Tuesday, October 31, 2017

31 Days of Halloween: The Halloween Movie Franchise

by Beth

As this post is going up on Halloween I figured I should make it good. Nothing is more Halloween-ie to me than the Halloween movies. Even if all of the sequels haven't been first rate it is one of the longest running horror film franchises, and deserves to be looked at for the sum of its parts. That being said, I thought it might be fun to look at each movie in the series individually. The original is one of my favorite movies of all time (and not just of horror movies either), and there's a lot of love behind my criticism of the rest. Okay - most of the rest. I know I've talked in the past about how much I love these movies, and the character of Michael Myers, but I've never gone this in-depth before. So join me on an extended trip to Haddonfield for the horror that is Halloween.

The first Halloween came out in 1978, and as permissive as my parents were I know I didn't see it when I was four. I was probably closer to 7 or 8 when I saw it, and guess that was still too young since it scared the crap out of me. Really it was Michael Myers that scared me, and began my fear of unstoppable killers in masks, and babysitting. Six year old Michael Myers is dressed in his creepy clown costume for Halloween, and stabs his older sister to death with a kitchen knife. Since this is set in Illinois and not Texas, young Michael is sent off to the looney bin rather than getting the chair. I wonder what would have happened if they'd tried to fry young child Michael though. He got electrocuted at least once as an adult, and it didn't work because he was pure evil. So was he pure evil when he was 6? His shrink Dr. Loomis thinks so, but when did he become pure evil? Rob Zombie at least gave us some kind of reason for the switch. It wasn't a great reason, but at least it was something. Anyway, Michael waits 15 years to bust out of crazy jail on Halloween night to go kill some more people. At this point we don't know that Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is Michael's sister so it seems pretty random which is almost scarier. The first installment also had a great cliffhanger ending leading us directly into...

Halloween II
Even though it took 3 years for the sequel we do at least get the (few surviving) main characters back. So Laurie is traumatized and in the hospital with the guy from The Last Starfighter looking after her. Not my top pick for a protector, but what're you gonna do? Michael kills lots of people in the hospital while Dr. Loomis discovers the important plot point of Laurie being Michael's sister. After shooting Michael again (because that worked so well the first time) everyone assumes that he's dead because they blew him up. It was good, but not original good. In video games the sequel is frequently better, not so much with movies. It was still good enough to get us another sequel, but given the movie it was you can see why there's such a big gap between 3 and 4.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch
I know I discussed on one of our podcasts before that this really wasn't such a bad movie. It was more that it had nothing to do with Michael Myers. They were playing with the idea of serialized horror that just did scary things under the Halloween name. I clearly wasn't the only one who was mad about it since they abandoned that idea incredibly fast. If it had just been called something else I would have been fine with it. At this point I had seen the first 2 movies, and knew what they should be about. A Halloween novelty company makes masks with microchips and pieces of Stonehenge inside, and plans on using the power of the 2 together to bring back witchcraft. It's amazing what people thought technology would be able to do back then. The super catchy jingle "3 more days til Halloween" activates the masks, and causes the wearer to have their face squished with bugs and snakes. It makes no sense, but rewatching it now I can separate it from the franchise and look at it for what it is. Really, super 80's silliness. Still better than anything SyFy has put out in the last 5 years tough.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Because after pissing everyone off they had to bring him back, and it took 6 years to do so. It wasn't an entirely triumphant return. So now it's 1988, and Michael had been in a coma since the end of the second movie. I get it, he's unkillable. That still doesn't mean that he should be knocked into a coma to wait for the next sequel at the end of every movie. But horror franchises wouldn't exist if people learned lessons so back to the looney bin Michael goes. Until he wakes up right around Halloween so he can go after Laurie's daughter, Jamie. Little kids are often creepy, but the kid in this is just plain annoying. And if Laurie is still alive why is he going after her kid rather than her? I know they didn't have Uber back then, but he could have caught a bus or something. Does he have some sort of contract with the city? At the end Michael falls down a mine shaft (Haddonfield has everything!), and the kid is taken home. Wearing a clown costume. On Halloween. She's been possessed or taken over by Michael or something. Do you think that ends well? It doesn't since you have to see the same damn kid again in...

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
It's one year later, and the annoying kid from the last movie is also in a looney bin, but she's no longer possessed or whatever they were trying to imply that she was at the end of the last movie. She's simply a mute mess from all the terror she went through. Fair enough, and I don't have to hear her talk for a good while in this one. Oh, but now she does have some psychic friend network thing going on with Michael. Because, why not? Michael wakes up, and rather than brush his teeth or have a cup of coffee the first thing he wants to do after waking up from his latest coma is kill the kid. Can't blame him for that. The usual teen killings follow, along with Dr. Loomis chasing him all over the place. It's pretty standard until they don't kill Michael at the end. They instead decide to send him to prison (which is the smartest thing anyone has decided to do with him yet), but he escapes with the help of some wacky cult. It would be another six years before the next sequel. Coma time!

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
We waited six years for this? The kid is grown up, and both she and Michael are being held captive by the stupid cult from the end of the last movie. A cult who believes Michael is under a curse, and has to kill his next of kin to pass this awesome curse on. Jamie is all grown up, as well as knocked up, and gives birth to the cult's "chosen one" or some shit. She and Michael both manage to escape, but Jamie doesn't make it far before Michael finally catches up with her. So if he already killed his older sister, and has killed his niece why is he looking for Jamie's baby? There are so many rowdy teens left in the world to murder that it's hard to see why this baby needs to die. The baby makes a miraculous escape from Michael though, and winds up in the hands of grown-up Tommy Doyle (the kid Laurie was babysitting in the first movie, and played by a cute young Paul Rudd). There's a lot more shit with the cult that honestly is so stupid I'm not going to go into it, but needless to say Michael gets beat down into another coma again. This movie has a disappointing number of main characters survive, but it's fine because you won't see any of them again. Sadly, you won't see Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis anymore either.

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
After the mess that last movie made I can't believe that it only took 3 years for this one to come out. Not that this one is great, but it does ignore most of the crap that happened since Halloween II, and brings back Jamie Lee Curtis. After waking up from his latest coma Michael heads off to find and kill his sister Laurie again. She's working at a fancy school that her son also attends, and things are going great until Michael shows up. He seems to be after the kids at first (some habits are hard to break) until he runs in to Laurie. After much drama and fighting Michael is "killed", but Laurie has to double kill him. Why didn't anyone think of cutting off his head before? I'd cut off his head, all of his limbs, burn the pieces, and bury the ashes at the corners of the globe. Wake up from a coma now, bitch! It was a pretty good return to form after the lunacy of the last few movies. As good as the first 2? No, but then how could it ever be?

Halloween: Resurrection
If you thought the cult stuff 2 movies ago was dumb then you really haven't seen anything yet. It was directed by the same guy who did Halloween II, but don't let that fool you into believing this will be on par. I'm guessing this is how the pitch went down.
Writer: So Michael switched places with someone at the end of the last movie, and that's who Laurie killed. Michael Myers is still alive, and in another coma until Busta Rhymes sends a group of teens to the old Myers house for his reality show Dangertainment.
Studio head: Um, okay. So then what?
Writer: They die one by one, and then we let Michael kill Tyra Banks because nobody likes her, and then Busta comes in and beats Michael's ass, and then you think he's dead but he's probably not.
Studio head: Fuck it, I'm getting fired tomorrow anyway. Let's do it.
My imagining of this conversation is probably way more interesting than the real one, and might be better than the movie itself. If I'm in the mood for something stupid that makes me laugh I'll watch this on TV. I never laugh watching The Curse of Michael Myers.

Halloween (2007)
I feel like I've made my opinion on Rob Zombie pretty clear over the years, but Dave might be pleased to learn that after sitting down to think about all of these movies that I don't think this one is the worst. It's either The Curse of Michael Myers or Resurrection. I can't choose right now. Happy? I've never hidden the fact that I hate the Rob Zombie redneck murder family, and I certainly don't like his treatment being given to my favorite horror franchise of all time. It's the same basic story, but with gross a white-trash family, and the added bonus of Malcom McDowell as Dr. Loomis. There's also a lot more killing, more gore, and just everything amped up to 11. Way too amped up for me.

Halloween II (2009)
I guess enough of you guys liked the first one to justify a sequel. This took everything I hated about the last one, and turned it up even more. It was gorier, dumber, and made me feel more like I needed to take a shower afterward than any other Rob Zombie movie I've ever seen. I always feel dirty after watching one of his movies, but this was a Silkwood shower kind of feeling if you get that reference. I'm not going to spend any more time on it because I have a new Halloween to look forward to next year.

What will it bring? Well Jamie Lee Curtis will be back so that's a start. It will supposedly be her final confrontation with Michael, but that doesn't mean he's going to die. He can go on forever while Jamie Lee Curtis is approaching her Danny Glover days of being an action lady. I'll watch it no matter what comes as we get closer to a release date, but I'll still always hold the original very close to my heart.

Whew! I know that was a lot so if you're still reading this I thank you for sticking with me. I've been posting once a week since Dragon Con so I think I've earned a short vacation. After this it's back to every other week.

Beth got her start writing for a site called Movie Criticism for the Retarded (which has been reborn as dorkdroppings.com. Check it out sometime), but was pulled out of an early retirement to write for Needless Things. When she isn't writing she plays video games and watches bad horror movies while eagerly awaiting the zombie apocalypse. She may try to save her husband and/or their cats, but luckily hasn't had to make those tough decisions yet. Follow beth0rama on Instagram or on Twitter @NeedlessBeth where she doesn't post often enough to be annoying, but updates way more than Google+

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