Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Holliston-Season 1 (2012)

         When it comes to television shows, I have been out of the loop for quite awhile.  It's funny because I was a television addict when I was growing up. Whether it was sitcoms, cartoons, action, dramas, or horror, I was usually hooked. But then as I got older, my love of television shows began to vanish. Either I could find nothing that captured my interest or I would get hooked then would either lose interest over time or just could not keep up with the show for whatever reason. As for sitcoms, I was a huge sitcom fan growing up with lots of laughs. I watched sitcoms of the '80s and '90s such as Saved By The Bell, Boy Meets World, Full House, Family Matters, Step By Step, you name it. I also loved the more classic shows such as I Love Lucy, Bewitched, The Munsters, The Addam's Family, Happy Days, and The Brady Bunch.  The Wonder Years and Boy Meets World tend to be my all time favorites because they helped me a great deal growing up. I could really relate to somebody like Kevin Arnold or Cory Matthews. As the 2000s came along, the sitcom changed form and became more dry and unfunny.  I do get some major laughs out of older seasons of Two And A Half Men and definitely find myself laughing while watching Mike & Molly. One genre I've always been a fan of though is horror. While I love scary or disturbing horror, I also dig more comical raunchy horror that is more twisted in very amusing ways.  While The Munsters and The Addam's Family were the first sitcoms to include elements of horror in a very black comedy sort of way for television, Adam Green has taken the horror sitcom to a whole new dimension with his awesome sitcom Holliston!

              Before I get into what the show is all about and how I feel about it, I must talk about how Adam Green has evolved as a filmmaker as well as to introduce him to those who may not know who he is or what he has done for independent horror.  Ever heard of a little gory slasher flick titled Hatchet? Well, that was Green's first big break into the industry of horror filmmaking. But, what some horror fans don't know is that Hatchet was Adam Green's second feature, not his debut. Green grew up in Holliston, Massachusetts and worked for a cable company with his great friend and DP on all of his movies, Will Barratt. Wanting to get the Hell out of Holliston and make it big, Green and Barratt borrowed the cable company's equipment while they were off work and filmed Green's first feature film, Coffee & Donuts, which was loosely based on Green's life. They were able to get their foot in the door a little bit. Green had aimed to turn Coffee & Donuts into a sitcom, but the networks didn't want to make it the way Green had imagined so Green bought the rights back. Green decided to then make his other dream project with Hatchet, which he had started thinking up at as young as 8 years old. They filmed a very brief teaser for Hatchet and the teaser trailer became huge and helped Green get connections and the financing to make it. Hatchet became a huge success around 2006 and found it's way to DVD in late 2007 where it became even more popular among the slasher fan community and made Victor Crowley a much welcomed addition to the slasher family.  Becoming really great friends with actor Joel David Moore on Hatchet, Green teamed up with him to co-direct and produce the Hitchcock styled thriller Spiral which Moore also played the lead. With two decent successes under his belt, Green decided to sit back and produce the disturbing zombie baby horror flick Grace written and directed by Paul Solet. While on the set of Grace, Green wrote his next directorial feature which in my opinion is his best movie with the survival thriller Frozen about three college friends who accidentally get stuck on a chairlift after the ski resort they are at closes for the week.  Next up came the highly anticipated sequel with Hatchet II, which is a total goregasm. Adam Green then teamed up with fellow horror pals Joe Lynch, Tim Sullivan, and Adam Rifkin to make the Drive In/B-Movie throwback anthology nastfest Chillerama.

              Which brings us to now.  Peter Block who had previously produced Green's film Frozen is now the President of FearNet, the popular horror cable channel. Block was looking for a sitcom that featured horror material. He approached Green who took this as his opportunity to finally get his dream project off the ground, which became Holliston. The show premiered back in April on FearNet, is available to digitally download from iTunes, and is now available to buy on DVD/Blu-Ray.

        Holliston revolves around best buds Adam and Joe who want to make horror movies. They have their own apartment with Adam's mentally disabled cat Axel. They are working at Mass Cable Network filming various cable commercials such as Crazy Max's Discount Mart for owner Lance Rockett who is obsessed with '80s rock 'n roll.  They also deal with the ups and downs of the opposite sex. Adam takes advice from an imaginary monster named Oterus who lives in his closet. And they deal with the harsh world of life and adulthood.

               I think what appeals to me the most about Holliston is how awesome the characters are written. Green has turned the sitcom on its head and turned in something very fresh and original. The series plays out like your typical sitcom yet pokes fun at all the cliche's that occur in sitcoms. Not to mention, the show is very aware of itself. These characters know they are in a sitcom, making the show that much more hilarious. I also dig that Holliston plays out like a big cartoon for us adults and even the kids we used to be back in the 1980s or 1990s. I myself have been going through tough times in life financially and this show really reflects being broke as fuck and trying to make the best of things, which at times is not the easiest thing to do. It also reflects the hardships of being in love with someone who just wants to be friends and trying to overcome the hurtfulness of losing your first love. I can relate and that is where this show works. Not only is it mildly hilarious, disturbing and sick at times, but it also connects with me because of the characters and all the crazy shit they are getting themselves into.  With that said, let's discuss each episode individually.

            THE HOOKER

           Adam's old childhood girlfriend Corri moves back to Holliston to work as a nurse. Adam is excited till he discovers that she has a boyfriend. So, Adam decides to get a hooker to pretend she is his girl to fool Corri into believing that he is happy and is over her.

             This pilot episode is a good start. I love all the crazy schemes Adam does to try to convince Corri he has moved on with his life when really he is a complete train wreck. It's even more hilarious where you can see him tearing up when he sees that Corri has a boyfriend. I read in the trivia that Green really did tear up while filming this episode because all of his memories began flashing back. Corri's boyfriend Kevin made me laugh at how much of a doofus he was. He's like doing this Disney Prince Charming routine, which is cartoonishly hilarious. Joe is a great character too and him and Adam just have that natural best friend chemistry between them because they are that same way in real life. I also found Joe's girlfriend Laura to be super cute and twisted. She's that character that looks so sweet and innocent yet harvests this dark and insanely twisted side that comes through in her artwork. Loved the finale where Joe drinks about 10 or 20 cups of coffee while Adam and Corri are outside talking because he doesn't want to pay the bill. Oh and love the characters of Lance Rockett and especially Oterus who is the monster living in Adam's closet and gives him the best worst advice ever. Great first start.


                   CAMERA RENTAL

         Joe talks Adam into borrowing the cable company's camera to lend to a buddy of his. The boys lose the camera and struggle to find a way to prevent themselves from being fired. Meanwhile, Corri and Laura have finally found an apartment for a cheap price. Only problem is that somebody died there and the place is a little haunted.

              While I really dug the pilot, this episode was a laugh riot. From Adam dressing like a popular McDonald's character to the hilarious scheme they think up to get out of losing the camera. I loved it when they go to the website that the guy Trent told them he was shooting for and it turns out to be some porn website dealing with animal fucking and then Adam book marks the website to use in private to release some tension. The humor in this thing is so wrong that I couldn't help but to laugh and enjoy myself. These friends also like to share Watermelon bubblegum. Also love the cameos by Kane Hodder (Hatchet 1 & 2, Friday The 13th 7-10), Ray Wise (Reaper), Bill Moseley (The Devil's Rejects), and Parry Shen (Hatchet & Hatchet II). Camera Rental is definitely one of my favorite episodes.


         Axel the cat has gone missing so Adam and Joe go looking for him. The boys accidentally get skunked. Meanwhile, Corri and Laura go to Cumberland Farms to get the fellas some Vinegar to get rid of the smell. The store doesn't have Vinegar so they get 15 boxes of feminine wash. The girls get mistaken for prostitutes and gotta deal with the Police while Adam and Joe sit in the bath together naked.

             This is probably the grossest episode of the season. Lots of vomiting going on. Loved the opening where the boys discuss how to make movie blood. There's also a funny flashback sequence of things that happened while Adam and Joe are in the tub together. Really loved the cameos by Derek Mears (Jason in Friday The 13th '09), Colton Dunn (Hatchet II), and Brian Posehn (The Devil's Rejects). Loved the Saved By The Bell references too. And the ending was insanely hilarious. Another fun and hilariously gross episode.



                Adam and Joe are thrilled to have Tony Todd aka Candyman guest spot on their late night show The Movie Crypt. After the show, Tony wants to treat the fellas to some drinks. The next day, Adam and Joe find that Tony has basically moved in with them and won't leave. Candyman takes their last waffles, hogs their television set, invites pot smoking people over to watch football, and raps in their shower about all the movies he has been in. Things go too far though when Tony wants to bang Corri in Adam's bed. So, what better way to get rid of someone who has over stayed their welcome? Just gather up pictures of naked underaged chicks, put them together in photoshop, and get him arrested! Or just try to kill him with strawberry icecream.

              Candyman has got to be my personal favorite episode of this season. I think it is safe to say that most of us have had a guest who just won't leave. I know damn sure I went through that in High School. Those people you think at first are going to be awesome to hang with and it turns out that hanging with them is so aggravating. Well, this episode basically takes that concept and pokes fun at it in a laugh out loud hilarious way. Tony Todd is great as Candyman, Ben in Night of the Living Dead (1990), Bludworth in Final Destination (1,2,5) and Reverend Zombie in Hatchet II, but this is probably my favorite Tony Todd performance. He is playing a totally fictional version of himself and it is absolutely hilarious. He's a total badass. I love it when someone calls him on his cell phone and he answers with "Yo, Candyman! Speak!". And his rapping in the bathroom was hilarious. I was seriously in tears laughing so hard. This guy was just a laugh riot in this episode. It also has some race jokes that are pretty funny involving the boom guy. I also laughed when Adam gets a contact high and gets the munchies really bad. He's talking to Joe while eating chips and all the sudden we read subtitles of what he is saying because his mouth of full of chips. Hilarious episode.

                LAURA'S LITTLE TWITTER

             Laura seems get be getting a lot of followers and popularity on Twitter due to her profile picture featuring her exposed lower region. Meanwhile, Adam and Joe are meeting with a special FX artist who is mildly crazy to shoot the trailer to their first horror film "Shinpads" about some undead Mexican soccer players who rise from the dead.

             This episode was pretty funny. I loved Seth Green's over acting as Gustavo, the crazy make up artist. Seth Green is known in the horror genre for his role as Oz who was Willow's werewolf boyfriend in the popular television series Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I love that Adam Green makes fun of himself and even bashes himself in this show. Gotta love the part where Gustavo is upset when he discovers that Dawn of Dead was remade and takes a stab at The Thing premake. While I liked both movies personally, that part cracked me up.  The whole Laura story arc in this with Twitter was amusing epecially a certain flash you get before the end credits roll. You have to pay close attention because it is quick. There's a scene where Corri decides to show her boobs in Adam and Joe's film Shinpads and of course Adam is uncomfortable with this so he talks to Oterus who says this awesome line of dialogue...


      "Adam, do you want to be the guy who made that crummy PG-13 remake of Prom Night or do you want to make Re-Animator?"


                            WEEKEND OF HORRORS

        Adam, Joe, Laura, and Corri go to the Rock N Shock's Weekend of Horrors convention. The boys want to meet their idol John Landis who directed the classic werewolf movie An American Werewolf In London and pitch him their idea for Shinpads as well as give him a DVD copy of their finished trailer.

           Weekend of Horrors was a great season finale for this very awesome first season. What better way to end a season of a horror sitcom than at a popular horror convention filled with horror icons? Kane Hodder( Jason Voorhees in Friday The 13th parts 7-10/Victor Crowley in Hatchet 1-3), Danielle Harris (Halloween 4 & 5/Hatchet II & III), and of course John Landis all have great cameos. Kane Hodder punching Joe because of something he said about him earlier in the episode was hilarious. There was also a funny scene involving the stereotypical douchebaggy horror fanboy who unfortunately I've met several times on the internet.  I dug the scene with John Landis who you could tell was having fun. The brief Gwar concert with Oterus was awesome. And I loved the way the season went out which is pretty hilarious and surprising. All in all, a great ending to a kickass first season.

             The acting in Holliston by the main cast is hilarious and very entertaining and engaging. Adam Green carries this series greatly as its writer, director, producer, and star. Joe Lynch who is known for directing the very gory sequel Wrong Turn 2: Dead End is equally awesome as the best friend who always gets the lead character into crazy situations. Adam Green and Joe Lynch are always great together and play off each other perfectly. It helped that they did The Road To Fright Fest shorts together, which is what really broke this show into becoming a reality for Green. Laura Ortiz is super cute as Laura. She is known in the horror community for her role in The Hills Have Eyes remake. Corri English is great as Adam's old girlfriend now turned best friend. Corri had also worked with Adam in playing in his Halloween short "The Tiffany Problem" opposite Joel David Moore. Dee Snider from Twisted Sister fame plays the part of Lance Rockett perfectly and is totally different from how he is in real life. And Gwar's lead singer Davie Brockie is great as his monsterous alter ego Oterus Urungus by giving the best worst advice. And of course all of the cameos are fun.

              Overall, Holliston: The Complete First Season is a must buy and must watch for fans of Adam Green, raunchy humor, and horror movies. Honestly, it is my favorite project of Adam's. He's a very talented guy who has proven over and over that he can entertain you with any genre. Gory slashers, psychological thrillers, survival horror, and recently comedy. Green is a man of many talents. I love all his short films. I love his movies. And I especially love this show. Green has become one of my favorite filmmakers. I've never met him, but he sounds like the kinda guy that you just want to chill, have a beer, and watch movies with. I personally look forward to his special hour long Christmas episode this December, which I'll definitely be downloading from iTunes. And of course, I'll make sure to have plenty of money in my account to download all of season 2 each week in Spring 2013. Holliston is here to stay my friends and so join me in the laughs, the friendships, and the hardships of life but the thrill of success!


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Halloween II (2009)

            In the late summer of 2007, Rob Zombie unleashed his version of Halloween to movie theaters nation-wide. The remake of the 1978 classic received mixed reviews among horror fans, but it also received favorable box office success. This could only mean one thing, which was to make a sequel. While at first, Rob Zombie refused to make the sequel, he soon changed his mind when Dimension was not having much luck in finding the right person to helm the project.  It was soon announced that Rob Zombie was returning to write and direct his follow up titled simply Halloween II.  While fans of his remake were excited and very interested to see what he came up with, those that hated his first shot at Halloween lashed out at the announcement. I will admit that I was pretty interested and curious to see what Zombie would come up with. That of course was until I saw the first trailer in which it revealed that Michael Myers sees his deceased mother provoking him to kill. The theatrical release for Halloween II also happened to be the same as The Final Destination, which made for a box office tug of war between the two sequels.  Then the reviews started popping up being mainly negative, which left me with very bottom of the barrel expectations. Not because they were by haters of the remake, but because over half of them were by fans of it. Now, as many of you know from reading my previous review for Zombie's remake that I was an avid fan of it. Sure, it had some flaws and wasn't perfect, but I liked that Zombie added something new to the Halloween legacy. While, I can see where he was trying to go with Halloween II however, I felt that it was good ideas and poor execution leading to a disjointed mess that should have been so much better.

             Halloween II picks up exactly right where the remake left off. Laurie Strode has shot Michael Myers and is walking down the street covered in blood traumatized at all of the horrific events that she encountered. Sheriff Brackett shows up and Laurie is taken to the local hospital. Meanwhile, some paramedics pick up Michael's body and are taking it to the hospital when they accidentally hit a cow that's in the middle of the road. Michael soon awakes and murders the paramedic violently. He makes his way to the hospital where Laurie is and starts to massacre any and every person that gets in his way of finding his baby sister.  We jump a year later and learn that Laurie is currently living with her best friend Annie and Sheriff Brackett (Annie's father).  She has been going to therapy to try to stop the nightmares of Michael.  Meanwhile, Michael's old doctor, Dr. Sam Loomis, who survived last year's Halloween night massacre is now wealthy because of the success of his new book regarding Michael and the victims he has claimed. The families of Michael's victims all hate Loomis and blame him for Michael escaping Smith's Grove.  Laurie soon discovers from reading Loomis' book that she is in fact the baby sister of the man that has made her life a living Hell. She handles this anger by going to a Halloween party and getting drunk off her ass. Meanwhile, we find out that Michael has been living in some shack in the middle of nowhere and is driven by visions of his deceased mother and child self. On Halloween, he returns leaving yet again another major body count of random people in search of Laurie. The thing is that Laurie and Michael have been both seeing their deceased mother and young Michael.  Michael finds his way to the Brackett's home and comes face to face with Laurie in a surprisingly interesting conclusion.

              Halloween II is basically a major disappointment for me as both a Halloween fan and a Rob Zombie fan.  While I really like the idea of where Zombie was headed here, it just felt poorly executed. Some things that were interesting weren't explored to where they made sense.  First off, I will talk about what I actually enjoyed about Rob Zombie's Halloween II before getting into what I had problems with.   The first like 25 minutes I thought were actually pretty good except for that ambulance driver that said the word "fuck" about twenty times before he was slaughtered by Michael. I liked where we open with Laurie traumatized about shooting Michael and of the horror that she experienced that Halloween night.  The whole hospital thing was solid in my opinion too and also a bit creepy. This was the only part of the movie that was kinda like the sequel to the 1978 classic. Now, many are saying that this Halloween II was a remake of the 1981 Halloween II and that is simply not the case here. The only part of the movie that you could say was like the 1981 Halloween II is the hospital scene at the beginning. Everything else is purely a sequel to the 2007 remake.  I liked the killing of the nurse where she's stabbed numerous times. Also, I enjoyed the chase between Michael and Laurie in the hospital.

         In the remake, Annie and Sheriff Brackett barely had much screen time, but here I liked that they were more fleshed out especially Sheriff Brackett.  While, I hated the fact that Annie gets killed in this one where she actually survived the remake, but we all knew it was going to most likely happen that she would be killed off in the sequel. I really liked Sheriff Brackett in this movie especially at how you could see exactly how torn up he was as a father to find his daughter slain by Myers. In the Director's Cut, I dug how Zombie placed a home video clip of Danielle Harris as a child during the scene where Brackett finds Annie's dead body adding to this character's emotional breakdown.  I know many have complained about how Dr. Loomis is a fucking money hungry douchebag in this movie, but I found it to be a quite interesting and different direction for Zombie to go with the character. He's no longer hunting Michael down. Loomis came off probably more crazy than Michael in the original franchise in how obsessed he was in killing him for all that is good. I really wasn't impressed with Malcolm's portrayal of the character in the remake, but I actually thought he played greedy Loomis quite well. I know it's a like it or hate it direction for the character, but I found it to be quite an interesting character change. The guy is obsessed in killing Michael and stopping him from getting Laurie then writes a best seller that exploits Michael's victims and mayhem. Then he becomes hungry for cash because of his book's success. I guess I liked it because it was a change and not the same Loomis that we have seen in six movies.

                I found the murders to be quite brutal and love how he just comes out of the blue giving you a sudden heart attack.  There's also a scene where Michael kills a dog and eats it, which was implied in the original Carpenter classic. I mean the guy's gotta eat right?  The scenario where he hides out in a shack all year until around or on Halloween was quite interesting. I had always wondered where he was when it wasn't October and this makes plenty of sense even though it kinda reminds me a little bit of Friday The 13th Part 2 where Jason would live in a shack in the middle of the woods. I wish he had just been living underneath the Myers house or something like that.  Many have complained about the dream/vision stuff and why Laurie would see the same visions as Michael does. I personally believe that what Michael is seeing is very symbolic.  Zombie has basically left it to the audience to make sense to themselves what these visions are and what they represent.

                   I've always believed that there are two sides to every Human Being. We have our good half and our evil half. I tend to look at Michael Myers in the sense that he slowly lost his Human side at ten years old. The vision of young Michael represents the little kid Michael or should I say the actual person Michael Myers, while the vision of his mother represents The Shape (his dark and evil side). Now, his Shape identity is the killer that we all know and love, while Michael as a person is a nice guy that was taken over by his dark side and turning him into a monstrous killer that no longer has a soul. He sees things not as black and white or grey but just pure darkness.  I don't know, maybe I'm reading too much into him, but that's just my thoughts.  I'm still a little confused at what the white horse represents. I'm thinking maybe it's supposed to be like his legacy of The Shape or whatever.  I truly believe that Laurie was born with a little bit of The Shape in her blood, which is why she is seeing the exact same things as Michael. And not to mention the fact that they are blood related. It would actually make some sense.  I think that The Shape is in the form of the mother since she was the only person that Michael really loved aside from his baby sister.  I think towards the end of the movie, The Shape was trying to take her over completely so she would turn out to be just like Michael, a soulless killer.  This stuff I really liked if only it were explored more where it actually made more sense than leaving you guessing what it all means. Also, I really was digging the ending of the movie and liked how Laurie came out of the shack wearing Michael's mask and the very ending just before the credits I felt was good even though I think it should have had more time to build up to it.

             Now, it's time for the flaws of the movie that really dragged what should have been a good follow up to the remake down.  I think the worst choice that Zombie made was not having the Halloween theme in the movie and just having it during the end credits. It just didn't fully feel like a Halloween movie without the famous musical score.  There were plenty of places that Zombie could have inserted it like the hospital scene or during some of the vicious kills. Another thing that really bugged me was that the film felt disjointed. We go from a good first 24 minutes minutes to Laurie hanging with two alcoholic party girls to Loomis being a douche to Michael killing random assholes back to Laurie and her friends to dream sequences all leading to the finale.  I also hated the over-kill stuff. Michael would sometimes stab a victim like thirty fucking times while grunting (?) and even after they're already dead, then he would continue stabbing the corpse. Alright, the guy is dead, I get the fucking point, let's move on already!

         Another thing that bothered me is the white trashy talk like with that ambulance driver who kept talking dirty then would say "fuck" about twenty fucking times before Michael finally slashed his throat open. What the Hell was the point of him anyway? The major one is that strip club scene that I could have easily done without. It felt so out of place and not to mention the characters in it didn't interest me one fucking bit. And then there was the two party girls Harley and Mya that Laurie hung out with. These girls did absolutely nothing for the movie, but made for death scenes.  And the one that actually pissed me off was when Laurie finds out that Michael is her brother and goes to get drunk. Now, I can understand that when someone is messed up that they usually hit the bottle to forget about their problems, but this did absolutely nothing for the movie except create un-needed material.  Also, what was the point of that sequence between Loomis and Weird Al? That was not needed, but I guess Zombie wanted to squeeze in more cameo appearances.

              On a more positive note, I really thought the vision/dream sequences were shot beautifully and thought that the cinematography as a whole was more than decent.  I just wish that Zombie had kept the pacing on track like he did with the remake instead of going in many different other directions all at once.  I understand that he wanted to create his own thing, but he didn't have to add a bunch of nonsense in with actual interesting scenarios.

               The script was jumbled up, but within were very interesting ideas that should have been explored more than to just add random brutal kills for the sake of it and he should have used the Halloween music throughout the film instead of waiting till halfway through the end credits.  His direction was good in some areas and confusing in others.

           The acting was good and bad here for me. I thought Tyler Mane was fantastic as Michael Myers.  Granted, we do have some instances of Mane not wearing the mask, but his face is covered in a lot of shadows, which made him kinda creepy looking. I know many complain about the mask being ripped in half. But, I thought it actually looked interesting because it's like one side is Human Michael and the other is The Shape. Pretty cool concept I thought. Although I wish that Mane didn't look like a homeless bum, which came across pretty laughable. Scout Taylor Compton pissed me off and annoyed me this time around as Laurie Strode. I don't think it's her fault, but the way her character was written didn't really help much. But, she had me with her being traumatized and screaming at the beginning of the movie due to the shit she just went through in the previous film. Danielle Harris is great as before playing Annie. At least this time we got to know her more as a character unlike the remake. I thought Brad Douriff was awesome as Sheriff Brackett here especially when he finds Annie has been killed.  Sheri Moon Zombie was alright as the vision of Deborah Myers. She's not anything like how she was in the remake though. Chase Vanek was horrible and super monotone as the vision of young Michael,  Daeg was way better in the remake. And Malcolm McDowell as Loomis was very different this time around as a greedy and money hungry douchebag. Since McDowell is best at playing villains or bad guys, I thought he made a good portrayal of a greedy asshole here. I actually clapped when he got killed by Michael, which is something I have never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would be happy to see. There were a few cameos like one being the lovely Caroline Williams from both The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and The Stepfather 2.  Zombie didn't go fully nuts with the cameos in this one like he did the remake.

             Overall, Halloween II had some great ideas but disappointed me majorly because of poor execution and exploration of them. If you're a die hard Halloween fan or even a Rob Zombie fan then you'll most likely be disappointed (unless you are Tyler Hosley of course!). If you hated the remake then you definitely will want to stay away from this film.  I'm really curious where the franchise will go if we ever do see another Halloween film, hopefully it will be a much better film and return the franchise back to its roots of suspense and mystery. Until next Halloween, Trick or Treat baby!


Halloween (2007)

           In 1978, John Carpenter changed the horror genre forever with his simple story of small town babysitters stalked by an escaped mental patient who murdered his older sister on Halloween night as a six year old fifteen years prior titled Halloween. The movie seemed to be a bomb when first released to the public and many people didn't find it interesting. All of a sudden, the box office began to get more and more and more, shocking Halloween's executive producer Irwin Yablans and the man behind the Boogeyman, John Carpenter himself.  The 1980s brought on Friday The 13th and many Halloween imitators. Moustapha Akkad got the offer to make a sequel. Reluctantly, John Carpenter and his co-writer/producer Debra Hill decided to come on board to write the script that gave the original's heroine Laurie Strode a connection to The Shape by revealing her to be his younger sister. Halloween II was pretty successful and so it was established to make a third film. This time, Akkad wanted to dismiss the Michael Myers story and try something different that became known as Halloween III: Season of the Witch.  It was hated by the avid Halloween fans and bombed at the box office, so Akkad decided to bring Myers back with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, which brought back Haddonfield, The Shape, and his arch nemesis Dr. Loomis. It was said that Laurie was killed in a car crash, but she had a daughter named Jamie Lloyd who became Michael's next target along with anyone that got in his way. The film is most known for its shocker ending and made tons of cash. Feeling over successful, Akkad and company rushed into making Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers before the script had been finalized. It came to theaters in 1989, exactly one year after Halloween 4. The film didn't go over too well with fans and introduced some things that raised more questions than answers. About four or five years past and Akkad had trouble finding the right story for Halloween 6. Meanwhile, Miramax's Dimension Films bought the rights to the franchise. A die hard Halloween fan came aboard to write the script and made a bold move by providing an explanation to why The Shape can't die. Unfortunately, they had a screening in which a 14 year old kid said that the ending sucked, so they re-edited and released Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers to theaters that pissed off fans and made for a confusing mess of a movie that made no sense. Sadly, soon after completing additional dialogue for the film, Donald Pleasance who portrayed Dr. Loomis in the franchise passed away in England in 1995.

                 A few years later, Jamie Lee Curtis who played Laurie Strode in Halloween and Halloween II mentioned that she would like to come back into the franchise to make something fresh with it. This idea interested Akkad, which brought on Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later in 1998 that capitalized on the success of 1996's smash hit Scream. H20 was a direct sequel to Halloween II and ended with Laurie chopping off her brother's head with an axe. The film did massively well and could have been a great end to a loving franchise.

              Unfortunately for Halloween fans, Akkad and company got greedy and did the daring thing of making the god awful Halloween Resurrection. In that film, Michael finishes off Laurie at the opening and ends with Michael being karate chopped by rapper Busta Rhymes.  Resurrection was hated by a great majority of horror fans alike and the franchise seemed dead and buried.  Message boards discussed what Halloween 9 should be like. In 2003,  New Line in association with producer Michael Bay released their remake of the horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The remake did so well financially that other filmmakers decided to pitch in including Dimension for a Halloween reboot.  All Halloween fans were outraged when told the news since most of the remakes that came out were mere shapes of their originals.  Then, it was confirmed that rock musician/filmmaker Rob Zombie would be writing and directing the remake.  For Zombie fans and even some not familiar with his work, this was a dream come true that a horror fan was going to be remaking the most famous horror film of all time.  I know because I was one of them and will say while Carpenter's 1978 classic will always be the best Halloween and my personal favorite, Zombie's remake brought a new perspective of Michael Myers that nobody had seen before. While it does have a mixed audience, I won't deny that I was personally digging Zombie's exploration through the eyes of horror cinema's greatest villain.

                 On Halloween, ten year old Michael Myers brutally murders his older sister Judith, her boyfriend Steve, and his mother's alcoholic/abusive boyfriend Ronnie. He's sent to Smith's Grove eleven months later after being taken into custody. There, his doctor, Sam Loomis, tries to find out what would make such a young boy want to kill people and animals. One day, Michael snaps and murders a nurse violently. His mother realizes that he is no longer her loving son, but a totally violent monster and ends off killing herself leaving her baby daughter Boo to be taken in by the Police.  Fifteen years pass and Loomis can't reach Michael since he's become silent ever since murdering the nurse.  While about to take Michael to a maximum security prison, he snaps and violently murders the staff before escaping the mental hospital.  Michael returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois and retrieves a blank white mask, a knife, and steals a jump suit after killing a truck driver. Meanwhile, Michael's sister Boo is now a very good looking seventeen year old named Laurie Strode who happens to drop off a key at the Myers house which her father is selling. Michael sees her and realizes that she is in fact his baby sister. On Halloween night, Michael wrecks havoc on Laurie and her friends that will become a Halloween night massacre.

          Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween is pretty solid in many areas. Granted, the film isn't perfect and many will most likely hate it, but I won't deny that I like the direction Zombie took with Michael.  I still prefer the more Boogeyman like Michael that Carpenter created, but Zombie's violent killing machine is pretty cool with me.  First off, I would like to talk about what worked before I get into my problems with it.  Zombie could have easily remade Halloween shot by shot like Gus Van Sant did with Alfred Hitchcock's classic Psycho, but he wanted to make something different than the horror classic and I truly respect the man for that.  Many will say that Zombie ruined Carpenter's Halloween. That's not true because you can still go watch the original classic over and over again. It ain't going anywhere. With Zombie's version, we get an entirely different look and feel of  Halloween. Hell, even John Carpenter told Zombie to make it his own and that's precisely what he did. He took many of the classic sequences from Carpenter's classic and added twists and turns to them while also adding his own stuff too.

               Many were pissed because of Zombie providing a back story for Michael. Okay, well it ain't much of a back story, it's more like showing more of the day that he would commit his family massacre.  Most prequels ruin characters by providing motive to why they are the way they are. If you notice in the movie, Michael has a private hobby of killing animals. Okay, it's never explained how long that he's been doing this. He could have been killing animals since he was old enough to even pick up a knife. If that's the case then it wouldn't make a difference if he had the perfect family in the first place because either way he would have ended up being a vicious killer. The thing with him killing animals as a child is very true with real life serial killers. Most start out with something small then as they get older they begin to do the same to people. This is someone who was born to kill. He doesn't kill because his mommy's boyfriend beat him. He doesn't kill because of some bullies at school. He doesn't kill because his older sister is a bitch. And he doesn't kill because his mother is stripper. The guy has always had this dark side that was just itching to be unleashed on the town. I look at it more as he was a ticking bomb and the abuse unleashed The Shape (his evil persona).

              I loved the scene in which he murders the sister in the hallway, which is pretty fucking brutal while wearing the mask that he will wear again as an adult. The death of Judith's boyfriend was also very insane where Michael just bashes the dude's brains out with a baseball bat and I cheered on the death of Ronnie where Michael duct tapes him to the chair before slitting his throat.  The killing of the school bully was cool too where Michael beats him to death with a tree branch. I also loved how Zombie included Carpenter's original score when young Michael is following the bully into the woods.  The scene after Michael kills his family and is sitting on the front porch with his baby sister is good too. I love that the camera does an overhead shot and we see the clown mask sitting up on his head and the way the light hits it the eye holes are completely black. Just a great cinematography moment right there.

             The Smith's Grove stuff was pretty interesting too since we didn't get any of that in the original.  I also loved that Michael didn't remember the murders when talking to Loomis and that he made masks to cover up his real face. It's like he was trying to find the perfect face for his dark side to have. I also dug when his mom tells him to remove the mask, he said "It hides my ugliness."  The scene where he snaps and kills the nurse was really good. I love when his mom tries to remove his mask that he lashes at her like a wild animal and the expression on her face was like she didn't know who he was and was scared of him. She finally saw the evil side of him and took her life because she lost the people that meant the world to her being her kids.  I also liked that Zombie threw in a staff member that was good and one that was sadistic. I thought that was pretty interesting. Michael killing the guy that was good to him was a pretty funny scene but it also at the same time showed that this guy was really evil.  He feels nothing when he kills. He's like a rabid dog that kills because he loves doing it. He enjoys what he does and leaves nobody to talk about it.

                I really love the way he escapes too. Now, there are two different versions of how he escapes Smith's Grove. In the rated version, some guards are escorting him in shackles and he breaks the shackles and kills the guards brutally. In the Director's Cut, the sadistic staff member Noel Kluggs and his cousin drag some woman into Michael's room and gang rape her which sets Michael off to kill the two rapists. Now, I love the Unrated version, but the escape scene in the rated was a hell of a lot better for me. The whole rape felt not needed and didn't feel like it belonged in the movie.

          Getting to the three teen girls being Laurie, Annie, and Lynda.  I love the way these characters were displayed because they felt like real teenage girls with their sexual dirty talk and joking around.  Granted yes, they aren't the same as in the original Halloween, but they worked fine for this remake in my opinion.  I like that Laurie is more spicy than just a virginal babysitter that's kinda book wormish. Totally different from the original Laurie, but I still dug it. And plus she looked fucking hot so I can't complain.  I think the one that was closest to the original character was Annie.  She's still a smartass and plus she's played by Danielle Harris from Halloween 4 and 5. Plus, did I mention we get to see her fucking topless? I gotta tell you, I was  cheering and screaming "It's about fucking time!"  Lynda is kinda bitchy this time around unlike the giggly "totally" version in the original. But, she was pretty hot and sounded like a girl that got kicked off the cheerleading squad so it's cool with me.  I was also liking Tommy and Lindsey in this version. They sounded and acted like real kids much like how they were in the original. The scenes with Laurie joking around with Tommy were pretty entertaining too.

                I love the fact that Zombie casted Brad Douriff who played Chucky in the Child's Play movies to play Sheriff Brackett. He wasn't as great as Charles Cyphers' portrayal, but I thought he did alright. Dr. Loomis here was okay, but didn't engage me like Pleasance did in the original. One of my favorites was Deborah Myers. She seemed like a caring mother that was struggling to get by, but still loved her children.  I loved the scenes between Michael and his mom and thought that they were really strong.

                    The twists that Zombie added, I really dug like showing characters that were mentioned in the original but never really shown. For example, we get introduced to Laurie Strode's parents (well foster parents) and we get to see Paul (Annie's boyfriend who was just a voice on the phone in the original portrayed by Carpenter himself).

                 As far as what Zombie kept from Carpenter's version and some more twists of his own that he added, we got some interesting things. I really like that he kept that part where Bob gets killed and stabbed up on the wall while Michael slightly tilts his head. I also enjoy the insertion of a lot of Carpenter's original music that in some areas, Tyler Bates added something wicked to. I loved the scene where Laurie's foster Dad gets killed mainly because it made me jump out of my seat.  I love how Lynda still gets strangled to death while talking on the phone. Oh and I loved that one character that was killed in the original survives in this one. Let's just say Zombie keeps some great stuff from Carpenter, but adds his own spin to where you are guessing what's going to happen next.

            Many have complained about the billion cameos throughout the movie. I actually found it to be kinda cool seeing old faces again especially a Halloween movie nonetheless. From the Zombie usuals to Clint Howard, Udo Kier, Dee Wallace, and Danny Trejo.

            Now, I do have some complaints about the film.  The whole white trash thing kinda got on my nerves a bit. I mean it works fine for films like House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects, but not so much in a Halloween film.  I love the good build up of young Michael and the Smith's Grove stuff, but the remake portion felt too rushed. As far as the characters go, we got to know  who Laurie was, but Annie and Lynda kinda felt like cannon fodder.  I just didn't have enough time to fully get to know Lynda before she was killed by Michael.  Some of the dialogue was kinda odd in areas and some of it became a bit laughable.  I didn't really like the idea of Michael's mom being a stripper and didn't like the Ronnie character at all. I just feel that it would have been even more effective to make it where he came from a normal household like in the original.  Loomis again, I wasn't totally feeling the character that much.  If Michael is a Human Being that's psychotic then how the fuck can he burst through doors? He must be pretty fucking strong. I also wish that Sheriff Brackett had been in the movie more than he was.  Just little flaws here and there that bothered me.

         The look of the film is dark and great. I know people have complained about the shaky cam, but I say it's like the camera guy is trying to run from Michael too. I was also really loving the ending to this movie. There was also an alternate ending on the DVD, but it felt more like a ripoff of Halloween 4, so I like that they stuck with the final ending. I love how after Laurie shoots Michael and blood sprays in her face, she begins screaming her lungs out as the picture fades showing an old family film of young Michael holding baby Laurie as the classic Halloween theme plays. Just great stuff there.

             The script had its problems, but wasn't a bad attempt at all by Rob Zombie. Zombie did a fine job in the director's chair in my personal opinion. My only issue really is that the remake half rushed by so quickly where the prequel portion built up so nicely.

            The acting was good and okay here. I thought Tyler Mane and Daeg Faerch did good as both adult and young Michael Myers. Scout Taylor Compton was excellent as Zombie's version of Laurie Strode and man can that girl scream!  Danielle Harris fit into the role of Annie perfectly. It was great seeing her back into the Halloween world even if it was as a different character and damn she has very nice breasts! Kristina Klebe was good as Zombie's version of Lynda. I just wish we got to know her more, but she did say the word "totally" a few times, so I gotta give her credit there. She too had very nice boobs and a nice lower region too in the Director's Cut. Malcolm McDowell was iffy as Dr. Loomis in my opinion. I mean the man is a marvelous actor, but I just wasn't really feeling his portrayal of Loomis here. Brad "Chucky" Douriff was good as Sheriff Brackett. Again, I wish we got to know his character more. One of my favorites though was Sheri Moon Zombie as Michael's mother Deborah Myers. I know a lot of people give Zombie shit for casting his wife in all of his movies, but this in my opinion was her best performance. All in all, not bad casting here again in my personal opinion.

            Overall though, Rob Zombie's take on Halloween is actually a pretty interesting story. While not everyone's cup of tea, it still manages to do more right than wrong and has a place on the shelf next to John Carpenter's much superior original.

                              B  - Theatrical Cut
                             C+  - Director's Cut

Monday, October 1, 2012

Halloween Resurrection (2002)

       It's been three years since Michael Myers reunited with his baby sister Laurie Strode. That night, Laurie decapitated Michael. BUT, it turns out that she decapitated the wrong man. See, before the paramedics loaded Michael's "body" into the van, Michael attacked one of the paramedics, crushed his vocal cords, and decided to play dress up by switching costumes.  And so Laurie unaware that it was really a paramedic, chopped the guy's head off. Now, Laurie is locked away in some mental asylum. Michael makes his way to the asylum, kills off two security guards and chases down his sister one last time to the roof where he finally kills her after all of these years.   Meanwhile, a group of annoying as fuck college kids are going on some hack job reality show ran by Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks where they have to spend the night in the old Myers house, which happens to be planted with plastic skeletons to scare the shit out of them. Michael returns to his home only to find these jackasses in his house.  He then proceeds to kill them off one by one. This leaves final girl Sarah and Busta Rhymes left.  Busta goes up against Michael Myers with his karate chops as if he is on Def Jam and results in the Halloween franchise being yet again, dead and buried but this time with the dog Jason's extra piss fire for flavor.

              In 1998, the Halloween franchise was revived with Halloween H20. The film did really well at the box office and was mostly approved by fans for the really awesome final ending that could and should have laid the Halloween franchise to rest with a satisfying conclusion.  Well, when money flows, bullshit shows.  In the summer of 2002, the eighth installment titled Halloween Resurrection was unleashed from horror cinema Hell into theaters everywhere and took possession of our money and our brain cells.   This is definitely not the first time Moustapha Akkad has pussied out of a great ending. Halloween II (1981) ended with Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis burning to death. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers ended with Michael's evil legacy being passed on to his niece Jamie Lloyd.  And Halloween H20 ended with Laurie Strode chopping off Michael's head with an axe.  This would have been a great place to end. The problem is that it never ends and judging by modern Hollywood, I don't think icons will ever truly end.   I remember being really pissed off back in 2002 when I saw the trailers for Halloween Resurrection.  I mean, Michael was definitely dead. I fucking watched his head detach from his body and roll off god fucking dammit!  He's dead! He's dead! To quote Malcolm McDowell from Rob Zombie's H2....

  "Let me make things nice and sparkling clear! Michael Myers IS fucking dead! Do you braindead gossip mongers need me to spell it out for you? D-E-A-D!!!"

         Yeah, sure, that film was a big disappointment, but that line certainly goes along with how I feel about the ending to Halloween H20 and this Resurrection bullshit.   With all of that said, how did I feel about Halloween Resurrection aside from it being TOTALLY unnecessary? Well, I fucking hated it.  I do admit that the first like fifteen minutes aren't that bad except for a boring opening credits sequence, a bullshit reason for Michael being still alive, and him actually killing off Laurie.  I liked the look of the asylum, the scene where Michael kills the two security guards, and the one mental patient who is obsessed with serial killers and is wearing a clown mask.

         The direction by Rick Rosenthal who also directed the WAY better Halloween II (1981) did a decent job directing. The film looked good and was definitely running at a decent pace.

          Where Halloween Resurrection really falls to pieces is with the story/script by Larry Brand and Sean Hood. The characters were also pretty fucking annoying and lame.  I have to admit that there are a few parts that I liked though.

           I loved the design of the Myers house and the stuff revealing how fucked up Michael was. There's some coloring books with disturbing stuff drawn in them, a high chair with restraints, creepy dolls, and a room under the house where apparently Michael stays when he isn't killing anyone and eats rats.  I also really dug the look of the mask for the most part.

              The whole reality show bit was lame though. I've seen movies where it worked a lot better such as Wrong Turn 2: Dead End. It just didn't belong in a Halloween film. Now, if it had been some college kids doing a documentary inside the Myers house then maybe I'd be more into it.   The worst part for me though was the characters. I hated just about all of them.  Sarah just didn't do anything for me as the final girl. I mean, sure, she was hot, but that didn't mean she was sympathetic.  Freddie was the most annoying of any of them though. Probably because he was played by rapper Busta Rhymes.  I just hated this character from beginning to end. All he did was try to act all gangsta and badass, but he just looked like a fucking idiot. Karate chopping Michael? FUCK THAT!  What really makes me mad is that it looked like Michael was actually afraid of him. I demand a rematch! Busta Rhymes VS. Tyler Mane. Now, Mane would have mutilated this douchebag and hung him up as a Halloween decoration like he did to Annie's boyfriend Paul.  Most of the annoying lines that came from this guy was stuff like...

" Trick or treat MUTHA FUCKA!"
" Lookin' crispy Mikey. Extra fried MUTHA FUCKA!"
" Hey Mikey, Happy Halloween! MUTHA FUCKA!"

         Oh would you shut the fuck up!  I think I would rather listen to  Ronnie White talking shit to Michael's mother or that ambulance driver saying "fuck" about thirty more times. That would be more fun than watching Busta Rhymes trying to act.   The only characters that honestly didn't annoy me really was Rudy and Myles aka Dekkard.  Sarah's friend Jen was annoying. Thomas Ian Nicholas' character was annoying. I don't recall all of these characters' names and quite frankly I don't care either.

          The acting was pretty bad too. Some are decent actors with a terrible character/script to work with and others are just terrible actors period.  I liked the short appearance of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode at the beginning. Too bad her character died.  Brad Loree was okay as Michael Myers.  Bianca Kajlich was hot, but pretty uninteresting as Sarah.  Sean Patrick Thomas was actually decent as Rudy. Daisy McCrackin was uninteresting as Donna. Katee Sackhoff was annoying as Jen. Luke Kirby was annoying as Jim. Thomas Ian Nicholas from the American Pie films was annoying as Bill. Ryan Merriman was probably one of the better actors in this film as Myles/Dekkard. Merriman is a decent actor in my opinion and deserves far better work than this movie. I liked him much better in Final Destination 3 and Backwoods.  Tyra Banks was horrible as Nora. All she did was talk gangsta and shake her booty. She should just stick to modeling. And Busta Rhymes, fuck you! That's all I have to say on the acting.

           Another thing I don't like about this film is that all of the other characters that Michael should be after are all dead. Jamie Lloyd is dead. Laurie Strode is dead. Dr. Sam Loomis is dead. So in other words, this film should not exist.  Michael isn't Jason or Leatherface or Freddy. He doesn't just kill anyone. Well, he does, but there is usually a purpose.  Here, there is no purpose other than they are in his home and he apparently doesn't like it.


      Overall, Halloween Resurrection is an unwarranted and pretty lame Halloween film. It is the reason we got a remake in the first place.  I will say that this film probably would have been "okay" at best if Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks weren't in it and that I liked it over Halloween 5 and a smidge more than H2 (2009). It's a shame that this film had to be the last Halloween film that executive producer Moustapha Akkad made. He was killed in 2005  by a terrorist bombing while in Amman, Jordan.  Without him, there probably would have never been a Halloween franchise.

I would like to take this time to remember some fine people who made the Halloween franchise what it is today and it truly is a shame that they are no longer around.

Debra Hill, Co-writer/Producer of Halloween '78
Joseph Wolf, executive producer of Halloween II & III and did advertizing for Halloween '78
Moustapha Akkad, executive producer of Halloween '78-Halloween Resurrection (2002) and also the investor on Halloween '78


Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998)

        On Halloween night, 1978 in the small mid-western town of Haddonfield, Illinois, Michael Myers murdered a total of sixteen people.  After that terrifying night, Michael Myers' only living relative, Laurie Strode, was killed in a car accident.  Haddonfield has been peaceful and quiet for twenty years with no sign of The Shape.  Now, in October of 1998, Michael Myers returns. He begins by breaking into Marion Chambers Whittington's (Dr. Loomis' nurse from the first two films) house to find out that Laurie Strode is really alive and had faked her death.  Michael kills two high school guys who live next door as well as killing Marion.  It turns out that Laurie Strode is now residing in Northern California with her teenage son John, has changed her name to Keri Tate, and is the head mistress at a private school.  Laurie has been having nightmares of her brother returning to kill her and her son.  John has been taking care of his mother and is sick of her overprotection and paranoia.  So, John, his girlfriend Molly, and friends Charlie and Sarah decide to stick around on campus to have a private Halloween party since mostly everyone else has left on a camping trip . Meanwhile, Michael finds his way back to Laurie and kills anyone who gets in his way.  This leaves John and his friends in grave danger and forces Laurie to face her fear head on by taking on Michael in a shocking finale that would have and should have been a great closing to the Halloween franchise.

             John Carpenter changed the horror genre forever when he made Halloween in 1978. The film has gone on to become a horror classic that has been talked about for three decades.  Halloween was followed by four sequels in the '80s.  In the mid '90s, Miramax had bought the rights to the Halloween franchise under their Dimension wing.  In 1995, Dimension and Halloween's executive producer Moustapha Akkad released the franchise's sixth installment titled Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers.  The film disappointed fans and was a confusing mess thanks to serious re-editing to please some snobby fourteen year old kid who thought the producer's cut sucked.  Also, the franchise's main star Donald Pleasence who played Dr. Sam Loomis had passed away shortly after completing additional dialogue for the film.  Since Loomis was originally intended to return for a seventh film, the ending was redone to not feature Loomis, making the film even worse.   The future of the franchise was at a standstill.  Jamie Lee Curtis noticed that it was approaching the twentieth anniversary of the original Halloween and wanted to make a Halloween film that would reunite herself, director John Carpenter, and possibly P.J. Soles (Lynda). Both John Carpenter and P.J. Soles turned down the offer. However, executive producer Moustapha Akkad liked the idea of bringing Jamie Lee Curtis back as Laurie Strode for a twentieth anniversary film.

             The horror genre was resurrected in 1996 with the clever slasher hit Scream, which was written by at the time an unknown writer named Kevin Williamson and directed by horror veteran Wes Craven.  Scream made horror films hot again. We got slasher hits such as I Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legend.  Akkad decided that this new Halloween film should ride on the coattails of the new wave of teen horror hits that Scream started.  Kevin Williamson was hired to oversee the script and to produce the new Halloween film. Williamson said in interviews that the original Halloween is what made him want to be a screenwriter and was his main influence while writing Scream. In fact, there's sequences in Scream where John Carpenter's Halloween is playing in the background on the television.   Jamie Lee Curtis had seen Halloween 3-6 and hated them, so she wanted this new film to play out like a direct sequel to Halloween (1978) & Halloween II (1981).  In the late summer of 1998, Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later was released to theaters. With a hot young cast, Laurie Strode, and a surprising shocker of an ending, Halloween H20 was a pretty decent hit and breathed fresh air into a dead franchise.

        Halloween H20 was actually the first Halloween film that I was able to see in theaters and I had a blast.  The audience I was with  seemed to enjoy it too since they were all jumping, screaming, cheering, and laughing.  Now I know there's a group of people out there that hated the mid-late '90s horror trend of self awareness, but most of it didn't bother me that much unless it was the extremely low budget straight to video films or some not so good sequels. I guess the reason they don't bother me is because I grew up with them. To be honest, I was exposed to these types of horror films before I really got into the older and more classic films.  The first actual horror film that made me a fan was the original Halloween and then Scream came out and I got hooked. I didn't really have much knowledge of the genre back then like I do now.

             I do however see the flaws in this film now that I didn't see back in 1998. Before I get into those, I would like to talk about what I enjoyed about Halloween H20.  The screenplay written by Robert Zappia and Matt Greenberg is pretty good. I happen to love Kevin Williamson as a screenwriter and you can definitely tell that he had a lot to do with this film as well as with the screenplay. One thing that I've always enjoyed about Williamson's writing aside from cool stories is very well written characters.  The man writes teen dialogue well in my opinion. He may throw in a lot of references to films that he loves, but what film geek doesn't? When I wrote Hallowscream, I named the two teens Fred and Jason and made them BEST FRIENDS as well as combining the titles of the first two horror films that made me a fan of the genre together!  Kevin Williamson was another inspiration for me growing up. He's a great writer in my opinion and I want to be a great writer too.  Anyways, this post isn't about me, it's about my opinion of Halloween H20.

             The characters were great.  I liked the direction they took Laurie where she is taking a lot of medication, is a bit of an alcoholic, paranoid as Hell, and vastly overprotective of her son John.  John is tired of being hand cuffed to his mother and just wants to be a regular teenager and spend time with his girlfriend Molly and his two best friends.  I also kinda liked Laurie's boyfriend Will, who's a guidance counselor at the private school.  He just wants to spend time with her, but she won't let him get too close.  The security guard Ronny was also pretty cool.  And I liked the other teen characters. The characterization is the strongest part of Halloween H20 for me.

         When the shit hits the fan and Michael begins terrorizing them, Laurie faces her demons and makes the choice to stop running from her Boogeyman and to fight him head on.  I liked that she became a stronger character in this film.

             I also really loved the opening with a small appearance by Marion Chambers from the first two Halloween films.  The opening credits sequence was cool too except for that silly Donald Pleasence dubbed voice over.

             The kills in this movie are pretty cool for the most part.  My favorites are when Michael kills this teen who is a hockey player by shoving his ice skate blade right between his eyes and when one guy gets his throat cut with a corkscrew.  We also get a really cool decapitation.

               The music by John Ottman is okay. I heard that Ottman wasn't pleased with what they did to his music in the final film.  I did love the "Mr. Sandman" song at the beginning, which was used at the end of Halloween II (1981).

              The ending fucking rocked. It totally had people gasping in the theater including myself back in 1998. Akkad and Dimension had balls to do that, but then those balls turned blue, green, and dissolved into a raped pussy drizzling blood when Halloween Resurrection was made.

              I do have a few issues with the film though. Well, most people don't like that this film was made in the tradition that Scream started, but that actually did not bother me.  I didn't like the fact that Halloween H20 ignores Halloween 4-6 though. What's the point in watching those when this film just skips over them? The only bit from Halloween 4 actually mentioned is that Laurie was supposedly in a car accident and was dead. Here, it explains that she had faked her death and changed her name.  Other than that though, no mention of Jamie Lloyd or anything related to Halloween 4-6.  Now, I can hear some of you saying that Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives ignored Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning. Well, that was for a very good reason, that film fucking sucked. It didn't skip over three films either, just one terrible film and treated it like a bad dream.   Another issue I have is with the eight different Michael Myers masks. I didn't dig the look of the mask in this film.  I also didn't like that this film takes place mostly in Northern California instead of Haddonfield, Illinois like all of the other Halloween films did (except for obviously Season of the Witch).  And there's a few bits that look kinda campy, especially when Michael stabs Sarah in the back with his butcher knife very slowly.  Aside from those things though, I really liked the film.

            The direction by Steve Miner, who also directed Friday The 13th Part 2 & 3 was actually really good for the most part.

      The acting was pretty solid in Halloween H20. Jamie Lee Curtis returned greatly back into the iconic heroine of Laurie Strode and made her a strong woman hellbent on killing her evil brother and protecting her son.  Newcomer at the time, Josh Hartnett, was great in his first acting role as Laurie's son John (named after John Carpenter).  I could tell back in '98 that this guy was going to be a star and I was right.  Hartnett would later star in the teen sci fi/horror/thriller The Faculty that was written by Kevin Williamson.  Dawson's Creek star Michelle Williams was great as Molly, John's girlfriend.  Adam Arkin was decent as Will.  I really liked LL Cool J as the security guard Ronny.  Jodi Lyn O'Keefe was great as Sarah. O' Keefe is probably best known for playing a stuck up and popular High School bitch in films such as She's All That and Whatever It Takes. Adam Hann-Byrd was cool as Charlie.  I also loved the return of Nancy Stephens as Marion Chambers from the first two Halloween films.  There's a great cameo by Jamie Lee Curtis' mother Janet Leigh as a woman named Norma. I love that they gave her the name of Norman Bates' mother from Alfred Hitchcock's classic Psycho, which Janet Leigh played Marion Crane who gets stabbed to death in the infamous shower scene.  Chris Durand was alright as Michael Myers. And last, but surely not least, we get a great cameo by a young Joseph Gordon Levitt at the beginning of the film. Levitt has gone on to play in such films as 10 Things I Hate About You, Inception, and played Robin/John Blake in Nolan's last Batman film The Dark Knight Rises.

                Overall, Halloween H20 is a pretty good sequel in the franchise. It's not as good as Halloween II (1981) or Halloween 4, but it's the last good film in the franchise until Rob Zombie's Halloween (2007).


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.