HALLOWEEN H20: TWENTY YEARS LATER. (1998) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

HALLOWEEN H20… TWENTY YEARS LATER. (1998) DIRECTED BY STEVE MINER. THEME TUNE BY JOHN CARPENTER. STARRING JAMIE LEE CURTIS, JANET LEIGH, LL COOL J, ADAM ARKIN, MICHELLE WILLIAMS, NANCY STEPHENS, CHRIS DURAND AND JOSH HARTNETT.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I love this film. It’s one of my favourite movies in the HALLOWEEN franchise, started in 1978 and based on characters created by Debra Hill and the legendary John Carpenter. Serial killer Michael Myers, he of the white William Shatner mask, sensible boiler suit and work boots ensemble and distinctly stabby tendencies, is back and guess what…? He’s totally up to his old tricks again.

Once again, we see him chasing after his sister Laurie Strode, brilliantly played by Jamie Lee Curtis. This time around, however, Laurie is no longer the fearless teenage babysitter she once was. She’s all grown-up and neurotic now, possibly an alcoholic as well, albeit a functioning one. She’s the headmistress of a posh private boarding school in a charming little town where, one presumes, nothing really bad ever happens. Till now…

Laurie’s teenage son, played by heart-throb in the making Josh Hartnett, is a pupil at the school. Mom is having a hard time loosening the apron strings because she’s still very much hung-up on the whole being-nearly-killed-by-her-psychopathic-brother thing. She’s even faked her own death and changed her name to Keri Tate since HALLOWEEN 2. That’s how scared she is of Michael returning, and how much she wants to be prepared for it if he ever does return.

The events of HALLOWEENs 4, 5 and 6, known collectively as The Thorn Trilogy, have been set aside completely for this film. I believe the proper word is retconned, people, they’ve been retconned, although, between retcons, reboots and remakes, my poor head is completely fried. Anyway, this film is supposed to be a continuation of HALLOWEENs 1 and 2 only, and leaves out the storyline concerning Danielle Harris as Jamie Lloyd, Michael’s niece and Laurie’s daughter.

Laurie still has nightmares about Michael and her alcoholism is a condition that ably demonstrates her very human frailty and inability to come to terms with the worst thing that’s ever happened to her. Well, it’s the worst thing that can happen to anyone really, isn’t it? Not all of us have a psychotic murderer in the family, thankfully.

Laurie’s/Keri’s teenage son John is driven mad trying to convince Mom to loosen up a little and put the past behind her. She sure picks an ill-advised time to do just that. It’s Halloween (naturally!) and Michael Myers arrives at the nearly empty school- most of the students and teachers are away on a school trip to Yosemite- all ready to create his own particular brand of stabby, head-crushing havoc.

Laurie has reluctantly given John permish to go on the trip, but, unbeknownst to her, he and his girlfriend Molly and two of their friends are actually all secretly planning to stay behind. Oh, not to study or anything productive like that, but to booze it up and make out with each other in typically irresponsible horny teen fashion.

Laurie and her teacher boyfriend, Will Brennan, are planning something similar while the kids are away. Sexy hi-jinks ahoy, lol. But their presence, and the presence of the four teens, in the empty school merely makes it easier for Michael Myers to pick them off one-by-one, like  the proverbial fish in a barrel…

The unhurried, impassive-faced but undoubtedly lethal serial killer cuts a murderous swathe through the remaining staff and students in an effort to get to Laurie. When an opportunity for escape presents itself, however, does Laurie grab it with both hands or does she decide to finally make a stand and face down the man who’s haunted her dreams since forever…? I think I’ve probably given the game away with that last bit so just try to look surprised when it happens, haha.

The gorgeous browns and oranges of America in the Fall give the film a lovely warm cosy feel, despite the fact that it’s a slasher movie. The Americans really know how to do Halloween, as we know from THE SIMPSONS and MODERN FAMILY and the HALLOWEEN franchise itself. That’s certainly reflected in their beautiful scenery, foliage and unerring ability to decorate their homes and gardens to absolute perfection during the spooky season.

Michael Myers is, as always, amazing in everything he does: getting up every time he’s been hit even when you think it’s impossible, dropping one-handed down from the ceiling and walking calmly and unhurriedly after his scattering, scrambling prey without ever breaking a sweat. He’s cooler than a swig of ice-cold lemonade on a melting hot day, and just as welcome.

LL Cool J as the school security guard who wants to write torrid romances while being berated down the phone by his gobby wife is great fun too. Also, the late great Donald Pleasence, who played the now-legendary Dr. Loomis, Michael’s psychiatrist, in some of the earlier films, is affectionately acknowledged here in photograph form, which is sweet. Nancy Stephens as Nurse Marion Chambers, is here again too, and, boy, is she kick-ass…!

My favourite thing about about this film is the presence in it of Janet Leigh, Jamie Lee’s still-beautiful mammy and undisputed horror movie royalty. Thirty-eight years before this film was made, she starred as the heroine of Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, still considered to be one of the scariest movies ever made.

It’s a personal favourite of John Carpenter’s, if not his absolute fave horror flick of all time. He refers to it as ‘the Grand-Daddy of all the slasher horror movies ever made’ in an extra feature on the DVD I have of HALLOWEEN H20.

HALLOWEEN H20 gives a couple of much-appreciated little nods to the earlier film, such as subtly playing the famous theme tune when Leigh’s character Norma (Norma…? Geddit…?), the school secretary, is walking away from the school to her car. Which, by the way, was the car she drove in PSYCHO as she was running away from her old life with a stolen forty grand in her handbag, only to come a terrible cropper at the Bates Motel.

Also, Marion the nurse is named after Leigh’s character Marion Crane in PSYCHO. One certainly gets the impression that this is one film that John Carpenter wishes he himself had made. I’m so glad Janet Leigh doesn’t get killed in HALLOWEEN H20. She’s been through enough, God bless her. Shee-it. That was a spoiler too, wasn’t it…? Dagnammit…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

HALLOWEEN. (1978) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

HALLOWEEN. (1978) DIRECTED BY JOHN CARPENTER. PRODUCED BY DEBRA HILL. SCREENPLAY BY JOHN CARPENTER AND DEBRA HILL. MUSIC BY JOHN CARPENTER. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY DEAN CUNDEY.
STARRING JAMIE LEE CURTIS, NANCY LOOMIS, PJ SOLES, CHARLES CYPHERS AND DONALD PLEASENCE.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Death has come to your little town, Sheriff.’

‘No man did that.’
‘He’s not a man.’

This is the big one, the film that kicked off one of the most successful franchises in movie history. It tells the story of serial killer Michael Myers, who in this film stylishly and effortlessly joins fellow horror movie icons- some already in existence, some yet to come- Freddie Kreuger, Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, Jigsaw and Co. in the ‘Horror Movie Villain Hall Of Fame.’ (I don’t know if such a thing actually exists, by the way. I’m just speaking metaphorically, lol.)

Michael Myers brutally murders his somewhat slutty older sister Judith when he’s still in short pants. He gets banged up in a mental hospital for his trouble. There he stays for fifteen long years. Then, one dark spooky night, he escapes, much to the disgust and horror of his head-shrink, Dr. Loomis, brilliantly played by Donald Pleasence.

Dr. Loomis knows the score, you see. He might be the only character in the film who does. ‘I met this six-year-old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes; the devil’s eyes … I realized what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply … evil.’
 
As Dr. Loomis says himself in the film, he spends the first seven years of Michael’s incarceration trying to get through to him, then the next eight attempting to see to it that the boy never gets out of captivity. Michael is pure evil, you see, without logic, reason or remorse. And you can’t kill pure evil, remember that…

Michael makes his way back to the fictional town of Haddonfield, Ohio, where the abandoned old Myers house has fallen into creepy disrepair. He focuses his attention on schoolgirl Laurie Strode, who spends her free time babysitting local kids and hanging out with her boy-crazy friends, Annie and Linda.

Jamie Lee Curtis, the daughter of Janet Leigh of PSYCHO fame, is fantastic as Laurie, the character that made her famous. As she goes about her lawful business with her gorgeous long blondey-brown hair swinging free and a pile of schoolbooks under her arm to indicate to us the studiousness of her nature, she gets the feeling that she’s being watched. She’s right to feel that way, dead right.

She is being watched, by a tall, well-built male wearing a dark-blue boilersuit. Oh, and he also wears a terrifying-looking white mask… Nothing to be worried about there, so…! You’ll see so many iconic scenes of Michael in this stalking part of the film.

Michael standing behind the bushes, with half of him squarely in shot on the street and the other half behind the bush. Michael standing amidst the billowing white sheets in the back garden. Michael watching Laurie from across the street as she sits in class, but when she looks back, of course he’s gone, leaving poor Laurie wondering if she’s imagining things…   

Halloween arrives and Laurie is babysitting the neighbours’ sproglet again. Across the street, the confident, curly-haired Annie Brackett is babysitting too, only she’s not a very good babysitter because she palms her little charge off on Laurie so that she can go and pick up her boyfriend Paul and bring him back to her employers’ empty house to have sex. What a little hussy, eh?

Nancy Loomis as Annie, the weed-smoking daughter of Haddonfield’s sheriff, is just fantastic. She carries a whole portion of the film all by herself as she potters about, chatting away loudly to herself, in the house of the little girl she’s babysitting for, Lindsey Wallace.

The whole time she’s there, taking her kit off after she spills food on herself and so on, she’s being watched by a fascinated Michael. Although she feels a little uneasy at times without knowing why, especially in the darkened laundry room which is down the back of the Wallaces’ garden, the first she hears of any possible threat or danger is when Michael Myers strangles her to death in a chillingly realistic scene.

In Annie’s absence, hers and Laurie’s other friend, Lynda, a flirty, sexy blonde cheerleader, brings her bloke Bob into the Wallaces’ empty house and they immediately rush upstairs to engage in sexual shenanigans. Hmmm, the teens of Haddonfield are clearly over-sexed. Maybe there’s something in the water.

Well, Michael Myers is not called the scourge of the Haddonfield Babysitters’ Club for nothing! I made that bit up, by the way, I mean, no-one actually calls him that besides me, but they should do because he seems determined to put a stop to their fun, their dope-smoking, beer-swilling sexual antics, in the only way he knows how… That’s right, folks, killing!

Anyway, after all the sex, Bob goes downstairs in the darkened house to pick up a couple of post-coital beers and gets himself impaled on Michael Myers’ stabby little friend, his huge trademark knife. My favourite scene in the whole movie is the one that comes next.

Annie is sitting up in bed topless, waiting impatiently for her boyfriend to bring her her beer. Well, well. Slutty and bone-idle. I see. Her boyfriend comes to the bedroom door and stands there motionless, not speaking, draped from head to foot in a white sheet. Or is it her boyfriend…? Well, the figure is wearing Bob’s glasses so it must be Bob, right…? I love that the film has a bit of a naughty, cheeky sense of humour as is illustrated clearly here.

Meanwhile, Laurie is doing her nut waiting for her friend Annie to get in touch about picking up the nipper she’s meant to be minding. Eventually, she tires of waiting, pops across the street to the Wallaces’ house where Annie is supposed to be babysitting Lindsey and discovers some things she’ll see in her nightmares for the rest of her life.

The street is empty. No parents, no neighbours are around to help her. Things go from bad to worse for poor Laurie as she is then chased through the Doyles’ darkened house by the knife-wielding masked man. It’s her turn to be killed now, apparently, and Michael has saved her till last. At one stage, she’s even cornered in a closet while Michael Myers stabs his way through the wood.

She is helped in timely fashion by the overcoated Dr. Loomis, who’s been wandering around Haddonfield all night looking for his escaped mental patient. The good doctor shoots the maniac, sending him flying through an upstairs window and into the garden below. He should be dead after all that, right? Wrong. Dr. Loomis turns his back on the ‘boogeyman’ for a minute and he disappears, leaving the way beautifully clear for a sequel or three…

Laurie: That was the boogeyman.

Dr. Loomis: As a matter of fact, it was…

There’s just so much to love about this ground-breaking film, the ‘Daddy,’ if you will, of the slasher movies. The superbly memorable musical score by John Carpenter. The way that Haddonfield looks so pretty, all decked out in rustic browns and oranges for Halloween. The sheer annoying shrillness and over-confidence of Annie that nearly makes us want to root for the slasher.

The scene in the graveyard with the uprooted headstone… ‘He came home…’ The spot-on performances of Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis. Last but not least, Michael Myers himself. His trademark boilersuit, knife and mask ensemble. The way his chalk-white masked face can suddenly materialise out of the shadows and make you jump.

The unhurried, calculated way in which he hunts down his prey, who can never seem to run as fast as he can walk. The way that you can kill him, or think you’ve killed him, but he won’t stay dead. He’s bloody brilliant. He’s my favourite of all the iconic horror movie baddies. I’m even a little sexually attracted to him, rightly or wrongly. He’s the strong silent type. I like that in a guy…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781994234

HALLOWEEN. (2018) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

halloween 2018 stabby

HALLOWEEN. (2018) BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY JOHN CARPENTER AND DEBRA HILL. MUSIC BY JOHN CARPENTER, CODY CARPENTER AND DANIEL DAVIES. DIRECTED BY DAVID GORDON GREEN.

STARRING JAMIE LEE CURTIS, JAMES JUDE COURTNEY, NICK CASTLE (the original Michael Myers), JUDY GREER, TOBY HUSS, ANDI MATICHAK, WILL PATTON AND VIRGINIA GARDNER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I bloody loved this brilliant fortieth anniversary edition of John Carpenter’s 1978 slasher horror classic. It’s got our beloved Jamie Lee Curtis, daughter of Janet PSYCHO Leigh, reprising her role as Laurie Strode, the woman terrorised by deranged serial killer Michael Myers one fateful Halloween night forty years ago when she was babysitting while studying for her exams.

Michael’s murderous nature has lost none of its sick inventiveness and tendency towards the most shocking violence. The theme tune we love is there, the music overall is great and we get to see the blocky orangey credits from the first film again.

Dear old Dr. Samuel Loomis, played by an over-coated Donald Pleasence in the original films, gets a couple of mentions and the respect and love the cast and crew show towards the original movies is all we could wish for and more as fans of the franchise.

There are a ton of lovely recognisable nods and tributes to the original franchise of movies in this film, which a friend aptly described as ‘a love letter to the original Halloween.’ Aw, isn’t that sweet?

Anyone who doesn’t love this movie and deem it ‘rackworthy,’ as Comic Book Guy from THE SIMPSONS might say, is a snobby nit-picker, there I’ve said it, lol. (Or maybe a nobby snit-picker, depending how well you’re able to get your tongue round the tongue-twister.)

So anyway, it’s been forty years since attractive brunette high school student Laurie Strode was pursued and attacked by Michael Myers for the first time. What’s she been up to all this time? I think it’s safe to say that she’s been living in fear ever since.

I don’t know what she’s been doing for a living but she’s turned her isolated woodside home into a fortress that she hopes is Michael Myers-proof, just in case he ever decides to come back. Which you know he will.

And the place hasn’t yet been built that’s one hundred percent Michael Myers-proof, as our dear old Laurie should know by now. Still, I totally understand that she’s got to at least try, in order to make herself feel better and even safe. If Laurie Strode can ever feel totally safe again after what Michael put her through, which I doubt.

Her house has a locked high gate where you have to state your business into an intercom and be buzzed in by Laurie herself. The woods around her house serve as an eerie mannequins’ graveyard for all the tailors’ dummies she’s personally murdered over the years during her target practice. I don’t really see Michael ever being killed by a bullet from a gun, though, do you?

Laurie’s become something of a crack shot by now and she keeps a veritable arsenal of weapons in her basement. The basement is accessible only by activating a switch that moves the kitchen island to one side and reveals a staircase leading downwards into what Laurie’s grown-up daughter Karen calls her ‘childhood.’ This basement is Laurie’s ‘panic room.’ It’s filled with enough guns and food supplies and other sundries to satisfy even the strictest, most panicky survivalist.

It’s good to be prepared, but it doesn’t look like poor Laurie has had much of a life since Michael Myers came into it and blighted it. Has anyone been helping her with her obvious PTSD?

Unfortunately, her obsession with what happened forty years ago has cost her two marriages and her relationship with her daughter. This last I wouldn’t shed any tears about because the daughter Karen is a whingy bitch.

I wanted to slap her upside the head and yell at her to show some respect to her mother and have some sympathy with Laurie’s plight. ‘How dare you be so rude to Jamie Lee Curtis, you bitch?’

But Karen is a proper Moaning Minnie who was removed from Laurie’s care when she was a child because of the way that Laurie’s fears had taken over both their lives. I would have washed my hands of her and gone back to concentrating properly on living in fear, lol.

Karen herself has a daughter called Alysson now, a teenager for whose romantic future I tremble. There don’t seem to be any male people in her school who have any intention of growing up into what we used to recognise as men. I’ll say no more in case I’m accused of some new and horrible kind of discrimination but seriously, what’s happened to all the men in the world of cinema…?

Alysson has a better relationship with her grandmother Laurie than Karen has with her mother. Alysson also seems to be more tolerant of Laurie’s PTSD than Karen, and more inclined to believe her grandmother when she tries to explain that Michael Myers will always constitute a threat to the Strode family as long as he’s alive somewhere.

This is good because right now, we’re on a full-on red warning as Michael, a big strong burly man now in his early sixties and with his beloved old mask firmly in place, has escaped from the bus conveying him from one insane asylum to another.

Slowly but inexorably, and leaving a terrible trail of savagery and murder behind him, he’s making his way home to the little town of Haddonfield where, when he was a mere tot of six years old, he suddenly stabbed his older sister Judith to death with a massive kitchen knife one Halloween night.

And of course it was on another Halloween night in Haddonfield that he murdered a slew of Laurie Strode’s incredibly slutty high school friends and tried to murder Laurie herself too. Laurie was a good studious girl who put studying ahead of sex. Was it a mere coincidence that she alone survived Michael’s rampage? Maybe, maybe not.

Either way, just like whenever horny teens try to have sex in the vicinity of Camp Crystal Lake, there will Jason Voorhees be to throw buckets of cold water on their ardour (‘Ardour, ardour, do it ardour!’), so will Michael Myers be on hand wherever the babysitters of Haddonfield are trying to get some. They should really set up a picket line, shouldn’t they?

Haddonfield is tricked out beautifully for Halloween, as it is every time we go back there. It really captures the feel of the original movie. Kids are going about trick-or-treating in full Halloween costume and there are pumpkins galore.

I love that people get slaughtered in this that you actually assumed were going to make it till the end of the movie (it really confounds your expectations and turns ’em on their head!), and I also loved it that Michael chose not to kill that crying baby. Michael Myers is a killer of stupid people, of annoying, disrespectful journalists and horny teens. He is no baby-killer.

It’s funny as well the way that you get so protective of Michael after all these years. Even though we know he’s a demented serial killer who kills people in dreadfully painful ways, he’s our beloved serial killer and we don’t want any harm to come to him or for anyone to be annoying him.

When that awful podcaster couple were harassing him in the exercise yard of the asylum in the beginning, I wanted to scream at them to leave him alone, he’s our Michael Myers and how bloody dared they pester him like that? Let’s just say that I didn’t shed too many tears over what later happened in that grubby little gas station bathroom…

If this turns out to be our last HALLOWEEN movie ever, I’d consider us to be well off. If there are ever any more sequels, especially ones with Jamie Lee Curtis in ’em, that’ll just be a lovely big bonus. There is a sequel to this one planned, so we’ll see.

HALLOWEEN (2018), whether you view it as a stand-alone movie or the first part of a two-part film series, is more than worthy of being added to this terrific franchise. I’ll fight anyone who says differently. What, fisticuffs? Yes, fisticuffs, lol.

Have fun, by the way, counting all the cute little nods to the original movie, there are at least ten of ’em. And remember this little fun fact the next time Michael Myers comes a-calling. No matter how fast you run, he can walk faster…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor