What is it about the Halloween franchise that keeps filmmakers coming back to it over the last 43 years? After it seemed Michael Myers was burnt to a crisp at the end of Halloween II in 1981, the filmmakers tried a noble effort to do an anthology spinoff that failed with Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
Then we got the Jamie Lloyd trilogy of Halloween 4-6 which focused on the orphaned daughter of Laurie Strode played by the young Danielle Harris in 4 and 5 and J.C. Brandy in the sixth one in the first 15-20 minutes. The popularity of Scream led to a retcon in which Jamie Lee Curtis returned in Halloween H20, which could’ve been better if it wasn’t so damn short. It seemed to end right when it should’ve been getting good.
Halloween Resurrection seemed to be the final nail in the coffin with the death of Laurie Strode. But someone thought it was a good idea to get Rob Zombie to direct a remake/reboot, which was awful. Zombie is a particular director that has no business touching this movie. I liked The Devil’s Rejects, but he was wrong here. Even worse, he made a sequel that reduced Laurie Strode to a skank ho with a tramp stamp. Everyone seemed angry and vile screaming the F-word constantly that you were actually rooting for Michael to pummel their faces into a bloody mush. Zombie later admitted he only directed the movie under duress fearing that the producers would make something worse than “his vision.”
I’ll be blunt and say that his Halloween 2, otherwise known as H2 is the worst in the franchise and that’s saying a lot. His wife, Sherri Moon Zombie, doesn’t have to be in everything he does. She’s becoming the Yoko Ono of the horror genre.
Halloween Kills in the 12th movie in the franchise and the 11th movie to feature Michael Myers and as I type this, there are plans to make a third one tentatively titled Halloween Ends. I sure do hope that’s a promise written in blood. There have been 10 Fast and Furious movies and spinoffs, 11 Star Wars movies and spinoffs. Halloween is tied with the Friday the 13th and the Jason movies. Thankfully, A Nightmare on Elm Street is not being revamped, rebooted, retconned or remade as far as I know.
Halloween is one of those movies that worked best when you consider the era in which it was released at the end of the 1970s political and economic turmoil. The suburbs were supposed to be the safe place. A generation was raised on Mayberry and Mayfield towns. They saw Norman Rockwell towns and watched The Brady Bunch and Cleavers. It was supposed to be a safe haven from the urban and metropolitan areas. White flight was supposed to solve all the problems.
But we only take our problems with us. That was what John Carpenter and his collaborator Debra Hill was trying to convey. We’re never safe, even though we live in the delusion we are safe in the small towns and suburbs. Michael Myers/The Shape was a personification for the evil that lurks behind closed doors of homes that seem idyllic. To some degree, I think the filmmakers understand that now with Halloween Kills.
Now, I must say that I liked it better than the 2018 version, but that’s not saying much. That movie also just titled Halloween was an attempt to take everything that had happened over the 40 years of movies between 1978 and 2018 and junk it as it all never happened. I didn’t care for it because it seemed like The Force Awakens, just to present the same type events in a somewhat different structure. The movie ended with Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen Nelson (Judy Greer) and granddaughter, Alyson (Andi Matichak) luring Michael or The Shape to her house where they had trapped him in the basement as the house burns.
Halloween Kills picks up right where the previous left over with the firefighters coming into contact with The Shape who murders all them and the police at the scene before going on a rampage. And like Halloween II, Laurie goes to the hospital where she spends much of the time either sleeping or lying in bed. However, this time around, the hospital actually looks and operates as a normal hospital rather than only have a few characters in a huge building. Leigh Brackett (Charles Cyphers), the town sheriff in the first two movies, is now the security guard on duty at the hospital.
At the same time in Haddonfield, Ill., the other survivors of the the 1978 events are meeting in a bar. Anthony Michael Hall plays Tommy Doyle, all grown up. Kylie Richards reprises her role as Lindsay Wallace as does Nancy Stephens as Marion Chambers, the nurse who was driving the station wagon with Dr. Loomis in the first movie. Michael was able to drive off after attacking her. Also with them is Lonnie Elam (Robert Longstreet) who was in the 1978 movie briefly, but like the others, all grown up. Lonnie was the boy The Shape briefly ran into as he and others taunted Tommy outside the school.
In a well-made flashback to the events following Dr. Loomis shooting The Shape, Lonnie is being bullied himself before law enforcement intervenes. He later finds himself being approached again by The Shape, who leaves him alone when he cowers down afraid.
When the bar patrons hear news reports of the murders from the previous movie, they begin to organize after one mistakes a Smith Grove escape inmate hiding in a car for Michael.
Here’s where the movie goes in a different way as towns people rally together as vigilantes to corner Michael Myers and kill him, chanting “Evil dies tonight!” I want to mention that this movie was mostly filmed pre-Covid and was set to his theaters on Oct. 16, 2020, before being delayed a whole year. I don’t know if director David Gordon Green and producer Jason Blum ordered reshoots, but you see a lot of mob mentality that we’ve seen over the last 18 months since the pandemic hit hard in the late winter of 2020.
‘At one point, they have cornered the inmate, a frightened middle-aged man who is about the same age as Michael would be, and begin smashing windows of locked doors to get to him. Outside the hospital, people have rallied together screaming that chant. You can clearly see similarities not just with the Jan. 6 insurrection coup at the Capitol Building but also other videos of people marching through Costco or Target. Considering they are misinformed over who the inmate is, Tommy tries to rationalize it telling Brackett that since Michael wore a mask, they don’t know what he looks like.
Blum and his movies don’t shy away from politics. The Hunt was rescheduled after people assumed it was liberals hunting conservatives and some people have said The Purge movies are about gun violence and Don’t Breathe is obviously about gentrification and decaying neighborhoods. It’s probably why I like horror movies. They can have always be about something else. We had these issues with mob mentalities before Covid. Lynch mobs and witch hunts have existed before TVs and radios spread misinformation.
The problem with this change is there are so many characters and actors, you get distracted, or at least I did. Part of the greatness of the original 1978 version was its simplicity. There was always a feeling that The Shape could be anywhere in the movie lurking in the shadows of the few characters. That’s lost here as it’s been lost in the sequels. The Shape seems to pop up for whatever helps the plot. There’s one scene involving a middle-aged couple that seems only to exist for the violent kills.
There’s too many subplots here. There’s a same-sex couple, Big John (Scott MacArthur) and Little John (Michael McDonald) who are now living in the renovated Myers house that Michael murdered his sister, Judith, in 1963. They themselves deal with some kids who pull pranks. And the kids are obviously wearing masks that were in Halloween III as an Easter egg.
There’s also a subplot about Will Patton’s character, Dep. Frank Hawkins, who seemed to have been killed in the previous movie, but has survived. As the previous movie revealed, Hawkins was one of the law officers who arrested Michael. And in those flashbacks, we see a younger Hawkins tracking down The Shape. I have to admit, these flashbacks works. It works a lot better than the other subplots.
That being said in all, there’s too much to comprehend. Curtis may get top billing and she deserves it, but she’s reduced to a supporting character. However, the scenes between her and Patton add an emotional human element that is a welcome surprise. Hawkins has been struggling with guilt for 40 years over the incidents that happened when Michael was apprehended that I won’t reveal. As he was a young officer, it’s affected him as the events have affected Laurie.
Yet the whole thing with Tommy, Lonnie, Lindsay and everyone else forming a mob to go after Michael Myers/The Shape was done in Halloween 4 and done better. I know a lot of Halloween fans will be disappointed with this one but considering previous movies, it’s not as bad. It’s definitely in the top echelon of all the sequels. But there’s too much rush to an ending. I’m just hoping that Halloween Ends if that’s the final title does just that.
They’ve tried killing Michael Myers/The Shape with fire so many times before, surely the people of Haddonfield can scrounge up some acid or a wood chipper to dispose of the body. Michael Myers is now in his 60s, for God’s sake. Let him die!
What do you think? Please comment.