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Publication deadlines will make this article “technically” out of date, but meh. A big meh on it. I got to thinking, with George Lucas selling his soul again…. Sorry the rights to Star Wars to Disney for a record breaking €4.06 billion, what about horror franchises, Freddy, Jason, and for the purposes of this article Michael Myers and the Halloween series. So sit back or forward depending on the quality of your eyesight as I sum up for you the good the bad and the ugly of this long running franchise!
Now the first Halloween hit our screens all the way back in 1978. It was ridiculously low budget and was directed, written and scored by John Carpenter, who shared the writing credits with then wife, Debra Hill. Its budget was a mere €325,000 and went on to gross €47 million in the US and €70 million worldwide, elevating it into the upper echelons of the box office and indeed one of the most profitable independent horror films ever.
It has also been credited with starting the whole “slasher genre.” But this credit belongs to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Despite not starting the genre, it did redefine it and initiated a slew of imitators and indeed sequels. However despite the modern film viewer’s opinion of what “slasher” films should be, sometimes bordering on torture porn with the Saw and My Bloody Valentine films, the original Halloween is surprisingly contains very little graphic violent or gore.
It also introduced us to the ultimate bogeyman, Michael Myers, who for my money pips even Freddy Krueger to the post for “scariest bogeyman.” I mean this guy is unstoppable. He stabs his sister aged 6 and we then fast forward to twenty odd years when he escapes from the local loony bin on Halloween night to wreak havoc on the residents of Haddonfield, most importantly Laurie Strode (played by then unknown Jamie Lee Curtis, whose mother was in Psycho.. I love a good nod). Myers breaks out and Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) utters the single greatest line in horror cinema history, “It’s escaped… the evil’s escaped.” So ya see Rob Zombie, you didn’t have to tell me why Myers is a maniac, but more on that later.
Many critics have cited Halloween as a direct critique of the immorality of the youth of the 70’s, with their casual sex and pot smoking. Carpenter has himself dissuaded these theories, although I can see their point. The plot, staging and indeed premise of the film has inspired millions since its release. And to the horror of fans, it also spawned a heap of sequels, the first of which appearing in 1981. Simply entitled Halloween II, directed by Rick Rosenthal and written again by Carpenter and Hill.
The film takes place directly after the events of the first film on October 31st 1978 with Myers pursuing Laurie to a local hospital with Dr. Loomis in hot pursuit. The film is one of the stronger of the sequels as it follows many of the stylistic ideas of the first film. Interestingly enough, this was to be the last outing for Myers. Neither Carpenter nor Hill were directly involved with any of the subsequent sequels.
Anywho, the film begins with the pursuit and Myers has been shot six times and dropped from the second floor of the Myers house. But he summons the strength to kill a young girl called Alice in whose kitchen he hears of Laurie’s whereabouts thanks to a radio broadcast. Upon reaching the hospital, Myers ups his body count considerably. Loomis is with a Nurse who is ordered to take Myers back to the hospital and here we learn that Laurie is Michael’s younger sister, hence his want to murder her. When he reaches the hospital, he finds Laurie and brings her to an operating theatre.
Here Laurie shoots Michael in both his eyes, blinding him and forcing him to stagger around blindly. Loomis turns on both the ether and oxygen tanks, allowing Laurie to escape thanks to the distraction as Michael follows the sound. Loomis ignites the combination and apparently blows both himself and Michael into oblivion. They were blown so high that neither of them appeared the following year in Part 3.
Halloween III: The Season of The Witch has an interesting plot, in so much it does not feature either Myers or graphic violence. They went for a different approach, almost science fiction in some places. The plot revolves around Harry Grimbridge who collapses at the beginning and is attended to by Dr. Dan Challis. He and Grimbridge’s daughter, Elle investigate dodgy looking Jack O Lanterns. The plot is a bit convoluted and too long to go into here. Also, I couldn’t be arsed, basically there is a plan to use them to release death and storms onto the world. Yea, I know.
I respect the makers for trying something different, but there was no Myers. And the viewing public felt pretty much the same. It grossed a measly €14 million worldwide and so the big heads got together and decided it was time for a sequel that featured “The Shape”, “The Evil”, Myers and that’s how we wind up here, Halloween IV: Season Of The Witch.
Surprisingly enough, there is very little witch craft in the film. The plot however features Myers returning to kill his niece, Jamie Lloyd (played brilliantly by a young Danielle Harris). Jamie is the hero in this film and is Laurie’s daughter. Myers has been in a coma since his explosion and awakes to start his stabbing. Loomis learns of Myer’s plans and is soon back in his long coat wielding his trusty 45.
Jamie is aware of who her uncle was and sees him in her dreams but is unaware that it is him haunting her in her sleep. The film builds nicely and the last chase scene between Myers and Jamie is actually really tense and shot wonderfully. Myers meets his death while shot by the local police officers and falls into an abandoned mine. Then we cut back to the house and see a clown mask covering someone’s eyes complete with heavy breathing. Jamie’s stepmother is violently stabbed and the mask is pulled off to reveal Jamie standing there with the bloody knife! The horror begins again and Loomis screams in anguish.
A tremendous ending to a decent film! I only saw this one five years ago late night on BBC1 but that ending terrified me. What a way to end it. But wait, the filmmakers didn’t feel the same. The next instalment, Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers totally ignores the plot development and places Jamie in a psychiatric hospital instead. In a recap of the last film, we see police officers throwing dynamite down the mine shaft. But Myers survives, killing a hermit in the process. Basically Jamie escapes and lures Myers to the old Myers house which bears no resemblance to the original.
Overall the film is weak, very weak only Pleasance and Harris save it their performances pull you into the story. Myers is arrested and subsequently busted out by a mysterious man in a long black coat and a thorn symbol. Ridiculous…
Paul Rudd made his film appearance in Halloween The Curse of Michael Myers. They didn’t even dignify it with a number, though it was rumoured they were originally going to call it Halloween 666: The Curse of Michael Myers. Wise choice, at least that way it wouldn’t have been so horrible. It is a horrendous film; the mysterious man in the coat is actually Michael’s “handler”. He is the leader of a cult that has been “controlling” Myers. Thus rendering the film and unwatchable and Myers redundant. He is basically this cult’s puppet and no longer any kind of threat.
On a sad note, this is Donald Pleasance’s last on screen appearance before he died, shortly after the film wrapped. What makes this even more tragic is his last uttered word on film is “Aaaagggghh!!” A pained scream when he finds the same thorn as the strange man emblazoned on his wrist. Horrendous. Sorry Donald….
1998 gave us Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. Jamie Lee Curtis is back as Laurie Strode who finally gets revenge on Michael Myers. The film is hokey, but has a sense of finality as Laurie batters seven shades out of Myers. Not enough apparently as he rocks backs up four years later in Halloween Resurrection. Awful film, but it has Busta Rhymes in a Myers mask insulting the real Myers. Hilarious!!
Rob Zombie remade Halloween in 2007 and the sequel in 2009. I don’t rate these films at all. Sorry Zombie fans. I know they’re in the franchise, but I care not for either. So sue me!
So yea, he’s been shot in the eyes, blown up (twice), shot numerous times, beheaded and battered with a fire extinguisher. “The Shape” has endured for over 34 years and I think he is one of the greatest screen bogeymen ever invented. Find the films, check them out, they are all available online and are reasonably cheap!!
Halloween *****
Halloween II ****
Halloween III: Season of The Witch **
Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers **
Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers *
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers Nil Poit
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later ***
Halloween: Resurrection ** (two for Busta chewing out Myers)

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Written by thepanch

February 7, 2013 at 3:00 pm

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