Halloween 4 & 5 - 13th May 2011

If you hadn't guessed it yet from the blog, I am a pretty big fan of horror and pretty much all types of horror too, unless it's modern remakes. Modern horror remakes are like discarded used condoms, nobody should be picking that up.

You might also have guessed that Evil Dead was what really cemented the horror genre for me because in that trilogy there is so much diversity and innovation that it pretty much sets you up for anything.

My first love though, in a lot of ways, was the original Halloween and by extension, therefor, John Carpenter films. I would've been a teenager when I discovered a lot of this stuff and I can remember at least one halloween night where Halloween one and Carrie were a notable double bill.

I am also a big lover of franchises, anything where the original people try, in some way, to forward the story, develop the characters, increase the gore and create new and innovative kills. Apart from maybe action, horror seems to be the genre where franchises thrive and why not give the audience more of what they want, you can't have too much of a good thing in my opinion.
Now purists and cynics will scoff, say it waters down the original and the sequels are only done for the money but I say nonsense, the original remains for those who want it and the sequels are there for people who want to get into the mythology and detail of the characters.
The same argument can not be used for remakes, if I have to explain in a conversation again that I mean the ORIGINAL Dawn of the Dead or the ORIGINAL Halloween, I may seriously snap, run out into the street and set fire to the first group of arseholes who look at me funny.

Now for all those who know the Halloween franchise you know that it breaks down like this:
There's the Laurie Strode Trilogy - 1, 2 & 7
There's the Jamie Lloyd Trilogy - 4, 5 & 6
There's the one that has nothing to do with Michael Myers - 3, Season of the Witch
and There's the atrociously crap one that we don't speak about in my house - 8

As for the two Rob Zombie remakes, I haven't seen them, I won't ever see them and there is a very special place in my make-believe hell for Rob Zombie next to child molesters, the CEOs of drug companies, Republican talk show hosts and Simon Cowell.
In a small side note the actress who played Jamie Lloyd in Halloween 4 & 5 then went on to be in the Rob Zombie remakes (Danielle Harris how could you!! You break my fucking heart...)

So with this blog we are dealing with parts 4 and 5 which take place 10 and 11 years respectively after the first night (parts 1&2 take place on the same night) and work from the premise that Laurie Strode and an unknown guy (someone LLoyd) had a child, Jamie, who was then fostered out into care when her parents were killed in a car accident.
Jamie now grows up in the Carruthers house hold, back in Haddonfield, where everyone is aware of who she is and, more importantly who her uncle is. Well done letting that one slip, whoever.
In the meantime Michael has been laying dormant on a gurney in the dark and spooky basement of a psychiatric hospital facility. I suppose it didn't cross anyone's mind that killing him, cutting his arms, legs and head off, sealing them in lead containers and burying them at the four corners of the globe, would have been a good idea then.
Then one dark and rainy night he is, of course, to be transported to another facility (when will bureaucrats learn!) in a rickety old ambulance where Michael, finds his moment, sits up, takes the opportunity to kill everyone and then heads off to Haddonfield to find and kill his niece.
Donald Pleasance as Dr. Sam Loomis then shows up, still scarred from the fire that you thought consumed him and Michael at the end of the second one, walking with a stick, wearing the same old raincoat and babbling like a lunatic about Michael not being human and predicting precisely where he'll go and what he'll do.
The rest of the film then plays out as an exciting and tense cat and mouse story between the whole of Haddonfield (this time the police and a gang of beer swilling, gun toting, lynch mob rednecks are in on the chase) and Michael Myers with predictable results (i.e. Michael kills almost everyone).

I personally really like Halloween 4 and I think real care was taken crafting something with a feel and mood of the first two, including a script which is peppered with very Carpenter sounding dialogue. Starting right away with the hospital orderly, who makes the most of a small role, rolling his eyes about like he's in an old Hammer horror and saying stuff about 'you never get used to their faces', through to the old preacher in the beat up pick up going on about hunting evil and of course in every single hokey warning that spews forth from Dr.Loomis' lips and which Donald Pleasance makes sound like effortless Shakespeare.
He is the reason I stick with the series, I could watch Dr.Loomis chase a plastic  bag around in a garden for days as long as he kept muttering brilliant things about it being an inhuman plastic bag or possessed or something.

Other good things about the fourth part are:
The set up for the new family is nice, the interplay between the sisters works well and the little girl is not too annoying.
It's great how they bothered to explain Michael's attire of a boiler suit and a mask too, especially the latter allowing to have a neat little scare sequence in the costume dept. of a local drug store.
Lastly the idea of involving the police and the yahoos is a nice touch and feels quite authentic, even if when they do finally confront Myers, it is a little weak. Had that been the only ending I think it may have finished the franchise off right there but thankfully the proper ending, which harks back intentionally to the very beginning of the first one while setting up part 5 is absolutely brilliant and Pleasance's hammy cries of Noooooo! and the ludicrous slow motion are worthy of the price of the DVD alone.

The few downsides to this sequel are:
The pacing, there are some really slow bits in places; the acting, some of it is unforgivable in a relatively high profile film like this; the fact that they show way too much of Myers himself (although not as much as in future entries and at least there's some attempt to keep him in shadow) and yet some of the best kills are annoyingly off screen and, lastly, while the opening act has some very nice eerie feeling to it and a couple of good scares, the rest of it feels a little low on scares. These are minor quibbles, however, in the end it is a surprisingly good entry to the franchise and better than any part 4 has any right to be.

7 out of 10 pumpkins

I think after the set up at the end of part 4, part 5 needed to be something really special. Something gritty, gripping and a bit twisted. Unfortunately the only thing twisted about this entry is the French director's ludicrous ponytail and I think, therein lies the problem.
It's a real shame that the same team behind 4 didn't then go on to make 5 because they had it right, they had the Halloween mood and feeling down and they seemed to be good at putting a story together.
That's not to say that Halloween 5 is bad, it just doesn't quite live up to the promise of the ending of number 4.

Basically Jamie is in a children's psychiatric hospital, Haddenfield has one for all ages and all occasions apparently, and she can't speak. She has endless crazy nightmares where she can physically feel, see or sense what Michael is doing, which is basically killing everyone he sees in a variety of increasingly gruesome ways. When her sister and her rampantly annoying, highly 80s friend aren't visiting and being teeth gratingly murderable, jolly mad Uncle Loomis is hanging around waiting to see if he can use the child's visions to find and capture Michael.
Nothing much happens for a while until some numb skull decides to host a party and this gives Michael the perfect excuse to splatter some red on the barn walls while he waits for Jamie to decide to talk again and then break free from the hospital with her mentally challenged boy friend and hunt him down instead, I am still not sure why. Neither do I understand why it takes him so long to kill the dark haired, crazily, hideously annoying one either.
After much shenanigans, using Jamie as bait, Loomis plans to lure Michael to his old house where the cunning old raincoat fancier has strung up a big heavy net. After spending the whole movie wandering just what the hell Loomis is doing hanging round the old Myers place and what is his grand master plan, it amounts to nothing more than what you might do to stop a bear, a tranq gun and a big net. I personally think even being in the old Myer's place is probably irrelevant.
Also Michael seems to have been redecorating because up stairs he has gothically laid out some coffins and lit about 35 dozen candles.
The film ends with them not, as I said previously, just hacking the fucker up into tiny pieces and feeding him to the birds but putting him in prison where... oh yeah the weird 'man in black' who has been wandering around following Michael ominously but who is never really explained (how threatening can he really be he travels by Greyhound bus for christ sake), has ample opportunity to blow up the police station and make his escape with Michael thus setting up part 6.

Ok so the film is mundanely directed and at no point really scary, the plot is somewhat confusing because it seems to have been scripted and edited by a mad man, or possibly by the directors ponytail, there are way too many shots of Michael, hardly any moody lighting, annoying, needless and very french moments of surreality (can anyone tell me who the very old woman in the chair, looking weird, at the party was?) and the soundtrack is utter balls.
On the upside, however, it includes a lot more gore in the far more inventive death scenes, a fairly tense laundry shoot sequence that is well done, includes the edition of the 'thorn' symbol that will be relevant in later parts and, of course, lots more Donald Pleasance genius, including him roughing up small children in a highly unsuitable way and that fearsome ending battle with Michael.

While 8 will always stand as the weakest of the series for me, mainly because it completely destroys the perfect ending of H20, 5 is probably the second weakest entry in the franchise (if my memory of 6 serves, I will have to re-watch it and add it to this blog).
Still it's better than most part 5's of anything, that I can think of, and it's important if you want to follow the mythology of Myers.

5.5 out of 10 big cookies (watch the movie and guess the reference)

Some Kind of Wonderful - 15th May 2011

Good Night and Good Luck - 10th May 2011