HALLOWEEN 4/HALLOWEEN 5: A GRISLY DUO OF SLASHER MOVIE REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS! ©

halloween-4HALLOWEEN 4 AND HALLOWEEN 5: A DOUBLE DOSE OF SLASHER-HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS. (1988) BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY JOHN CARPENTER AND DEBRA HILL.

DIRECTED BY DWIGHT H. LITTLE.

STARRING DONALD PLEASENCE, DANIELLE HARRIS, GEORGE P. WILBUR, BEAU STARR AND ELLIE CORNELL.

HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS. (1989) BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY JOHN CARPENTER AND DEBRA HILL.

DIRECTED BY DOMINIQUE OTHENIN-GIRARD.

STARRING DONALD PLEASENCE, DANIELLE HARRIS, ELLIE CORNELL, BEAU STARR, WENDY KAPLAN AND DON SHANKS.

Ooooooh, I do love a nice bit of HALLOWEEN at Halloween, or in fact on any night of the year. Pure undiluted slasher-horror cinema was surely born in the ‘Seventies and ‘Eighties, with marvellous franchises like this one and FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET kicking and screaming their way into our world through the tight but accommodating birth canal of VHS and Beta-Max, haha.

I’ve chosen to review these two films together because HALLOWEEN 5 is a direct continuation of its predecessor. You might remember that the superb horror series took a break from the silent but deadly serial murderer Michael Myers in HALLOWEEN 3 (an excellent horror film in its own right if you can stop bemoaning the absence of Mikey for five f***ing minutes…!), but Michael is back with a bang in instalments 4 and 5 and, trust me, he’s literally never been deadlier…

Michael escapes from state custody while he’s en route to another sanatorium and, as usual, where does he make a beeline for? Why, Haddonfield, Illinois, of course, the place where ten years ago he slaughtered a bunch of people, including family members, and created a role for himself (in perpetuity, mind you) as that town’s very own boogeyman.

As in: ‘If’n y’all don’t eat yo’ vegetables, Michael Myers gonna git y’all and carve y’all up into little pieces…!’ Or words to that effect, anyway. A killer who wears a white mask, never speaks a single solitary word but possesses the strength to kill other grown men with his bare hands in a variety of colourful and unusual ways is surely a mighty effective boogeyman, we must admit.

Anyway, this time Michael’s off to Haddonfield to kill his niece Jamie Lloyd, beautifully played by Danielle Harris. She’s the daughter of Michael’s (apparently) deceased sister Laurie Strode, aka the wonderful Jamie Lee Curtis from HALLOWEENs 1 and 2, making her Mikey’s niece.

And why does he want to kill his adorably pretty little niece? Well, for no reason other than that she’s family, and Michael always seems to make a point of murdering his kith-and-kin. Silly Michael. He just can’t seem to work out the connection between having a family and being happy. Still, if he could, he wouldn’t be our stabby boy, would he, the murderous little dickens…? Aw, bless his expressionless white mask and natty boiler suit. He’s our boy for sure.

There are certain things standing between the impassive-faced Michael and his goal. In HALLOWEEN 4, the pretty blonde Rachel Carruthers is Jamie’s doting new step-sister and she ain’t gonna let no non-talking, knife-wielding serial killer hurt her precious little sis.

Well, not unless that serial killer kills Rachel, that is, which would appear to be his aim, but Rachel and Jamie have the protection of the town sheriff and his slutty daughter Kelly, whose pert backside the sheriff should surely have paddled when he so nearly caught her making out with Rachel’s boyfriend Brady. If ever a young lady needed a good walloping, Kelly Meeker surely fits that bill…!

In HALLOWEEN 5, which by the way ends with a wicked twist, Jamie is protected by Rachel’s best friend Tina, a super-annoying young lady who actually shares a car journey with the masked serial killer without knowing it.

He’s wearing a really freaky borrowed Halloween mask and looks utterly terrifying but Tina just starts laying into him straightaway about ‘his’ (she thinks he’s her boyfriend Mike, aka ‘the Fonz…!’) supposed shortcomings as a significant other.

It’s actually really surprising that he doesn’t twist her curly, fluffy little head right off her shoulders for bitching at him non-stop about nothing. Dressed like Cyndi Lauper in the ‘GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN’ music video, she’s bubbly, full of life and chat and as irritating as a rash in your private area, but her heart’s in the right place. As long as Michael doesn’t get his gigantic paws on it, that is…

Dr. Loomis is in both films too, with the lovely cuddly old Donald Pleasence reprising his role as Michael’s psychiatrist from the earlier movies, the one man who realises possibly the full extent of Michael’s terrible capability for doing harm to people.

All burned in the face and hands from a previous confrontation with the Silent One, he bends over backwards to try to save the folks of Haddonfield, and in particular little Jamie, from another deadly encounter with Michael.

Of course, he meets with the usual resistance, scepticism and even incompetence along the way but, once the body count starts climbing, people suddenly all start singing from the same hymn-sheet…

Even so, the poor doc’s pretty battered and exhausted, and his lovely old trademark ‘COLUMBO-‘ style overcoat in shocking need of dry-cleaning, by the time the story rolls to a close in the very place where it began, the old Myers place which has gone to rack and ruin in a few short years. The town obviously didn’t take the best care of its very own murder-house…

The violence is extreme and frequent in both films and the character of Michael Myers has great fun killing people in ever-more gruesome and grisly ways. Both these movies are terrific fun and I wouldn’t consider them inferior to the earlier ones at all, although it would have been nice if Jamie Lee Curtis had been in them too, then we would have had a full complement of HALLOWEEN past pupils, as it were.

I’ll just end by boasting (I mean saying…!) that I saw John Carpenter and his band perform his famous movie soundtracks live in Dublin’s Vicar Street in October of this year. He was one sexy mutha, all dressed in black with his silver hair tied back in a ponytail, and when he played the theme tune to HALLOWEEN, the whole place went wild. Best night of my life so far. Long live HALLOWEEN, John Carpenter and Michael Myers, a magnificent triple threat by anyone’s standards.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger 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

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PSYCHO 3/PSYCHO 4: THE BEGINNING- A TERRIFYING DOUBLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

psycho3hPSYCHO 3 AND PSYCHO 4: THE BEGINNING- A TWO-FOR-THE-PRICE-OF-ONE JOINT REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

PSYCHO 3. (1986) BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY ROBERT BLOCH. DIRECTED BY ANTHONY PERKINS. WRITTEN BY CHARLES EDWARD POGUE. MUSIC BY CARTER BURWELL. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY BRUCE SURTEES. STARRING ANTHONY PERKINS, JEFF FAHEY AND DIANA SCARWID.

PSYCHO 4: THE BEGINNING. (1990) BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY ROBERT BLOCH. DIRECTED BY MICK GARRIS. WRITTEN BY JOSEPH STEFANO. MUSIC BY GRAEME REVELL AND BERNARD HERRMANN (HIS ORIGINAL SCORE). STARRING ANTHONY PERKINS, C.C.H. POUNDER, OLIVIA HUSSEY AND HENRY THOMAS.

The late great director Alfred Hitchcock kicked off this whole hoop-la in 1960 when he brought Robert Bloch’s novel PSYCHO to the big screen in spectacular style. The original movie famously marked a new beginning for cinema in terms of how much gore, violence and sexual deviancy directors were allowed to show the viewers in their work. Quite a lot, apparently, haha.

The sequel, filmed three years after Alfred Hitchcock’s death in 1980, is a fantastically fun romp of which I’m convinced Hitchcock would have whole-heartedly approved. It even stars the lovely Vera Miles, reprising her role as Marion Crane’s younger sister Lila who’s hellbent on making Norman pay for his crimes. I can honestly say that it’s the most fun I’ve ever had watching a sequel, and one of those rare occasions on which, for me, the sequel nearly surpasses the brilliant original.

PSYCHO 3 takes up the story literally only a month or so where PSYCHO 2 left off. Creepy, disturbed transvestite Norman Bates is still living in the big creepy house above the Bates Motel. He has a new ‘Mother’ installed in the front bedroom and she’s bossing her little Normie around just like he’s used to (and comfortable with, haha.) He also has a nosey reporter shadowing him and trying to ferret out the whereabouts of a missing old lady about whom I shall say nothing further, heh-heh-heh…

Norman has a new temporary motel manager too, the handsome, sexy and sexually promiscuous Duane ‘watch the guitar’ Duke, and a new tenant-slash-friend-slash-possible lover in the form of mentally-disturbed runaway nun Maureen Coil. Maureen is ably played by Diana Scarwid, who is also known for portraying Joan Crawford’s grown-up daughter Christina in the famously uncomplimentary biopic, MOMMIE DEAREST (1981). God, how I love that movie…!

The funniest scene in this film is when the suicidal Sister Maureen thinks that Norman, dressed up as his Ma with a big old glinty knife in his hand, is the Virgin Mary come to save her from death. Boy, is she way off…! Norman as saviour instead of murderer? That’s certainly a new angle.

I also love the scene when the Sheriff is helping himself to some ice from the cooler outside the Motel and he doesn’t realise that it’s more than ice that he’s putting into his mouth… Eeuw!

Another hilarious scene is when Mother goes missing after a police raid on the Bates house. Norman’s running around the house frantically searching for her when he finds a note from her telling him that she’s in Cabin Twelve of the motel. What the hell does Norman find when he gets to Cabin Twelve? You’ll have to watch the film to find out, horror fans.

My favourite scene in this third film in the franchise, though, doesn’t have any killing or blood in it at all. It’s a shot of the old neglected Bates house before all the action kicks off. The birds are twittering around as they always do, pooping on the bird-table and everywhere else, and the whole house and little bit of scrubby garden just look so dry and dusty, unloved and deserted. Dead ‘Mothers’ certainly don’t do yardwork. The scene is perfectly set for some murderous shenanigans.

PSYCHO 3 may not reach the dizzying heights of the original film or even the first sequel but it’s still a terrifically fun watch and I absolutely loved it. The lovely old sheriff from PSYCHO 2 is in it again:

‘I was FOR you, Norman. I believed in you. They’ll never let you out again…!’ The staff of the diner are back again too and overall, the whole film is perfectly in keeping with the feel of the second one to which it’s a direct follow-up.

PSYCHO 4: THE BEGINNING is a different story. It’s a completely different kettle of fish, you might say. It’s one of those new-fangled ‘prequels.’  We’re expected to believe that Norman is out of the mental institution once more, for good this time.

Not only that, but he’s living in a lovely home far away from the Bates Motel and he’s got a wife too, who works as a psychiatrist which is how they met, and they have a baby on the way…! What the dickens is going on…? Can this be the Norman Bates we’ve grown to love… and fear?

Moreover, he’s managed to achieve all this in just a few short years. Excuse me for being just a teeny bit sceptical. Norman Bates as a productive, normal member of society, making love normally and in a way conducive to begetting an offspring? Do me a favour…!

Norman is telling his story through a series of gruesome flashbacks to Fran Ambrose, a no-nonsense lady who shoots from the hip. She also happens to be a popular radio talk-show host who’s doing a show on Men Who Kill Their Mothers. I really like the character of Fran. She’s smart, intuitive and bound to rattle a few cages with her show on murderous Mummy’s Boys.

Naturally, as Norman is the poster-boy for this particular group of degenerates, the producers are creaming themselves (excuse my French!) over their new caller and his grim tale of child abuse, gender confusion and double murder by strychnine-poisoning.

Possibly the most unbelievable thing about Norman’s story is the casting of Olivia Hussey as Norma Bates. From everything we’ve ever known about Norman’s Mumsie, she is surely not stunningly beautiful with fabulous long silky hair straight out of a shampoo commercial, is she?

Furthermore, surely she does not sit around the house in silky lingerie and kimonos sipping Long Island Iced Teas in the middle of the day when there’s work to be done and she almost certainly does not talk in that annoying, phoney-baloney British accent. There, I’ve said it, haha. What do you guys think?

Also, if Norma is supposed to be so sexually repressed and the product of her practically Victorian-style upbringing, why then is she being portrayed as the biggest slut in Christendom? Riddle me that, screenwriters!

Still, the more I watch this final sequel, the more I get used to her and begin to believe her performance. I don’t mind admitting when I’m wrong, if that’s what’s surprising you guys. I may have judged the lady a little harshly initially. Sorry, Ms. Hussey…!

Anyway, she’s not a great mother, this Norma Bates. She probably loves her son and only child Norman deep down but she’s dreadfully inconsistent with him, hugging him and laughing with him one minute and screaming at him hysterically the next.

Her behaviour towards him is sexually inappropriate as well. Getting him to ‘blot her with her flower-water’ indeed! He has to rub cooling lotion on her semi-naked body and then she berates him for getting the inevitable erection.

After seeming to do her utmost to arouse him sexually, she forces him to dress in womens’ clothing in a crazed attempt to make him ‘forget’ he has a penis. As if a guy would ever forget that…!

The film-makers had a real chance here to portray Norman’s messed-up childhood and show us exactly why Norman ended up as he did. When I first watched this film, I felt that instead, they’d gone down another route entirely and that the resulting film was a bizarre, sometimes baffling mish-mash of vignettes and flash-backs that frequently didn’t make sense and that had more than their fair share of plot-holes.

After watching the film a few times and, as I said, getting used to Olivia Hussey as ‘Mother,’ I decided that Norman’s weirdness and murderous tendencies first as a confused teenager and then as an adult male had pretty much been perfectly adequately explained. Who wouldn’t have grown up deranged after a head-wrecking upbringing like the one that he had? That’s what his Mother was, an absolute head-wrecker of a woman, slapping him with one hand and stroking him with the other.

Check out what happens to Norman’s first ‘girlfriend,’ a slutty young lady who gets more than she bargains for when she decides that she’s attracted to the young Norman Bates. Check out the rather brilliant final scenes as well, when poor Norman is deluded enough to think that he can actually escape the ghosts of his past. What Norman’s got to accept is that, with a past like his, you don’t get to ever escape it. You just have to learn to live with it somehow…

This last film in the franchise is by no means a flawless movie like the first three, but a PSYCHO sequel is a PSYCHO sequel and I’m still glad we have it. C.C.H. Pounder does a great job as the sympathetic radio-show host and I’m always happy to see Anthony Perkins portray Norman Bates, even if the film is a trifle inferior to its elder siblings.

I hope one day to see a film that shows us what happens when Norman’s son or daughter grows up. Will he or she be as flawed and dysfunctional as the genes that spawned them? How could they not be? No-one seems to have committed to this project as yet but maybe one day they will. What fun and games we’ll have then, PSYCHO fans…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger 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