Thursday, September 27, 2012

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

         Ever since the Halloween of 1989, both Jamie Lloyd and Michael Myers have disappeared. Now, in 1995, it is revealed that Jamie Lloyd has been held prisoner by a Satanic cult known as Thorn. She is now about fifteen years old and gives birth to a baby boy. One of the nurses unties Jamie, hands her the baby, and helps her escape Thorn's secret hide away. Michael tracks Jamie down and brutally kills her, but she has hidden her son away in a safe place. The next day, a now adult Tommy Doyle who has been studying Michael Myers for years, finds Jamie's son and contacts a retired Dr. Loomis.  Tommy now lives across from the old Myers house, which is now fixed up and some relatives of Laurie Strode's foster parents are now living there consisting of Kara, her mother Debra, her abusive bastard of a father John, her brother Tim, and her eight year old son Danny. Thorn's leader has now chosen Danny to be the next unstoppable being in Thorn's legacy of evil since Michael is almost finished killing off the rest of his family to complete his destiny.  Will Tommy and Loomis be able to protect the Strode family and Jamie's baby from Michael and Thorn?

             In 1988, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers brought the horror fans what they wanted, Michael Myers.   The film did so well with fans and at the box office. A year later in 1989, Moustapha Akkad released the awful Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers that destroyed any great possibility that Halloween 4 could have led to.  After Halloween 5 failed at the box office and was poorly received by fans, Akkad and company struggled to figure out a way to apologize for their screw up back in '89.  It was a really tough time developing a sixth installment to continue where Halloween 5 left off.  Several different screenwriters were considered to write. Quentin Tarantino was actually in talks at one point and even wrote a first draft that was turned down.   It took about five years, but Akkad finally found a good screenplay written by a long time fan of the franchise named Daniel Farrands.  Farrands explained who the man in black was from Halloween 5, what happened to Jamie Lloyd, and ultimately, what happened to Michael Myers that turned him evil and made him unstoppable. Nobody had dared to go into detail with what happened to him, so this was a bold move on Farrands' part.

            The screenplay by Daniel Farrands is actually pretty good if you watch the producer's cut of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers.   Before I go any further, I must explain why there are two VERY different cuts of this movie.  Back when Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers wrapped filming, it was written for actor Donald Pleasence (Dr. Sam Loomis) to be in the next installment.  Right after completing additional dialogue for the film though, Donald Pleasence died. He was even sick in the making of this movie and you can tell by the way he looked and sounded that he was ill.   Since he died right after completing the film, the filmmakers felt that it would be too wrong to have it set up for the next film the way the film had originally been cut.  That is not a good excuse though. Hell, The Dark Knight set it up where Joker was originally planned to take part in Batman 3 (now known as The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Nolan didn't just change the film around just because Heath Ledger was no longer around.  So, that right there was a wrong move.  Then, the film was test screened for a bunch of fourteen year old boys, where some snobby fourteen year old boy told the filmmakers that the ending sucked. Wow, you are seriously going to take the kid's word for it and change up the ENTIRE fucking movie just to please one snobby movie goer? Fuck that! Let the little fucker complain! I make my films the way I vision them and would not let some kid tell me how to make my fucking movie.  It's one thing to hate something, but at least back up your answer with a logical reasoning.     So, the filmmakers took the kid's complaint to heart and made a sloppy edited mess that they actually released to theaters.

         When the internet age finally came around, bootleg copies of a producer's cut version of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers were found on Ebay that people were buying left and right.  This producer's cut was actually how the film was originally intended to be seen that was both dark, cool, and made sense. What was released to theaters in 1995 was a confusing mess of a movie and disappointed many Halloween fans.   Since I've seen both versions, I will discuss both of them.

            Regardless of which version you watch, there is still two complaints I have for the film. The first was killing off Jamie Lloyd as well as recasting her.  The way she went out in the theatrical version was so fucked up! Even though I hate that she was killed off, I have to say that the producer's cut way she dies was more satisfying.   The second is the whole Thorn bullshit. I didn't need a reason behind Michael's evil. Although, we are at the sixth film now so I guess no explanation by this point would make the films become boring.

             I will begin with discussing the theatrical cut that anybody can see.  This version leaves many many many questions left unanswered. Who is Jamie's baby's father? Why is Thorn holding Jamie prisoner?  Whatever happened to Dr. Loomis at the end? The ending in this version sucks big time.  Maybe this was the ending which that snobby kid was talking about because the producer's cut ending was fucking awesome and could have led to an interesting story if Pleasence hadn't died after filming wrapped.  Also, there's a lot of quick cuts, lightning flashes, scream echoes, and electric guitar music that feels totally trippy and out of place.  Don't get me wrong, I like trippy sometimes, but when the film doesn't make sense in the end, I can't forgive the trippy look of the film.  I did find the scene where Michael mutilates a lot of doctors really trippy and kinda intense in how it was structured. Some of the film felt very nightmarish, which I do admit to liking a bit. The problem was that the narrative was totally out of place.  One of the kills looked really silly where a guy gets electrocuted to the point where his head actually explodes.

        The producer's cut however provides answers for our desired questions and makes the narrative make sense, while still being dark and creepy.   The film felt kinda like if you mixed Rosemary's Baby and The Omen into  a Halloween movie.  We find out who Jamie's baby's father is. Can we say serious incest?  We also have a way more satisfying conclusion to all of this madness.

               The characters are actually pretty interesting. Kara Strode made for a pretty decent heroine in this film who just wants to protect her son.  Kara comes from a pretty dysfunctional family. Her mother is sweet and caring, yet her father verbally and physically abuses her. What a fucking prick this man was! We also have her brother Tim and his girlfriend. Tommy Doyle (the little boy from the original Halloween '78) returns to stop Michael alongside Dr. Loomis and another doctor, Dr. Terrence Wynn.  There's some radio talk show dick named  Barry Simms. Jamie Lloyd is back for like twenty minutes, but gets killed. And there's also the old lady who Tommy lives with named Mrs. Blankenship.

             The music by Alan Howarth and Paul Rabjohns was decent in the producer's cut, but pretty meh in the theatrical cut.

              The direction by Joe Chappelle is uneven in the theatrical cut, but not bad in the producer's cut.  Chappelle was never interested in the Halloween films anyways. He just wanted to get a three picture deal with Dimension Films.

         The acting was actually not bad.  I liked Marianne Hagan as Kara Strode. She was cute, sympathetic, and was going through a hard time raising her son and dealing with her father. Paul Rudd (Clueless) was good as adult Tommy Doyle. Donald Pleasence was very good in his last portrayal of Dr. Sam Loomis and also his last movie period.  Mitch Ryan was good as Dr. Terrence Wynn. I liked Kim Darby as Debra Strode.  Bradford English was great at playing an abusive and evil bastard of a father as John Strode. I haven't hated a guy this much in the Halloween franchise except for Ronnie White in Rob Zombie's Halloween '07.  Keith Bogart was decent as Tim Strode and I liked Mariah O' Brien as his girlfriend Beth. Leo Geter was a great dick as radio talk show douche Barry Simms. Devin Gardner was really good as little Danny Strode. I loved Janice Knickerehm as Mrs. Blankenship. The best part is when she explains how Halloween came to be.  George P. Wilbur who played Michael Myers in Halloween 4 returns and was great. I think he is the creepiest Michael since Nick Castle/Tony Moran and Dick Warlock.  Plus, the mask looked creepy as Hell in this film!  And then we have J.C. Brandy replacing Danielle Harris  as teenage Jamie Lloyd. Originally, Akkad wanted Danielle Harris back, but Danielle couldn't agree on anything with the director and hated the script and the fact that they were killing off the character that made her career as well as a character that everyone loved. As for J.C. Brandy, she was just okay. It's just weird to watch her play the character and not Danielle Harris. That's okay, Danielle Harris will return to the Halloween legacy in Rob Zombie's Halloween '07 and will be in Adam Green's Hatchet II & III.

             Overall, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers can either be a trippy, bland, and mediocre movie or a good film depending on which version you watch. Honestly, I recommend checking out the producer's cut if you can find it. It was on Ebay, but now it is even harder to find. The only reason I was able to see it was because a friend of mine made me a copy and mailed it to me.  I'm really hoping that Dimension Films smartens up and releases Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers on DVD/Blu-ray in the form of the producer's cut. Apparently they have been in talks about it, but that was five or six years ago! Release it already!

        RIP Donald Pleasence!  The Halloween franchise will never be the same without you running around with a gun like a crazy person and your awesome monologues about evil. In memory of the great Donald Pleasence, I will quote his most famous line of dialogue as Dr. Samuel Loomis in the original classic that made all of this possible.

     " I met this six year old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes. The Devil's eyes. I spent six years trying to reach him and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I knew that what was behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply, Evil."

                                     C   -Theatrical Version
                                      B   - Producer's Cut

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

     After being shot with about a hundred rounds of ammunition and falling into a mine shaft, Michael Myers slides down a water stream. He ends up collapsing at some old hermit's house out in the middle of bum fucked Egypt.  The old hermit for some fucking reason lets Michael sleep at his place for an entire year. Halloween Eve comes around, which causes Michael to wake up from his year coma and put on a shitty looking blank white mask. He kills the old hermit guy and heads to, you guessed it, Haddonfield to finish stalking his niece Jamie Lloyd. Jamie is now in a clinic for mentally disabled children. She hasn't spoken a word since she stabbed her foster mother with a pair of scissors the Halloween before and is now sensing and seeing what Michael sees.   Everything seems quiet and everyone involved with last year's Halloween encounter with Michael such as Rachel, Jamie, and Dr. Loomis are paranoid that Michael will return to finish what he started.  Michael returns, kills off Rachel, and proceeds to stalk Rachel's annoying as fuck best friend Tina and her three high school dumbass friends.  It is up to both Loomis, Sheriff Meeker, and Jamie to stop Michael for good. Meanwhile, a mysterious man has appeared in Haddonfield too that has the same mark on his wrist as Michael. Will Michael finally be stopped or will things take an unexpected turn for the worst for little Jamie Lloyd?

            In 1988, executive producer Moustapha Akkad brought Michael Myers back to Haddonfield in the franchise's fourth entry, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers.  The film did so well at the box office and made the fans very happy to see Michael back as well as the awesome twist ending that gave everyone a nice surprise.  Fans were curious where Akkad and company would take the fifth installment with a great twist ending like that.  I'm sorry for spoiling the ending of Halloween 4 for any of you who haven't seen it, but since I'm reviewing the sequel to it then I can't skip over talking about what it was. Halloween 4 ended on a high note with Jamie Lloyd picking up a pair of scissors and stabbing her foster mother as she was about to give Jamie a bath. It ended with Jamie standing at the top of the stairs wearing her clown costume and holding up the bloody scissors as Loomis starts to scream, "NOOO!!!!!! NOOOO!!!!!! NOOOOO!!!!".     It was implied that when Jamie touched Michael's hand near the end that his evil was passed on to her and that she would pick up possibly where he began at six years old back in 1963. Unfortunately for us Halloween fans, none of that happened.  Instead of working off that idea for the fifth film, Akkad rushed Halloween 5 into production before the screenplay was even completed.  Exactly a year later in 1989, one year after the release of Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers was released to the theater. Most fans left the theaters unhappy and majorly disappointed back in 1989.  Halloween 5 also didn't do that well at the box office.

           I will say it now. I hate Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers.  For me, it is the worst installment in this series. Halloween Resurrection takes second place and Rob Zombie's Halloween II (2009) in third.   Let's start out talking about the script. Wait, there's a script for this? Yes, someone actually wrote this thing. Oh, not someone, three someones wrote this film.  Michael Jacobs, Dominque  Othenin- Girard, and Shem Bitterman wrote this thing called Halloween 5.  I will give them some credit for not having Michael karate chopped by rapper Busta Rhymes, but that however does not excuse writing  the most giggly annoying and fucking unbearable swat named Tina.  Oh my God!  I would rather watch Spongebob Squarepants run around in his whitey tighties laughing like he just inhaled Helium than to watch this bitch on screen for one second!  While Tina is the worst part of the film for me, yes, there's other people and things that leave this toilet backed up and ready to overload into a fucking shit Fountain of Youth.  There's some annoying stuttering kid named Billy, who is probably related to Jake from Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning.  The only good part about him is when his stupidity gets him hit by a car.  We get two goofy cops that do nothing except act like idiots and get killed by Michael. If I wanted to see goofy cops acting like idiots in a horror film then I would simply watch The Last House On The Left '72 thank you very much!

        We get introduced to Tina's boyfriend  and two of their friends, who I could really care less about.  All I can remember about them is that the one chick looked like Tara Reid dressed in a Devil costume. The only characters that are back from Halloween 4 are Rachel, Jamie, Dr. Loomis, Sheriff Meeker, and of course Michael.   Another thing that I absolutely hated aside from shitty new characters is that Rachel gets killed off. A character that I and the other Halloween fans came to love in Halloween 4 gets killed in the first like 10-15 minutes. Wow, what a big fuck you!  Oh well, the same thing happens with Jamie in the next installment and again with Laurie Strode in Halloween Resurrection.  If you are going to kill off characters, kill the supporting characters or the super annoying ones. NOT THE HEROINE OR HERO! That would have been like if they killed off Tommy Jarvis in one of the Friday The 13th sequels.   That's just one thing I absolutely hate about many horror movie sequels is killing a character I have come to love and enjoy watching.  The only time that it didn't bother me was in A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors because then we already had a new heroine (Kristen), but then she got killed off in the next film.  Only do this if you have set up a good new hero/heroine for the villain to battle or it serves good purpose to the story.

           Jamie is mute for a great portion of the film. I didn't really like that direction either even though I think I know the reason why. Michael went totally silent after killing Judith, so it is either to be similar to that case or that she was just in a bit of catatonic shock from what happened.  The Michael Myers mask looked like shit. Definitely the worst mask in the franchise.

          The whole bit at the beginning with Michael sliding down the stream made me laugh because it looked so ridiculous.  I'm surprised since he fell into a mine shaft that he didn't try to find his buddies Harry Warden or Jason Voorhees for help.  Dr. Loomis seemed a bit more crazy than usual in this film. Probably because Donald Pleasence realized how much the writers and director sucked ass.   I still find it funny that the old hermit dude at the beginning let Michael sleep in his house ALL YEAR LONG! How could he survive not eating or drinking anything for a full year? Oh yeah, I guess Human needs don't apply to Boogeymen.  The whole man in black part and the flag sign on the wrists of both the mystery guy and Michael were weird. We do discover what all of that means in the next installment though.

      The special -FX were alright by KNB. I heard the film got butchered by the MPAA and had to cut some stuff out.

            The music by Alan Howarth was pretty blah. Definitely the worst by him. I don't blame Howarth though, I blame the shitty director.

             The direction by Dominque Othenin- Girard was horrendous. That's what you get when you get the hack director from Omen IV: The Awakening to direct your movie. I saw some interviews with this guy on the Halloween 25 Years of Terror documentary and he is such a hack and doesn't know shit about what makes a good horror film. I also heard how he treated special-FX artist Greg Nicotero on the set of making this film. Nicotero suggested an idea for a specific FX and this hack job told him, "What do you know? You're just the make up-FX guy."  You know what Dominque Othenin-Girard? FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! And...FUCK YOU!  I haven't worked in the actual film business, but have made short films. But, if I had some ass clown like this on my set, his ass would be fired and thrown to burn in the pits of Hell.

         The acting ranges. The actors returning such as Danielle Harris as Jamie Lloyd, Ellie Cornell in a small return as Rachel, Beau Starr as Sheriff Meeker, and Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis were the best they could be considering they had a shitty script and director to work with. We wouldn't see Danielle Harris back in the Halloween franchise until 2007 with Rob Zombie's remake where Harris plays Annie Brackett. The new actors however were pretty terrible. Wendy Kaplan as Tina was annoying and too giggly. I'm not sure if it was the actress too or just the shitty director and script. I've never seen this actress act in anything else.  All of the other actors were just forgettable and annoying as Hell. I thought Don Shanks was "okay" as Michael Myers, but his mask looked like shit. I also HATED the fact that Michael actually cries at a point in this film. I'll take him wearing a dusty Santa Claus beard and screaming "DIE!" to Loomis before I would have him crying like a baby.

            Overall, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers is a terrible movie. It is the bottom of the barrel for this franchise in my humble opinion.  Sure, Resurrection blew, but at least Busta and Tyra didn't annoy me to the degree that Tina did. Yes, Zombie's H2 (2009) was a clusterfuck but I give the man credit for at least attempting something different. But, this, this one just angers me every time I watch it.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 (2012)

          Batman is a character who has gone through so many different incarnations in the comics, animation, and in cinema. While Bob Kane and Bill Finger created and shaped the character, other writers and artists really evolved these characters to how we see them today. One man who has had probably one of the biggest influences on the legendary Dark Knight's image is Frank Miller. Batman, a character who had begun as a masked vigilante fighting criminals from the shadows had become kind of a joke in the 1950s and especially in the 1960s with the safe for kids live action television series starring Adam West as the not so dark Knight of Gotham City. Batman had basically become a sitcom and steered away from the dark and dangerous image of Gotham. That was until the 1970s when the camp fad ended and Batman was brought back to his prime thanks to Denny O'Neal, Julius Schwartz, and Neal Adams. In the 1980s, a young comic book writer/artist named Frank Miller had just moved over to DC Comics after working a few years at Marvel. Miller, a man who likes to bring new things and tends to stir up controversy due to being original, decided to do things with the Batman world that had never been done before. Frank wrote what is considered the best Batman story of all time and one that has since continued to inspire comics, animation, and movies called The Dark Knight Returns. Dark Knight Returns centers around an aged Bruce Wayne who hasn't been Batman for a decade, but comes out of retirement when a gang calling themselves The Mutants begin to terrorize the city as well as his old pal Harvey Dent being released from Arkham only to return to his old Two-Face crimes. Miller didn't stop there though. Following his classic Batman in an even darker future story came the complete flip side. Frank Miller decided to go back to the very beginning with both Bruce Wayne and James Gordon with the iconic origin tale, Batman Year One, which explored Bruce's drive to become The Batman and the beginning of his alliance with soon to be Police Commissioner James Gordon. Miller's Batman Year One can be seen really well in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, which is now the best Batman origin story in cinema.  Ever since 2007, Bruce Timm and several animation workers have been putting out three animated movies a year based on DC Comics characters. Timm and company pick the stories that fans are very eager to see get translated to animated feature films. Since the beginning, Batman Year One and The Dark Knight Returns were at the very top of the list of must projects, but it wasn't till 2011 that they got around to making them. In October of 2011, Batman Year One was released, which had mixed reactions. On one hand, it was a straight up adaptation of the classic Batman graphic novel. But, many fans were upset that they just copied the graphic novel word for word instead of doing things differently. Although, I can guarantee if they did do things differently, those same people would be whining that it isn't Batman Year One. For The Dark Knight Returns, Timm and comnpany decided that the only way to be faithful to this classic Batman story was to break it up into two parts due to the graphic novel being way too long for a 75 minute feature. So, yesterday Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 was released. Being someone who has honestly never read the graphic novel before, after seeing this movie, I definitely want to because this has got to be the best animated Batman film I've seen so far. It went to places that I wasn't expecting and I loved every second of it!

               It has been 10 years since Gotham City has seen Batman. Billionaire Bruce Wayne has retired his cape and cowl, now drinking heavily and spending time at the race track trying to kill himself by driving wrecklessly. Police Commissioner James Gordon is in the process of retiring and already knows that Bruce used to be the legendary Dark Knight as the two hang out drinking and talking about the good old days. Former Gotham City District Attorney turned homicidal psychopath Harvey Dent has just had plastic surgery to make his face look normal again and has been released from Arkham Asylum. Soon, a vicious gang called The Mutants begin to terrorize the city killing innocent men, women, and children as the media eats it up in very despicable ways.  Bruce is still haunted by his past and soon realizes that he can't change who he is and must become Batman to restore hope in this even darker Gotham City. His return inspires teenager Carrie Kelly to don the persona of Robin and fight by Batman's side. Batman must stop Harvey Dent who has been totally taken over by his evil side as well as stopping the Mutants from wrecking the city. Meanwhile, an old enemy awakes that will bring Gotham to an even darker Hell.

          Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 is probably one of the darkest Batman stories ever told. The funny thing about this story is it came out in the 1980s, but a lot of the social commentary that Miller was getting at especially the depictions of the media still applies to today's society maybe even closer than it did back in the '80s. The media in this movie just exposes some of the worst acts of Humanity and uses others' despair as an outlet to gossip about and just get ratings and money.  How people react to the crime that happens is also depressing. There's a scene where a thug pays a Taxi driver to let him beat up a woman in the backseat of the Taxi. People just stand around and watch as people are getting robbed, beaten, or killed, afraid that something bad will happen to them if they step up. Gotham is afraid to take a stand, which causes things to just get worse. Bruce starts off as an alcolholic and is pretty wreckless almost like he just wants to die already. Gordon is retiring, but trying to hold on to being a Gotham City cop for as long as he can. When Batman finally returns, Gordon sees this as their last case together.  Alfred doesn't approve of Bruce putting the cape and cowl back on and feels he should just leave Batman in the past, put it behind him, and live a normal life. I can now see some of the influence this story had on Nolan's last Batman entry The Dark Knight Rises.  Carrie Kelly is a teenage girl who is pretty street smart. She comes from a family who just sit in front of their television and smoke pot so she often sneaks out of the apartment and does her own thing. Carrie becomes inspired after Batman saves her and a friend from a group of Mutant thugs at an Arcade. She buys a Robin Halloween costume and saves Batman's life when he fights the Mutant leader.  Batman's fight against the Mutant leader reminds me of the fight between Batman and Bane in The Dark Knight Rises where he loses the first fight but then gets the upper hand in the final battle.

           I liked the portrayal of Harvey Dent in this movie where he had surgery to remove the deformed side of his face that created Two-Face, yet that personality still lives inside him to where he covers his entire face in bandages and scratches off both sides of the coin.  The Mutant leader is a very scary guy. This is a guy you don't want to be alone with. There's also a psychiatrist named Dr. Wolper who is totally against Batman. We also get to see a much older Lana Lang. For those who don't know, Lana Lang was Clark Kent/Superman's girlfriend/best friend back in Smallville. I like that she is now working with The Daily Planet. We also get to see The Joker who is basically catatonic for most of the film, but comes alive at the end and will play a huge role in Part 2.

           Yes, Robin is a girl in this story. I know that this part always surprises many fans, myself included. Miller is one who loves to change characters in a unique way that usually stirs up controversy with the die hards. For instance, he made Selina Kyle/Catwoman a prostitute and bi-racial in Batman Year One. I personally dig the girl Robin in this. I think it is great to have strong female characters in comics whether it be Catwoman, Black Canary, Huntress, Batgirl, Supergirl, or Wonder Woman. Women and girls need their superhero idols just like men and boys do. That's one thing that I do think DC has over Marvel, a great variety of strong female superheroes.

                It's great that Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is split into two animated feature films because this thing would be a huge mess to try to cram everything into a single 75 minute movie. I think it will please most fans of the characters. Hoping they adapt Batman: The Long Halloween, another classic Batman story that would most likely end up as a two parter.

                 The animation is fantastic! Probably some of the best animation used in these films. Love the details of the characters and it definitely matches the look and feel of the graphic novel.

                     The voice casting was great. Andrea Romano certainly knows how to cast these movies. Peter Weller (Robocop) is perfect as an older Bruce Wayne/Batman. While I love Kevin Conroy as the character, I'm happy they are picking different actors to play this character. David Selby was great as Commissioner James Gordon. Ariel Winter was awesome as Carrie Kelly/Robin, giving us a tough kid who we really root for. Wade Williams who played Black Mask in Batman: Under The Red Hood plays Harvey Dent well. Michael McKean who played Perry White on Smallville was great as Dr. Wolper. Michael Jackson (not the pop star) played Alfred really well. Gary Anthony Williams played the creepy Mutant leader well. And Michael Emerson has only two words of dialogue as Joker, but is perfect for the role and I'm sure will be fantastic next year in Part 2.

          The screenplay by Bob Goodman is basically Frank Miller's story come to life. The direction by Jay Oliva who is coincidentally the story board artist for next summer's much anticipated Superman reboot, Man of Steel, was great. Oliva is definitely a fan of these characters and knows how to get you excited and enjoying yourself with following Bruce from the low point in his life to resurfacing as Batman and giving the city hope again.  Also dug the music score by Christopher Drake, which fit well with the story.

             Overall, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 is a must see for any Batman fan.  It's the first half of an epic story that looks like it is just going to get more crazy and epic early next year when Part 2 comes out.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Halloween: The Night That Never Came

Take a Look at the Halloween Film that Never Was

         John Carpenter's Halloween is in my list of best horror movies ever made. It creeped me out at 8 years old and turned me into a horror fan. The Halloween franchise has seen quite its ups and downs. Following Carpenter's classic was seven sequels, a remake by rock musician turned horror filmmaker Rob Zombie, and then a very disappointing sequel to Zombie's 2007 re-imagining which I do admit to liking as it took a risk and did things different. But, we are still waiting to see what the future holds for the Boogeyman of Haddonfield, Michael Myers. Originally, we were supposed to get Halloween 3D which would be a continuation of Zombie's H2 that was to be written by Todd Farmer and directed by Patrick Lussier. Apparently things fell through with Dimension aka Miramax who owns the rights to the franchise. Then, there was talk about Dimension bringing Platinum Dunes on board to reboot the franchise yet again, which apparently plans also didn't pan out. Shock Till You Drop and Dread Central reported that  Federico D’Alessandro pitched his idea to Dimension, which was rejected. D’Alessandro created an animated opening scene to what his vision for a Halloween reboot would look like as well as photo paintings. I have to say that if this was an actual movie then it would be the best Halloween movie since 1981's Halloween II! I can really tell that D’Alessandro had a lot of passion and is in fact a fan of the original 1978 classic.  He has done what other directors in the sequels (with the exception of Halloween II 1981) and remakes have failed to do, make Michael scary again. He's barely in this video but you can certainly feel his presence and feel the tension and creepiness that D’Alessandro would bring to the series if it weren't for the Weinsteins shooting down an actual GREAT idea! In an era where audiences are turning to haunting and exorcism movies to give them chills, a movie about a shadowy stalker who will eventually kill those he is stalking would work wonders. People want to be scared again and The Shape would be the perfect monster to do that!

Take a Look at the Halloween Film that Never Was

Take a Look at the Halloween Film that Never Was

Take a Look at the Halloween Film that Never Was

Monday, September 17, 2012

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

       It has been ten years since Michael Myers killed about sixteen people in Haddonfield on Halloween.  Michael has been in a coma at another psychiatric hospital for the past decade.  Some paramedics load him in an ambulance ready to transfer him to another hospital, but Michael hears something about a niece and jumps up and brutally kills everybody in the ambulance. Meanwhile, young Jamie Lloyd is staying with her foster parents and new sister Rachel after her mother (Laurie Strode from Halloween & Halloween II) was killed in a car accident.  After hearing about Michael's escape, Dr. Loomis goes on yet another quest to find him and kill him once and for all.  Loomis teams up with Haddonfield's new Sheriff, Ben Meeker, to find Myers.  Michael finds his way to Jamie and Rachel that leads to a shocking ending that most won't see coming.

           In 1978, John Carpenter's low budget independent horror film Halloween was a surprising smash hit. It not only helped change the genre, but it showed audiences the shape of what fear really is.   By the '80s, just about every major profitable horror film released was followed by a series of sequels to continue the story and try to out beat the previous box office grossing.  In 1981, Halloween II was unleashed to pick up from the shocking ending of the original classic and continue with Michael Myers following Laurie Strode to the hospital and killing everybody who got in his way of killing his only living relative.   Halloween II made decent business, which granted a third installment.  So, in 1982, Halloween III: Season of the Witch was released that walked away from the story of the first two installments to be the beginning of a set of Halloween anthology films. Unfortunately for producers John Carpenter, Debra Hill, and Moustapha Akkad, Halloween III: Season of the Witch did poorly at the box office.   Horror fans wanted Michael Myers back doing what he does best, killing teenagers on Halloween night.  After the failure of Halloween III, John Carpenter and Debra Hill wanted no part in the rest of the Halloween franchise and left ownership and rights to Moustapha Akkad.   After a five year wait, Akkad decided to give the horror fans what they wanted and returned Michael Myers and his arch nemesis Dr. Sam Loomis back to Haddonfield in the franchise's fourth entry titled Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers in 1988, the tenth anniversary of the original Halloween.

           Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is a really fun and entertaining sequel.  The screenplay written by Alan B. McElroy was pretty good.  I think the thing that works so well about this fourth entry of the franchise is definitely the characters of Rachel and Jamie Lloyd.   These two are likeable and are believable as sisters even though we know they aren't biologically.   This film also threw in some teenage drama in the mix with a love triangle between Rachel and her boyfriend Brady and another girl that seems to have a thing for Brady named Kelly.    It doesn't push the Rachel/Brady relationship. It's obvious that Rachel and Brady really are into each other, yet the Sheriff's daughter Kelly comes between them.  Dr. Loomis is a little more crazed in his obsession with  killing Michael than he was in the first two films.  The only person that seems to understand Loomis is some alcoholic priest trucker guy, who also is on a "quest" to defeat evil.    The story is told that Laurie Strode from the first two films was killed in a car accident and her daughter Jamie was the only survivor.  Michael finds out that Jamie is his niece and goes after her to complete his quest to kill the last of his family.   The new Sheriff named Ben Meeker is cool too. I liked Sheriff Brackett more, but this guy ain't bad.   I really felt bad for little Jamie. She's constantly teased at school because of her uncle and her mom dying and all she wants is for Rachel to be a real sister to her. She also keeps having nightmares of her evil uncle trying to kill her.

         There's also some redneck dudes with shotguns who are run by this bar owner named Earl who wants revenge for Michael killing his son back ten years ago.

            I also love the little homages to the first movie like naming the new victim Jamie after Jamie Lee Curtis who played Laurie Strode in the first two films and having Jamie Lloyd as Laurie's daughter.  The whole thing with Jamie dressing up as a clown for Halloween is obviously a mirror of young Michael.  There's even a sequence where she sees young Michael dressed as a clown and holding a bloody knife in the mirror at the costume store.  And then the Sheriff's daughter gets killed by Michael just like what happened to the other Sheriff in the original.

            The music by Alan Howarth was decent. Still, nothing can beat the awesomeness of Carpenter's original Halloween score.

            I was definitely digging the kills in this one. It seems that Michael is now  even more stronger after being in a coma for ten years. He can now stick his thumb into some dude's forehead, rip a guy's throat out with his bare hand, and shove a shotgun through a girl's body that pins her up on the door.

              The ending to this film is just awesome! Total open ending that could and should have led to some interesting places in the following entries of this franchise.  Too bad that Akkad and company chickened out and made that terrible Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers a year later that ruined the possibilities that this great ending could have led to.

        My biggest complaint about this film mainly was the mask. It just looked really silly compared to the original mask.  I also wish that Laurie wasn't killed off. Although, we find out in the seventh installment Halloween H20 that she didn't die, but faked her death and changed her identity.

           The direction by Dwight H. Little is pretty good. The film moves at a good pace and looks great.

             The acting was pretty good too. Donald Pleasence is good as always as Dr. Sam Loomis.  Ellie Cornell was great as Rachel.  Danielle Harris was also fantastic as Jamie Lloyd.  I've always enjoyed Danielle as an actress.  I loved her here, as Annie Brackett in the Halloween remake,as the sexy Goth chick Tosha in Urban Legend, and even dug her as Marybeth in Adam Green's Hatchet II.  Beau Starr was good as Sheriff Meeker. Kathleen Kinmont was good and deliciously sexy as Kelly.  And Sasha Jensen was good as Brady. All in all, great cast.

            Overall, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is a very good sequel.  Sadly, it is the last good film in the franchise until Halloween H20 in 1998.  Definitely worth checking out every October.


Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

         In Northern California, a man named Harry Grimbridge is on the run from some wannabe Mr. Smith looking guys. A concerned gas station attendant gives Harry a lift to the local hospital. Harry begins rambling about "they're going to kill everyone" with a Halloween mask gripped tightly in his hands. That night, one of the Mr. Smith wannabe guys makes his way to the hospital and murders Harry before pouring gasoline on himself inside his car and blowing himself up.  The hospital's main doctor, Dr. Daniel Challis, witnessed what had happened. Challis notices that something strange is going on and teams up with Harry's daughter Ellie to investigate the mystery behind her father's murder.  They end up in a weird little town called Santa Mira that is home to the Silver Shamrock Novelty company.  Dan and Ellie soon discover that Silver Shamrock owner Conal Cochran plans to use his company's Halloween masks to kill all of the children in the world on Halloween night. Will Cochran be stopped or is it too late? Halloween night, the night nobody came home!

        In 1978, John Carpenter  made the ultimate horror film classic titled Halloween.  Halloween was so successful and set the bar for the slasher genre.   In 1981, Halloween II was released that continued that terrifying night, but did it in a more slasher fashion of gory kills and revealing the siblingship between the film's arch villain Michael Myers and  heroine Laurie Strode.    Fans around the world were curious if there would be more Halloween films and where the story would continue since it looked like Michael Myers and Dr. Sam Loomis both burned to death at the end of Halloween II.   After the success of Halloween II,  it was decided to go ahead and make a third installment.  This time however, Moustapha Akkad and John Carpenter decided to do something completely different with the franchise.  They had ended the whole Michael Myers/Laurie Strode/Sam Loomis story perfectly at the end of Halloween II, so they decided to make the other films all different types of stories that took place on Halloween. Carpenter and Akkad wanted to treat the Halloween franchise like a Tales From The Crypt or Twilight Zone thing, which sounded great.  So, in 1982, Halloween III: Season of the Witch was released to theaters.  And you want to know what? Audiences HATED it! It did awful business at the box office and made horror fans furious.  Why? Because Michael Myers was not in it. People wanted Michael Myers. Where's the Boogeyman who stalks and kills babysitters on Halloween night?

            To be perfectly honest, I don't hate Halloween III: Season of the Witch at all. Also, I find the hate for it to be amusing. I can definitely understand the love people have for The Shape, but I didn't think that this film was as bad as many people claim it to be. Is it good? Not really. Is it bad? No. Halloween III: Season of the Witch is one of those films that is middle ground for me. It's neither good or bad and has its fair share of both.   Tommy Lee Wallace wrote a pretty average screenplay that had some major plot holes that really dragged the film down for me.  Many people act like this is the worst of the franchise when it really isn't.  The Halloween franchise definitely has more bad installments than good though. Hell, all of the really bad installments actually HAD Michael Myers in them and even he couldn't stop those films from being terrible.  Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers,  Halloween Resurrection, and Rob Zombie's H2: Halloween II (2009) were far worse than this Michael Myers-less third installment.

            I'll begin with the good points of Halloween III: Season of the Witch.  I was truly digging the whole mask killing every child in the world concept. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I enjoy watching innocent children's heads turn into snakes and all kinds of nasty critters. I just find this concept to be very dark and controversial and I tend to love controversial material because of its shock value.   The characters of Dr. Dan Challis and Ellie Grimbridge were interesting to me. Dan is a lady's man, which I'm assuming is why his wife divorced his ass.  The guy may be a flirt, but there was something that I liked about him. Maybe it's because he was played by Tom Atkins, who is a total badass!  Ellie was pretty cute. She had the interest of both my eyes and my penis.  I also kinda liked the film's villain Conal Cochran. He was like if Willy Wonka was a novelty shop owner who went mad and wanted to kill off all of the world's children on Halloween night.  Although, if I wanted an Irish man who wants to give people a deadly case of bad luck, then I will stick with Leprechaun thank you very much!

         The music composed by both John Carpenter and Alan Howarth was pretty good. I liked it a lot.

           I really dug the special FX in this film too.  That scene where the robot guy just pulls off that homeless guy's head was fucking sweet.  Little Buddy Kupfer Jr.'s death was awesome as well.  That kid was such a brat. He reminded me of that kid from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory who always sat in front of the television and was an ass.  I loved it when critters just crawled out from his mask after his face melted.

         And then there is everything else. I believe the biggest problem of all I have with this movie is the lack of reason why Mr. Cochran wants every child in the world  dead on Halloween. There's no motivation with this guy what so ever. Now normally I prefer not to know why someone likes to kill people. It would ruin a character like Michael Myers, Chucky, and Freddy to know why they want to kill people aside from the simple answer that they are all evil and enjoy taking lives.   Here is an example of where motivation is needed. I don't know, maybe Slugworth paid this guy to kill off all of the children so that Willy Wonka would run out of business. Now, that is a harsh revenge my fiends!  Also, what the fuck is up with all of the robots?  I guess Cochran is not only a mask maker, but a robotics expert too. He is probably using robots to do his handy work instead of people because robots can't be killed and are a hell of a lot stronger. I just find it funny that these robot men look like Mr. Smith a little bit from The Matrix.  And they bleed yellow goo.   I'm confused about the purpose of that stone Irish wall. The last time I saw something like that was in Troll 2.   Also, how the hell do those little chips make a kid's head melt and creepy crawlers slither out?  There's a part near the end that kinda confused me too, but I think I have finally figured out what happened to Ellie.   I heard that the actual ending was a homage to Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Actually in fact, a lot of this film gives homage to that old school alien movie.   Speaking of homages, I did enjoy the small homages to the original Halloween on the television in two sequences.

             For a movie with "Season of the Witch" in the title, there were no witches in the film.  When I think of the word witch, I'm thinking  wicked witch of the west or the Hocus Pocus sisters or that lady who liked to turn children into Gingerbread and eat them from Hansel & Gretel. Not some old Irish dude who likes to melt children's faces with his Halloween masks!

           As for that Silver Shamrock theme song, I have to admit that it is pretty catchy. Annoying as hell after playing a zillion times in this film, but catchy nonetheless.  If Jigsaw really wanted to do some serious damage in the next Saw film, he should lock one of the victims in a room with this song playing over and over again with no way to shut it off. I wonder if they would be driven mad or find a way to kill themselves to stop the song.

          The direction by Tommy Lee Wallace was okay.  Could have been better, but could have been worse.  Wallace was the production designer on the original Halloween.  Not a bad directorial debut.

          I thought the cinematography again by Dean Cundey was very good.

        The acting was okay. I actually liked Tom Atkins a lot as Dan Challis. Sure, it's not Atkins' best acting job, but it's a decent one though. I prefer him in John Carpenter's The Fog, Night of the Creeps, and My Bloody Valentine 3D.  Stacey Nelkin was cute and decent as Ellie.  Dan O' Herlihy was pretty good as the villain Conal Cochran. What a bastard this guy was! Too bad I still don't get his beef with kids. Everybody else was alright. There was also a cameo by Nancy Keyes (Annie Brackett from Halloween '78) as Dan's wife.

           Overall, Halloween III: Season of the Witch is an alright movie to watch every October. It's considered the black sheep of the Halloween franchise, but it ain't bad.  Definitely worth checking out if you can look past the fact that Michael Myers isn't in it.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ten Horror Movies That Should Be Remade!

        The horror genre is probably one of the most popular genres in cinema. One of the biggest reasons for us fans is that we just love the roller coaster ride that a horror movie gives us. It shakes us up, makes us laugh, creeps us out, disturbs us, and on rare occasions even scares us.  The genre is also popular among filmmakers because horror movies especially slasher flicks can be very cheap to make. Horror has shifted from monsters and ghosts to maniacial killers stalking teenagers to splater flicks that ooze blood and gore. Amongst these have also been gimmicks or cash ins such as found footage, 3D, and sequels. Sequels in the horror genre really began around the 1970s and escalated into huge franchises in the 1980s with such franchises as Friday The 13th, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Halloween, and so many others. While sequels are very popular within the horror genre especially the slasher flicks, there is one filmmaking method that has always been around, but has escalated to extreme heights around the late '90s and early '00s and that is the re-telling or remake as it is now called. By now, there are so many terms to this word such as re-imagining or reboot. The process of re-telling a classic or ancient story to a new generation is actually nothing new. For centuries, people told classic ghost stories and famous urban legends around a campfire, each changing the names and some of the situations, but the core of the story was always in tact. Now, it is happening in Hollywood. It's a subject that has brought up a lot of debate. Has Hollywood run out of originality? Is the horror film doomed to extinction? My view is no and no. Remakes, like sequels, will make money most if not all of the time. Remakes have been around a long time, the only reason people get pissed when you bring them up is that almost everything is getting remade for the 21st Century. So, horror fans tend to look elsewhere for new films such as the indie scene or foreign horror films. I personally don't mind remakes or sequels as long as they are fun and entertaining to me. But, of course, what entertains me may piss others off.  With all that said, I have decided since my "Ten Sequels That Must Be Made!" article was such a huge hit among genre fans, I would write a follow up dealing with remakes in the horror genre that I personally would love to watch. So, lights, camera, REMAKE!

         1) THE FUNHOUSE (1981)

         While I personally dig director Tobe Hooper's (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre/Eaten Alive) 1981 teen slasher flick, it's definitely a movie that could use an update. There's something errie about carnivals that still applies today. Plus, I felt this film took too long to get to the horror elements and that the villain came off kinda goofy. The plot is that four teenagers go to the local carnival. As the park is about to close, they decide to spend the night inside The Funhouse. They end up witnessing a murder and soon the killer starts picking them off one by one while they are locked inside. The way I could see a remake working is if everyone who worked at this carnival turned out to be psychos. Obviously have a homage to the original with a guy in a Franeknstein mask but he's not the villain like we would think. I could see someone like Sid Haig or Robert Englund playing the carnival barker.  Basically a group of teens or college friends are on a road trip and decide to stop at the local carnival. What they don't know is that once you enter this carnival, there's no way out alive. The people working the carnival use real corpses inside The Funhouse and everyone thinks it is part of the show. Kinda like House of Wax (2005), but at a carnival fairground. I'd so watch this movie!

                             2) GRADUATION DAY (1981)

       This is a movie that was just really bad! Graduation Day (1981) told the story of some High School track team that is getting picked off one by one by a killer dressed in a fencing outfit leading up to graduation after one of the girls dies while running.  There's so many ways you could make a much better slasher flick using the Graduation Day holiday. You can go the revenge route or just have someone crazy picking off the classmates one by one on Graduation Day. Instead of a fencing outfit, they could wear the mascot outfit or be wearing a cap and gown and just shadow their face till the climax. Gotta use death by football though! And maybe do a roller skating death scene while some band is playing, just not for 10 minutes straight.

                          3)  MADMAN (1982)

      This was a film with an interesting idea, but had poor execution. There's a legend of a crazed hillbilly named Madman Marz and if you say his name then his soul comes to life and will kill anyone in the woods where he was put to rest. Which obviously puts a group of teens at a local summer camp in grave danger!  Being a huge fan of backwoods slashers, I could so see this getting a decent update.

                         4)  RESIDENT EVIL (REBOOT)

         I gotta be honest, I love the Paul W.S. Anderson Resident Evil movie franchise. They are fun popcorn movies with loads of action and monsters. But, like many hardcore fans of the original 1996 video game, I would love to see a more accurate movie version of the games. I've read where Anderson plans to end his very successful and popular Resident Evil franchise at 6 movies. In my opinion, this would be a great opportunity for Sony to actually adapt the games into live action movies. For instance, reboot the franchise and the reboot basically being a live action incarnation of the classic 1996 video game where the S.T.A.R.S team is hiding out inside the Umbrella mansion and discovers behind every dark corridor lurks a new monster. Then, they could make a sequel which would be the live action incarnation of Resident Evil 2 that features Police Officer Leon S. Kennedy and Chris' sister Claire Redfield as they battle zombies in Racoon City before taking shelter in a Police Station where even more horrors lurk ahead of them. You see where I'm going with this? I dug the Anderson films for being their own thing, but would absolutely love to see a much more faithful adaptation of the popular horror survival games.

                   5) GIRLS NITE OUT (1982)


     A group of college girls decide to have a scavenger hunt. Little do they know that a masked killer also wants to play.  This was a pretty weird movie especially the twist, but I could see this getting a decent update with a much better killer. Although, I do kinda like the bear claw glove the killer wears that actually came three years before Freddy Krueger.

                  6)  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (1981)

            While I do enjoy this slasher flick from 1981, I wouldn't mind seeing it remade.  A girl is preparing for her 18th Birthday, but her friends keep getting killed one by one.  There's a lot that could be done here.

                 7) NIGHT SCHOOL (1981)

         A killer wearing a motorcycle helmet is killing the girls at a local night school.  This movie was pretty forgettable to me, but I love the whole motorcycle rider costume and the whole night school setting. Could make for an interesting re-imagining.

               8) NEW YEAR'S EVIL (1980)

         A mysterious killer calls a DJ and tells her that people are going to die when the clock strikes twelve on New Year's Eve. I heard that this one was pretty bad. But, I do like the idea of a horror film especially a slasher taking place on New Year's Eve, which is supposed to be a time of celebration but turns into a night of pure terror.

              9)  SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE (1986)

      A girl's brother kills her whole family. She survives by hiding in the basement. Now, it is years later and she is going to college and joins a sorority. Her brother escapes from a mental hospital and arrives at her college to kill her and her new friends one by one. Basically a total ripoff of John Carpenter's Halloween. I love college slasher flicks and would like to see this re-imagined with a much more interesting plot. At least this movie didn't use stock footage from a totally different movie (The Slumber Party Massacre) like it's sequel "Sorority House Massacre II" did.

                10)  PIECES (1982)

        A mysterious killer begins killing the girls on a college campus one by one with a chainsaw in search of finding the pieces to make the perfect woman. I do kinda like this film, but I feel it could have been so much better. Love the plot with the killer looking for pieces to make one woman. It's a pretty twisted picture that could use a new twist.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Halloween II (1981)

         After Dr. Loomis fires six bullets into Michael Myers, he shockingly discovers that Michael is still very much alive and on the loose. Laurie Strode is taken to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital after being wounded in her confrontation with the Shape.  But, Michael soon finds his way to the hospital and slashes through the staff in order to find Laurie and kill her. Meanwhile,  Sheriff Brackett discovers that his own daughter Annie was one of Michael's unfortunate victims. Loomis teams up with another officer to track Michael down.  During his search, Marion shows up with a U.S. Marshall and is under orders by the Governor to bring Loomis along. During the ride, Marion tells Loomis that she discovered something about Laurie Strode that was locked away to protect the Strode family. It turns out that Laurie Strode is actually the younger sister of Michael and Judith Myers.  She was born two years before Judith was murdered and then adopted by the Strode family  two months after Michael was sent away. This explains why he specifically picked to stalk Laurie. To finish what he began back in 1963.   Dr. Loomis forces the Marshall to turn the car around so that he can stop Michael before he can harm Laurie.

            In 1978, John Carpenter made the ultimate horror classic called Halloween and changed the horror genre forever.  Other filmmakers took notice of Halloween's success and decided to copy it to gain equal success. One of these filmmakers was Sean S. Cunningham, who had produced the very controversial exploitation revenge film "The Last House On The Left"  with writer/director Wes Craven. In 1980, director Sean S. Cunningham and screenwriter Victor Miller released a little horror film called "Friday The 13th".  Friday The 13th did really well at the box office, which opened up the possibility of a second installment. In 1981, Friday The 13th Part 2 was released that was also successful.  The slasher trend took off with films such as "Prom Night", "Terror Train", "The House On Sorority Row", "My Bloody Valentine", and "The Burning".  Halloween's executive producer Moustapha Akkad took notice of how much Halloween changed the horror genre around.  There was talk of a possible sequel to Halloween going around. Many audience members assumed that Carpenter and company had set the ending open for a sequel, which co-writer/producer Debra Hill answered by saying that a sequel was the farthest thing from anyone's mind while making the original.  Someone that Akkad was in talks with proposed a deal for a sequel. After much thought and consideration, Akkad accepted and Halloween II was green lit.  The idea of a sequel didn't appeal to John Carpenter or Debra Hill, who were just happy with the great film that they had already made in 1978. Carpenter and Hill finally agreed that they would write and produce the sequel.  The original Halloween was a suspenseful and more atmospheric horror film that relied on music, characters, story, mystery, and atmosphere. Halloween II however rode on the coattails of Friday The 13th and the slasher trend by adding in bloody kills and adding a twist that made the rest of the franchise take an interesting or bad turn depending on who you ask.

              The screenplay by John Carpenter and Debra Hill is definitely inferior to what they wrote back in 1978, but it is definitely in my opinion the best Halloween sequel.   John Carpenter basically drank a six pack of beer every night as he wrote Halloween II because he just couldn't think of a thing to write since he wrote everything that he wanted to with the original. Truthfully, Carpenter didn't really want to be a part of this sequel at all. He was kinda committed to do it.  The reveal that Laurie was Michael Myers' sister was written with the help of alcohol. Plus, this was the era of unexpected relations. Look at Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back! Nothing against these character connections, but they do get old real quick. I also believe that it kinda tainted the rest of the franchise.  I can only count like maybe four or five good Halloween films out of the total of ten.   What made Michael so scary for me in the original is that he was just evil. Plain and simple. No connection to Laurie besides her being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It kinda hinted that possibly she reminded him of Judith, but it wasn't confirmed until this film that the two are siblings. Michael Myers should have just been evil. No other explanation.  It could have been fucking anyone that he stalked and tried to kill. THAT'S SCARY!  I don't fully blame Carpenter for this since he hated the idea anyway. At least he did make the best out of it and didn't allow his complaints of making a sequel interfere with his writing.

          The characters are alright. Laurie doesn't really do much in this film except lay in a hospital bed until Michael comes after her and then we get a chase.  Loomis is awesome as always with his monologues about evil and Samhain/Halloween. I love this guy!  Plus, I love how he fired the gun to get the Marshall to quickly turn the car around to get to the hospital to save Laurie from Michael.  Marion shows up briefly and is okay. Basically all she really did was explain that Laurie was Michael's biological sister.  We also have the hospital staff, who are basically used for Michael's body count. There's Karen, who's a nurse with a nice rack. Budd, who's the asshole. Jimmy, who helps take care of Laurie. Mrs. Alves, who's the head nurse.  Sheriff Brackett is briefly in the film until he finds Annie's body and has to leave. Jill, another nurse.  And of course everybody's favorite boogeyman, Michael Myers.

             The kills are decent in Halloween II. We get your standard slashing of throats. My favorite though is when he kills Karen by dipping her face in scalding water and we see parts of her skin boil off. It looks pretty real too. I also love when Michael has injected a needle right in the pupil of Dr. Mixter's eyeball and it looks like his eye cracked like glass. Michael also injects air into this woman's temple. Not bad kills by 1981's standards.

           The music by both John Carpenter and Alan Howarth is alright. It is nowhere near as chilling as Carpenter's original music from the original Halloween, but I have heard worse in the franchise.

              I forgot to mention this in the review above, but I find the opening credits sequence with the camera slowly zooming in on the lit Jack o' Lantern against the pitch black back ground to be incredibly creepy. I love in this film where the Jack o' Lantern's face splits apart, revealing a skull inside and the camera zooms in slowly into the skull's pitch black eye sockets. Really great stuff!

          I enjoyed the cinematography done again by Dean Cundey.

            The acting is pretty decent. Jamie Lee Curtis did alright with what she had as Laurie Strode. I do find her character more interesting in the original and Halloween: H20 as well.   Donald Pleasence is awesome as always as Dr. Sam Loomis. The guy is just a delight to watch.  Charles Cyphers is alright in his brief return as Sheriff Brackett.  We won't see Sheriff Brackett again in the franchise until Rob Zombie's 2007 remake, which starred Chucky in the role.  Lance Guest was good as Jimmy. Pamela Susan Shoop was good and sexy as Karen. She can be my nurse anytime! Leo Rossi was a dick as Budd. He didn't last long. Gloria Gifford was pretty good as Mrs. Alves, the head nurse.  And Dick Warlock was definitely creepy as Michael Myers. He had the walk down perfectly. He's the best Michael Myers since Nick Castle/Tony Moran.  Nancy Stephens was also pretty good, returning as Marion Chambers. She would return to the franchise briefly at the beginning of Halloween: H20 in 1998 just to get killed by Michael. Everybody else did decent with what they had. Not bad acting at all.

             The direction by Rick Rosenthal was actually pretty good. I like that he took note of Carpenter and still managed to give the film a creepy vibe. I love the shot where Michael is standing in the room with all the babies and looks like just a shadow.  Rosenthal definitely did a good job in the director's chair. Too bad that he had to direct that God awful Halloween: Resurrection in 2002.


        Overall, Halloween II is still inferior to its source material, yet still manages to be my favorite film in the franchise since the original.  It's a bit creepy and definitely fun to watch every October.


Halloween (1978)

         On Halloween night in 1963, Judith Myers was stabbed to death by her six year old brother Michael who was dressed as a clown.  Fifteen years later on October 30th, 1978, Michael's psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis along with his nurse Marion Chambers are heading to Smith's Grove Sanitarium to pick up Michael to transfer him to a maximum security prison. When they get to Smith's Grove, all of the inmates have been released and are walking around outside. Loomis goes to open the gates, leaving Marion in the van. Michael climbs on top of the van and pulls Marion out before getting in the driver's seat and driving away.  The next day (Halloween), teenager Laurie Strode drops off a key for her father at the old Myers house as Michael closely watches her. From that point on, Michael stalks Laurie and her best friends Annie and Lynda. That night, Laurie is babysitting Tommy Doyle and Annie is babysitting Lindsey Wallace right across the street.  Meanwhile, Dr. Loomis gets in touch with Annie's father Sheriff Brackett and the two are on the lookout for Michael Myers.  What starts as creepy stalking soon escalates to murder and one of the most famous and terrifying final fifteen minutes in horror cinema history!

          When I was a kid, I was absolutely terrified by scary movies and couldn't watch them all the way through. I remember getting nightmares and sitting there on the couch with the lights off, covering my eyes.  Hell, I couldn't even make it all the way through the intro to "Tales From The Crypt" and would run out of the room every time that show came on. What? The Cryptkeeper's laugh scared me when he popped out of the coffin in that creepy mansion! The only things remotely horror related that I could watch without getting too frightened was the Nickelodeon television show for teens on Saturday nights called "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" and the Fox show "Goosebumps" that was based off the hit horror book series for kids in the '90s. Yep, I was a '90s kid all the way dude!  Anyway, when I was like eight or nine years old, my Dad brought home a movie titled "Halloween".  I have always been and still am a huge Halloween celebrator. Whoever said that you could only enjoy Halloween when you're a child is full of shit!  So, the title of this film right there caught my interest. And then there was the box cover with this dude with a sweet looking blank white mask.  Ninety minutes later, I was a horror fan for life. Something in Halloween changed me. Maybe it was the use of the holiday. Maybe it was the music. Maybe it was the great story and characters. Maybe it was the interesting villain. Or maybe it was just that Halloween was a great film period.

         Let me first begin with the background history of the film.  The best place to start would be where the horror genre shifted from  the supernatural and the Universal monsters era to the psychotic murderer/slasher era. In 1960, the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, scared the Hell out of movie goers with the horror classic "Psycho".   It took horror out of the supernatural realm and placed it into Human issues.  Monsters went from being creatures and became people who had gone mad.  The '70s brought on the demon/Satan era of horror beginning with "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Exorcist".    During the '70s, the new realm of terror that Psycho introduced also expanded.  Very graphic films such as "The Last House On The Left", "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", and "The Hills Have Eyes" came along that put Human Beings as the villains.  In 1974, Bob Clark released the very creepy "Black Christmas" that told the story of a group of sorority sisters who are harassed and murdered by a mysterious killer who's hiding in the attic of their house as they are snowed in during Christmas break.

        In the late '70s, a young filmmaker named John Carpenter had made two feature films, "Dark Star" and "Assault On Precinct 13".  Carpenter did Assault On Precinct 13 with an independent distributor named Irwin Yablans.  Yablans wanted to get some independent films made and the only way he knew to do that was to get them made himself. Irwin Yablans wanted to make a horror film and came up with a simple story as his premise.  The film was about a group of babysitters who are stalked by a killer. Yablans then asked Carpenter if he would be interested in directing it and Carpenter agreed as long as he got his name above the title and got full creative control on the project.  The budget was $300,000, which Yablans was able to get from the film's investor Moustapha Akkad.  Carpenter hired his girlfriend at the time, Debra Hill, to co-write the screenplay with him and produce what at the time was called "The Babysitter Murders". Yablans realized that he wanted the film to take place on one night and Halloween just popped in his head. After doing research, Yablans discovered that the title "Halloween" at the time had never been used as  part of a title in the history of the film business. Yablans quickly called up John Carpenter and told him that the film had to take place on Halloween night and be titled "Halloween".

         In around three weeks, Carpenter handed in the script and Halloween was on its way.   Carpenter hired a lot of people that he knew from college such as Tommy Lee Wallace to be his production designer and hired his good friend Nick Castle to portray one of horror history's most terrifying villains, Michael Myers, who he named after a guy who put his last film, Assault On Precinct 13, in the London Film Festival where it became a hit since it bombed in the U.S. at the time.  The film was set in Haddonfield, named after Debra Hill's hometown.    To the cast and crew of Halloween, this was just any other film project and nobody knew just how big this low budget independent horror film was going to become.  When it first opened, Halloween didn't do well at the box office. It was treated like an underground film and wasn't reviewed really well.  Soon, a miracle happened and the numbers got bigger and bigger. It turned out that word of mouth got around to how scary Halloween was.  Halloween then became a surprising smash hit that not only shocked the Hell out of Yablans, but surprised Halloween's cast and crew as well as Carpenter himself.

            I think the thing that works about Halloween's story is how simple it really is.  It's also dealing with things that everybody can relate to and located in an area that looks familiar to us. If you're not even safe in your own neighborhood or in your own house then where are you safe? Here's a movie with barely any special FX and concentrates solely on story, atmosphere, music, and characters. You know, what a great/good horror movie should do.   I just love that opening scene used with young Michael's POV. It makes the audience think that some maniac snuck in the house, then makes you think that the girl's brother is the maniac and a grown man/teenager possibly, but then you discover that he was just a six year old kid when the father pulls the clown mask off. That was a shocker when I first watched this movie back in like 1995.  I also love how there's a crane shot that pulls up after the reveal of the kid holding the bloody butcher knife and we see that it happened in a neighborhood that looks like any other neighborhood. The escape from Smith's Grove was both effective and creepy. I especially loved it when his hand slides down and cracks the window when he barely tapped it. Just goes to show us how evil this man truly is.   Carpenter is one of the few directors that I know who can make day scenes look just as creepy as the night scenes.  I'm not sure if it was the addition of his music, but that day scene when Laurie is walking is shot effectively creepy.   The shots where the Shape is in the background of scenes is what kept me interested to see what was going to happen. That sequence where he's outside Laurie's window or standing behind the bush is pretty creepy.  There's so many very creepy moments in this film. I love it! It's not really what you see that scares you, but what's lurking in the dark. The screenplay written by both John Carpenter and Debra Hill is fantastic.  Debra Hill wrote a lot of the scenes with Laurie and her two friends Annie and Lynda since she used to be a babysitter when she was a teenager, while Carpenter wrote all the scary stuff and all the Loomis stuff.

         Another thing that Halloween has over many other slasher films is character development.  Laurie was the most developed. She was the kinda girl who was all about school work and doing the right thing. Her friend Annie was all about her boyfriend Paul and wanting to spend "alone" time with him instead of having to babysit Lindsey Wallace.  And then Lynda was the sexually active blonde bimbo of the group that said "totally" about a bazillion times. Plus, she was a hottie and was the comic relief. I can understand why teens today can't relate to them like a lot of us old school horror fans can. They are more '70s era teenagers. Today, they would be more foul mouthed, spicy, and sexually active. You know, like they became in Rob Zombie's 2007 remake.   Dr. Loomis was actually my favorite character in the film personally. I just loved this man's monologues about evil and about Michael Myers. Here's the best Loomis line ever!

      " I met this six year old child with this pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes. The Devil's eyes. I spent six years trying to reach him and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I knew that what was behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply, EVIL."

         Plus, I love how Carpenter borrowed two character names from Psycho such as Marion and Sam Loomis.  It shows how inspired by Hitchcock that Carpenter really was.   The kids Tommy and Lindsey were pretty likeable. I felt sorry for poor Tommy when those bullies at school caused him to drop his pumpkin. I just love how scared that one bully got when he bumped into Michael in the school yard.

         The cinematography by Dean Cundey is amazing. I love the blue color tint for the night time exterior scenes. It gives the film a very creepy atmosphere.  Definitely great visuals and I also love how the visuals tell the story. Hands down, the best shot EVER is that part when Laurie is up against the wall crying after finding her friends dead and we slowly see behind her a pale white face slowly brighten up in a pitch black room. In fact, that shot helped inspire my shocking surprise bedroom sequence in my short film "Midnight Silence".  Just a fantastic shot. I also love how that chase from the Wallace house to the Doyle house was done, showing Michael as a shadowy figure walking slowly. Definitely a heart pounder!  I also love the ending.  It just gives me goosebumps every time I watch it.

         I was definitely digging the production design by Tommy Lee Wallace.  The back story behind the Michael Myers mask is hilarious. It actually started out as a Star Trek William Shatner mask that Tommy Lee Wallace found in a mask store along with the clown outfit (used for young Michael at the beginning). Basically, Wallace tore off the eye brows and sideburns, spray painted the mask whiter, messed up the hair a bit, and made the eye holes wider. Tada, we have Michael Myers, the Boogeyman of the horror genre!  It was also cool that they used the same Fall leaves over and over with a fan to blow them since it was actually Spring when they filmed Halloween.

           I have to mention the music, which John Carpenter wrote and composed himself. It is quite honestly some of the most chilling horror movie music that I've ever heard alongside Psycho's theme song and the music for "The Omen". Let's put it this way, it is so iconic that Nightmare Mansion at Virginia Beach plays it at the front door. I get chills every time I hear  any of the Halloween soundtrack. Just marvelous!

            The acting is absolutely great! Jamie Lee Curtis was excellent as Laurie Strode. It's funny that the only reason that she was cast was that her mother, Janet Leigh, played in Psycho. And yet she turned over a very iconic performance that began her career. Curtis would go on to play in other horror titles such as "The Fog", "Prom Night", "Terror Train", and return to the Halloween legacy in the 1981 sequel "Halloween II".   Veteran British actor Donald Pleasence is and will always be Dr. Sam Loomis to me.  He would return in four of the later sequels.  Charles Cyphers was really good as Sheriff Brackett.  Nancy Kyes was excellent as Annie. She played the bad girl role really well. P.J. Soles was really funny and sexy as Lynda.  She also had nice boobs. Soles has returned to the horror genre in many independent films and had a brief cameo in Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects by being hit by Captain Spaulding who needed a ride. Plus, she was a bad girl in "Carrie".   Brian Andrews and Kyle Richards were decent as the kids Tommy and Lindsey. Nancy Stephens was good as Marion Chambers , who would return in both Halloween II and Halloween H20. And future director Nick Castle was menacing and creepy as The Shape. Who knew that the director of "Major Payne" and "Dennis The Menace" played one of the largest horror icons back in 1978? Tony Moran looked creepy as the brief unmasked adult Michael Myers at the end of the movie. I do think that it's kinda unfair that he got all of the credit when all he did was take off the mask and fall off the balcony.

           Meanwhile, Castle did a great portion of the film as adult Michael Myers like the stalking and stabbing that dude against the wall before doing the infamous head tilt that still creeps me out to this day.  When it came time to quickly grab a glimpse of Michael's real face at the end, Carpenter wanted a more evil look and hired Tony Moran to be the adult Michael Myers, while giving credit to Castle for playing The Shape. Don't get me wrong though, I thought both Moran and Castle did a great job bringing Michael Myers to life. I just thought that both guys should have gotten equal credit is all. The same situation happened in Friday The 13th Part 2 where Warrington Gillette who portrayed the brief unmasked Jason got credit for the whole thing, while stuntman Steve Nash was barely mentioned when he did 98% of the film just about as Jason with the burlap sack mask on. The only way I knew was from watching the Halloween documentary on the DVD called "Halloween: A Cut Above The Rest". I just thought that I would point out that two guys played adult Michael Myers and not just Moran.  Oh well, Moran did look pretty creepy under that mask.  At least he didn't look like a drunken Santa Claus like Tyler Mane looked like in Rob Zombie's H2 (2009).  Bottom line, great performances from everybody involved.

        The direction by John Carpenter was just amazing.  Enough said.  Carpenter is one of my top favorite directors and I just love everything this man does, even the films that some folks seem to look down on. The man is a myth, a legend, and a hero to aspiring horror/action/thriller filmmakers everywhere!

            Overall, John Carpenter's Halloween is the ultimate horror movie classic. It is a horror film that does everything right and set the bar for true terror. I'm surprised that none of these knock offs have tried to go back to basic storytelling instead of over the top kills.  Halloween is a film that has lived on through three decades and continues to find more fans. I am, have been, and will always be a fan of the original. No matter how many sequels or remakes come out, there is only one John Carpenter's Halloween!