Review: Halloween (1978)

Halloween Blu-ray.jpgHalloween

One of the things that sets Halloween apart from many of its horror compatriots is that its antagonist, Michael Myers, is simply a man.

A man that can take six bullets and walk away, yes; but a man never-the-less.

There’s a scene leading into the climax that I think really illustrates this point.  A lot of horror relies on shock moments.  The protagonist is creeping along some empty house, she knows the killer is somewhere near by, and then, boo! The killer jumps out and scares her and the audience.  Halloween has a few of those moments, to be sure, but the more effective ones are those that show the killer as a person.  The scene I referred to was when Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) runs back to the house she is babysitting in, and then looks back to see Michael Myers following her on foot.

The fact that she can see him coming, but can do nothing to stop him, makes him a far more imposing and threatening figure than he would have been if he had just disappeared from sight and popped up beside her on the porch.  Because Michael isn’t a mythical monster, he’s a man that could show up anywhere.

Even his back story plays into this concept.  He wasn’t possessed by a demon or exposed to toxic waste; he wasn’t even abused as a child (don’t believe the Rob Zombie remake).  Michael was just a kid that came out wrong.  He’s dead inside; as personified by the blank expression on the Captain Kirk mask he wears throughout the film.  There’s no reason for his evil, and that makes him unpredictable.

The violence is non-graphic, just a lot of stabbing towards a body and bloodied clothing left in the aftermath.  Halloween puts the emphasis on the anticipation of violence, rather than the act itself.  The villain is genuinely threatening, so the horror works on an emotional level, and not the visceral one which gorier movies rely on.

Halloween re-invented the slasher film for the modern age; consequently, you can look back and see that most of what it did has become cliche; however, few if any films have managed to find the perfect balance in the formula that this one did.

Review: Halloween – The Curse of Michael Myers

Halloween 6.jpgHalloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

Hey, have you ever wondered what happened to Tommy Doyle?  The boy that Laurie Strode was babysitting in the first Halloween movie?  No?  Well, here he is…

Tommy Doyle grew up to be Paul Rudd.  He also developed a strange, Hannibal Lecter-like speech pattern.  He has been obsessively studying Michael Myers, apparently unsatisfied with the first film’s assertion that he was simply a man with no ‘soul.’  To that end, he concocts a baseless theory about an ancient Druid curse in which a child is chosen to make a blood sacrifice of his kin so that the others of the village avoid…something bad.

And it turns out he’s right.

Although there’s a bit of a jump; this sixth installment in the franchise completes a story started in Halloween 4.  Essentially, it’s the ‘Jamie Trilogy,’ wherein the orphaned daughter of the original film’s heroine becomes the new target for The Shape (that’s what he’s been called in the credits since the first movie, by the way).  Throughout the last three films, there have been hints of the Druid cult story; the ‘thorn’ rune has shown up as tattoos and scrawled on walls, and we’ve seen the ‘men in black’ lurking around.  Jamie appears in this film, briefly, and with an unexplained pregnancy.

I have a blanket objection to horror movies that feel the need to explain their monster; especially when that explanation softens them; like, ‘Michael can’t help it, he’s cursed!’  The strength of the original Halloween was that there was nothing special about Michael.  He was a seemingly normal kid from a normal family; it’s the idea that it could have been anyone that made it so effective.

Anyway, the cult and conspiracy storyline really detracts from the horror.  Michael Myers is no longer a faceless killer, but a sci-fi/fantasy creature, under the control of people in stupid costumes who use magic.  I like stories like that in general, but this one in particular is trite, and it doesn’t suit the character of Michael at all.

Donald Pleasence, in his final Halloween appearance, delivers his best-ever performance as Dr. Loomis, Myers’ grossly out matched but ever determined hunter.  He’s older and wiser.  He’s not as panicky and scream-prone as he used to be, and as a result, he actually seems like a match for Michael Myers.  Still not as strong, of course, but maybe able to outsmart him.

Halloween (6): The Curse of Michael Myers is weighed down by a silly mythology that not only gets in the way of the horror, but also severely dampens it.  The kills take a backseat to awkward plot points, so while there are some decently gory scenes, they lack the buildup to make them memorable.

Blu Ray Review: Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

Alliance

The seventh Halloween film returns to the story of Laurie Strode, the heroine babysitter of the first two entries in the series.  Halloweens 4 through 6 focused on Laurie’s daughter Jamie, who was left orphaned after Laurie (supposedly) died.  As it turns out, she just faked her death and left her little girl to die screaming at the hands of Michael Myers. Continue reading

Blu Ray Review: Halloween 4

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

Anchor Bay

In Halloween 2, Myers was walking down the street when he just happened to overhear some people talking about Laurie Strode (his would-be last victim from Halloween 1) being sent to the hospital, thus setting him on a mission to kill her.  In Halloween 4, Myers is being transported to another hospital when the two doctors accompanying him just happen to mention Laurie Strode’s daughter.  People have to stop talking in front of him. Continue reading