It is Halloween 2023 and time for a series review. I’m doing what I deem to be the original run of Halloween before the Rob Zombie reboot.
I know the timeline is “split” with Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1988) but I still lump the last two in with the rest.
As usual I’m going to make the assumption that the original is the best but there’s only one way to find out…
“It’s Halloween. Everyone’s entitled to one good scare.”
Just what needs to be said about John Carpenter’s classic?
Opening with the iconic “single shot” scene showing a young Michael Myers killing his sister before it moves to “modern day” and Dr Loomis (played by the always great Donald Pleasence) travelling to pick up the now adult Michael only to find that he has escaped.
Next we see Laurie Strode (played by the also always great Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends as they are planning their Hallowe’en which involves babysitting and having sex with their boyfriends.
I could’ve phrased that so misleadingly differently.
Here is where the horror archetype of the virginal final girl that survives but anyone that has sex is killed.
However, unlike the complete tripe we are subjected to these days that pass for characters, here we are given very likeable and watchable teenagers that do not annoy the fuck out of you with their stupid, moronic twitting on that makes you want to see them dead, especially the final girl.
Everything seems to flow naturally and at a good speed. Hardly any exposition with Laurie and Loomis’ stories being kept separate throughout until the very end, which is the first time you see Loomis and Michael together. Bar a few who’s that stalker in the distance shots it is also the first interaction between Laurie and Michael.
This is brilliant as it means Laurie is almost completely unaware of anything happening around her. For a film that is about building tension with long, establishing shots. It doesn’t bother to have the final girl put on her Sherlock Holmes’ cap, waste our time watching her investigate and piece together the mystery of the stalker, explaining everything to the audience (usually telling us what we already know) in an ill thought-out backstory.
If we didn’t have the sequels then we would never know why he chose Laurie.
Just outstanding that shows how far slashers have fallen as they rely on terrible forced conflict between the main cast instead of atmosphere and engaging characters, with shocks that make you jump because of how loud and sudden the music and screams are instead of what you see appearing in-camera instead.
“Is this a joke? I’ve been trick-or-treated to death tonight.”
Halloween 2 directly follows the first film, starting by replaying the final confrontation and continuing from when Loomis runs outside looking for Michael as he continues his murderous rampage trying to find Laurie.
We see some of the aftermath from the first half of that Hallowe’en night as we witness the rest of the night’s events. This is brilliant, together both movies feel like one long story helped by director, Rick Rosenthal, emulating Carpenter’s style. Long, moving, single camera work and recreating certain shots such as the Shape’s face suddenly being illuminated in the background before he kills.
I know it is one of the most iconic shots in the first movie but I think it was performed better here.
That’s right, I said the sequel did something better than the original.
I hope it upsets you.
If you spliced these two together and showed it to a person that had never seen the originals, telling them this was a 3 hour cut then I doubt they would notice they were made by two different directors and 3 years apart.
The complaints made about this when it was released are massively unfair and focused around the violence being increased (in a horror sequel), which is surprising given how relatively time it was even back then.
Yes there are more deaths. It’s a sequel.
Again Laurie, Michael, and Dr Loomis only interact with each other at the end of the film with all 3 having their own adventure and exposition is kept to a minimum. Imagine how much they would build up and focus on the big reveal to Laurie’s relationship with Michael these days.
I don’t think that Laurie ever finds out.
This really is more of the same and if they didn’t have Michael disappearing at the end of the last film it probably would be pointless to make this follow up, though most sequels we like probably didn’t need to be made if we think about it. Yet the original is so good so I’m not going to stick my nose up at more of that.
“What’s the matter?
Don’t you have any Halloween spirit?”
This is my favourite Halloween film and the only one not to be part of the main Halloween story as John Carpenter originally wanted Halloween to be an anthology series of films. This means it was dismissed due to not having Michael in it by audiences when released which is a shame as this is a fantastic film.
Starring Tom Atkins as Dr Challis who is juggling being a doctor, his clearly very active dating life and his bitchy ex-wife. A patient of his is murdered in the hospital and this piques the horny Doctor’s interest but not as much as the dead patients daughter.
They go looking for answers and that leads them to a small town where toy masks are made by Conal Cochran played wonderfully with equal measures of charm and charisma and evil and creepiness by the Old Man from Robocop, Dan O’herlihy.
The look up to Tom and congratulatory clap he gives him just before he dies combines all of that charisma and evil into a wonderful shot.
I watched the 4K release for all of the Halloween films and this is the best looking. Probably due to the more vibrant colours but it looks amazing.
Very 80s with engaging characters and the right amount of humour that despite how silly it becomes just before it finishes it does spend the last 25 or so minutes with almost no dialogue and takes itself seriously enough.
The themes of an ancient cult that wants to destroy and Stonehenge means there is a similarity to Halloween 6 The Curse of Michael Myers that in a way does bring this into the main continuity.
Just fantastic though the Motel owner’s terrible fake Irish accent does make me laugh. Yanks generally can’t do foreign accents with Irish probably being second only to that weird English accent (that doesn’t exist in England) that yanks seem inclined to do at every opportunity as being the worst.
Get over the fact Michael isn’t in this and enjoy it for the excellent, stand alone film it is.
“You’re talking about him as if he were a human being. That part of him died years ago.”
It has been 10 years since Michael terrorised Haddonfield and the authorities are making the biggest mistake they always make which is to move the Hallowe’en killer from a secure location, with the least amount of security, on the day before Hallowe’en.
I feel like they are really to blame!
Whilst being moved he overhears that Laurie had a daughter and this tickles his interest.
His escape tickles the interest of a burnt, scarred Dr Loomis who then tickles the interest of the entire Haddonfield town.
This time Michael’s focus is on Jamie Lloyd (played by the equally also always great Dannielle Harris in her first role) who does a good job taking over from Jamie Lee Curtis. Helping her is her foster sister (we aren’t told why Jamie’s parents have left and she is in care) Rachel and despite the film’s attempts to make her into the biggest victim using forced, pointless drama, her demeaner just makes her slightly obnoxious.
The character we are supposed to hate doesn’t across as bad plus we start to see stupid people doing stupid things.
Looks like Halloween is once again defining the horror genre.
This is more of the same again, doesn’t change too much to the formula and not done as well but still a fun watch.
A couple of references to the previous films such as Loomis looking for Sherriff Brackett only to be told he retired in 1981, the year Halloween 2 was released and that ending! I have seen this many times before and I picked up on the hints dropped near the end but was still caught off-guard.
I like it.
“I prayed that he would burn in Hell, but in my heart I knew that Hell would not have him.”
It is a year from the previous film and Halloween has come around again. Jamie is now mute and in a children’s home following what she did last year with Dr Loomis watching her and aware that the nightmares she is experiencing might be something more than that.
I can’t blame the authorities for letting Michael loose this Halloween as they thought he was dead and didn’t know he escaped, washing up near a homeless man who looks after him as he recuperates.
Unless I missed something it appears as if he was in a coma for a year, waking up on the 30th of October.
So how was he fed and kept clean for that year?
This is the weakest so far. The first half is pretty good, Dannielle Harris does well screaming whilst mute, I like how 30 years of being obsessed with Michael has made Loomis him lose his objectivity so now he is being reckless and willing to use anyone how he sees fit just to stop Michael.
The second half of the film is setup well, the final confrontation is also good but it did lose me for a while for most of the party that happens in the last half.
I don’t know why as it isn’t filmed that poorly apart from a sex scene that goes on for far too long and is awkward to watch.
This part just seemed like a bit of a mess to me and I don’t know if it is me or if it was but I started to become distracted with other things.
There is some nice camerawork especially with the chute thing American’s have in their homes (unless that isn’t really something many homes have, just mostly in films) when Dannielle trapped in there. At the end we have a long single shot scene that Halloween is famous for but there are now more things to pick on.
There are two coppers that are the comedic relief and you know this by this stupid cartoon tune when they first appear. Just doesn’t fit with the tone and to be honest they really aren’t that incompetent or stupid. We have new main character Tina’s boyfriend, Mike.
If I thought Rachel was bad in the last one, She pales to Mike. He’s moody and quiet and miserable and selfish and all I could think off when he was on screen is that he is how I imagine Ross Gellar from friends behaving in college if he tried to be the cool bad boy.
Overall this is fine, just some slight issues and a poor start to the second half. I’ll ignore the man in black as the movie seemed to do that as well.
you know it is not wise to play Halloween pranks.”
So here we have the reviled one, I think. The film that adds lore, changes everything but at least explains who the man in black is.
As much as I do enjoy it, I do see there are many issues that start with how the now teenage Jamie Stroud is treated. After being taken by the cult (who are the main issue it seems most people have with this) and hidden away for 5 years Jamie gives birth only for the baby to be taken from her.
A nurse helps her and the baby to escape with Michael in tow. Michael finally kills her in a very nice death scene but despite her successfully leading him away from the baby she’s hidden, her death comes across as disrespectful to the character and unnecessarily cruel.
Perfectly fine for anyone else in the movie but not heroic enough for Jamie.
A returning character is Tommy Doyle from the first film played by Paul Rudd and clearly traumatised by his experience in 1978.
The Brother of the Stoud family from Halloween 4 now live in the original Myers house and completely unaware (apart from the abusive dad) of the house’s history.
This is fine but the grandson is hearing voices and like the man in black from the previous entry, it appears the film keeps forgetting this is something happening; meaning it goes nowhere.
This is a case of the studio, producer and director at odds with each other and the director losing. There are scenes that should be here that aren’t leading to plot holes, story threads leading nowhere and confusion for the audience.
That is a shame as what we have is nicely filmed. The deaths are gory (the abusive dad’s murder is a thing of beauty) and despite it leaning towards the more 90’s style of flashy, quick cuts it still mostly looks like it fits in with the rest of entry’s in the series so far.
But the problems with interference and the explanation for how and why Michael has been able to do what he has (or lack of explanation due to the interference) means this probably shouldn’t have been made.
A shame as it is Donald Pleasence’s final film before he passed away. He’s great as always.
I still like it.
The Producer’s Cut (along with a Director’s Cut) existed as a low-quality bootleg until, finally, the Producer’s cut at least was officially released.
In many ways this is much better. For a start Jamie’s death is far more respectful to her though it still could’ve been better. Instead of being disrespectfully skewered in a prolonged but admittedly visually impressive, scene she is stabbed and then in hospital for most of the film.
Could send her off better but an improvement.
The Dad, whilst still a prick, isn’t a one-dimensional cartoon villain but explores why he is so antagonistic towards his until recently estranged daughter. It doesn’t delve too deeply into it but it adds some depth.
His death is heavily cut here and nowhere near as good.
It offers a better solution to the end of the film than the seemingly aimless just escape option from the theatrical cut even though it isn’t as action packed. The runes play more of a part in not only explaining why Michael does what he does but in stopping him.
I still don’t understand the cult’s plan. There’s a curse and to stop it and bring order to the world Michael must kill every one of his family members and then the curse is passed on to someone else and bad things stop happening?
In this case it is to be passed on to Kara Strode’s son but why if the curse hasn’t been stopped yet for Michael?
If all he needs to do it kill the last of his family which is Jamie and the cult has held Jamie and Michael for the last 6 years, then why not have Michael kill her instead of impregnating her and allowing her to give birth, thus creating even more family members to kill! Why choose the worst rune for your cult if you are trying to bring order and stop evil in the world?
Apart from some of the deaths being not as good and missing the fun, final confrontation and Michael not moving as awkwardly as he does in the Theatrical Cut, I feel like this is a far better held together film even if it does now have incest as a theme. The ending, whilst not as violent, makes more sense and actually has a plan to stop Michael; but just like with the Richard Donner Cut of Superman 2 there are elements of the originally released, inferior versions that we still want to see in the improved editions.
“If you want to stay handcuffed to your dead brother, that’s fine.
But you’re not dragging me along.
I went to the cinema to watch this when it was released and I did like it but decided I didn’t need to see it again. So while I didn’t mind watching this and had nowt against it, I wasn’t really that interested in doing so.
I’m glad I did watch it. I thoroughly enjoyed this.
Jamie Lee Curtis is back as Laurie Stroud, this time known as Keri Tate, not the most memorable name, as she has changed her identity following the events of 1978.
She has a son and a drinking problem because she struggles with her past, especially around Halloween. She is now the Headmistress for a fancy secondary school that will be mostly empty as the pupils leave to go on a trip.
This gives us a nice setting for Michael’s return.
Director Steve Miner (Lake Placid) does a great job building tension and setting scenes up. The music is great and compliments the action well with the deaths and attacks being nice and gory but not too much. This isn’t Hostel after all.
It is short at 86 minutes which I think is fine runtime for films especially horror and comedy. I would rather have a short film that doesn’t drag its feet, isn’t filled with pointless exposition or unnecessary scenes.
Overall good and I’ll watch this again.
And the voice actor recreating Donald Pleasance’s voice doesn’t sound Australian/Central European like he does in Halloween Kills.
“Trick or Teat…
I always like this, I have seen it several times and didn’t understand the level of hate it received.
I’m starting to.
Starting of with what I think is a perfectly fine explanation for why Michael is still alive and how the guilt of it has sent Laurie to a sanatorium. According to the staff all she does is sit and stare at a window which makes it confusing when she has a plan set up for Michael, one that relies on luck and knowing areas of the institution she wouldn’t have access to even if she was moving about.
Mind you they do have a patient that wonders loose and goes into areas he shouldn’t so maybe the security in this place is just shitty.
It fails and she is killed in the arms of Michael. Her death isn’t as disrespectful as Jamie’s was in the theatrical version of Halloween 6 but she deserves better. It is a nice shot of her falling between the trees.
So Busta Rhymes has setup an online show where 6 teenagers will spend the night in the Myers house and it is streamed online. This is when the internet was new-ish and so quite a novel idea.
The problem is the teenagers are terrible. All the males are stupid and horny and the girls are all top of the class and pretend to not be horny but are as well. Just think of teenagers from inferior horror films but not as annoying to watch.
Michael this time is sloppy and relies far too much on blind luck to do what he does. This isn’t how he operates. He isn’t a mindless brute but really a very clever and effective killer, at least until it comes to the final girl.
There are a few other issues that means this fights it out with the theatrical cut of Curse of (not the superior Producer’s Cut) to be the worst of the original run of Halloween films. It feels more like a typical, more modern horror film and loses a lot of that Halloween feel that all of the others in someway maintained.
I don’t hate it and will watch it again but I don’t like it as much as I used to.
It could’ve been interesting to see what Michael would do after he’s finally killed his family and him living under his house was a good idea, people gathering at his home on Hallowe’en which causes him to kill again is also good but this should’ve ended with Jamie and Michael killing each other for good.