The house is getting a warmer, so the Snuggie comes off. Maybe I should put some pants on. Naaaah…
As his motives become somewhat clearer, I am still left with the nagging question: Why is Michael Myers immortal? The other two horror super-franchises, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street make no bones (pun intended)(not really a pun) about their villains (heroes?) being of the supernatural realm. But Michael Myers is supposed to be a simple, flesh-and-blood serial killer. As of now, he has at least ten bullets in his torso, and two fired right through the eye holes of his mask. And he definitely bleeds. What’s going on here?
1:50 pm. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988). The coffee has long since been consumed, and I pry the first twist-top off a Bud Light Golden Wheat. (I keep trying to interest Anheuser-Busch in my tagline for this product: “The Cadillac of Shitty Beers.” I haven’t heard back from them yet.)
The swtich from Roman numerals to our more familiar Arabic numerals in the official title indicates our return to the familiar territory of Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis. No Laurie Strode, though. Jamie Lee Curtis was busy making one of my all-time favorite movies, A Fish Called Wanda. It would have been nice to have her, but she clearly made the right choice. Her character is killed off in an unspecified accident about a year before the events of 4, along with the husband she must have married right out of high school. (I suspect it’s supposed to be Lance Guest’s EMT character, Jimmy, who flirted with her in II.) Laurie’s eight-year-old daughter, Jamie Lloyd (daughter of “Jimmy”?), is adopted by the Carruthers family, and becomes the sister of Rachel Carruthers.
Rachel is played by Ellie Cornell, and manages a performance of wit and toughness almost equal to Curtis in the original. She is, however, outshined by Danielle Harris as Jamie. Harris is pretty extraordinary for a child actress, and really gets put through the wringer in this flick, but is never over-precocious or unnatural. Pleasence once again hams it up delightfully (he usually takes about three syllables to say his favorite word, “eeee-vy-il.”) Non-John Carpenter-related work appears to have dried up for Pleasence, so now instead of shamefacedly slumming in quick-cash slasher flicks between Shakespeare engagements, he appears to have made the Halloween franchise the centerpiece of his career.
2:30 pm. I fix a ham sandwich in honor of Donald Pleasence.
The hellish immolation of Myers and Loomis at the end of Halloween II ten years before is dismissed in the first five minutes as both of them “almost dying” in a fire. Loomis now has a bit of scarring and a limp. Myers has been in a coma under heavy guard. Naturally, he wakes up. With amazing navigational and driving skill for someone who has spent most of his life locked in asylums or comatose, he comes after his lone remaining family member — his niece Jamie. Although it has none of the atmosphere and subtlety of the first film, it also keeps the gore at a pretty tame level. The deaths here are actually milder than a Stallone or Schwarzenegger action flick of the same era. The movie is not good, but after Halloween III it seems like Citizen Kane. Rachel acts as a valiant protector of her adopted sister Jamie, and Michael Myers gets another “death” in a hail of gunfire (and another sheriff’s daughter gets offed in the process.) In a little epilogue just before the credits, it seems Jamie has inherited her uncle’s murderous tendencies.
3:28 pm. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989). Remember when they used to call empty beer bottles “dead soldiers”? Well, I’ve got three dead soldiers on the floor next to the couch, and a fourth about to fold under my enhanced interrogation techniques. Myers survives his most recent death and appears to have established a telepathic bond with Jamie. Jamie has been thoroughly and understandably traumatized by the events of 4, and after a (failed) Myers-style knife attack on her adoptive mother, now lives full-time in a children’s clinic, experiencing nightmares, seizures, and a total loss of speaking ability. Rachel and her “free spirited” sidekick Tina visit her frequently. (Lots of hairspray and dangly bracelets = zany free-spirit in 80’s movies.) In a move that’s pretty shocking, when Myers hits Haddonfield again one of his first victims is — Rachel. The smart, intrepid heroine of 4 is scissored to death in the first fifteen minutes of 5. Bummer. But in making Myers’ victims someone the audience cares about rather than the typical random stupid teen of the run-of-the-mill slasher movie, there’s some added gravitas that raises the Halloween movies a little above their contemporaries.
When Rachel meets her demise, the scream-queen torch is passed to wacky Tina for no logical reason, but Tina does not survive the film, either (she nobly sacrifices herself so Jamie can escape.) Pleasence has moved beyond merely chewing the scenery and is now devouring it in great slabs. “I prayed that he would burn in Hell. But in my heart, I knew that Hell would not have him!!” is a typical Loomis line, delivered with spittle-emitting intensity. One of the Jackass Boyfriends is supposed to be a brooding, dangerous punk, but dresses exactly like the Fonz. (Horror movie creators are oddly old-fashioned at times.) The killings come quicker in the later sequels. Fonzie is dispatched with a gardening implement five minutes after being introduced. Ayyyy!
5 feels a little more thought-out and less slapdash than 4, but maybe that’s the beer talking. It’s still not within shouting distance of actual quality, or anything I would watch if I hadn’t decided to do this little challenge. But there seems to be a modicum of directorial skill utilized by Dominique Othenin-Girard (yes, the same auteur who gave us The Omen IV). Like Laurie Strode, Jamie actually attempts to exit buildings where horrible things are happening (although she still runs in a straight line directly in front of a car trying to mow her down.) In the minus column, Halloween 5 has more fake jump-scares than the previous four put together, but the beer (is it five now, or six?) has made me a little logy, and I don’t jump like I’m supposed to. I merely blink and shift slightly. I notice, too, that Myers hates dogs as much as he hates his female relatives. The body count for our canine furry friends stands at three for the series (so far.) We get repeated shots of a symbol tattooed on Myers’ wrist. And a mysterious Man In Black pops up to cause a little extra mayhem every so often. I assume these will be explained in the next installment…
Loomis is using Jamie as bait to lure Myers to the old Myers house…
5:45 pm. Oops. Appear to have dozed off a little there. I’ll have to re-watch the last ten minutes of 5. Beer has been eliminated (definitely six, then.) Time for gin-and-tonics.
Chase through the old house. Repeated narrow escapes for our heroine. Myers is captured. The Man In Black’s final trick is to launch an all-out assault on the sheriff’s office where Myers is being held, blasting every deputy within range, Terminator-style. We end with a shot of Jamie staring mournfully at the empty cell.
6:07 pm. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995). My delicious g-&-t gives me a second wind, and I’m in the home stretch. No “6” in the title, as that was beginning to look faintly ridiculous and smacked of 80’s-style sequel-numbering. This was a new decade! Loomis is now a hunched, bearded, broken old man, “very much retired.” The little boy who Laurie Strode was babysitting when the shit went down in the first Halloween, Tommy Doyle, is now a weirdo recluse, obsessed with “solving” the Myers mystery. He’s played by Paul Rudd, “introduced” in the credits as “Paul Stephen Rudd.” Doyle also happens to be an expert in ancient runes, and we’re soon aware that the symbol on Myers’ wrist is the Celtic rune of “Thorn.”
The screenwriters’ knowledge of past Halloween films is not as extensive as the Holy Bee’s at this point, because they play pretty fast and loose with Haddonfield history. Or maybe it’s because they’re just lazy and assume the target audience will not really care. The sheriff’s office bloodbath at the end of 5 has been turned into an “explosion” that took out both Myers and Jamie. Myers has also killed his “entire” family, according to the paragraphs and paragraphs of expositional dialogue rattled off by the characters. (The writers have also never heard the filmmaking adage “showing is better than telling”.) Uh, no. Even though he may have been blamed for the “explosion” responsible for Jamie’s disappearance, it’s still just older sister Judith by my count, plus about two dozen random teenagers, cops, and medical staff (and mechanics who have the bad luck of having coveralls in Michael’s size.)
But Jamie is not dead. Both she and her uncle Michael are kept in captivity by the mysterious Man In Black. The fifteen-year-old Jamie has been impregnated, and the resulting baby is intended to be used by the Man In Black for some nefarious purpose. Jamie and the baby escape, with Myers hot on their heels. And, like the plucky Rachel Carruthers of Halloween 4, a resilient heroine that the audience has really come to like meets a grisly fate: Myers finally catches up to Jamie, and she is impaled on a corn thresher in the film’s first twenty minutes. Via a sequence of events too stupid to go through, the baby ends up in the care of Tommy Doyle, Myers is hunting it, and Loomis is out of retirement and hunting Myers.
After a six-year ban, Halloween is making a comeback in Haddonfield. The old Myers house is now occupied by — the Strodes. The family of Laurie’s adoptive father’s brother. (Is everyone out there in Holy Bee Land following this OK?) And they have a plucky college-age daughter named Kara Strode (better not get attached to her), who in turn has a six-year-old son, who has nightmares about a Man In Black…
6:51 pm. Crap. Nodded off again. OK, admittedly things are getting a little fuzzy right about now. The “second wind” is depleted, and my contact lenses have turned into that gummy fake-booger stuff on the back of mailing labels. Focus!
Ah, all is explained: The Man In Black is the leader of a Celtic cult who must make sacrifices for Samhain (remember III?). According to some ritual bullshitted up by the writers, in ancient times, to keep the village alive, an entire family must be sacrificed by a cursed child. Back in ’63, the cult got hold of little Michael and, using some old runic magic, “cursed” him by imbuing him with superhuman powers and programming him to kill his family. He doesn’t pull it off in all the attempts we’ve sat through so far, but there’s no “off” switch on the programming, so he’ll just keep going and going, Energizer Bunny-style, until his mission is accomplished. Now the “Cult of Thorn” is trying again with a new child, either Kara’s son Danny or Jamie’s infant son, not quite sure…
7:58 pm. Dammit! Face-down on the couch again! Take out contacts, wipe away nap-drool and rewind…
Curse ends with a limp climax and chase in Smith’s Grove Insane Asylum (Myers’ home from 1963 to ’78). While Tommy, Kara, Danny, and the infant escape, it is implied with an off-screen scream just before the credits roll that Loomis finally meets his end at the hands of Myers, who is of course still alive. (Loomis, at least, certainly won’t return for Part 7. Donald Pleasence died shortly after filming, and by the looks of him, may have died during filming, and completed his scenes thanks to an elaborate Weekend At Bernie’s-style charade put on by the special effects department.)
8:45 pm. Halloween: H20 (1998) comes along and COMPLETELY TOSSES OUT ALL THE EVENTS OF PARTS 4, 5 and 6! It’s like they never happened. Michael Myers has been considered dead for twenty years (even though it’s clearly mentioned early on that a body was never found, and that Loomis died only “a few years back,” so obviously the fire was survivable.) I would expect brain-dead horseshit like that from the Friday the 13th series, but I always figured Halloween to operate with at least a little bit of internal logic. And it’s not like the events of 4-6 would have had an enormous impact on this story. With a few minor script tweaks it could have been acknowledged and then the movies would have a complete narrative arc. And there’s minor details that make the whole thing seem careless, like Strode’s old class picture labeled “Class of ’78.” Well, geniuses, if Laurie was a senior on Halloween, that would make her Class of ’79. Again, small details, but just goes to show how little effort they were putting into it at this point. It all combines to piss me off so much, I almost want to abandon it. But no. Onward. I’ve come so far…
9:26 pm. Out of limes. I can’t have a gin-and-tonic without limes. I should have planned better.
Laurie Strode is not dead, but living under the assumed name “Keri Tate” and working as the head-mistress of an isolated private school in the hills of California. She has a teenage son (played by master thespian Josh Hartnett, “introduced” in the credits and sporting hair that looks like the result of a paste-eating five-year-old’s attempt to give himself a haircut with a pair of dull “lefty” scissors.) Strode/Tate lives in constant fear that Myers did not die in that hospital fire back in ’78. And evidently, someone somewhere along the line said aloud, “You know what this movie needs? LL Cool J.”
9:40 pm. I go ahead and make a limeless gin-and-tonic, feeling like a railroad hobo. I might as well be eating chili out of a can.
Well, guess what? Michael Myers did not die in that hospital fire (where he’s been cooling his heels for two goddamn decades is unexplained), he tracks down Strode/Tate to her isolated school on Halloween night, and the usual tiresome shenanigans ensue, with Strode’s son’s friends as the semi-anonymous victims. The big opportunity of getting Curtis back into the franchise and possibly doing something clever or unique is totally wasted. It’s a completely by-the-numbers, generic slasher movie. Myers ends up getting totally decapitated in this one, kids, so that’s quite a pickle for him to get out of. And speaking of pickles, I’m now out of gin.
10:27 pm. Halloween: Resurrection (2002). Getting chilly in here again. Back on with the Snuggie. And bless my socks and garters, is that a bottle of peppermint schnapps in the back of the cupboard? A little more Christmassy than Halloweeny (in fact, it’s left over from last Christmas, and getting crusty around the top), but when in Rome…(wait, that doesn’t mean anything in this case.)
And we kick off with one of the biggest laughs of the whole day. You know who gets top billing in Halloween: Resurrection? Busta Rhymes! I. Shit. You. Not. I guess Tone Loc was busy that week. And it’s too bad Ol’ Dirty Bastard is dead, or he might have got an above-the-title credit. Jamie Lee Curtis is reduced to an “and” credit at the end of the cast list. Anyway, Michael Myers had cleverly slipped his mask onto someone else at the end of H20, resulting in the wrong person being decapitated. Laurie Strode has spent the last three years (seemingly) catatonic in a mental institution, but really she’s been waiting for her brother’s inevitable return. He does, and in the tradition of Rachel Carruthers and Jamie Lloyd, Laurie Strode — our original heroine — does not make it past the fifteen-minute mark. (That explains the dismissive “and” credit.)
11:23 pm. Schnapps makes my words sound funny. Schnapps! Is it my voice or the words? Schnapps! Oh, yeah, the movie. Garbage. Heh. Garrrrrrrrrrrr-bidge. The new heroine, Sara, sucks in the way that everyone born after 1984 sucks: She’s a shallow, vapid dimwit. Even though she’s supposed to be “different” than her peers (who are, indeed, horrible), with every flat, squeaky Gen-Y syllable that comes out of her idiot mouth, she reveals otherwise. I actively root for her hideous demise. Oh Rachel, I miss you so much…
Face numb. Urine clear. Dizzy. Almost done.
The shaky premise of Resurrection: six college students participate in Busta’s live Internet reality show set in the old Myers house on Halloween night. They all die. Good. Except Sara. She probably would have died in the first fifteen minutes of Part 9, but there will be no Part 9. Director Rob Zombie re-booted the whole series, starting with Part 1, in 2007.
The filmmakers made the mistake of having horrible-human-being-playing-a-horrible-character Tyra Banks die offscreen. At least we get to see her mangled corpse hanging from the rafters. I re-wound that part several times. Might make it my desktop wallpaper.
Remember that subtle, spooky exchange of dialogue at the end of Part One back in ’78? “It was the boogeyman.” “As a matter of fact, it was.” Here we get Busta Rhymes bellowing “Trick or treat, muthafucka!” The 2000’s blow.
12:16 am. To bed. What a day. Happy Halloween, everyone.