61 Days of Halloween- Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it.

Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now.

Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment so I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (Dimension)

About the only thing that Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers was not about to tackle was the whereabouts of Laurie Strode. In fact, that had been left rather open since the end of Part II. It was safe to assume that Michael was alive so why couldn’t she be?

With a name like Halloween: H20 you wouldn’t expect much but there are many pleasant surprises. The first of which is the return of the song “Mr. Sandman.” It’s a small touch but it’s such a great dichotomous use of source music it is welcome back and it’s acknowledged by Laurie for a good laugh.

The first kill in this movie is notable because it is a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt who gets his face sliced open but what’s most notable in the casting of this movie is, of course, the return of Jamie Lee Curtis. She is great reprising the role of Laurie Strode many years on and having her as anchor makes up from some of the shortcomings the film does suffer from.

One of those shortcomings is that though the series has not been rebooted there is some confusion in chronology. The original established Michael as 6 when he killed his older sister and he was 21 when he broke out. This film seems to indicate he was 15. It’s little details like that which may drive you crazy.

It’s good to hear Donald Pleasence in voice over even though he cannot be there. While Jamie Lee being back is clearly the biggest casting storyline there is in this film one of the better casts the series has boasted and much of it due to good fortune. The next installment would attempt one-upsmanship by trying to name pick but this one had young stars before they had broken out.

The conflict between Laurie and her son (Josh Hartnett) was quite good as he was trying to move on with his life and trying to get her to move beyond Michael Myers. There is also a scene between Jamie Lee and her mom Janet Leigh, where strains from Psycho play underneath it. It is a rather funny scene because of it and well played by both.

Laurie’s psychological struggles are used to great effect in this film and create some surprising scenes where you think you can discern reality from hallucination.

Even the phony scare which becomes a staple of the series works very well here and perhaps there is the most effective cross-film trick conveyed in these two films not to give too much away.

This film though adding a new generation of actors and paying tribute to one past still stays very grounded in what this film is about. It knows that you can’t move the story to Southern California unless Michael is given a reason to go there. It doesn’t do things just to be hip or trendy but because they make sense and it actually works surprisingly well nine times out of ten.

This would’ve been the perfect place to leave the series off before thoughts of reboots entered anyone’s mind but alas it was not to be.

7/10

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61 Days of Halloween- Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it.

Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now.

Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment so I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

Paul Rudd in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (Universal)

OK, so what is the deal with part 6 in a super-long horror franchise? Previously, I was surprised by how out of the blue good Friday the 13th: Part 6 managed to be. Well, here it strikes again.

The first thing that needs to be established is that part of what makes this work is the fact that rather than revealing a previously unknown branch of the Myers or Strode family tree here we go back. This film involves Tommy Doyle many years later. Tommy had long ago been discarded from the series and had come to be a non-entity. To bring him back as a character who has become obsessed with studying Michael Myers and what makes him tick is so ingenious you wonder that it didn’t happen before.

After all it was Tommy’s prodding who introduced the concept of the boogeyman into the films in the first place. Another good thing is that it does finally resolve the Jamie Lloyd storyline, which is commendable because they could’ve thrown that away. Granted it was a little quick and brazen considering how huge an obstacle she was but it at least it was dealt with.

Part of what makes this film interesting is that it goes beyond the fact that Michael is just looking for a blood relation and examines the question why Halloween? It searches for and finds answers previously intimated in Part II with the allusion to the ritual of Samhain.

Not only that but it makes bigger societal commentaries with a shock jock character and also with the misguided and scarily cabalistic worship that Michael has inspired in some.

Right off the bat the first two kills in this film are gruesomely fantastic and likely to garner an audible reaction and it sets the tone for the rest of the film.  

It follows thru on so many things in the past that were left dangling and executes its own plot so well it’s hard not to like this installment in the series. Part of how the shock jock fits into the film is that he is bringing Halloween back to Haddonfield after it has been banned. It also through some tongue-in-cheek humor lampoons where the series could but does not go and makes it very entertaining.

While this is the first film in a while to try and expound on the psychology of Michael Myers it does carry through another valuable constant and that is Dr. Loomis. His being retired at this point and being drawn back in while a standard tactic when combined with these factors works to great effect.

It was also a fitting swansong for Donald Pleasence in the series that the film was dedicated to his memory and the last hint of him we have is through voice over and not a visual. Granted this is a decision likely forced upon the production it ended up being fortuitous and as classy a farewell as one could expect from a slasher franchise.

While this film takes the story more into the outside world than any other had it doesn’t feel in any way disingenuous but rather a natural evolution of the story. Nothing is rehashed and it is probably the most startlingly original installment to the series barring the progenitor.

This one is definitely worth viewing and giving a chance. Do not judge it by where it falls chronologically.

8/10