PG-13 for language and metal things sticking out of people. I think a movie can get two f-bombs and still get a PG-13 rating. The Martian definitely uses one straight out, but then implies a lot more f-bombs beyond that. There's some other language, but that's really about it. He's all by himself. Oh, that's right. You see Matt Damon's stand-in's bum. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott
I think I end up rewatching this movie over and over without actually planning to rewatch this movie. It might be the best crowd favorite that's come out since 2015. I tell people I'm watching The Martian and people always seem down to watch it. I actually get a little floored when people haven't seen it. I know that I'm not part of history, but I think The Martian might be the closest thing we've seen to a modern classic for a long time. It's got mass appeal. It's well made. It is compelling and I can't really think of a flaw beyond the unacceptable runtime. So what makes this movie so good?
I'm never going to put it on my favorites list. It probably won't make a ton of lists outside of talking about specific subgenres. But The Martian might be a movie that respects its audience while not forgetting to entertain them. I know that there will be an argument about authenticity. Lots of people love this movie for how authentic the science is in the film. Others claim that it is not authentic enough. Where I stand on the subject is that it has a very strong attempt to be authentic. It is a very smart movie, but doesn't talk down to you. There's a fine line where a movie like this could be overloaded with technobabble. It's sci-fi. I'm sure that there was temptation to load this movie chalk full of technobabble. Instead, it tries grounding as much as it can in the real world. There are times that I actually forget that this is a science fiction story. I don't know if that's the purpose of science fiction as a whole, but it is definitely one philosophy of film. We have to be able to accept the film as reality. We almost need to forget that we're watching a film. I watched The Martian this last time out of obligation, which is unfair to this film. It's going to be part of my paper and I needed to knock it out during an unbearably stressful week. But to its credit, I was invested whenever I watched it. I know how the story plays out at this point. I know the beat-to-beats for the most part, but I still find it extremely fascinating. Again, the science plays a big part of this, but the other end of it is Matt Damon. I think Matt Damon has entered the pantheon of gross dudes as far as I remember. But Damon is so darned charming. Since the movie is about a guy who is isolated on Mars for four years, he kind of has to be charming. The thing is that I don't like the stranded narrative normally. I just read Robinson Crusoe and was so-so about it. I really didn't like CastAway. These are stories about cleverness, but cleverness works when you have charisma. Damon's character is crafted in a way that is kind of superficial, but it is the only way to make this story work.
I'm about to start dunking on the movie, but these are all compliments. Every choice about Matt Damon's character is super smart. His character is entirely comprised of charm and intellect. He's smart and funny and that's what gets us through the story. Traditional thinking says that our protagonist needs to be deep and conflicted. He should normally have someone to pine for. We don't have any mentions of Watney's family outside a brief request to tell his mother that he loves her. Watney is almost free of characterization shy of being determined and this is, against all odds, a breath of fresh air. The story shows that the world is a scary place and that everything is trying to kill him. The movie doesn't need to have to tell me how bad things look. SPOILER: The movie ends with him confessing that he thought that he was going to die out there. Honestly, I would have made the mistake and focused on Watney's despair. The confessionals would have all been comprised of him pining for a loved one that he couldn't get at home. I would have him throwing potatoes across the room and then scrounging them up. Instead, we actually get a fairly positive protagonist. He sees the silver lining of every situation while belly-aching for comic effect. But that works. There are these breaks in action. When we should be despairing, the script, brilliantly laid out by Drew Goddard, counteracts that. There are so many moments where I would have just given up. I'm sure most audiences kind of were on my team for those moments. But instead, Watney has these realizations. He doesn't ignore what just happened, but instead redirects his focus with fun asides. Instead on focusing on the pathos of the moment, Watney redirects to the mundane and it works really really well. The use of the documentary / diary style filmmaking is just charming. 1) It makes it feel like he's talking just to use. We are NASA. 2) It ties the story to the reality of the situation. We are the Smithsonian. We are historians discovering this man's diary. This is done, in part, to match the style of Andy Weir's novel. But it works really well for the movie.
My paper is how visual and audio elements have fundamentally changed the travel narrative. The Martian is not going to be the focus of my paper, but it does provide something really interesting, say, compared to the novel or Robinson Crusoe. I applaud Ridley Scott for making an awful place interesting to visit. Everything on Mars is made to kill Watney. Simple things mean death. This is a place that is not meant to be inhabited, yet everything is still oddly appealing. It's the beauty of danger. Like the best visual travel narratives, we see the most daring elements of ourselves. I'm personally the kind of guy who likes cuddling up in the covers and being really comfortable. But when I watch stories like this, I want to explore the universe. I want to traverse the dangerous. I want to climb mountains. Like, now that I'm typing and comfortable, I don't want to do that. But Ridley Scott manages to capture of the beauty of Mars for most of the film. There are storms and those storms seem terrible. But there are also red skies and craters and mountains. Part of it also comes from the soundtrack. There is this diagetic element of the disco soundtrack that Watney has. Like Guardians of the Galaxy, there's this awesome juxtaposition between the music of the '70s dance scene and the majesty of the unknown. I think we all think that we hate disco, but these are the movies that remind us that disco, used well, is extremely effective when it comes to manipulating mood. There are these moments when he's driving the rover around the landscape where the music just reflects the road trips films that I've fallen in love with. This kind of brings me to Ridley Scott as a director. I have a love/hate relationship with Ridley Scott. I love Alien so much, but a lot of his movies have a certain look. This look is cool in small doses, but it tends to get in his own way. This might be Ridley Scott's most fun movie. He has a way of making films look majestic, but usually it tries too hard. In this case, I think he's getting out of his own way. It still looks majestic, but without the feeling of trying too hard. Maybe its the lack of pigeons or something. But the movie doesn't feel like the rest of his stuff. It's still extremely well crafted, but without a feeling of effort or Ridley Scott's thumbprint. I actually wonder how Scott feels about this piece because it feels the least like the rest of his work.
I love The Martian and I'm not the only person who thought that. It's a crowd pleaser, which makes me kind of remember that it didn't win too many Academy Awards. But this is also a commentary on the Academy Awards. Sometimes it's the loser that actually makes the critical impact versus the winner. Regardless, if you tell me that you are going to watch The Martian, I might just sit down and join you.
WE'VE DONE THIS FOR 50 EPISODES! The boys return to that old Stephen King well with Castle Rock, season one. Thanks for hanging out with us and we appreciate the love.
Pushing the PG-13 element a little bit. It's odd to think that Captain America: The First Avenger and Venom are both PG-13 movies. The symbiote uses some rough language. It bites a few heads off, admittedly mostly off camera. The violence is pretty intense and the symbiotes themselves get pretty gross, especially if a host rejects the symbiote. There's some action. Honestly, this movie more Hot Topic than actually edgy, so I can accept a PG-13. It's just odd to think how much PG-13 actually spans.
DIRECTOR: Ruben Fleischer
I knew that this movie was going to suck at the exact level is sucked at. From the first announcement that Sony was going to be making a Venom movie, I knew that it was going to be a B- film. I just knew it. When I saw the first trailer, I knew the exact kind of movie it was going to be. Everyone kept asking me, "Did you see the new Venom trailer?", expecting me to swoon over it. I looked at that trailer and just cringed. This movie is a hard dose of mediocrity and I don't see how many of my students are losing their minds over it.
You know what? It doesn't surprise me. I'm not saying it's a bad thing. If you like something, continue liking me. Ignore my pages and pages of ranting into the void of space (pun intended) about how movies suck. This movie presented something that a lot of people wanted that I didn't really want. This movie is extreme. It is the film equivalent of an Ed Hardy shirt. It is the Stussy logo drawn in the margins of a notebook. There is no other soundtrack except for electric guitar. (Oh, if only that were true. The Venom soundtrack often missed the mark. Horns? Horns as part of the main theme? Nope.) My students love extreme action and this movie delivers a lot of it. Well, that's not even all that true because the first third of the movie is actually kind of boring and not in a way that I would appreciate. (Oh, I'd love to go into see Venom, a movie about an alien space suit that eats people's heads and get a third of My Dinner with Andre.) But this movie really plays with the idea that Venom is going to do something cool when he is all suited up. And, I'll give it to Ruben Fleischer. When Venom is full-on Venom, I'm actually kind of on board. The problem is that a lot of the movie is whiny Eddie Brock teasing Venom powers. I'm going to dial it back a bit and discuss a lot of the problems of this movie and why I found myself criminally bored at a movie about an alien supersuit that eats people's heads. I just realized I may not actually like Tom Hardy. I thought I did. I always put him on the list of actors to get excited for. Then I started thinking if I liked any movies where Tom Hardy was in it. The Dark Knight Rises, while enjoyable for me, is the weakest of the franchise and, while I love Bane and that voice, it is all a bit silly. The Revenant is the only movie by that director that I didn't actually like. Mad Max: Fury Road is actually about Furiosa, not Max. Star Trek: Nemesis is an abomination to cinema and I can't find almost any reason to actually find joy in that movie. Tom Hardy is kind of an actor who keeps kind of failing upward. Venom might be his worst movie. There's something weird with his voice. That's not even fair. He's playing a New York exile in San Francisco. He's a Brit, so there's going to be a bit of a learning curve. But I've seen Tom Hardy perform before. I know that he's been in movies that I haven't cared for, but he's been solid before. This seems like the direction was, like the rest of the movie, "Go big or go home." There's nothing subtle about Eddie Brock. There's an attitude that a lot of comic book directors have. Comic books, to many storytellers, means "lacking nuance." I think I'm eventually going to evolve this argument about why Eddie Brock doesn't work for me both as an adaption of a mediocre comic book character and as a film's protagonist. But there is the foundation for something working there, but Tom Hardy creates an Eddie Brock that is grating. The symbiote calls Eddie "a loser." That's accurate, but there is such thing as a lovable loser. Heck, one of the few things that Spider-Man 3 did right was understand that Eddie Brock was a loser as a mirror to how Peter Parker is a loser. Peter Parker is an extremely lovable loser. Eddie is just whiny and obnoxious, yet he is the driving force to this movie. This almost sets up a cool dynamic. It works better in cartoons, but the idea of the loser being taken on this adventure against their will. Tom Hardy plays it comically, unfortunately. I understand. It's tempting. But there's nothing charming about it.
The thing is, Venom is a character that really works in small doses. Until just now, (and I haven't even read it), Venom doesn't really work as a comic book. He's a villain. He's the Borg. When Venom shows up for Spider-Man, you know things are going to turn bad for the hero. He's there as a powerhouse. He sucks the comedy out of a room. (At least the light stuff. Venom is good at the extremely macabre.) But when Venom gets a comic book, it screams '90s comics. This is what the Life Foundation is all about. When I heard that the movie was going to be Eddie Brock versus the Life Foundation, I just saw all the pouches and lasers and stupid things that made Venom comics almost unreadable. While this is possibly a way better version of Venom: Lethal Protector, it still falls prey to a lot of the pitfalls that made the comic book an inaccessible mess. The Life Foundation isn't based on anything remotely relatable. I don't know if they're going for the Elon Musk joke with Riz Ahmed's Carlton Drake, but he's so megalomaniacal that it almost seems like a comic book. He's practically evil for evil's sake. The odd thing is that the movie gives him a reason to do evil things that could almost be considered sympathetic. But the handling of that character. He's these broad strokes. He seems to have no compunction for mass murder or genocide and that just seems so X-Treme. It's Darth Maul on Mountain Dew. Honestly, this movie might be the most miscast movie I've ever seen. Again, I love Riz Ahmed in this, but I'm never really threatened by him. I've seen him scary in The Night Of. Tom Hardy, I established, is annoying in this role. Jenny Slate will probably be making jokes about her involvement in this movie. (They ADR'ed "sym-BYE-ote"!) Also, I never realized what movies that Michelle Williams signed up for. Their relationship in this movie was just as confusing as could be. Her entire character is "love interest." She is extremely poorly developed as a female lead and it is implied that they are going to get back together. That's gross. I don't like that one bit. Eddie is still a loser throughout.
But again, this is the juggling act that this movie presents. Eddie is a loser, but he's a noble loser in this one. There's a line for the die-hard fans about Eddie's time at the Daily Globe. It's a tie to Eddie Brock's actual mythology, which I think is far more interesting. Eddie's narrative tries to make him an anti-hero in this movie, probably trying to get the Sony equivalent of Deadpool. It could explain the extremely snarky symbiote. But Eddie isn't good in the books. Venom is the tale of revenge. It's a tag-team story to take down the hero who has risen too high from his hubris. (At least from Venom's perspective.) The symbiote is the jilted lover, spurned by Spider-Man once the hero discovered that his suit was alive and bonded to him. Eddie hates Peter Parker, whose journalistic integrity reveals that Eddie faked information about the Sin Eater. If I have a Venom story, I want him to be a full on villain first. If he grows into an anti-hero, so be it. But there is something cool about Venom as a villain and it isn't interesting to have him instantly want to save the world. Why does he want to save the world? Venom has his excuse that he can feed by himself here and that the other symbiotes won't pick on him. But then Eddie asks for the truth and the symbiote claims that Eddie changed his mind. That doesn't make a lick of sense based on the Eddie we see in this movie. Also, why does the movie spiral into a "save the world" film? It isn't a save-the-world film for nine-tenths of the movie. The last act is just an improbable compilation of stupid tropes tacked together to end the story in a traditional superheroic way.
But there are some cool things in the movie. I didn't hate it, remember? Bee-minus. Solid Bee-minus. That means some things actually kind of work. When Venom is Venom, he's actually really scary. I actually don't know how Spider-Man would actually beat this version of Venom. I remember reading an issue of Spider-Man during the Todd MacFarlane era, where Eddie and Peter were stuck on an island. He actually thinks that he kills Peter in that one and I remember how scary Eddie seemed in that one. I always thought that Peter Parker was completely outmatched by Eddie Brock and I like that Venom is just a tank in this movie. Also, I don't hate the snarkiness of the villain. Yeah, the humor is a bit base. I have to believe that Sony is again copying other studios' marketing formula and trying to get their own Deadpool, but Deadpool is funny and he never actually reaches that level of permeability. It just takes the edge off a very edgy movie. But that's really about it. Venom looks awesome. He's pretty scary. Some of the jokes work. That's about the nicest thing I can say about the movie. These aren't the movies that Sony should be focusing in their Spider-Man series. But I also know that they don't want to hear that they should just fold because I'm sure no one at the company wants that. I just am really tired of Sony just making these garbage pictures because they can't get a clue. Venom isn't the direction you should be taking your series. I'm reading stuff about a Morbius, the Living Vampire movie and a Kraven the Hunter movie. Just work with Marvel. They make good stuff. You make some good Tom Holland stuff, eventually Eddie Brock can get a black suit. But let it breathe. I don't need to see this extreme garbage. Let him be a scary villain. You got the look and the movement right. Just chill out on the rest.
How? This is Exhibit A for the prosecution. The MPAA is more concerned with intended audience instead of content in the film. This movie has just a lot of nudity in it. Admittedly, it's rarely full frontal, but that is there to a certain extent. There's drug use, the f-bomb, constant language, sex, gore, war violence, non-war violence and cursing the almighty. Yet, it still gets a PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Robert Zemeckis
You know what makes me want to write this even less than I wanted to before? Logging in and finding what work I've done towards it gone. I'm already going to have a cynical edge to this review, so I'm just giving the heads up now. Mr. Zemeckis, it isn't fair the tone I'm presenting to your film. I'm just writing against a clock because I've gotten all of my work done and I only have a few minutes before I start recording my podcast. My media empire is closing in on me, guys. To think, I have to give a presentation on Benedictine faith next week. Yeah, this is all giving me palpitations.
It's pretty cool for film teachers to hate Forrest Gump. There was a time in my life where I felt like I had to dunk on this movie. It is very dunkable, from a snob's perspective. Everyone who is not a snob loves this movie. It's a very lovable film. I think a lot of that comes from your opinion about nostalgia. I love nostalgia. Heck, I live for nostalgia, even if I refuse to admit it. But at least I'm open-minded to say that my nostalgia isn't the only kind that should be celebrated. (That said, I'm waiting for my Real Ghostbusters revival...again.) So it's Boomer nostalgia, perhaps the most universally accepted nostalgia. Yeah, I get tired of it. I'm already tired of writing about it, so that might say how little I get excited to see Vietnam again. But I realized while I was prepping for my paper on the visual travel narrative that I was unironically having a good time. The movie is really watchable. I shouldn't be surprised. Robert Zemeckis seems to know what he's doing and, in this, he made a really fun movie that is oddly dark as the day is long. (Now he's got me talking like him. Gosh.) I'm far from being a Forrest Gump fan. I think that the movie is still weirdly problematic and pandering. But Forrest Gump is an exercise in vulnerability. A lot of people have tried to capture Forrest Gump's sensibilities and only a few have gotten close. It is hard to be completely distanced from a protagonist who is mentally disabled. (I'm not sure of the proper term or diagnosis for Forrest. I know that he has an IQ of 76, but I really don't have enough information from this movie to go beyond that point.) He is the ultimate sympathetic character. We understand why he is treated the way he is throughout the film. The stigma of the mentally challenged is all over this movie. I know that when the movie was coming out, there were theories that Forrest was a genius and the 76 IQ was simply a misdiagnosis. I know the movie plays with that idea a bit, especially when Forrest is in boot camp. But I think that cheapens the whole thing.
Forrest and his condition provides a situation where the protagonist is allowed to be a complete innocent. Tonally, this creates a very heartwarming and watchable movie. But it is also somewhat unfair to Forrest to have him being almost unemotional. He keeps stressing that he does know what love is, but I don't really see a ton of other emotions outside of lovable goofball, even when tragedy is constantly befalling him. So we have this dynamic: reality states that Forrest should emotionally connect with a lot more than he is showing in this movie. Again, we don't have a diagnosis. But I know that every disorder has its own real world frustrations and Forrest, sadly enough, lives in a Hollywood version of disabilities. Fine. But the other end of the dynamic is that this story is allowed to be a dramedy with a character that everyone loves but doesn't know in reality. I'm thinking of Tom Hanks and his performance in this. It's a great performance. There are all these moments, but he's really just playing shades of a character. We see him get angry, but that anger always manifests itself in quick and sudden, almost-comic violence. What I'm realizing is that Forrest Gump is the one movie that thrives on a normally unacceptable "tell, don't show." Forrest constantly tells us that he loves Jenny. He shows up and is still the same awkward Forrest that we've seen throughout the story. He mentions Jenny a billion times throughout the story and the only real physical change we get with the character is the fact that he clams up pretty hard. But again, we're talking about the distance between a 4-6 on the Forrest Gump scale. This is also the truth about Bubba. Bubba is his best friend because he's physically in the same space as Forrest. But oddly enough, these relationships work. At no point do I question Forrest's devotion to Jenny nor his love for his best friend, Bubba. Heck, Bubba, on the grand scale of things, is barely in the movie. But his impact on the film is pretty noticable. The odd thing is that Forrest is most expressive with Lieutenant Dan. Is this for a narrative purpose? Is it funny because the two characters have such a dynamic juxtaposition? Again, I just reviewed Of Mice and Men not that long ago and seeing Gary Sinese pretty much repeating his character from Of Mice and Men is pretty amazing. (I just did the math and Forrest Gump actually came out after Of Mice and Men.) This is all a roundabout way of saying that Forrest Gump is a loving, charming, and innocent character that we're not exposed to in reality. I'm not saying that there aren't sweet people, but even sweet people hurt from tragedy that they experience.
I can't believe I'm going to bat for Robin Wright, but her part is much more thankless than I thought it would be. Forrest Gump takes place over the protagonists young life. While Forrest's narrative does major jumps forward, Tom Hanks has the fortune of being able to perform much of that character and get the script that really lays out how Forrest got to these places. Jenny doesn't really have that. Her narrative is jumping through history as well. But we only see Jenny at her worst. There's never that part of the story (with the exception of a glimpse of Jenny working at a diner) where Jenny seems to have gotten her life together. So from Robin Wright's perspective, Zemeckis is telling her to perform these tragic, tragic scenes on demand without any build up. Hanks has these highs and lows. He gets to pretend to be on television and meet multiple presidents. Robin Wright has to, on command, discover how her character is suicidal. It's one bleak moment to the next. It's odd to think how iconic Jenny is. Everyone knows Forrest Gump and Jenny. But Robin Wright is barely in the film. Each scene she is in is frustrating because it rarely paints Jenny in a good light. There's an odd balance of what is going on in the film. Zemeckis does a solid job establishing that Jenny's cycle of abuse and depression was sparked by an abusive father. She had a terrible life and that seems to be spiraling out of control, especially devoid of the innocent Forrest Gump. But she's often unlikable. The logical side of me knows that depression and abuse are a real thing. The emotional side of me can't help but throw her under the bus and beg her to get her life together. I think that's something that I'm not alone with. Jenny is an amazing frustrating character. She is an adult who continually makes bad decisions and Forrest keeps seeing her for the kind person that we have all ignored. That's beautiful and weirdly messed up. When Jenny can't reciprocate Forrest's love, it's because she's seeing the same person that we're all seeing. It seems abusive despite the fact that Forrest is a grown man. He acts like a child throughout the picture and Jenny loves him in what seems to be a completely platonic way. When Forrest says, "I may be stupid, but I do know what love is," Jenny is actually at the disadvantage there because she doesn't know what love is. This brings it to another problematic element in the film: Forrest Gump, Jr. Jenny marries Forrest and sleeps with him, which I suppose is fine. But I never get the vibe that Jenny is sexually attracted to Forrest. She still sees him as a child or as a brother. Jenny is a woman who has been used for her sexuality her entire life. It makes sense that her gift to Forrest is her sexuality. But Forrest and Jenny could have had this entirely sex-free life. I know it is narratively interesting to explore Forrest Gump's odd experiences with sexuality, but an important part of the movie pivots on accepting that from Jenny, someone who doesn't actually seem to understand the intricacies of love. It actually might be the muddiest part of the film that deals with a lot of taboo subjects (with the tone of a family film.)
I hate the feather. Maybe it's history looking back on this film and screaming "stupid." It's the feather and the theme song. It seems artistic and vulnerable, but it is also the cheapest part of the film. The feather, in some way, is also tied to the framing device of Forrest's narration. I'm not sure how I feel about the bus stop because of that. I will say that it is functional. We have an avatar for the viewer in the form of whomever is listening to Forrest's tale. It is also a way to establish that Forrest isn't making up his story because he has evidence in the form of a Fortune magazine cover. The narrative also gives us Forrest's unique perspective on the events we are seeing. It minimizes the darkness of some really dark scenes and it works that way. I just hate the feather. It seems so Hallmark-y. I don't love being manipulated like that and that is just cheeseball silliness. It's also odd that Forrest Gump has all these catch phrases associated with it. Does that make a movie age quicker? It has to, right? "Stupid is as stupid does" doesn't really mean anything. I want to blame the '90s for this kind of stuff. I don't know if Zemeckis was doing this intentionally. I don't want to believe that he did, but this is the era of "Don't have a cow, man!". The movie became marketable because of "Run, Forrest, Run." As a guy who has no strong feelings about the movie, those are the moments that pulled me out. Heck, I was surprised how invested I got until I was once again reminded about how life was like a box of chocolates. (That one at least makes sense.) Forrest Gump has the unfortunate cross of have to outlive history. It's a very watchable movie that has been kind of wrecked by its cultural permeation. The most memorable parts of the movie are actually kind of the roughest to watch. I'm the kind of guy who gets more into the "Fortunate Son" helicopter stuff. So much of the movie is iconic, but it's the imagery and the quotes that kind of kill the movie for me.
"That's all I have to say about that."
It's rated R. This is an exercise in repetition. Halloween II sports a bunch of absolutely awful things that are graphic. Like Halloween by Rob Zombie, the language, sex, nudity, and violence are all ramped up. This might actually make things worse, but if you watch these movies back-to-back, you start to get used to the absolutely abhorrent content. My soul is empty and I'm glad that I have a week off before the new one comes out. R.
DIRECTOR: Rob Zombie
I'm conflicted. Not about being done with the Halloween franchise for a few days. I'm jazzed about that. I feel sucked dry in terms of that. I'm torn mostly about what I actually think about this movie. In 2009, I was in my heyday for Rob Zombie. He could do no wrong and the first movie was great. I remember leaving the movie just blown away by this movie. The guy I saw it with...didn't think that. He absolutely loathed the movie. Of course he was wrong. He's not me. But then I heard that other people didn't like this movie. Well, it's weird that they were wrong too. I acknowledged that I didn't like it as much as Rob Zombie's first film, but I was just too cool resting on my laurels. I got married soon after this movie and that kind of put the kibosh on rewatching graphic horror movies often. So I was excited to watch this movie to see what everyone was talking about. Sure, I remembered horses and weird stuff in this movie, but I didn't remember much else.
I can see why everyone hates it. I didn't love the experience and I really wanted to. I always enjoy being right because...I think I always am. Halloween II is what I've always wanted out of a Halloween movie: it completely throws caution to the wind. Rob Zombie --and this is entirely from memory --only likes making sequels that are dramatically different from the first entry. He gets bored making the same movie multiple times. It's why House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects are very different films. I admire that. If you really want to want more of the same thing, just watch the original. Halloween II definitely falls under that mantra. Again, it has Rob Zombie's fingerprints all over it. He's an auteur and I can respect that. But I'm guessing that there's another level here. This feels like he's disenfranchised with the franchise. (You can put that on a tee-shirt, assuming you get the rights from me first.) Rob Zombie is a horror fan. He's a big-time horror fan. He's the dream we all have. He loves what he loves so much that he committed himself to pursuing that for the rest of his life. He knows his stuff and probably did the first Halloween because he loved it. But part of his soul had to die with that first film. John Carpenter and he didn't get along. I just read an except from an interview with Carpenter who was completely open about how much he dislikes Rob Zombie and his first film. Add to the fact that fanboys are the worst, probably complaining about how this isn't their Michael Myers. But it did way better than a lot of the sequels. I just talked about how much I love the remake. It's so good. But this movie isn't that. It's just made by a guy that made the first one and I think he really wants to end it all. This feels like a movie that he didn't want to make, so he made it into a movie that he DID want to make. That's confusing, I know. I'm going to reword that. He's going to make the best of a bad situation. If he's forced to make another Halloween movie, he's going to make it his way. And that's what this movie is. It's the first Halloween movie that says that "we shouldn't have a sequel after this." I mean, it's possible. Moutstapha Akkad had a line in his contract that you couldn't kill Michael Myers, but this burns down the whole thing in one movie. Pretty much the question would be "What if Michael Myers wasn't the MIchael Myers you knew?"
What's really weird about this movie is that it actually might be great if it wasn't named Halloween II. I don't think I realized this before so clearly, but franchises are about maintaining expectations. We talked about this with Last Jedi, but Halloween II might be a better example. People almost want the same movie over-and-over again. There have to be new set pieces, but the story has to play out as formulaically as possible. It is slow fatigue. We can handle one movie at a time. They are never as good as the original mainly because there is nothing original. (Man, I am zinging them out today. Look at me!) But new things mean new expectations. If you create something new, not only are you expected to make something good, but it has to be better than what came before. John Carpenter's movie is genius. The original Star Wars trilogy was genius. It has to be something so glorious that it blows the original out of the water. The thing that we never talk about when it comes to the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy is that it completely obliterates Tim Burton's Batman. There are people who love it because it is original and watchable, but the craftsmanship of the new trilogy is insanely good. Halloween II isn't that good. It's a good movie, don't get me wrong. I enjoy it overall. But this movie works better as an original Rob Zombie piece, not a continuation of a story. The root story is actually pretty solid. A serial killer hunts the girl who got away. The girl lives with the trauma of violence. That's cool. There's nothing that fundamentally needs Michael Myers and Laurie Strode. For once, what should have worked as a shortcut in terms of character development is actually a hindrance to the story.
Also, this movie could really offend those people who find these characters precious. I've been in that camp before. I hated Man of Steel because it wasn't Superman. I know how we get attached to fictional characters. It just happens. But this is a reboot and Michael Myers's face is almost a literal blank slate. We know that he tries to kill his family and that's still intact. He doesn't talk and he wears a mask and Zombie took that away. He still doesn't properly talk, but he does make proper noises. But I like that there's a metaphysical spiritual side to Michael's insanity. I know, it doesn't make a lick of sense, especially when Laurie gets on board. But it's something different. It's something bigger without ever being a canon thing. Instead of Zombie trying to change the mythos of Halloween, he's just changing the execution, pun intended. The entire thing looks like one of his music videos. While Zombie's music tastes may not be my cup of tea, I can appreciate the aesthetic talent that went into this movie. It looks super-dee-duper pretty (in a macabre way, of course) and that's something different. Even if you don't like this movie for story or character, it certainly isn't boring. It is brutal and gory and something that teeters on something Guillermo del Toro would make. Frankly, I like things a bit weird and Halloween II is very weird. There's this pseudo-intellectualism behind it that feels cooler than it is, though. I normally try not to dismiss things that I don't get, but I don't think that there's anything much too get outside of the superficial explanation at the beginning. I tried finding theories on Zombie's symbolism and it isn't very deep. Some things are just weird for weird's sake and that's a bit of a bummer. But it looks pretty and I can't forget that.
The thing I love about Halloween II is a look at Laurie's trauma. H20 teased this a little bit, but it was extremely tame in comparison. Again, Zombie doesn't mind making things look ugly. Laurie's trauma is upsetting and ugly. Often, she becomes the villain of the narrative. H20 had Laurie as an alcoholic, but it was a very private pain. This Laurie is making her pain everyone else's pain. I love the casting of Margot Kidder as Laurie's psychiatrist. She's great in it. I didn't actually think that would be a great part for Kidder, but knowing her history with dealing with mental health, it is so on the nose. Kidder, like McDowell's Loomis in the first one, seems to love her patient. All she sees is Laurie at her worst and there's no judgment. I love it so much. Laurie's relationships are so toxic and it is perfect. It's oddly the inverse of Michael's childhood. People care for her so much and she lashes out. Michael was neglected and he lashed out. I guess this might tie back into Carpenter's Michael. Anyone could be lost to mental health issues, but we still have Laurie as our protagonist, despite the awful things she does to her friends.
Halloween II isn't perfect. I really wanted to like it more than I did. It's good and it's even great compared to many entries in the franchise. But it doesn't live up to its predecessor and that was clearly death in this series. It took almost a decade to get another entry and its another retcon. That's a bummer, but I do appreciate what I got.
Um...the most R of all the R's. Okay, R-rated horror movies are pretty offensive to begin with. Binging the previous eight films reminded me that horror movies show constantly offensive content. Rob Zombie's Halloween cranks that up to eleven. Some of the entries seem borderline family friendly compared to this movie. So much nudity. So much on-camera violence. So much language. Like, it is almost an art how language is used in this movie. I felt more skeeved out by what people were saying than what horrors I was seeing. It's very very R.
DIRECTOR: Rob Zombie
I have a hot take! Like, it's a really hot take. It's actually shocking me a bit. Some of it might be coming off the fact that I just watched a bunch of really awful Halloween movies back-to-back. But I kind of want to say that Rob Zombie's first Halloween movie might be the best in the franchise. Yeah. I know. I love the first Halloween movie. It's one of my all time favorite scary movies. It's so good. I'm not diminishing that one. But Rob Zombie's Halloween is actually amazing. The only thing that is holding it back is that it is technically a remake of someone else's work, so it has a lighter load to carry. But that's almost like saying that a remake could never be a great movie simply because it's a remake. For the most part, there's some truth to that. But then when you think of Cronenberg's The Fly or, appropriately enough, John Carpenter's The Thing, that idea is moot. You could also say Casino Royale has technically twice been rebooted and the only good one is the last one, but that's a very different animal. But I want to defend my choice for Rob Zombie's Halloween. It's tough, because I really don't want to slag the original, which is still as terrifying as ever.
John Carpenter had a really good idea for his serial killer. I stand by that idea because he wasn't really planning for a Michael Myers franchise as far as I could tell. If anything, he was shooting for a series of Halloween themed anthology movies, which I also would have gotten behind. But his version of Michael Myers worked because of a simple concept: anyone could just be a serial killer. That's a really cool concept. The idea that a maniac is born a maniac, regardless of socioeconomic factors is truly terrifying. Look at the beginning of that first movie. Michael's house is great. He is ready to go trick-or-treating. Sure, her sister blows him off to sleep with her boyfriend, but that's all that really sets him off to becoming the insane psycho killer of most of the movies. Loomis claims that he is bred of evil and that's what drives him. But Michael Myers is just a little boy who seems to have a pretty decent life. That works...for a single movie. But that is so simple, there's not much character to explore. Michael goes into hunting his family because we are told that he does. That's the only motivation. And honestly, that gets a bit tired. We're told many times by Donald Pleasance's Dr. Loomis about his time with Michael in the mental institution. That stuff seems awesome. Rob Zombie picked up on that and realized that Michael actually needs to be a character in his own franchise. Before this point in the series, Michael was the raptors in Jurassic Park. No, not Blue. Blue is dumb. He's the tornado in Twister. He is the cold snap in The Day After Tomorrow. He's the Terminator. That's fine. That's what he needed to be for those movies. Laurie was the main character for the first two films, but then Laurie started disappearing. It's why the franchise gets life when Laurie shows up. Yes, Jamie Lee Curtis is great. I'm really looking forward to the new one with Jamie Lee Curtis. But Jamie Lee Curtis is an actual character with investment. When Laurie Strode isn't there, Michael needs to hold up the tent and an empty husk can't do that.
I know. Laurie Strode is in this movie too. But she's barely in the first act. But she's not even Laurie Strode in the first half of the film. She's Angel Myers. She's Boo. (How great that the baby's nickname is "Boo" for a movie called Halloween?) Instead, we have a much more complex Michael Myers. There's this great line that I didn't pick up on before. It's something along the lines that Michael Myers is the perfect mix of biology and nurture. What would make someone go truly insane? Michael is biologically predisposed to murder. All of those warning signs were there. But the tragedy of Michael Myers is that he was relegated to being a second class citizen by society. He is only identified as a creepy kid the day that he murders someone. He lives in a dysfunctional household and is considered a pest by the school system. The great thing, and this is truly upsetting that I'm wording it like that, is that Michael thinks he's a good kid. One of the most uncomfortable of Michael's murders is one where there is a degree of sympathy to his murder. (Okay, it's not a ton, but it is there.) He beats a kid to death. It's really upsetting, but that kid tortured him. In a Disney comedy, getting revenge on the kid who beat you up is the fun catharsis. Think of A Christmas Story. Yeah, it's like that, but only with a blunt object. He seems to love the animals he kills. He loves his mom and his sister. What Zombie crafted here was a story about a brother trying to get back to his baby sister. It's only once she rejects him that he doesn't know how to handle it. And can I tell you that the casting on young Mikey Myers is the perfect casting. Like, it doesn't get better than that. The kid who plays Mikey Myers is Daeg Faerch. I had to look that up a couple of times, but that kid crushes it. He gets every single beat. They recast him for Halloween II, I'm sure because he aged out of the part. But the second kid isn't as spot on as that. This kid is equal parts terrifying and sympathetic. He scares the crap out of me because he seems so real.
Actually, grounding the story around Michael's psychosis, among other things, is what grounds the movie. Yeah, we're in Rob Zombie world. Rob Zombie movies have a very particular aesthetic. Even though he keeps shifting the tones of his movies, they definitely have a Rob Zombie fingerprint on them somewhere. But Zombie starts with the real world for his Michael Myers. I never really feel like horror movies exist in reality. They are always in this heightened world where everyone is pretty and says stilted dialogue. All day long, teenagers are having a good time and super down for everything. There's a little bit of that in Zombie's version, but these choices are made off of long time friendships / enemy-ships. But people aren't as vapid in these movies. There's resentment and love and hate. The apathetic nature that accompanies most slasher films is missing. When someone drops the F-bomb, they never roll their eyes unless it is with intention. These are complex characters. Deborah Myers, played by Sheri Moon Zombie in her most nuanced role yet, is a paradox. She is angry and spiteful. She is a stripper who lives with an abusive maniac. Her entire family is brutally slaughtered by her son. But she still loves her son. God, there's not a moment where I don't see that in her performance. She wants to bring her son home. She's not scared by him for a moment and that probably terrifies her in itself. All she sees is this little boy who feels scared and alone. Like with all adolescence, only cranked up to a Rob Zombie Eleven, little Mikey is fading from her. She sees her aching kid and she wants to die. This is Deborah Myers, a character who is only seen in silhouette with a crane shot in the original. This was the element that was needed so badly. I'm locked into an image that absolutely crushes. I completely forgot that it was in the movie and it is just so perfect. Michael, in the original, carves up his sister and her boyfriend while wearing a satin clown suit. The suit here is plastic and the clown motif stays with Michael for these two movies. But he is given the Shatner mask in this one. A little kid with an adult head carving up his sister is terrifying.
I also love Loomis in this one. Loomis comes across as a bit of a nutbar in the other movies. The reason that he's a protagonist is that you know that he is right. But in Part 4, he makes friends with an insane preacher who also is chasing evil. That means that Loomis is as nuts as the preacher. This version of Loomis is a deeply flawed individual trying to do his best with a crappy situation. There's an odd love for Michael which Pleasance never had. Malcolm McDowell is a cool cat, so it's not easy to win me over here. But it makes sense that McDowell would view Michael as a failure. The "hell" stuff really takes a back seat. I think I remember a line referencing that stuff, but McDowell presents Loomis as a doctor who wants to treat Michael to the best of his ability. It actually makes the dynamic super cool because Micahel spent fifteen years not trying to murder Dr. Loomis. That connection is very close. I mean, that definitely shifts once Michael starts murdering everybody. But Loomis calls Michael his best friend because they see each other everyday. That's nifty. Also, this old man sitting across from disheveled Tyler Mane in a papier-mache mask is so darned effective. It's pretty terrifying. The inclusion of the masks is solid and having the hair fall in front of Michael's face makes him just seem so neglected. It's marvelous.
The only thing that falls a little flat for me is the direct remake of the original movie. I know that there are different beats for things, but Zombie almost seems locked into recreating the Carpenter original. That's what people expect. What I like about Zombie is that he's almost bored by the scary stuff. He's interested in the character stuff. Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie Strode is super fun, as is most of the casting. But this isn't really Laurie's story. I hope I'm right on this one, but this is almost the first Halloween movie from Michael's perspective. Yeah, the modernization is a thing, but the second half of the movie is just a bit too close. I've already bonded with Mikey Myers, so Laurie is really a secondary figure in this. She'll get her attention in the sequel, but Michael's development is much more interesting. This is Westworld season one. I know that the storm is a-comin', but I'm far more interested to see it on the horizon. But even the second half of the movie is great. It is very scary. Zombie gets brutality, which I'm not proud to say because it makes me seem unhinged. It's not easy. Zombie embraces the ugliness of violence. It is uncomfortable to watch, but that's kind of the point. Death isn't casual ever in this movie. The previous entries have victims left and right, but there's such a lack of struggle or reality. Zombie removes all pretence when his characters are being hunted. There's a desperation there and, I suppose this should be in every movie, the characters have to act more right before their deaths. They don't go limp. They fight and cry and embarrass themselves. It's pretty great.
The one dynamic that shifts in this one is that Laurie is revealed to be Michael's sister in this one. Laurie doesn't find that out, but it does make watching this movie with that knowledge all the better. You could always go back and watch Carpenter's entry into the series with that knowledge, but it is always a bit forced. But that knowledge, revealed by Brad Dourif, makes the movie so much heavier. I like that there's a backstory of how Laurie got there. I mean, it makes little sense that she would be living in Haddonfield without any knowledge. But Zombie plants a pretty credible backstory attaching her to both Dourif's character and the town. It's great. But I do want to mention Dourif while I have the chance. Dourif is one part of a perfect casting job. It's me fanboying out a bit, but Zombie pulled in his crew. These are some straight up staples of both Zombie's works and cult cinema in general. Danny Trejo takes the cake for best casting. I love him in this movie. He's such a warm character compared to what I'm used to seeing from him. It's great that he's a horror vet, but there's some acting chops at work here. Similarly, a small part for Sid Haig and Udo Kier are just wonderful. It's so fun seeing McDowell across from these actors. Also, let's just comment on McDowell as Loomis. McDowell is the right level of cultural permeability. He's a talented actor who does weird stuff. I love that. Points all around.
I know many people will disagree with me on this movie. It does fundamentally change things that people consider precious, but that's what the franchise needed. It's such a breath of fresh, if not disturbing, air, I knew that I liked it before, but this movie is much better than I remember it being.
For a video game adaptation, it ain't bad. For a respectful understanding of Catholicism, it's abhorrent. Regardless, the two guys discuss the ups and downs of Netflix's Castlevania Season One.
I don't want to be that guy, but I have to say it. This movie is rated R for "RRRRReally stupid." It's got a lot of the Michael Myers tropes going on. There's nudity, language (mostly "mf" by Busta Rhymes), and just violence always. I'm giving a warning that it is not as gory or intense as the upcoming Halloween remake by Rob Zombie, but most of this movie is the same level of offensiveness as the previous entries. R.
DIRECTOR: Rick Rosenthal
How? How do you make this movie immediately after Halloween H20? They reset things! I'm thinking about another offender in the reboot camp, Quantum of Solace. James Bond had just successfully retconned a lot of the series with a soft / hard reboot and been amazing with Casino Royale. Quantum of Solace wasn't as good. There was a writers' strike, but that movie is still at least pretty functional. Halloween: Resurrection might be the most unforgivable of the entire franchise. It had everyone's goodwill behind it and then just threw it away. It's not the most unwatchable of the series, but there were choices made in this movie that are just unforgivable. While I still think that The Curse of Michael Myers is the hardest to watch, there's something adorable in the fact that everyone tried really hard to make that movie. Halloween: Resurrection is first credited as a comedy on IMDB and that's where things get phenomenally stupid.
It's weird that Rick Rosenthal directed this. He directed the pretty adequate Halloween II. It's not an amazing movie, but it is a very functional entry into the franchise. Heck, it introduced that Laurie Strode was Michael's sister. That's something. But then Halloween: Resurrection was coming out during the dying breaths (pun intended) of the horror movie craze. As such, it was trying to capitalize on whatever it could. We had saturated the Blockbuster shelves with Scream clones and people were pretty much starting to get fed up with teen horror. This might have put the nail in the coffin for this era because it just feels like the biggest cash grab I've seen. It had this opportunity to take a risk. It saw that Blair Witch had been this game changer. It was the first mass found footage movie and Halloween wanted to do something of its own with that. But it was lazy. Man alive, it was lazy. The thing about found footage films is that they have to be crafted kind of well and depend a lot on luck. There's a reason why the Paranormal Activity movies are extremely hit or miss in the series. They don't always work. But this is Michael Myers we're talking about. This is Halloween. Low res killing doesn't work for Michael Myers. So instead, the folks behind Resurrection wanted to have their cake and eat it too. They decided to make a traditional Halloween third person cinematic experience while also presenting a found footage movie. The massive obvious problem with that is that it doesn't really give us a good experience on either front, but especially not in the found footage arena. The reason that found footage kind of works is the attempt at an aesthetic in reality. Even Cloverfield, which never claims to be based in reality, is scary because it looks like something that you or I could have made. But the found footage element (which isn't even found footage really, but a commentary on reality programming) just screams, "You liked Blair Witch, didn't you? Like me!" No, I refuse. The found footage stuff is the least scary element of the film and perhaps the least effective use of found footage that I've seen.
MAJOR SPOILERS: I need to discuss the mishandling of Laurie Strode. I know that a lot of this falls on Jamie Lee Curtis's shoulders. She had left the role a long time ago, but there were contract problems with killing off Michael Myers. From what I read, Michael Myers was contractually required to survive every movie. Jamie Lee Curtis came back to do H20 so she could put the final nail in the coffin for Michael Myers. That creates a problem. Jamie Lee Curtis didn't want to come back and keep playing Laurie Strode, understandably-despite-the-fact-that-the-new-one-opens-Friday. So to do that, Michael had to kill Laurie. Jamie Lee Curtis didn't want any ambiguity that Laurie was dead, so the first fifteen minutes of this garbage movie has Laurie Strode losing in a battle to Michael Myers. Yeah, there are elements of cool. Laurie has a pretty rad trap set for Michael and it works to a certain extent. But then she does something so fundamentally dumb that it doesn't feel like the character. Remember, Laurie has to lose. So she has to warp her character to make that happen. That's frustrating. Comic books do that a lot. If a character has to wipe out other heroes, those other heroes start acting like idiots. The same deal happened here. (I'm listening to the soundtrack for the film and Laurie's death just happened.) It's so weird when contractual stuff affects narrative. Where's the free reign? There should be tons of stuff that could be done, but because an actor disagrees with a producer, the narrative goes down the tubes? I didn't need to know what happened to Laurie. Yeah, another story of Laurie versus Michael might have had some legs, but a narrative shift isn't always impossible. Also, if the central concept is that that Michael is hunting down his family, what about Laurie's kid? Josh Hartnett wasn't available anymore? I mean, I don't blame him, but that's a pretty huge plothole. This movie almost stresses that Michael Myers doesn't really have a purpose without the Strode family. By taking the Strodes off the board, it becomes painfully aware that Michael is now just Jason, killing teenagers because he can. This is another entry that tries to establish that the house is important to Michael. So it forces people into the house...
Boy, forcing people into Michael Myers's house has never been so hamfisted. It's really bad. The people of Haddonfield now have a criminally short memory. Remember, Michael Myers is on the loose according to the last film. I know, he hasn't been to Haddonfield that many times in this timeline. But there is a nationwide manhunt for a serial killer and they just send teenagers into the house? Not much time has passed between H20 and Resurrection. How did they get permits? (Maybe they didn't. The movie kind of implies that there's something rink-a-dink about this whole outfit.) But this introduces the most problematic character in almost all of horror history: Busta Rhymes's Freddie Harris. I think he might be the most polarizing element of this film. I can see some people having a really good time with such a silly character woven into the fabric of a series that really hasn't been laughing at itself so far. I see him as Jar-Jarish because it is absolutely absurd having him in the narrative. Was this movie entirely based on the idea that Busta Rhymes wanted to beat up Michael Myers using kung-fu? Freddie Harris watches kung-fu movies in his apartment. It's a stupid, but mildly tolerable, joke that Frankie Harris tries to use his kung fu skills that he learned off of TV to fight the scariest serial killer ever. But then he starts winning. Like, he actually beats up Michael Myers pretty bad. He actually kind of beats him before MIchael re-establishes the status quo. Okay, that's a little forgivable. But then Freddie becomes the hero of the piece. There's a female character that seems to have autonomy, but Freddie has to save her time and time again. Remember, Freddie caused almost all of the problems involved in the story. But I can't help but think that because the part is played by Busta Rhymes, Freddie becomes the hero of the story. I thought Bianca Kajlich was the hero of the piece. Why is she always being rescued?
This movie dates itself harder than I could ever imagine. Tonally, it is the least woke movie I've ever seen. We have a costume from a main character that is an example of cultural appropriation. The movie comments on reality TV in a way that is completely devoid of actually making a comment. (It says how silly reality television is, but thinks its awesome.) Then there's the palm pilot texting. There's a side character who is the male love interest that is fundamentally gross. It's the example of the "good guy" liar character. He is lying about his age and his relationship with the main character. That's super problematic. But then he texts her on her palm pilot. Why doesn't he go over and try to help? There are lots of people who could have handled to the texting. Then, the texts crawl like molasses for effect. Every letter slowly fades in that he's typing at lightning fast speeds. He can make it go fast. He bolds and all-capses "GO NOW", but lets the important details just crawl by. I don't think there was any attempt to make this movie timeless. Yes, John Carpenter's Halloween looks like a movie from the '70s, but it feels outside of time. That movie is still scary and there's not a bunch of moments that are trying to capitalize on fads. This movie just stares at the screen and tries to break the fourth wall whenever it can. I don't think I've seen a self-aware entry in the franchise like this. Tyra Banks is fine. She's great even, but does she add anything to the narrative? I get it, she is a reality star and model. But why is Michael Myers even involved in this? It's his house. That's it. There's no personal relationship between the characters and the killer. There has to be something. I feel like everyone in that house is just fodder for Michael. Even the main character is pretty vapid. I want to root for Katee Sackhoff in this one! I really do. But she doesn't really add much to the mix. We're hitting a series of tropes and running gags that don't really deliver. Any attempt to make characters well rounded is abandoned and everything just kind of comes off as silly.
This movie almost made me mad. This was the only one I hadn't seen (I think. It may have just been really forgettable) and I was kind of looking forward to seeing something fresh. But this movie is just hot trash and I know that people warned me about it. It's rushed and dumb. There are no moments that really make me appreciate anything about it. Michael Myers is more vapid and stupid because of this movie and there's no excuse.
Rated R, for a lot of stuff except for nudity. Mind you, LL Cool J is an erotic novelist, which oddly might be even more awkward than ignoring a sex scene. It's oddly charming, which is a horrible thing to say, but it is in the movie. Also, Michael Myers murders a bunch of kids. I should mention that. This is where gore effects actually get pretty impressive. If you aren't okay with compound fractures, maybe steer clear.
DIRECTOR: Steve Miner
I have all kinds of hooks. A good hook not only grabs a readers attention, but also provides a throughline. A good hook, from Michael Myers's perspective, is to murder kids, preferably ones that are related to him. There's just so much I want to say when it comes to Halloween H20, the worst named movie in the franchise. I get it. 20 years. Halloween...but twenty years later. But we're all thinking that it's Halloween Water, a fun and refreshing drink that one enjoys while trick-or-treating. But this was the movie that got me into the Halloween franchise. I was fifteen when this came out. Scream changed everything for me and Dimension Films ruled the schoolyard. (Oh geez, is the same thing going to happen to Blumhouse?) I saw this movie a whole bunch of times when I was a kid, but never in order of the franchise. What I didn't know was that H20 was going to be the first movie to do a massive retcon. Let's be honest, the rest of the series liked playing with retcons. But these retcons were minor and typical. H20, I never realized, was a full-on retcon of the events of 4, 5, and 6. They undid Jamie, Laurie Strode's daughter. They oddly kept the faking one's death in a car accident, but it decided to retcon a ton of information. We're used to reboots and soft reboots now. Jurassic World made sure of that. But H20 just decided to say that this is the second story involving Michael Myers.
I can't really blame them. I mean, 4-6 are pretty awful. I mean, The Curse of Michael Myers alone makes the movie extremely difficult to sequelize. (I read a Wiki establishing that Halloween comic books sequelized that trilogy and kept Laurie Strode as a headmistress at a school. Is it weird that I want to read a comic book sequel to a trilogy that I didn't care for? Also, there were talks to bring back Jamie for Resurrection. I have no idea how that would have worked.) It really does change the dynamic, resetting and all. I don't know if it is a perfect answer. I mean, we're about to cross that bridge again with the David Gordon Greene's version of Halloween, but what does that actually change. (Also, we should start titling these movies after the director that makes the movie. John Carpenter's Halloween, Rob Zombie's Halloween, David Gordon Greene's Halloween, etc.) I like that the focus is again on Laurie Strode. Unlike other series with the exception of the first four Alien movies, we really don't get to see the focus on a character acting as a throughline. I know that Heather Langenkamp appears in multiple Nightmare on Elm Street entries, but Laurie Strode is vital to the series. Jamie Lee Curtis reappearing for this movie does something amazing for the entire franchise. This movie is the right amount of fresh that a seventh movie in the series needs. Throughout the movies, I've been whining about how nothing really feels new or things feel just stupid and new. H20, bad title included, solves that problem. It reintroduces something classic while changing the dynamics of the entire series. Part of that can be chalked up to the Scream franchise (which I now have a desire to rewatch.) Kevin Williamson even co-executive produced this movie, so you can feel the influence on the movie as a whole. I'm losing my threads, but I do want to talk about treating this movie as something special. Let me go back to Jamie Lee Curtis. Jamie Lee Curtis's Laurie Strode gives us the emotional ties to the original series, but the worn and exhausted Haddonfield gets a break. I never understood why people lived in Haddonfield or weren't more cautious about Halloween. But Michael didn't have any ties to the house, despite how many times that the series told us that Michael's house was important. There's that scene in The Revenge of Michael Myers where Loomis brings Jamie back to the house, but that was really forced. There didn't seem to be much of a plan. But Michael's drive was always about his family. Laurie Strode is his family as is his new cousin-once-removed (?). A school is a great new dynamic. Rather than forcing separate locations like the previous entries did, we really get just a focused narrative of Michael stalking his prey. It's not absolute. The beginning with baby Joseph Gordon Levitt reminds us that we have to have a scare pretty early. But there are structural parallels between the original Halloween and this one.
And that's what makes the movie special! (See, I brought it back!) This movie is patient. As part of the whole sequelitis of the other films, Michael Myers always had to amp up his game. Halloween: Resurrection won't learn from the past, but I'll talk about that tomorrow hopefully. (I just collected a stack of papers and I need to read 80 pages of Oronooko.) This movie has deaths, to be sure. But Michael is making the same slow trip from one place and closing in on Laurie Strode. We have the misleads and the stalking all over again. I think the creepiest things about the first movie is Michael just standing among laundry. If you've seen the first movie, you know what I'm talking about. This movie doesn't get any exactly iconic moments like that, but it has the same heart as the first one. We get a lot of Laurie questioning her reality. The walls close in. I don't love that they made her an alcoholic. I don't think the payoff is as strong as they want it to be with that. The filmmakers wanted to show that she was broken since her initial encounter with her brother, but it is very hamfisted. Again, I'm playing devil's advocate (kind of pun intended). The great thing about the Halloween movies is that they are tight and short films. We have been removed from Laurie Strode for about 20 years. That's not accurate because Halloween II is in the early '80s. But you get what I'm saying. There's a lot of catch-up that we need to do with the character and alcoholism is kind of a shortcut. It's a necessary evil (pun intended) and I guess we have to accept that. But the rest of the movie is crafted like we should care. This doesn't just feel like another entry in the franchise. There's nothing really all that corny about Michael Myers and the movie dares to have a little bit of fun while terrorizing its victims. I mean, look at the choices in this movie. It has jokes that are actually funny. The LL Cool J stuff is pretty great. I don't necessarily love the dynamics of the rich white kids pushing around the black security guard, but I'm going to move past that because J doesn't seem to mind too much. But then there's Janet Leigh is in this movie and has tons of scenes with Jamie Lee Curtis. I'm going to go film teacher for this one. Janet Leigh is Jamie Lee Curtis's biological mother. They have both earned the mantel of "Scream Queens". Janet Leigh was one of the main characters in Psycho. Having scenes together. Giving Leigh the original car from Psycho. John Ottman integrating the Psycho score. How great is all of that. Also, apparently John Ottman is the guy you hire when you need to rearrange someone else's iconic scores.
Halloween H20 isn't perfect. It is a little dated, as are many of the entries in the series. But I also love how much it seems to love Halloween. Sure, the mask keeps on changing and looks goofy even in the best of times. There are some really goofy moments and Josh Hartnett has moments that don't really land. But it also was a breath of fresh air in the series in a series that was really becoming a bit of a chore. Michael Myers is scary again. Sure, I'm now more flummoxed by how smart he can sometimes be and how he lowers himself from very short ceilings, but the faults don't stop an overall solid entry in the franchise from succeeding.
Seriously. Michael Myers at one point does some investigating and complex geolocation. It's really weird.
Oh, they were trying to capitalize on the horror boom of the '90s. This movie has some money thrown at it because we get a lot more on-camera deaths. They are super gory. Like, over the top. There's nudity and sex. We've now introduced demonic cults and just the grossest gloop that comes out of someone's head that is pulverized. I'm sure people swear too, but don't hold me to that.
DIRECTOR: Joe Chappelle
Look at baby Paul Rudd! He's Paul Steven Rudd in this one! Aw, c'mon. He's playing all moody and angsty. He's straight up in a horror movie not as the comic relief. Aw man, I just want to have an entire review discussing how young Paul Rudd is in this movie and how he isn't at all like Paul Rudd in any other movie he'll ever be in. That's something. If you get nothing else, you get to see Paul Rudd's start and that's something in itself.
Okay, this might be the most '90s horror sequel in the world. I was complaining about Halloween 4 and Halloween 5 for being too '80s. Then 1995 brings The Curse of Michael Myers and I can't even. Guys, my nostalgia card got punched across the board. Does that make this a good movie? Nope, quite the opposite. Aw man, The Curse of Michael Myers is everything that is wrong with '90s horror. Listen, I loved horror in the '90s. If anything, this is when I learned to love horror movies. But it was an opportunistic time. Things had to get more extreme. If you don't think that this movie is opportunistic and entrenched in the '90s, there's a Beavis and Butthead imitation at one point. The thing that horror movie sequels in the '90s did was try to enrich the mythology with absolutely absurd demonology. It's so stark compared to the rest of the franchise because the other movies do so little to explain. This movie spends the entire movie trying to explain Michael Myers. LET'S CALL SPOILERS because this movie is absurd. You don't have to watch it and I might just be saving you some time. I also really want to discuss how insane this movie tried getting in such a short amount of time. The previous films have Michael Myers, who happens to be pretty unkillable, going to kill people in Haddonfield as he tries killing family members. It's never formally explained why Michael is unkillable. Loomis loves using hyperbole, establishing that Hell won't accept Michael, but that's as close to mythology as we get. Then comes this movie that tries explaining everything about Michael. Hardcore fans, I apologize if I misinterpret a remarkably complex idea. Michael is the evil that has to be unleashed on Halloween as a sacrifice. He sacrifices his family to bring everyone else prosperity. He has been imbued with the mark of the thorn, which has a constellation that is in the sky every Halloween. There's an evil cult, that has been sending Michael out into the world to bring them prosperity. They now want Michael's grand-niece, the daughter of Jamie, to either act as a sacrifice for Michael or to be the ultimate killer beyond Michael. Tommy Doyle, the kid who was babysat by Laurie Strode, discovered all of this when he was traumatized as a child. Boy, that got complex and I'm sure I didn't even get it all. What happened? Why were the '90s so obsessed with having demon cults and deep origin stories for characters that should ultimately have been pretty simple?
Like, I really could cut together a Dimension Films trailer out of this movie. It hits all of the hallmarks of '90s horror. The beginning of the movie has Jamie going into labor. There are pipes all around and steam. The film has been saturated with blue and it's shot with dutch angles. Instead of seemless transitions, many many cuts are shots of someone screaming with a knife wielding foley effect. There's people with candles and robes. The Halloween theme is done on electric guitar. Much of the running is scored with electric guitar riffs. Holey moley. Like, I love the clothing and the slang, but the actual filmmaking techniques of the '90s were just too much. This whole movie is too much. Also, I'm really confused about the timeline for Halloween at this point. It is so weird. Jamie is killed horribly in this movie. Like, she gets ripped apart by farming equipment. Okay, but remember, she was just a kid in the last movie. When you binge this movie, you see Jamie for two movies as this little kid who survives Michael Myers. Then she's eviscerated in the first fifteen minutes of the next movie. That's a choice. Also, we have that problem that this series has had about ignoring the setup from the last movie. The last movie ended with Jason ripping apart a police station and implying that he will continue coming after now. Now she's a young adult and what happened in that time? Geez, there's stuff going on. (Also, '90s Internet in movies is hilarious.) Then, the movie spends a lot of time focusing on a '90s shock jock. Was the movie trying to be self-referential? There's no way Joe Chappelle was that aware of his place in history.
WHY WOULD ANYONE LIVE IN HADDONFIELD? I know, the excuse given in the movie is that real estate prices are insane. But the STRODES moved into the MYERS house. Soak that up. Mr. Strode, a Tom Wilson type who is evil, says that he couldn't sell that house. But c'mon. C'mon. There is this insane awareness of the Myers house in that town. Every other movie points out that the Myers house is demonized. The idea that the Strode family wouldn't know about the house that the Myers owned, but everyone else in town would know is absurd. Like, everyone knew in grade school that Jamie was Michael Myers's niece. How does the entire family who lives in the Myers house not know the history of the house? This is part of the entire attitude that throws everything into the blender. There are way too many elements to this movie and none of them are important. The Strodes moving into the Myers house doesn't really contribute to the story. The fact that they are the Strodes doesn't really play into it. We have this adult daughter who moved back into her abusive father's house that doesn't really play into the narrative. She has a kid. This isn't important to the story, but it just places a kid in danger like Jurassic Park III. Heck, Dr. Loomis doesn't really even need to be in this movie because Tommy Doyle acts as Dr. Loomis in this one. It's like we have two Dr. Loomises. Secretly (or not-so-secretly), I like the idea of Tommy Doyle being the new Dr. Loomis. It's a clever tie to the original story. But the actual information he contributes is so over-the-top dumb that I couldn't handle it.
There's a reason that no one really likes this movie. I'm sure that there are fans out there, but this movie is rough. Like, really rough. I'm glad its over because I have H20 to look forward to. But regardless, I wish I wasn't watching these for a podcast. I'm so tired of this stuff.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.