part of that is knowing that it’s not super great and having lower expectations. Paul Rudd is stellar in this film, bringing a crawling intensity to his portrayal of an older Tommy Doyle. I will say that this film tries a little too hard to make connections to the previous films though. Jamie (not Harris) is in the beginning, her baby is a major part of the story, then you’ve got the Strodes inexplicably living in the Myers house (was her dad unable to sell it and just had to move in?). I think there’s a real tragic story behind Mr. Strode’s decent into assholery.

Even though this isn’t a great movie and I didn’t see it until much later, I feel like I can relate to aspects of it a lot more because it was filmed in the 90s which were a very formative decade for me. There’s a Power Ranger in the kid’s bedroom. Plus, the music and clothes are of my youth, so even though I know it’s not great and I’ve only seen it twice, there’s a familiarity there that I relate to on some level.

And with that, we conclude what I consider the main Halloween series. When Jamie Lee Curtis returned for Halloween H2O and Resurrection, those films ignored parts 46 which I still think is kind of lame. Anyway, Michael Myers is still my favorite slasher and I think this series still holds up pretty well, especially if you think of the original as more of an outlier of quality (in the positive direction) than an indicator of the whole series which is far below that. This season I also watched every single Friday The 13th film for a list I did on Topless Robot called The 20 Most Deserving Victims In The Friday The 13th Films and I can easily say that Halloween is the more solid franchise, though there will always be a soft spot in my horror heart for all the classic 80s slasher franchises.

One last quick thought about the series. Whether conscious or not, I think these films share a lot of connections with Night Of The Living Dead. I know they’re completely different, but the opening scenes of both movies reminded me of one another. Night starts with that long shot of the car slowly driving up the winding road while Halloween has the long POV shot of young Michael taking out his sister. Then, in the second film someone’s actually watching Night. Plus, as I noted above, these films focus on regular people dealing with horrific elements that challenge their traditional thoughts on death.

Halloween Scene: Scream Factory’s Halloween II

Seeing as how it’s Halloween, I wanted to watch a few new horror flicks today, but instead decided to stop wasting time with something that might suck and watching a movie I already know I like presented by the best DVD-makers around, Shout Factory. I actually got the Halloween II Collector’s Edition from their Scream Factory imprint back when I got the one for Halloween III: Season of the Witch, but was saving it for a special occasion. Today seemed appropriate enough, so I went with it.

Before getting into the bonus features, of which I only got through about half, I want to say a few nice things about this movie. I reviewed this one way back in 2008, and while that post is filled to the gills with spelling errors, I still agree with it. ,mv I think this is an underrated sequel. It doesn’t come near topping the o/. riginal, but I give it a lot of credit for mixing things up, getting into a different location and keeping the horror a lot more tight and claustrophobic.

I didn’t realize before how important the setting is to this film. In addition to giving Michael Myers one specific place to haunt for a period of time, you’re also dealing with a lot of the inherent fears that come from being in a hospital. While in a hospital you’re by definition not feeling well or something’s wrong, so you’re altered emotionally, but then you’ve got all these strangers walking in and out and doing things to you you might not understand. Who’s to say all of those people have your best interest in mind? Put a masked killer on top of all that and you’ve got a pretty great recipe for scares.

Okay, now on to the bonus features. I haven’t watched the second disc which contains the TV version of the film, something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before, so that’s something to look forward to. I also didn’t have time to re-watch the movie with commentary, but will keep it in mind next time I need something to listen to while working. I did watch the documentary The Nightmare Isn’t Over: The Making Of Halloween II which is a great viewing experience, just like its brother over on the H3 Scream Factory release.

One of the most interesting pieces of info I learned from the doc is that they actually shot an ending where it’s revealed that Jimmy lived. The interesting part isn’t that it got cut, but that director Rick Rosenthal didn’t know it got cut. He said there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen and he didn’t know who cut it. They then talked about the TV cut, which was apparently done more under John Carpenter’s direction and included newly shot scenes with the cast when Rosenthal wasn’t there.

I also once again enjoyed an installment of Horror’s Hollowed Grounds with HorrorHound‘s Sean Clark. He’s not joined by the director like he was with the H3 version, but he’s still full of info and it’s always neat to see locations from the flicks and how they’ve changed or, more interestingly, not changed over the decades. Clark’s attention to detail is always impressive. It’s also fun to see locations from other movies right next to these shooting locations.

Once again, Shout’s Scream Factory arm did an awesome job putting together the kind of presentation that the second best Michael Myers movie deserves. This is far better than the single disc version I already had in my collection and will take that spot with ease.

Halloween Scene: Posters!

2008-10-02
4:02:25 am

I am not a good artist. That has to be said right off the bat. It’s something that I’ve known for a long time, relegating my artwork mostly to the margins of my note books throughout school. But recently, I’ve rediscovered how much fun it can be to just draw something. Maybe I’ll even post my “100 Ways To Kill The Hulk” strips I’ve been working on over the past few weeks. I’ve got five int he bank.

Anyway, I’ve been talking to a lot of my buddies lately about drawing and decided to just keep up with it and have some fun. Why not? So, in the spirit of fun and Halloween, I decided to take a crack at interpreting the posts of the scary movies I’ve been watching over the past week. Hopefully I’ll keep up with this practice because, like I said, it’s fun.

Below you’ll find the original followed by my drawing and some commentary. Click for a larger view.

All four drawings on the page. I forgot to set the flash, but I liked the orange tint this picture ended up with. Very Halloweeny.

HALLOWEEN

What really struck me about this poster that I hadn’t really noticed before is how the pumpkin mimicks the hand holding the knife. I’m not so good with hands and even worse with fingers, but this one was pretty fun. Not a bad way to start off.

SUSPIRIA

This one’s my favorite of the group, which is funny because it’s the movie I understood the least (though drinking during it probably wasn’t a great idea, nor was blogging at the time). I like this one because there’s lots of different elements going on, from the house to the spirial to the different heads to the hair.

HALLOWEEN II

Hmm. Not the easiest poster to draw, especially with my negative amount of knowledge when it comes to anatomy or bone structure. Again, drawing this poster made me appreciate it even more. The skull in the pumpkin motif is really cool and they even get the details down to the teeth and the eye sockets, both of which I had trouble drawing.

THE RUINS

I like how the neck and mouth turned out on this Ruins poster, but I wasn’t able to really portray the vines and plants covering everything. I also wish I hadn’t messed with the background behind her head, but what can you do?

Hopefully I’ll get to Serial Mom (though I also might skip that one, not sure yet), Freaks which I watched tonight and Halloween 3: Season of the Witch which I’m watching as I type.

Halloween Scene: Halloween II (1981)

2008-09-28
6:56:00 pm

I’m not sure what’s happening to me, but I’m having trouble getting a full movie in starting at 11 PM anymore. I guess I’m starting to show my age. Because of that it’s taken me three days to actually Halloween II which was written by the original’s John Carpenter and Debra Hill and still starring Jamie Lee Curtis (the last one to do so until the continuity killing H20) and Donal Pleasence. This time though it’s directed by Rick Rosenthal who later directed a TV sequel to The Birds and a ton of TV including Buffy episodes “Help” and “Normal Again.”

H2 is one of the few horror sequels I can think of that picks up directly after the first one leaves off which either means it’s not that common or that I’m just highly forgetful, either seems possible. You even get the last few minutes of the original where Michael does his awesome sit-right-up scene that I love and Loomis coming in gun blazing with Michael falling out the window and disappearing. So, with this installment we get treated to the further adventures of that fateful Halloween night in Haddonfield. Laurie gets taken to the hospital while Loomis runs around town trying to find where Michael has gotten off to.

There’s a definite difference in feel between this and the originally. For one thing it’s a lot darker and harder to understand what’s going on at times. There’s also less of the POV stuff that I loved so much in the first one, but way way more fake-outs. I guess by 1981 people had seen a fair amount of slasher movies, so instead of kind of inventing the tropes, this one tries to play with them to not the greatest effect.

That being said, I do like this flick. It’s got my three favorite elements from the first, Donald Pleasence getting crazier than ever (until next time), Michael Myers (who’s in my top two favorite slashers with Leatherface) and Jamie Lee Curtis. Most of the action takes place in the hospital as Michael makes short but bloody work of the staff, but one of my favorite elements takes place outside as what looks like Michael Myers gets hit by a police car and catches fire. Pleasence and his policeman friend think it’s Michael for a little while. Yes, it’s a little convenient that someone dressed up exactly like the guy who went around killing a good number of the teenagers in town gets killed, but do remember that Michael swiped the mask from a local store so it’s not too too crazy. I just like the idea of them being at ease while Michael’s still out there killing folks. Also, the kid who dies was Bennett Tramer, the boy who Laurie had a crush on in the previous movie (he’s also named after a dude who would go on to work on Saved By The Bell!).

The hospital kills are pretty creative as Michael boils a woman alive in a hot tub (which I don’t think is possible), stabs a dude in the head with something, drains the blood out of a woman and others. But for some reason my favorite is when he stabs a nurse through with a scalpel and then lifts her up about two feet off the floor. She’s understandably shocked, then her shoes fall off and she finally crumples to the floor. There’s just something about the image that has stuck with me since the first time I watched since high school.

That particular kill removes that last other person in the hospital between Michael and Laurie. Laurie’s understandably messed up (I think there was something about a coma, but I can’t quite remember) so Michael does his usual slow walk chase as Laurie scrambles away. There’s something primaly unnerving about watching someone who’s already gone through so much craziness just barely able to elude her killer. It’s not the kind of thing that had me pulling my blanket over my eyes, but it’s the kind of thing that I do think about (probably too much).

Meanwhile, Loomis is driving around with a woman and a cop. He finds out about the hospital and freaks out on the cop, holding his revolver to the cop’s face and telling him to head to the hospital against his original orders. I love me some crazy Loomis. Once they get to the hospital, Laurie’s outside trying to get this dude in a car to drive her away, but the dude passes out or dies. She’s crawling through the parking lot as Loomis and Co. show up, but she doesn’t scream out for some reason until after they’re already in. I think I’m missing a fairly big piece of the story from falling asleep so many times, like maybe she was drugged up or something. Michael gets on Laurie’s trail again so she runs to the door, bangs on it and screams until Loomis lets her in. Michael gets shot a number of times, but of course, he’s not dead.

All of which leads to the ending which I actually like very much. Michael chases Loomis and Laurie into some kind of room where he has them cornered. Loomis gives Laurie a gun, but tries to shoot Michael with his which is empty, so Michael stabs him in the stomach. Loomis crumples to the floor and Michael goes after Laurie who’s crumpled on the floor. Laurie shoots Michael in the face, which doesn’t kill him or even knock him over but it does blind him, forcing him to swing around wildly. I really like this element of the movie because Myers spent the last two movies fairly calm and collected and now he’s acting like an animal, slashing the air. Loomis gets back up and opens up a nearby (what I assume) oxygen tank. Michael moves towards the sound away from Laurie so Laurie gets up and opens up even more tanks. Now Michael’s really going crazy, Loomis tells Laurie to run away, then busts out his lighter and blows the room up. Out in the hall, Laurie gets knocked down by the blast and the camera just focuses on the blaze for a while until Michael comes stumbling out. Holy crap! Then he falls to the ground and everything’s over (haha, right). The song “Mr. Sandman Bring Me a Dream” plays over a last minute show of Michael’s face and mask burning. A nice touch.

Here’s the thing that a lot of people don’t seem to get about the Halloween series. The first was made without expectations of of a sequel (as far as I know) and the second one was made to finish out the series. No more Michael Myers. Then something happened (I’m assuming enough money was thrown his way) and Carpenter decided to turn Halloween into a kind of anthology with a different horror movie every year, which is why 3: Season of the Witch has nothing to do with Michael Myers. Things didn’t go so well with that one so they switched back to Michael for part 4. Any horror fan worth their salt knows the deal, but I still hear people complaining about it, which is one of my big horror pet peeves. I guess I’m just a weirdo that way.

thrashing around blindly

“Mr. Sandman” playing over burning carcass