Halloween night happened a bit sooner than the publication of this article was intended, but the weather and slowly rotting pumpkins outside might just be the perfect time to revisit some well-known series in our final movies special for Halloween this year.
The godfather of Halloween-themed slashers, mainly Halloween gets a full review treatment with all 10 flicks released so far. Obviously, it takes quite a lot of time to delve into each installment, so hopefully the short description will give you an idea of what to expect, and how the series evolved or devolved. And if you plan on getting some of these flicks in Germany, prepare to import, as quite a few are cut and still on the Index…
(USA 1978, director: John Carpenter)
After murdering his sister on Halloween as a young boy, Michael Myers escapes an asylum and goes after more teenage victims in his hometown.
Not really the originator of slasher movies (that one probably goes to Black Christmas), John Carpenter’s movie definitely influenced a lot of later horror flicks and established the psychopath-never-gets-killed-but-comes-back-again-and-again template.
Even with a rather slow pace, the minimalistic music and camera angles make for a creepy experience. Not really that bloody (some murders are actually quite laughably funny) and not the best of acting or much of a story, it still entertains today and is one of those watch-every-Halloween movies.
(USA 2007, director: Rob Zombie)
Part origin story of Michael Myers and part direct remake of the original.
In many ways, the remake is better than the original in giving an interesting view on the backstory of the man with the mask. The first part with the child is creepy, the one with the adult one even more violent and convincing than the rather slow original. But after half of its running time, the movie tries to imitate Carpenter’s story a bit too much and falls flat on its face. This is mainly due to some very annoying lead characters with the never-ending girl talk and the all-too-familiarity of a well-known story.
But when Myers goes after his victims, the movie becomes more terrifying and makes for a worthy successor to the original Halloween.
Halloween II (1981)
(USA 1981, director: John Carpenter)
Michael Meyers is on the loose again, avoiding the police searching for him and trying to get to his last survivor girl in a hospital.
Picking up where the first one ended, it’s a solid sequel, but it doesn’t offer anything new or memorable. Some more killing scenes, some quite surprising (and actually funny), there is a general sense of tension, but unlike the original, the Halloween atmosphere isn’t there as strong as before. This makes it a bit derivative. Still a nice slasher to watch after Part 1.
Halloween II (2009)
(USA 2009, director: Rob Zombie)
Survivor girl Laurie has to cope with physical and psychological damage and the fear that Myers is out there and coming back to get her.
A love-hate-relationship with this movie: A bit too much imagery-in-your-face (white horse, dream sequences), but overall this is a much better effort than the first movie, as it doesn’t really try to copy Carpenter’s second part, and is also more entertaining, more sick and violent and faster in its pace. Special mention has to go to Dr. Loomis as an egostic character who is much more interesting than in the original.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
(USA 1982, director: Tommy Lee Wallace)
A big company plans a sinister country-wide murder with Halloween masks.
How to rate a movie in the Halloween-series in which there is no Michael Myers? So this would already be a 0/10, because there is no connection whatsover to the first flicks (except for some TV footage). The only way to give it a chance is to take it as a stand-alone title.
Granted, there is some suspense and mystery in the first part, even if it is revealed in a slow pace. But then it gets more and more ridiculous and silly, illogical and just plain bad. With the constant use of the Halloween-children-song (which of course is relevant for the story), it becomes a trial of patience and one wonders if it couldn’t have been a Twilight Zone episode with a shorter runtime.
Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers
(USA 1988, director: Dwight H. Little)
After 10 years Michael Myers returns to Haddonfield and wants to get revenge on his niece.
Finally the man with the mask is back after a rather superfluous third part (at least for the canon), but unfortunately he doesn’t deliver as many blows and stabs as expected from the king of slashers. Or maybe other movies have already outdone him? Like Nightmare On Elm Street? When Meyers has some screentime, it’s either hit or miss. Some killing scenes are rather weak (and let’s be honest, these are the ones which count the most in this genre) as not much is shown. At the end, there’s a bit more action and tension. But all in all the movie lacks the suspense the first one had and the shocking (even if a bit dated) effects of the second one. Still the ending is pretty unexpected (to a certain degree) and Myers shows what he’s got, sadly not all of it.
Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers
(USA 1989, director: Dominique Othenin-Girard)
Michael Myers is back from the dead again and wants to get to his little cousin, with lots of dead bodies on the way.
It’s getting a little bit silly, sure. With all the coming-back-surviving-any-deaths, Myers isn’t the same as in the first movie. Add some rather awkward little-girl-has-the-second-sight-and-knows-what-is-happening-now-or-in-the-future plot… even if it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.
Still with all the mumbo jumbo nonsense, Myers is relentless, the storyline is enough to be suspenseful, even if the characters are not that interesting, and Dr. Loomis should go into retirement.
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
(USA 1995, director: Joe Chappelle)
Evil druids nurse Myers, and he goes back to Haddonfield to kill again.
It gets even more ridiculous than last time, and there’s not much of logic or plot in there, but it’s still fun and Myers’ kills are more than satisfying (some are extremely brutal actually). Old school horror this isn’t, but we ain’t in 70ies Kansas anymore, you Toto critics.
It’s funny how one doesn’t remember a lot of what happened in the individual movies after the first one, only that they were entertaining in a certain way, even if they aren’t good movies or necessary sequels.
(USA 1998, director: Steve Miner)
After 20 years and a lot of therapy, survivor girl and now woman gets stalked again by the man with the white mask, and her son and some kids join the bloody party.
Dispensing pretty much with most what has been happening in the other installments, the movie is more or less a direct sequel to the first and second ones, but with a bit more violence and action. It takes a while and there’s definitely a bit too much (psychological and chitter chatter) talking, but when Myers goes after his victims, it gets pretty wild, highly entertaining and suspenseful.
(USA 2002, director: Rick Rosenthal)
A reality TV show brings a group of people to Michael Myer’s home, but he’s not pleased, and surely not dead, to welcome them.
There is obviously a lot of hate against this movie, and to a certain degree it’s understandable. Only the first 20 minutes or so are connected to Laurie Strode’s (survivor woman Jamie Lee Curtis in her role again) and Myers’ sick relationship. Then it becomes a bit too much pseudo-cool teenage reality TV show talk, especially with some horrible performances by Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks.
But what a lot of people seem to forget is that after the first Carpenter movie, the series wasn’t really about the psychological fears and whathaveyou, but more about what most slashers are watched (and criticized) for: the kills and atmosphere. And even if the characters are a bit annoying and of course stereotypical, the killing scenes are nicely done (maybe not as good as in the 6th one) and the creepy house atmosphere is not that bad either (could have been done to better use, though).
So stop the hating, give it a chance, and if you don’t like it, just stop watching it and leave it to people who might still enjoy it for what it is: an entertaining slasher flick.
If you liked reading this article, make sure you pay a visit to Future Sack which kindly features it as well, and every Facebook LIKE or comment is appreciated :).
Using one of the Amazon links and buying the products also helps ;).