Review – Jamie Lee Is Back For Another Slice (“Halloween”)

Okay, try to follow me on this one. This movie is the 11th in the movie’s franchise, yet it’s supposed to be a direct sequel to the original 1978 film, however it has NO ties whatsoever to any of the other movies, even the ones where Jamie Lee Curtis starred as Laurie Stroud, the killer’s sister! Confused? Yeah, so am I.

That means even though Laurie decapitated killer Michael Myers’ head in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later and was herself killed by Michael in Halloween: Resurrection, that stuff NEVER happened! And let’s not even talk about the Rob Zombie reboots! This movie is taking it back all the way to the beginning and setting it in an ‘alternate time-line reality’, completely ignoring all the other franchise movies. So, in this unofficial ‘sequel’ (ignoring the one in 1981), we have Laurie Stroud (Curtis) picking up 40 years later after the homicidal knife-wielding Michael Myers (Nick Castle & James Jude Courtney) killed a bunch of people and was locked away for good. Yeah. Right.

One thing about ANY horror movie plot is… nobody is ever ‘locked away for good’, right? This ‘sequel’ begins when two podcast reporters (Jefferson Hall & Riahan Rees) want to get the dirt on Michael Myers, some 40 years after his murderous rampage in Haddon-field, Illinois. But after his non-verbal interview goes nowhere, they seek out Laurie Strode who, not only is still severely traumatized after decades, but lives in her own private fortress of survival solitude, complete with WMD’s and a panic cellar.

It’s October 30th and quicker than you can say, “plot device”, Michael is going to be transported to another facility after 45 years. Why? Well, they needed something to jump-start the movie, didn’t they? Predictably, that transport never reaches its destin-ation and Michael is on the loose again and headed for… gee, guess where. Yeah, it’s Halloween night and Michael, after donning his signature onesie and old weathered mask, goes on a killing spree, much to the expected horror of Laurie. She even tries to warn her estranged daughter Karen (Judy Greer), Karen’s doofus husband Ray (Toby Huss), and strong teenage grand-daughter Allyson (Andi Matichak).

But given grandma’s history of lunacy, nobody believes Laurie–that is until Michael comes to town and the body count starts to climb. Police officer Frank Hawkins (Will Patton) and Laurie team up, thanks to the advice of Michael’s intense doctor, Dr. Ranbir Sartain (Haluk Bilginer). Laurie and Will track ‘the boogeyman’ down until the ending, which has the inevitable final (??) confrontation that may (or may not) be the end of Michael Myers.

Personally, after sitting through the entire Halloween franchise (including those Rob Zombie reboots), I am SO burned out from all these Michael Myers slasher films. Jeepers, they’re all the same plot! Michael gets loose, he kills a bunch of people, and then HE gets killed (but not really). Rinse, lather, repeat. And sadly, this one is no different from all the others. If you’ve seen ANY of the other Halloween films (expect part three), you already know what to expect. Screenwriters Jeff Fradley, Danny McBride, and director David Gordon Green pay homage, that’s for sure, but it’s essentially just another Michael Myers slasher film, just like the Friday the 13th franchise.

Loaded with gruesome deaths, people doing stupid things in dumb situations, and having an unkillable monster is the grist of the script. The best parts of the movie lie within the casting. Jamie Lee, in a bravura performance, does NOT play Laurie as a badass Lt. Ripley type; all ripped and toting twin shotguns in her sweating hands. Rather, she’s got PTSD and has a survivalists mentality, while trying to hang on to any shred of humanity she still has toward her daughter. The movie should have been more about her! Patton is also excellent as the seasoned cop who remembers the ’78 horrors and Bilginer almost steals the film as the creepy psychiatrist.

The teenagers are all good, especially Matinchak and Miles Robbins as the quirky Dave. I also will give kudos to David Gordon Green (Our Brand Is Crisis) for his whip-smart direction which is quite good, effectively making for some nice jump-scares and homages to the original film. So, it’s not a BAD film, but if you’re gonna resurrect a classic film (which, BTW, original director John Carpenter did the scoring for this one), at least do something different with the story line, other than the standard and over-used “bad guy gets loose again and goes on a killing spree scenario”.

Halloween (1978)

The one that started it all. Writer/director John Carpenter (with then wife Debra Hill as co-writer) cranked out a script in ten days, had a measly $300K budget, and a bunch of no-name actors & friends that he hoped would turn out a decent horror film about a killer on the loose on Halloween night.

Shot in South Pasadena (filling in for fictional Haddonfield, Illinois), this simple, but effective movie deals with the first of his kind: an unstoppable, unkillable homicidal lunatic. Michael Myers (Nick Castle), as a psychotic kid, stabbed his sister to death and was committed, but fifteen years later, he escaped from a sanitarium by stealing the car of his psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence).Returning back home to Haddonfield, Michael kills a mechanic for his uniform and steals a plain white mask (it’s a Captain Kirk mask turned inside-out, BTW), a couple of knives, and some rope from a local store. Back in quaint suburbia, he stalks his sister, high schooler Laurie Stroud (Jamie Lee Curtis), along with her friends, Annie Brackett (Nancy Kyes), Tommy Doyle (Brian Andrews), and Lynda Van der Klok (P. J. Soles). Loomis soon arrives in Haddonfield in search of Michael, knowing his intentions and informs the skeptical sheriff.

With the backdrop of trick or treater’s and jack o-lanterns all aglow, Michael goes on his murderous rampage, slowly zeroing in on his real destination: his sister, Laurie! The body count starts as Loomis is combing the streets, waiting for some sign… but he doesn’t have to wait too long as Michael eventually finds Laurie and goes to attack her. Her screams attract Loomis who shoots Michael six times, knocking him off the balcony; but when Loomis goes to check Michael’s body, he finds it missing!

This was truly a labor of love and patience with Carpenter and cast. Low budget and pressed for time, everyone chipped in to make this movie, making it feel like a family project. Even though Pleasence was the ‘name’ draw for the marquee, it was Jamie Lee Curtis whose star shown brightly after this movie came out, making her a certifiable box office draw. P. J. Soles also went on to do some great smaller roles (Stripes, Pvt. Benjamin), but nobody fared better than Carpenter. This movie catapulted his career into the stratosphere and made him a Hollywood legend.

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