31 Days Of Horror: Rob Zombie’s Halloween II

Rob Zombie’s Halloween II (2009) is actually the tenth entry in the series.  I know it’s because the filmmakers keep rebooting the storyline, but it’s definitely a lot of work to keep track of what’s going on with these films.

Rob Zombie's Halloween II
Michael Myers is acted a lot more dynamically in this one, which I don’t think is a good thing.

We start off with a caption of another irrelevant quotation that’s not in the film or in any previous film, then we get a scene from the ‘fifteen years previously’ part of Rob Zombie’s Halloween, with Deborah Myers visiting Michael in the sanatorium (the latter played by a different child actor in this film).  Michael has had a dream about a white horse, and has been able to make quite a realistic-looking one out of craft materials, because the sanatorium just rolls like that.

Back to fifteen years later, and we pick up where the last film left off.  Laurie is walking about in a daze after shooting Michael, and screams and screams as she’s taken into hospital.  Loomis is also shown still to be alive.

Sheriff Brackett orders Michael’s body to be secured properly in the ambulance, but we know it won’t happen.  The ambulance drivers are too idiotic while driving, joking around, and end up getting into a crash.  Like the first film, these scenes are lit too darkly to see anything, so I don’t really know what’s going on.  Michael wakes up, unsurprisingly, and finishes off the surviving ambulance driver.  He then sees a white horse and a woman in white, which is presumably a hallucination.

In Laurie’s hospital room, the TV is playing some footage of the Moody Blues performing Nights In White Satin.  She wakes up and hauls herself out of bed, which is pretty surprising, given that a few scenes ago we saw her entire body being gruesomely stitched up and she should be under heavy sedation.  She visits the unconscious Annie in another room, and is soon taken halfway back to her room by one of the nurses, but Michael shows up and kills the nurse.

There’s then a sequence where Laurie finds the other nurse dead, escapes outside, hides in a hut where the Moody Blues are still playing on the TV, nearly gets rescued by a security guard before Michael catches up to him…and then wakes up on 29 October a year later.  The sequence was all a dream!  Thing is, it’s not really clear when the dream started.  Did the nurses and security guard really get killed, or did Laurie dream the whole sequence about the hospital?  I’m going to say the latter, because it means the film makes marginally more sense.

Laurie is now living with the Bracketts, seeing a counsellor (who provides the backstory that they never found Michael’s body after the ambulance crash), and working in a record store.  Dr Loomis, meanwhile, has turned into a total villain, only concerned about the sales of the new book he’s written about Michael.  This is an absolutely terrible way to treat a classic character and is the aspect I most hate about this film.  Loomis is convinced Michael is dead, which is completely out of character.

We get more hallucination stuff with the woman in white, who on closer inspection turns out to be Deborah Myers.

Michael shows up in a field in the middle of the night.  A farmer, farm worker and farmer’s daughter confront him, and the worker beats him up.  Naturally, they’re soon killed for their trouble.

Laurie and the Bracketts are eating pizza, which is juxtaposed with Michael eating the farmer’s dog.  Ew.  It’s almost enough to put you off pizza.  Almost.

The woman in white scenes are very pretty and artistic, with lots of floaty black ‘n’ white imagery, but also very nonsensical.  Laurie’s mind seems to be being taken over by Michael (shades of Jamie in Halloween 5), as she’s now dreaming about the woman too.

We go back to the ‘Rabbit in Red’ strip joint from the first film.  Maybe Michael’s just drawn to where his mother used to work, or maybe it was just an excuse for the completely unnecessary chase scene with a naked stripper that we get here.

Sheriff Brackett reads Loomis’ incendiary book, and panics, calling Annie to try and find Laurie before she can read it.  Meanwhile, Loomis is doing a book signing, which is incredibly awkward, especially when Lynda’s dad shows up, trying to kill Loomis for causing his daughter’s death.

Laurie, of course, ends up reading the book.  It really sets her off, due to finding out about having been Angel Myers, and that Brackett knew about it.  She doesn’t want to speak to Annie, and goes to find her record store colleagues instead.

Loomis is now going on talk shows.  This whole thing is incredibly uncomfortable.

Laurie wants to go out and get drunk to forget things, so she and her two record store friends, Mya and Harley, get dolled up in Rocky Horror outfits and head out to a Hallowe’en party.  The band at the party has strippers on stage, which reminds me of some very bad gigs I’ve attended.

Harley goes off to sleep with some guy in his trailer, and the guy says ‘I’ll be right back’ about ten times!   This is really hitting the viewer over the head with Scream‘s Rule 3, which must have been deliberate.  Either way, it takes you right out of the story.  Both characters are unsurprisingly soon killed.

A drunk Laurie starts freaking out and hallucinating the woman in white.  Mya takes her back home.

The cop that Brackett has sent to keep an eye on Annie is a classic Haddonfield incompetent cop, and so Michael takes him out easily.  He then finally kills Annie…seemingly.  Laurie and Mya arrive at the Bracketts’, and Mya gets killed while calling 911, though the call does go through (why has Michael stopped taking out phone lines in this storyline?).

Annie is still alive!  How?  Does she have some small amount of ‘final girl’ power left over from Danielle Harris’ previous role as Jamie Lloyd?  Anyway, she finally dies in Laurie’s arms, and Laurie has to run, as Michael is still around.  After they’ve left, the 911 responders show up slightly too late, and Brackett finds Annie’s body.

Laurie nearly gets rescued by some guy in a car, but Michael kills the rescuer and carries the unconscious Laurie away.  He holes up with her in a hut nearby, and Laurie’s hallucinations of the woman in white become super sinister, with the woman forcing her to call her ‘Mommy’ and generally being really creepy.

Loomis sees a TV report about Michael having taken Laurie hostage, shows up at the location, and enters the hut despite Brackett telling him to leave.  ‘I owe you this, Sheriff,’ he says as he goes in, so I guess this is supposed to be him redeeming himself.  Inside the hut, Michael kills Loomis, enabling the police to get a shot at him through the window.  Laurie is freed from the hallucinations as a result.

Michael is still alive, but doesn’t kill Laurie.  She stabs him repeatedly instead, then comes out of the hut in her Rocky Horror Magenta outfit and Michael’s Shatner mask, which is a nice creepy image.

In contrast to the unclear ending of the previous film, Laurie has definitely gone mad at the end of this one – she’s shown to be in a white hospital room, smiling like Norman Bates and still having hallucinations of the woman in white, along with a white horse.

I’m glad that’s over, and I’m really looking forward to seeing John Carpenter’s return to the series this weekend.

Something old and monochrome tomorrow!

31 Days Of Horror: Rob Zombie’s Halloween

Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007) is another film I’ve never seen, although I’ve been meaning to at some point for the whole eleven years since it came out.  I’ve always been a little apprehensive about it, because I hate remakes (and 21st century horror films have pretty much ALL been remakes, which is another reason to hate this century), but this one has always been described by its creators as a ‘reimagining’ of the story, so I’ve finally bought the DVD and am giving it a go.

Apparently this is the ‘Uncut’ version – I’ve no idea how it differs from the original film.

Rob Zombie's Halloween
This one’s all about Michael.

There’s a caption at the start of the film with a quotation from Dr Loomis.  It’s not a line of dialogue from previous films, and it doesn’t appear in this one, so I’ve no idea what that’s about.

We open on a kid in a mask picking up a rat.  This is Michael Myers, and we’re about to get a whole half film of backstory about his childhood.  His family are absolutely godawful, with his mother Deborah (played by Rob Zombie’s wife, Sheri Moon Zombie) and stepfather Ronnie constantly screaming and swearing at each other, and the stepfather perving on oldest child Judith.  I’m not sure what year this is meant to be, but I don’t think it’s the original 1963 setting – the fashions are all wrong.  It looks more ’70s to me.

Michael turns out to be killing his ‘pet’ rats.  At school, he runs into some bullies in the toilets, who mock him for his sister and mother being whores and show him a ‘Rabbit in Red’ flyer for the strip night where his mother works – this is a nice callback to Nurse Whittington’s ‘Rabbit in Red’ matches in the original film.

The school headmaster, who has found evidence that Michael is killing cats and dogs, calls in Dr Loomis, now played by Malcolm McDowell.  Is it standard for a school to have the power to call in a psychiatrist?  It’s a bit late for the bully with the flyer, though, ’cause Michael beats him to death after school.

Judith is asked to take Michael trick-or-treating by her mother, but once Deborah’s gone out to work, Judith tells Michael to go by himself and stays home to have sex with her boyfriend Steve instead.

Juxtaposed against unnecessary scenes of Deborah stripping at the club, Michael kills Ronnie first, then Steve (again by beating him to death, which is super grim and not very Halloween).  In her room, Judith’s listening to Don’t Fear The Reaper, so it’s definitely not 1963!  Michael puts on the Shatner mask (again placing this in the ’70s) that Steve brought over, and then kills Judith.  He goes downstairs, but chooses not to kill his baby sister Angel.  When his mother gets home from work, she discovers Michael holding Angel outside the house.

At Smith’s Grove Sanatorium eleven months later, Michael is still talking like a normal boy in his sessions with Loomis, but Loomis thinks it’s a facade.  Though Deborah visits him every week, Michael’s condition is shown to deteriorate over the course of the next two years (we get a quick scene with a sanatorium worker dragging a Christmas tree through the grounds to the tune of Deck The Halls in order to show the passing of time, which feels totally out of place in a Halloween film!), with him constantly making primitive masks and speaking less and less.  Eventually, at the end of one of Deborah’s visits one day, she and Loomis go outside the room to talk about the situation, and Michael takes the opportunity to attack the nurse who’s supposed to be watching him.  Why is a sanatorium patient allowed real metal cutlery, incidentally?  These days, you’re not even allowed that in airport restaurants.

Devastated by Michael’s psychosis, Deborah shoots herself dead while watching family videos.  The videos are all colour cine-camera ones, again placing this part of the film in the late ’70s.

Fifteen years later, the older Michael has become a bit of a lumbering monster and has been mute since the nurse attack.  ‘Fifteen years…that’s nearly twice as long as my first marriage,’ says Dr Loomis to Michael.  ‘In a way you’ve become like my best friend, which shows you how f***ed up my life is.’  Loomis tells Michael that he’s leaving the sanatorium.  It turns out he’s moving on…to write a cash-in book about the case!  It’s called The Devil’s Eyes.  At his book reading, his doommongering about Michael’s black eyes is nice and Pleasence-esque, which I did appreciate.

Some super gross sanatorium workers have come into the sanatorium at night in order to rape a young female patient in Michael’s room, so Michael kills them.  I’m kind of on his side on this one.  However, he then kills a worker who’s always been nice to him, so yup, he’s confirmed evil.  When the bodies are discovered, the Smith’s Grove director calls Loomis out of retirement.

After Michael kills a trucker in a toilet stall (there doesn’t really seem to be much point to this scene at the time, but I guess it’s where he gets his overalls from in this film), we get the familiar opening bars of Mr Sandman as the action moves to Haddonfield.  If we’re going with late ’70s as the setting of the first part of the film, this part, seventeen years after Michael’s first murders, must be the early ’90s – and by and large, that works, although the female teenagers’ hair and fashions do scream 2007.

Laurie Strode is absolutely nothing like her portrayal in the original film.  She comes across as a total idiot teenager, making sex jokes in front of her mother and trying to scare Tommy Doyle rather than reassuring him about the boogeyman.  From this point on, the film loosely follows the plot of the original, although if you know Halloween as well as I do, it’s a bit of a strange watch.

When Laurie drops off the key at the Myers house, Michael is shown to be inside like in the original, although this time there’s a reason for it – apparently he left a knife and Steve’s Shatner mask in a hidden place, and has come back for them.  We then get a combination of two scenes from the original – some of the dialogue from the ‘walking home’ scene with Laurie, Annie and Lynda is combined with Laurie seeing Michael out of a classroom window, as the three characters are sitting in a classroom instead of walking home at this point.  (Annie, in this version, is played by Danielle Harris, who played Jamie Lloyd in Halloween 4 and Halloween 5.)

We get some more repeated dialogue when Loomis leaves Smith’s Grove, blaming the director of the facility.  It’s kind of odd and annoying because characters will start saying familiar lines, and then the words will be very slightly different.

We then get to the new version of the ‘walking home’ scene.  I genuinely can’t stand these versions of Laurie, Annie and Lynda – they’re just the most awful people and I would have utterly hated them if they’d been at my high school.  Annie’s dad, Sheriff Brackett, shows up and gives Annie a lift, thankfully cutting the scene short.

When Loomis is in the graveyard with the graveyard worker, he asks to borrow the guy’s mobile phone (‘Don’t have one.  They give you brain cancer’), which still just about works with a ’90s setting.

Lynda and her boyfriend Bob have gone to the rundown Myers house to have the sex scene that they had in the Wallace house in the original film.  This is very disorienting.  Why have they gone to the Myers house?  Was there really nowhere else in town that was suitable?  Also, how come all the boyfriend characters in this film have long hair?

We get another snatch of Don’t Fear The Reaper, with Lynda listening to it while Bob goes to get her a beer.  In this version, Bob puts the ghost sheet on with his glasses over the top BEFORE Michael grabs him.  Bob and Lynda get killed exactly the way they did in the original film, but in different locations.  We then see Michael taking Lynda’s body away to place it in an appropriate place for a find-the-body sequence later on.

Cut to Loomis in a gun shop buying a gun.  There’s really not much point to this scene.

Laurie is shown to have a very affectionate relationship with her adopted parents, who weren’t really featured in the original film other than a very quick scene with her dad.  Unfortunately, as soon as Laurie drives off with Annie to go babysitting, Michael drops by and brutally murders the parents.

At the Doyle house, Laurie is still mocking Tommy about his belief in the boogeyman.  ‘Not appropriate babysitter behaviour, Laurie,’ says Tommy, and I have to agree.

Annie decides to take Lindsey over to the Doyle house pretty much immediately in this version of the film, ’cause she’s impatient to have her boyfriend Paul come round.  In the scene with Lindsey watching horror films on TV, we see that Michael is already in the Wallace house, biding his time for some reason.

The ‘Annie trying to set Laurie up with Ben Tramer’ thing is really lame and awkward in this version.  In the original, it was a nice sweet aspect of Laurie’s character – she liked Ben, but she was too shy to go out with him.  In this version, it just comes across like Laurie’s desperate and would go out with anyone.

Sheriff Brackett takes a lot more convincing than he did in the original film, largely because he’s read Loomis’ cash-in book and thinks Loomis is just trying to get more sales by building the myth of Michael as some kind of monster.  Even though I still think the book is out of character for Loomis, I quite like this plot point!  Once Brackett is convinced, he explains to Loomis that after Deborah Myers’ suicide, he hid baby Angel from the records and had her put up for adoption, following which she was adopted by the Strodes and named Laurie.

Annie’s boyfriend Paul – who was just an offscreen character in the original, voiced by John Carpenter when on the phone with Annie and Lindsey – actually shows up onscreen and gets killed in this one.  Before that, he and Annie get some dialogue about not ripping Annie’s blouse that was originally given to Lynda and Bob in the 1978 film.  After killing Paul, Michael turns on Annie.

In this version, Laurie decides to take Lindsey back home rather than waiting for Annie to call her, and so Lindsey is with Laurie when she discovers the half-dead Annie and the fully-dead Paul in the Wallace house.  Laurie sends Lindsey back to the Doyle house and hysterically calls 911.  I guess this version of Michael isn’t as good at remembering to take the phone lines out.

Michael reappears, and Laurie escapes the house by smashing the patio door window like in the original.  She then runs out of the house, limping like she did in the original – but as she’s not actually fallen down a staircase in this version, there’s no reason for her to limp!

In the Doyle house, the police show up early but are pretty ineffectual against Michael.  Michael ignores Tommy and Lindsey and drags Laurie out of the house, carrying her unconscious body in the same way he carried Annie’s dead body in the original.  A lot of the imagery is the same, but because it’s got different story contexts, it feels jarring to a longtime fan of the series.

Sheriff Brackett finds a still-alive Annie in the Wallace house.  Meanwhile, Laurie wakes up in the Myers house, by Judith Myers’ tombstone, with Lynda’s body nearby.  This ending sequence is so dark I can’t see much of what’s going on, but there’s a lot of standard chasing and screaming.

Dr Loomis temporarily rescues Laurie by shooting Michael, but only three times, not six/seven like in the original!  Michael doesn’t stay dead, and seemingly kills Loomis.  I say ‘seemingly’ because fans of the series will know that Loomis is almost as unkillable as his former patient.

Laurie hides in the Myers house, and Michael drags Loomis inside for some reason.  Loomis is still alive but fading in and out of consciousness.  He grabs the leg of Michael as he goes past, but Michael’s got one job – he goes after Laurie.

After more chasing and screaming – I’m sure it’s supposed to be tense but I really don’t care about this version of Laurie Strode – Michael pulls Laurie over the balcony before she can shoot him with Loomis’ gun.  She wakes up in the garden, on top of the unconscious Michael, and tries to shoot him point-blank in the head.  One, two, three shots fail, because the barrel slots are empty.  Was this the point of the gun scene earlier, so that we know how many bullets are supposed to be in the barrel?  Anyway, the fourth one has a bullet in it, the gun fires into Michael’s head, Laurie starts screaming and screaming, and the credits roll, with another reprise of Mr Sandman over them.

Things that are not clear at the end of this film:

  1. Is Annie alive?  She was last time we saw her, which is kind of irritating, because she was killed outright in the original film and there’s no reason for Michael not to have finished the job other than the fact she’s played by a series stalwart here.
  2. Is Loomis alive?  He’d just slipped into unconsciousness again last time we saw him.
  3. Has Laurie gone mad?  That ending was very Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with all the screaming.

Thankfully, tomorrow we’ll be watching Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, so hopefully we’ll get some answers to these questions!

31 Days Of Horror: Dracula

While filmmaking has obviously moved on in leaps and bounds since the 1930s, there’s still something very evocative and beautiful about the old Universal monster movies.  Dracula (1931) was the first of these, introducing us to Bela Lugosi, who is still the person everyone sees when they imagine the character.

Bela Lugosi’s…had some strange effects applied to his face.

I just want to take a self-indulgent moment to hit the emergency Bauhaus button:

Okay, here we go with the film.

Swan Lake plays over the opening credits, which is very pretty.

The action opens in Eastern Europe, where the superstitious locals are scared about Englishman Renfield going to Vorgo Pass.  A woman crosses herself at the mention of Dracula. ‘You musn’t go to the castle, there are vampires, Dracula and his wives, they take the form of wolves and bats,’ says the innkeeper.  Renfield insists, so the woman gives him a cross to protect himself.

Not everyone’s English accent is on point in this film, though in general it’s not bad for the 1930s.

A creepy scene with some hands coming out of coffins, and immediately I’m struck by how much filmmaking has moved on since Nosferatu nine years previously – nothing in the previous retelling was as scary as this.  Some lady vampires emerge from the coffins.  Dracula is already up and about, with a strange effect of light shining in his face.

Renfield meets the coach driver at Vorgo Pass at midnight.  It’s obvious to the audience that the driver is Dracula himself.  He turns into a bat, willing the horses onwards by psychic means, then disappears with Renfield’s luggage.  Missing luggage is my pet peeve when travelling, so I can understand Renfield’s annoyance!

We get the iconic image of Dracula with his candlestick coming down the stairs.  ‘Listen to them, children of the night; what music they make,’ he says at the sound of wolves howling outside, which has become a bit of a goth cliche.  He then walks through spiderwebs without moving them.

Dracula turns out to have bought an abbey in Whitby, and Renfield has arrived to sort out the paperwork.  We then get the traditional scene with Renfield getting a paper cut.  Dracula approaches him but is deterred by the cross the local woman gave Renfield.

‘I never drink…wine,’ says Dracula, which is a gloriously campy line!

There’s a bit of a continuity problem with the geography.  When Dracula and Renfield arrive in England on a ship, Renfield having gone mad, a newspaper clipping is shown that says they arrived in Whitby but Renfield was taken to Dr Seward’s sanatorium in London.  However, when Dracula shows up in London and meets with Seward, their dialogue indicates it’s the other way round, with Seward’s sanatorium being said to be in Whitby.

The hokey effect of light in Dracula’s eyes is apparently meant to indicate that he’s hypnotising people!

The two female characters, Mina and Lucy, have a lovely character moment with Mina taking the mickey out of Lucy having a crush on Dracula, and mimicking his accent.  These kind of touches are few and far between in 1930s film!  Unfortunately it’s soon forgotten about, and when Lucy dies abruptly, Mina isn’t shown to grieve or mourn her at all.

Another striking change in the nine years since Nosferatu is the sexual subtext of the story.  This is actually more striking a change than the captions being replaced by spoken dialogue.

Renfield has been eating insects, and has moved on from flies to spiders.  ‘Who wants to eat flies?’ he says scornfully.  ‘You do, you loony!’ says the porter, who is probably my favourite character in the film.

Van Helsing appears and somehow knows exactly what’s going on with Renfield and Lucy’s death, which saves the film a lot of trouble.

Renfield is apparently allowed to wander around the sanatorium freely, largely because the porter’s not that good at his job!  As I said, I do like the porter and his maid friend, as they provide a bit of comedy relief.  ‘They’re all crazy except you and me, and sometimes I have my doubts about you,’ says the porter to the maid.

At the end of the film, Van Helsing stakes Dracula offscreen, which is a bit anticlimatic.  Maybe they weren’t able to do a good enough effect on camera back then.  ‘Aren’t you coming with us?’ says Mina’s fiancé Harker to Van Helsing as he and Mina prepare to leave the creepy abbey, but just like Dr Loomis in Halloween 6, Van Helsing still has some business to take care of (presumably staking other vampires that Dracula has created).

As a result of watching this film, Geth decided to put on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Buffy vs. Dracula, and I really enjoyed the way they did all the cliches – especially Xander turning into the ‘Renfield’!

I did actually spend two hours writing a much longer version of this post, but WordPress ate it.  Thanks, WordPress software.

Back to the Halloween films tomorrow!

31 Days Of Horror: A Nightmare On Elm Street 2

A Nightmare On Elm Street 2 (1985) is the first film in this month-long horrorthon that I have never actually seen before.  Out of the Elm Street series, I’d seen 1, 3, 7 and Freddy vs. Jason, and most of those were when I was a teenager.  It’s a series I need to become more familiar with, especially seeing as I own the DVD boxset.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 2
The DVD boxset comes with this nice souvenir booklet with lots of cool images and factoids about the films. I should get round to reading it sometime!

The credits call this ‘Part 2’, but as that appellation became very associated with the Friday the 13th series, it seems to have been quietly dropped in subsequent merchandising.

The film opens with a loner-looking teenager, Jesse, on a school bus, being laughed at by the other kids.  It becomes apparent that this is a nightmare when the bus drives off the road and away over a field, and is revealed to be being driven by Freddy Krueger.  The ground opens up, and the bus plunges back and forth on a precipice, threatening to fall.

Cut to suburbia where Jesse has just woken up from the bad dream.  Apparently nightmares are common for him, judging by the reactions of his family.  He drives to school with Lisa, his sort-of girlfriend, and we cut to gym class, where it’s revealed Jesse is no good at sports.  He gets into a fight with another boy, Grady, but they sort of make up in a boy way while being forced to do punishment press-ups by sadistic Coach Schneider.  When Jesse explains that he’s just moved into the area and is living on Elm Street, we get some backstory from Grady: the house that Jesse and his family have moved into is Nancy Thompson’s old house.  The story around town is that Nancy went crazy after watching Glen get killed in the first film.  Jesse doesn’t believe Grady.

That night, Jesse investigates a noise in the garden, which is a very Elm Street scene – suburban gardens with lots of trellises and trailing plants.  Freddy appears, trying to influence Jesse’s mind rather than killing him – he clearly needs to use Jesse to achieve his evil ends.

Jesse, understandably, doesn’t sleep well for the rest of the night, and the next day, a boring biology class sends him to sleep.  He dreams a snake is strangling him, causing him to yell out and wake up, only to find himself holding a real snake from one of the classroom tanks.  The teacher thinks he’s messing about.

Back home, Jesse intends to go out and meet up with Lisa, but his dad insists that he clean his room first.  Jesse plays loud pop music (Touch Me by Wish and Fonda Rae, a very minor hit that nevertheless has its own Wikipedia entry) while doing so, which is not very suited to the situation – some metal or punk would be more rebellious.  This is quite a silly sequence, with Jesse singing into a pretend microphone and dressing up in daft accessories until Lisa arrives, having convinced Jesse’s mother that he’d invited her round to help sort out his room.

Jesse and Lisa find Nancy’s diary on a shelf.  Apparently the events of the first film took place five years ago, which is infuriating if you’re enough of an ’80s fan to have a keen eye for the changing fashion trends throughout the decade.  The first film was released in 1984 and this one in 1985, meaning that they both look emphatically mid-’80s.  You couldn’t even get away with saying that the first one was set in 1982/1983 and the second in 1987/1988, because the fashions and decor trends of each year of the decade are so completely distinctive.  Obviously in 1985 they had no way of predicting what the world would look like in 1989, but it’s still a real annoyance.  To me, anyway.

That night, Jesse finds Freddy’s glove in his dream. ‘Kill for me!’ says Freddy, still trying to turn Jesse into a puppet.

The next day, the whole of Jesse’s family are complaining about the heat in the house, but Jesse’s little sister tells them to shush, because the pet birds are sleeping – there’s a cover on their cage.  Unfortunately, the cage starts shaking bizarrely, and then explodes.  The pet birds go nuts and start flying at Jesse’s dad’s face to peck him, drawing blood in a nice callback to The Birds, before exploding in a shower of feathers.  Nasty.

Completely randomly, Jesse wakes up in the middle of the night and sneaks out to a nightclub.  Coach Schneider is also at the club, catches Jesse, and takes him back to school (still in the middle of the night) to make him run circuits of the gymnasium.  This whole bit is so bizarre that at first I thought it was supposed to be a dream sequence, but apparently not.  There’s lots of Adidas product placement here too, which is distracting.

After a scene where all the basketballs and tennis balls in the gym equipment come flying out to attack Schneider, he’s dragged into the showers by an invisible force.  There’s then a bizarre telekinetic towel whipping sequence, before Freddy, possessing the body of Jesse, kills Schneider.

There’s a knock on the door at Jesse’s house, and his parents answer to find the police bringing Jesse home after apparently finding him wandering naked along the highway.  The next day, Jesse’s dad fits bars to all the windows, just like Nancy’s mother in the first film.

Another dream sequence, where Jesse finds Freddy’s glove in a drawer in his bedroom, then goes into his sister’s bedroom to find her skipping to the creepy ‘One, two, Freddy’s coming for you’ rhyme.

In the morning, Jesse confronts his father, asking angrily if he knew about the previous goings-on in the house, with Nancy going crazy and Nancy’s mother apparently committing suicide.  Apparently Jesse’s dad did know about it, but didn’t care ’cause he was getting a good deal on the house.  This is pretty much the same plotline as what happens with John Strode and his family in Halloween 6, which was released a decade later, so I guess Halloween 6 copied this one.

Lisa has been busy since they found the diary.  She drives Jesse out to Krueger’s old boiler room and shows him all the research she’s done into the backstory.  Jesse is too panicked about the dreams to listen to her – he believes that he’s going crazy and killed Schneider himself.

In Jesse’s next dream, Freddy nearly gets him to kill his little sister.  Jesse starts taking pep pills to try and avoid sleeping.

Nobody at the high school seems to care much about Schneider having been brutally murdered (as we’ve seen multiple times this month, the standard motto of every horror film high school is ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’), and so the topic of conversation in the cafeteria at lunchtime is the party that Lisa’s throwing.  Grady says he can’t go, ’cause he’s grounded.

At Lisa’s party, her parents go to bed early as promised.  This results in a bizarre moment where the party gets wild and loud as soon as all the party guests see the lights go out in the parents’ bedroom.  Just as I was about to ask, ‘surely the parents can hear all of this?’, we do indeed cut to the parents in bed, looking surprised at the fact that the party kids are stupid enough to think they won’t hear anything.  However, Lisa’s mother persuades her husband to leave the kids be.  The whole sequence is a bit weird and unsatisfying.

Jesse is so stressed he’s close to a panic attack, but Lisa calms him down by dragging him into the cabana for some alone time.  However, Freddy tries to take over Jesse while he and Lisa are making out, and so he runs off, leaving her confused and annoyed.

Jesse breaks into Grady’s bedroom through his window and wakes him up.  In an awesome and much-appreciated bit of set dressing, Grady’s room is super super ’80s – triangle-patterned wallpaper with Stray Cats and Limahl posters everywhere!  Jesse makes Grady promise to watch him while he sleeps to make sure Freddy doesn’t appear, but once Jesse’s fast asleep, Grady gets bored and decides to go to sleep after all.  However, Jesse then wakes up, and there’s a grisly body horror moment as Freddy breaks out of his chest, killing Grady and causing everything in the house to explode.  This whole telekinetic power thing of Freddy’s is not very well explained – I don’t remember it being a thing in the first film.

Jesse becomes himself again and returns to Lisa’s house, but then turns into Freddy again and starts to chase Lisa.  He slashes Lisa’s leg, but Lisa can’t kill him knowing Jesse is somewhere inside Freddy.  There’s then a confusing sequence where Freddy keeps disappearing and reappearing as he goes through doorways, kills a bunch of kids in front of loads of witnesses including Lisa’s parents, then disappears again.  I’d love to know how Lisa’s parents explain that one to the police, but of course it’s never followed up.

Lisa drives to the boiler room to confront Krueger, and has to cope with a bunch of hallucinations including creepy dream dogs with human faces and her leg wound being infected with locusts.  After a final chase sequence, in which Lisa refuses to believe that Jesse is dead, keeps imploring him to fight Freddy from within, and then finally kisses Freddy (ew!), Freddy seemingly burns to death, and we get a ‘love conquers all’ victory with a burnt Jesse emerging from Freddy’s corpse.  The whole thing is a bit confusing.

Cut to daylight, where an unburnt Jesse (apart from a bandage on his arm) waves goodbye to his mother and goes off to catch the bus to school, meeting up on the bus with Lisa and her friend Kerry.  This school bus sequence is seemingly another dream, especially when Freddy bursts out of Kerry’s chest and the credits roll.  It’s just as unsatisfying an ending as the first film, with more questions than answers.

Oh, and there’s some completely out-of-place old-timey music over the credits (Bing Crosby’s Did You Ever See A Dream Walking).

Something a lot older and a bit more sedate tomorrow!

31 Days Of Horror: Halloween: Resurrection

Today’s film is Halloween: Resurrection (2002), which was the first Halloween film I was able to go and see in the cinema.  I was seventeen then, which as we saw in the last film is a notable age for Halloween characters, so it was nice that an entry in the series came out that year!  If you’re paying attention, though, you’ll notice that the film is actually set in 2001, because it’s stated to be three years since the events of 1998’s Halloween H20.  From what I remember, this was because the film was originally meant to come out in 2001, but suffered from production delays.

Halloween: Resurrection
Another ‘head lineup’ example of film promotion.

We hear about this three-year gap as part of the ludicrous opening backstory from the nurses in the mental institution in which Laurie Strode is now being held.  Apparently the man Laurie beheaded at the end of the last film was not Michael but instead a random paramedic – Michael had set this up by putting his mask on this guy and crushing his throat so he couldn’t tell anyone he wasn’t Michael Myers.  This ridiculous retcon obviously doesn’t solve all the problems with the scenario.  Watch the last scene of Halloween H20 again and you’ll see ‘Michael’ clutching his head and face, feeling that he’s got a mask on.  Why didn’t he take off the mask to show that he wasn’t Michael?  This also ruins the oddly touching moment that I discussed yesterday.

Laurie has been mute for three years, according to the nurses.  When they leave the room, we see she’s not as messed up as she’s pretending to be – she’s not actually swallowing the pills they give her, instead hiding them inside a doll.

Another patient, Harold, likes dressing up as serial killers and is constantly being caught wandering the grounds in different masks, cosplaying as his favourite psychopaths.  This raises a lot of questions about the competence of the facility.  Where is Harold getting his masks from?  Why is he allowed them?  The point of this character, of course, is to ensure that when the security guards see Michael Myers on the security cameras wandering around the basement, they think it’s Harold.  The guards are easily picked off as a result.

Despite Laurie setting up lots of traps on the roof, Michael finally manages to kill her, because when she has the chance to kill him, she instead decides she has to be sure this time and so tries to take his mask off, enabling him to stab her first.  ‘I’ll see you in hell,’ she says before falling to her death, which is a bit of an abrupt end for such an important character.

Rather cutely, Michael decides not to kill Harold, instead giving him his knife as a souvenir!  This leads into an epic monologue from Harold, listing all of Michael’s murders, which emphasises that we are still very much in the H20 continuity that ignores 4/5/6.

The action moves to Haddonfield University, where we meet main character Sara.  If you’re keeping score at home, you’ll remember that we only just had a character called Sarah in the last film.  This irritating lack of character name imagination occurs a lot in this film, as we’ll see throughout the review.

Sara’s friends Jenny and Rudy are excited about being picked for an internet broadcast called ‘Dangertainment’ that’s about to be filmed in the Myers house. ‘We could be bigger than the Osbournes!’ says Jenny, dating the film horribly.  I want to note that I absolutely hate the ‘isn’t this Web 2.0 thing new and exciting’ theme that characterised films and TV of the early ’00s.  Because information technology moves so quickly in this century, over-featuring the latest messenger software and mobile phones is an absolutely surefire way to ensure that people watching the film in twenty years’ time will laugh at the quaintness of the whole thing.  Media makers have still not really learnt their lesson about this (as shown by the number of songs in the charts at the moment that refer to things like Instagram Stories and Snapchat filters, which will have the kids of the 2020s and beyond shaking their heads and going ‘what?’), but the whole ‘wow! isn’t this technological century exciting!’ thing is not as prevalent as it was fifteen years ago.

We get a nice bit with a creepy fellow student doing the whole ‘you’re doomed!’ speech in lieu of Dr Loomis, but sadly we don’t see this character again.  Sara, meanwhile, turns out to be sort-of ‘online dating’ a high school freshman student who hasn’t told her his age.

Freddie (Busta Rhymes) and Nora (Tyra Banks) are in charge of Dangertainment.  I am pretty sure neither of them have done much acting either before or after this film.  In another bit of unimaginative naming, Nora is a very similar name to Norma from the previous film.

Most of the students chosen for Dangertainment are total idiots – Jenny is vapid and just wants to be famous, Rudy has a gory, morbid sense of humour, Bill is really pervy, Jim is really creepy, and Donna is just pretentious.  Sara is the only one who comes across as normal.  When she visits Freddie in his dorm room (Freddie’s a student?  He looks far too old, and with good reason – Busta Rhymes was thirty when this film came out!) and tries to back out of the project, he explains that her ‘normalness’ is the reason he wants her on the show, because she’s ‘real’.  Freddie is also shown to love kung-fu movies, but not quite as much as he loves himself.

Back to Sara’s ‘online boyfriend’, who calls himself Deckard, and his fellow freshman friend.  Deckard wants to stay in for Hallowe’en and watch Sara on Dangertainment, but his friend is insistent that they have to go to a party instead, because it’s a really big honour for freshmen to be invited to a party hosted by older students.  ‘Your sister invited us so you wouldn’t tell your mother about her tattoo,’ retorts Deckard, which was a line I really appreciated at the time, since a major feature of my late teens was me and my mates constantly getting tattoos that our parents didn’t approve of.

The nasty shaky primitive internet camera used for the broadcast is incredibly irritating to watch, and is another thing that dates the film now that we’re in the age of slick YouTubers!

Nora is setting the broadcast up from a small studio with lots of screens for the different cameras, liaising via walkie-talkie with a cameraman.  The cameraman is called Charley, which is another slightly-differently-spelt reused name from the previous film – this is fairly infuriating now.  He quickly gets offed by Michael, but Nora is too busy dancing to a CD she’s put on and hence conveniently turning her back on the screens to see him getting killed.

Michael Myers is ‘a mystery wrapped up in a riddle wrapped up in an enigma’, according to Freddie.  This phrase crops up in fiction a lot, but apparently originated with Winston Churchill.

The students enter the Myers house, and immediately things don’t seem right.  The ‘forty year old’ ingredients in the kitchen cupboards smell fresh, according to student chef Rudy, and there’s a creepy baby high chair with chains on it, which indicates the whole broadcast is obviously a setup.  Unfortunately the participants are a bit thick, and so they’re nowhere near close to realising this fact yet.

Deckard and his friend are clearly only at the teen party to add some visual interest and comedy relief to the film, seeing as Deckard spends the whole party on a PC watching the broadcast – other partygoers join him in watching the show as the film goes on!

Bill gets killed by Michael through a mirror, but Freddie and Nora are too self-absorbed to notice what’s happening on the screen in front of them.  The students in the Myers house find more creepy obviously-planted toys, and Rudy finally realises that the whole thing is fake.

Donna and Jim start getting it on in the basement, only to be fallen on top of by a creepy skeleton.  Watching in the studio, Freddie and Nora high-five, for the benefit of the one remaining viewer who hasn’t realised they’re the ones who’ve set all this stuff up.  Donna and Jim realise the skeleton’s fake, and Freddie decides to up the ante by donning a Michael Myers mask and entering the house.  We then get a ridiculous comedy scene of one Michael Myers stalking another.  Freddie notices the real Michael behind him, thinks it’s Charley, and has a go at him for ruining the setup, telling him to get out of the house.  Strangely, the real Michael obeys, despite there being no reason for him not to try to kill Freddie at this point.

Jim leaves the basement, but Donna investigates the hole/tunnel revealed by the fake skeleton.  She finds a news clipping about Laurie Strode, a half-dead rat (ew!) and Laurie’s doll from the sanatorium, indicating that she’s found the real Michael’s lair.  Before she can warn the others, she gets chased down by Michael and killed.

Jenny and Rudy are smoking a bong in an upstairs room, which is a flagrant breach of Scream‘s Rule 2.  Sara, meanwhile, freaks out when she thinks she sees Michael roaming around, and drags Rudy downstairs to investigate.  The fake Michael leaps out and drags Sara along the ground, but has to reveal himself to be Freddie when Rudy starts beating him up.  Sara, Jim and Rudy are angry at being set up, but Freddie implores them to finish the broadcast, promising that they’ll be well-paid.

Meanwhile, the stoned Jenny discovers Bill’s corpse, and runs out to the landing screaming.  The real Michael materialises behind her and chops her head off with a knife (grim!), meaning the other characters finally realise what’s going on.  This is the point where the students start dropping like flies – Freddie is seemingly knocked out, Jim gets his head crushed, and Rudy gets killed in exactly the same way as Bob from the first film, which is a morbid but much-appreciated callback.

It’s cute that Deckard can direct Sara around the house via old-fashioned early ’00s text messaging.  This leads to a well-done tense sequence as Sara hides from Michael.

Freddie turns out to be still alive, and he and Sara try to escape together.  This leads to a slightly cringeworthy scene where Freddie uses his kung-fu movie knowledge to kick Michael out of the window and suspend him from a cable.  However, by the time Sara and Freddie have had a lengthy debrief by the front door (WHY are they not running straight out of it?), Michael has escaped his predicament, and stabs Freddie from behind.

Sara, still allergic to the front door, goes down into the basement to play find-the-body.  Climbing up through the tunnel to the Dangertainment studio, she finds that Nora has been killed offscreen.  Luckily, there’s a convenient chainsaw stashed in the cupboard, which means Sara can carry out CHAINSAW REVENGE! on Michael…until the chainsaw runs out of fuel.

The leaking fuel sets the studio hut aflame, and Sara is trapped by a fallen table.  Must be a fairly heavy table if she can’t push it off herself.  Michael readies for the kill, but Freddie’s still not dead yet. ‘Trick or treat, motherf***er!’ he says as he blasts Michael into a burning wall, which must be the worst line of dialogue in the entire Halloween franchise.

Wrapped in a ‘horror film survivor blanket’, Sara speaks to the press (and thanks Deckard for saving her life, leading to him becoming the hero of the high school party), as does Freddie, who is a character that really shouldn’t have survived this film by rights.  When have we ever seen the idiot who decides to stir up danger actually surviving a horror film?  That character is always meant to be satisfyingly killed about halfway through the film, as penance for his own stupidity.  Those are the rules!  As a result, this ending feels very unsatisfactory.

Michael has seemingly burnt to death, but long-time viewers will know better.  In the morgue, his eyes open, and the credits roll.

Another quick break from Halloween tomorrow!

31 Days Of Horror: Halloween H20

We kick off a new Halloween storyline with Halloween H20 (1998), which ignores the ‘Thorn trilogy’ of Halloween 4/5/6.  In this storyline, Laurie Strode didn’t have a daughter called Jamie in 1981 and then die with Jamie’s father in a car crash in 1987; instead, she faked her death in a car crash sometime before 1981, moved to California and changed her identity to Keri Tate, got married, had a son called John in 1981, got divorced, and became the headmistress of a private boarding school.  Everyone caught up?  Great.

Halloween H20
A good example of the late ’90s ‘head lineup’ poster popularised by Scream.

We get a reprise of the Chordettes’ Mr Sandman playing over the opening scene, symbolising the continuation from Halloween II.  Still gloriously creepy!  The action opens in Langdon, Illinois, where Marion Whittington, the nurse from the first and second films, is still chain-smoking away.  She arrives home to find her house has been broken into, and sensibly goes to get help rather than investigating by herself.

There’s a Friday the 13th series reference as Marion bumps into someone in a hockey mask.  It turns out to be neighbour kid Jimmy, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a beautifully late ’90s bit of casting.  Despite Marion’s exhortations to wait for the police, Jimmy goes straight in to explore the house.  Marion’s office has been ransacked, but nothing else has been touched; however, Jimmy spends so long nicking beer from Marion’s fridge that it’s dark outside by the time he comes out, and the police STILL haven’t shown up yet!

The power goes out as soon as Marion goes into her house, because that’s Michael Myers’ MO.  She investigates the ransacked office to find that the ‘Laurie Strode’ file is missing, and immediately realises who’s responsible.  She heads over to Jimmy’s house to get help again, but it’s too late – Jimmy has taken an ice skate to the face from Michael, and his friend’s dead too.  The police finally show up just as Michael catches up with Marion, and Michael drives away at the same moment they start discovering the bodies.

Next morning, we get a backstory infodump from the detectives investigating the case.  Marion’s house turns out to have belonged to Dr Loomis – ‘he was that shrink who died years ago, she took care of him’ – meaning that the office and the files were the property of Loomis.  Appropriately, we get a voiceover of Donald Pleasence’s monologue about Michael from the first film, along with a montage of newspaper clippings explaining what happened, over the opening credits.

A couple of notes from the credits: Marco Beltrami from Scream did the additional music for this film!  Also, there’s a photocopy of Laurie’s high school yearbook that reads ‘Class of ’78’, but it should be ‘Class of ’79’, because she was in her senior year in October 1978.

Laurie, as I explained at the start, is now ‘Keri Tate’, a headteacher in California.  She’s having nightmares about twenty years ago, and is shown still to have the scar from where Michael slashed her in the first film.

Josh Hartnett makes his first film appearance as Laurie’s son John.  He’s used to dealing with his mother’s nightmares and gets her some pills from the bathroom.  He receives a birthday card from his father, two months late, revealing that he’s seventeen.  Laurie, as you might expect, is horribly overprotective of him and is refusing to let him go on a school trip to Yosemite.

John complains to his friends Charlie, Molly and Sarah about not being allowed to go, and because it’s now the postmodern post-Scream era, we get a Psycho reference from Charlie – ‘in twenty years you’re probably still going to be living with her, running some weird hotel out in the middle of nowhere’.

Laurie is having hallucinations about seeing Michael everywhere.  This is apparently a normal occurrence, especially around Hallowe’en.  Meanwhile, the teenage characters make non-Yosemite plans, deciding to have a Hallowe’en party in the school while everyone else is away on the school trip.

We then get a scene with a mother and child attempting to use a roadside public toilet – the ladies’ are locked, so they use the gents’.  This is the standard ‘Michael needs to change cars while travelling to Haddonfield’ scene, although unusually, he doesn’t kill them – perhaps it was considered a bit too brutal, but it comes across as out of character.

Laurie turns out to be having a secret relationship with Will Brennan, the school counselor.  The school secretary Norma, meanwhile, is played by Janet Leigh, who was Jamie Lee Curtis’ real-life mother and whose most famous role was Psycho shower victim Marion.  I’m very fond of this particular horror callback!

LL Cool J is, I believe, the earliest example of the curious trend of late ’90s/early ’00s slashers featuring R&B stars who weren’t generally known for their acting.  In this film, though, it’s an inspired choice – his characterisation as Ronny, the security guard and wannabe novelist, is hilarious, with him constantly on the phone to his wife reading out the bad erotica he’s been writing!

John has Ronny wrapped around his little finger, and persuades him to look the other way while he and Charlie sneak out to town to get supplies for the party.  Laurie is also in town, and is clearly freaked out by the kids in costumes roaming the streets.  On her lunch date with Will, she turns out to be using alcohol to deal with the stress, sneaking an extra glass of Chardonnay while Will is in the bathroom.  I quite like this character beat.

In case we hadn’t guessed, John then explains to Charlie that he can’t steal booze from Laurie’s cupboard because she’s a ‘functioning alcoholic’ and would notice if it went missing.  Charlie goes shoplifting for it instead, which is a pretty good indication he’s not going to survive this film.  Laurie catches them in town and drives them home, and we see Michael Myers brazenly pulling up in his car right behind them at the school gates.  Nobody notices for some reason.

John meets up with girlfriend Molly to show her his decorations for the party – he’s excited as he’s never celebrated Hallowe’en before.  In class, Molly reprises Laurie’s classroom scene from 1978 – she sees Michael Myers staring at her from outside, but is distracted by being asked a question by the teacher (in this case Laurie, who apparently teaches English class as well as being headmistress – the class discussion is on Frankenstein, because postmodernism!).

At the end of the class, Laurie reveals that she’s changed her mind about Yosemite, and gives John the permission slip.  He’s already decided he’s not going, though, as he wants to party with his friends.  The school clears out for the trip, leaving the building deserted.

Laurie bumps into Norma, who repeats the Sheriff Brackett line from 1978 (‘it’s Hallowe’en…I guess everyone’s entitled to one good scare’), and then launches into an absolutely shameless Psycho callback sequence.  ‘I know it’s not my place, but if I could be maternal for a minute…we’ve all had bad things happen to us,’ she says to Laurie, then gets into the car she drove in Psycho, while the Psycho soundtrack plays in the background!

Ronny finally notices Michael’s car, and goes out to investigate.  I love how Michael just casually saunters past him while he’s checking out the car!

The phone lines are cut, cutting off Ronny’s wife, which is a shame ’cause she’s one of the best things about this film.

Laurie sees Michael approaching her, and assumes she’s hallucinating again.  Before she can wonder why she can’t get rid of the hallucination as usual by squeezing her eyes shut, Will shows up, and they decide to go back to her place once he’s checked on the students staying behind.

In Molly and Sarah’s dorm room, they’re watching the video of Scream 2, because this is the late ’90s.  This, incidentally, results in one of those fictional universe paradoxes where, as we saw yesterday, the Halloween series exists as a fictional story in the Scream universe, and as we see now, the Scream series exists as a fictional story in the Halloween universe.  I would love to see the version of Scream that exists in the Halloween universe – it’d be a very different film without all the Halloween references!

Sarah stubs out her cigarette just as Will enters the room.  There is no way on earth he wouldn’t be able to smell it!

Back at home, Laurie has a whole tumbler of vodka plus a swig of gin to calm her nerves.  Will shows up with a pumpkin, and suddenly Laurie doesn’t seem so against celebrating Hallowe’en.  She tells Will her backstory, and suddenly realises that both she and her sister Judith were seventeen when Michael came to kill them, the same age that John is now.  Freaked out, she tries to call the Yosemite trip to make sure John’s okay.  The phone lines have been cut, and she notices that John never picked up his camping gear.  Laurie immediately grabs a gun, and nearly ends up shooting Ronny, who has come to her house to report about the strange car.

About five different characters say ‘I’ll be right back’ in this film, which is probably another Scream reference.  Charlie dies offscreen, and after discovering his body, Sarah gets chased down by Michael, leaving John and Molly the lone party survivors.  They escape through a window, and Michael gives chase, slowing them down by stabbing John in the leg.  There’s a brilliantly tense sequence where they’ve managed to get through a locked gate but can’t open the door behind it, meaning they have to cower from Michael trying to stab them through the gate.  Laurie gets them through the door just in time, and the small window in the door allows her to come face-to-mask with her brother for the first time in twenty years.

‘Do as I say, now,’ orders Laurie as she ushers John and Molly into a locked room, which is exactly what she said to Tommy and Lindsey in the first film when hiding them in the same way.

Will accidentally shoots Ronny, apparently killing him.  This has become a bit of a theme in these films!  As they’re checking Ronny’s body, Michael sneaks up and kills Will.  Laurie manages to escape with John and Molly in her car.  At the school entrance, she gets out of the car to open the gate.  ‘I want you to drive down the road to the Beckers, get them to call an ambulance and get the police,’ she says to Molly, paraphrasing words we’ve now heard many times during this horrorthon!

Laurie stays in the school to confront Michael, grabbing an axe to fight with.  After a lengthy fight sequence around the school, where it’s no longer clear who’s chasing who, she seemingly manages to kill him, and then drops the damn knife AGAIN, just as she was always doing in the first film.  Luckily, though, she has another one, and goes down to make sure she’s finished the job.  Unfortunately, just as she’s about to stab Michael, Ronny shows up and stops her, apparently not dead after all.  To be honest, I don’t think stabbing Michael would have killed him – he’s too superhuman for that.

Ronny, despite having been shot several times, seems perfectly fine in the aftermath, chatting away to his wife on the phone about his new idea for the ‘erotic thriller’ he’s going to write!  Maybe Will was just a really bad shot.

Despite the fact that hundreds of police and ambulance workers have shown up to deal with the situation, Laurie decides to take matters into her own hands and drives Michael’s body away in a van so she can kill him properly.  When she sees him wake up, she brakes hard so he goes flying through the windscreen, and then runs him over, sending the van crashing down a hill into a tree and jumping out of the van just in time.

After the crash, there’s a sort of oddly touching moment where the trapped Michael reaches out a hand to Laurie, and she reaches back, nearly touching but not quite.  Then she chops his head off with an axe, which is the only sensible way to deal with Michael Myers, and the film ends.

Incidentally, this is the second Halloween film in a row that has an ‘In Memory of Donald Pleasence’ caption during the end credits.

Another Halloween film tomorrow!

31 Days Of Horror: Scream

I first saw Scream (1996) shortly after it came out, with my friend Fiona.  I was eleven and she was twelve, so no, we didn’t see this 18-rated film in the cinema – she got her mum to rent it from a video rental shop, which was a thing that existed in the 20th century.  It was the first slasher movie I ever watched.

A much better DVD cover than we’ve been featuring recently!

The opening sequence with Drew Barrymore is infamous – she promoted the movie like she was its star, so filmgoers expected her to be the final girl, but instead she turned out to be the girl who gets butchered in the first ten minutes.  As Halloween is referenced continually throughout this film (Barrymore’s character, Casey, identifies it as her favourite horror film in the very first scene), we’ll say she’s the Judith Myers rather than the Laurie Strode.

When the stranger on the phone says A Nightmare On Elm Street was scary, Casey opines, ‘The first one was but the rest sucked.’  Apparently director Wes Craven didn’t want to include this line because he felt it would come across as him slagging off the Nightmare films that he wasn’t involved in!  Screenwriter Kevin Williamson persuaded him to go with it by explaining that ‘the rest’ included Craven’s New Nightmare.

The trick question about Friday the 13th is inspired – I bet nobody ever gets that one wrong in pub quizzes nowadays!

When I was younger I absolutely loved the trope callouts in this film, but nowadays I find it a bit too knowing – maybe just because the film has been dated by its slew of late ’90s imitators that formed the ‘postmodern slasher era’.  It was hugely original at the time though, so I will try to look at it without the twenty-two years of hindsight.

‘Get in the car, drive down to the Mackenzies, call the police,’ says Casey’s father to her mother, which is an almost verbatim copy of what Laurie says to Tommy towards the end of Halloween.

We’re introduced to real main character Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) now, who is using very old-fashioned computer software for 1996 – you’d think she’d at least have Windows!  Sidney’s dad, Neil, is conveniently going out of town for a few days, which is a bit strange given what is revealed later in the film.  Sidney is visited through her bedroom window (major ’90s flashbacks to Clarissa Explains It All and Dawson’s Creek!) by her boyfriend Billy, who is not super happy about Sidney not wanting to get too physical with him recently.  Billy can’t even complain about not getting sex without using a film analogy, which is a bit of a theme in this film and is part of the reason I find the characters and dialogue a bit awkward and unrealistic sometimes.  We get a cover of Don’t Fear The Reaper (by Gus) playing during this scene, which is another callback to Halloween, in which Laurie and Annie listen to the original song while driving to their babysitting jobs.

(A quick ’90s note: after watching Halloween 6 and Scream, it’s settled in my mind that curtains were the worst, ugliest, most greasy-looking ’90s hair mistake ever and I can’t believe I used to have posters of boy popstars on my wall sporting that look.  Wash your hair and put a bit of volume in it, for the love of God!)

The backstory is that Sidney’s mother Maureen was murdered a year ago, which is why it’s weird that Neil is going away on a business trip – you’d think they’d want to support each other during a difficult anniversary.

Marco Beltrami’s score is gorgeous!  Really evocative.

Reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) appears here, and her skirt suit is insane – bright neon green and ridiculously short, like the Spice Girls going to a business meeting.  In other words, it screams 1996 (no pun intended).

I think this is the only role Rose McGowan, who plays Sidney’s friend Tatum, ever did as a blonde – she dyed her hair in order to contrast with Campbell and Cox.

Yet another example of a high school not shutting down even though two of their students have been brutally murdered!  However, it means we get some quality time to appreciate the brilliance of casting Henry Winkler (the Fonz from Happy Days, if you’re not aware) as the principal, Mr Himbry.

Sidney’s friend group – Tatum, Billy, Stu and Randy –  are mostly idiots who don’t seem to care about what’s happened, instead making jokes about horror movie tropes.  It’s kind of difficult to like the characters in this film.  Sidney is perturbed and decides to stay at Tatum’s overnight.

However, back at home, she falls asleep for too long, and wakes up when it’s dark, meaning the killer comes (phone) calling.  Sydney doesn’t seem very scared considering what’s happened – she just assumes it’s a prankster.  However, once the killer appears, she’s really capable, and manages to fight him off.  Billy arrives through the window again, to Sidney’s relief – but when she hugs him, a chunky ’90s mobile falls out of his pocket, and she decides he must be the killer.  It’s a bit odd that she suspects Billy just for having a mobile – i know they were less common in 1996 but he can’t have been the only one!  Indeed, at the police station, he insists to the police chief that ‘everyone’s got one’, but the chief decides to hold him until they can check the phone records.

Gale Weathers is a total cow, even to her cameraman Kenny.  Kenny is overweight, which is a definite death curse in a horror film, as it means you can’t run fast enough!

Billy’s surname is Loomis, presumably after Dr Loomis, which is yet another Halloween reference if you’re keeping score!

Dewey is bit of a ‘comedy incompetent’ cop, which is pretty frustrating.  He and the chief discuss the process of finding out whether it was Billy’s mobile that made the calls to Casey and Sidney, which is going to take until the next morning.  I wonder why it takes so long to cross-reference calls?

Linda Blair (who played Regan in The Exorcist twenty-three years earlier) makes a cameo as a news reporter!

Sidney goes into the school bathroom to find that a couple of girls are gossiping about her in the stalls, speculating that she’s the killer.  Even the cheerleaders at this high school have morbid imaginations!  Sidney is then attacked by someone in the ghostface costume, but it’s not clear whether it’s just a prankster student or the actual killer.

Gale and Dewey flirting with each other is just really weird and uncomfortable.  I’ve never bought into this pairing, even though there should have been good chemistry given that the actors ended up marrying each other in real life.

Himbry finally sees sense and closes the school, to much jubilation, and Stu announces a house party.  There’s a daft sequence with Himbry trying on the ghostface mask, investigating a noise to find that the only person around is a janitor wearing a Freddy Krueger jumper (played by Wes Craven in a ridiculously self-aware cameo!), and then getting killed due to the school being deserted.  Maybe this is why high school principals in horror movies don’t usually close schools – they’re protecting themselves!

Good use of School’s Out by Alice Cooper!

A rare non-slasher horror reference as we see the Universal version of Frankenstein being shown onscreen at the video shop where Randy works.  Randy, Stu and Billy are clearly not all there in the head – they’re still making jokes, speculating about each other being the killer, and generally being really unsettling and not at all like actual human beings.  Randy, the resident geek, out-and-out knows he’s in a horror movie, and makes no bones about it.

More awesome background music as the police announce a town-wide curfew – this time Red Right Hand by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.  The chief tells Dewey that the phone calls have been traced to Neil Prescott’s phone, which is the most obvious red herring ever.

Stu’s party attracts a lot of attention, with Dewey having been sent by the chief to keep an eye on things and Gale and Kenny sniffing around for more on the story.  Gale persuades Dewey to let her come with him when he checks out the party, and secretly installs a secret camera to watch what’s happening from outside.

‘Why is Jamie Lee Curtis in all these movies?’ asks Sidney, flipping through Randy’s video collection.  ‘She’s the Scream Queen,’ he replies, and it’s clearly slasher fan Kevin Williamson speaking here through Randy!

Tatum barely gets to enjoy the party, instead being picked off by the killer in the garage.  When I was a kid, this death by catflap seared itself into my memory!  Again, she automatically thinks the person in the ghostface costume is a prankster rather than the killer, which is not really a sensible assumption when it’s known there’s an actual killer about.

‘What’s Leatherface doing here?’ asks Randy when Billy arrives, giving us a nice Texas Chainsaw Massacre reference.

The footage from the secret camera that Kenny is watching in the TV van is on a thirty-second delay – this is important later.

Billy’s Silence of the Lambs analogy is one too many for Sidney, but his insistence that ‘life is just a big movie’ doesn’t put her deciding she’s ready to sleep with him.

Appropriately given the amount of Halloween references we’ve had so far in this film, the party guests are now watching the film, giving Randy an opportunity to explain ‘The Rules’ that characters have to follow in order to survive a horror movie:

  1. You can never have sex.
  2. You can never drink or do drugs.
  3. You can never say ‘I’ll be right back’.

Relatedly, we then get to the point in Halloween where there’s a topless shot of Linda, which is juxtaposed with Sidney taking her top off.  Interestingly, ’90s slasher films are pretty much free of sex and nudity, especially when you compare them to ’70s and ’80s ones.  I don’t know if it’s because they were trying to get more lenient cinema ratings (pretty much a lost cause with that much blood and gore!) or if those kinds of scenes were just considered a bit tasteless at that point in time.

Randy answers the phone to somebody who tells him about Himbry’s butchered corpse having been hung from a goalpost on the football field, so the bulk of party guests leave to go check it out (grim! there’s something really wrong with the teenagers in this town), which sets up the isolation nicely for the final sequence, as Randy chooses to stay and watch the rest of Halloween.

Gale and Dewey find Neil Prescott’s car while out in the woods.  How does Dewey recognise it straight away?

While getting dressed, Sidney starts probing Billy about his one phone call when he was arrested, and I wonder why she’s starting to suspect him again at this point.  Was the sex that bad?  The killer shows up and allays her suspicions by seemingly stabbing Billy.

While Randy is watching Halloween, the killer creeps up behind him.  ‘Look behind you, Jamie Lee!’ Randy says, when he should be taking his own advice.

Kenny dies due to the thirty-second delay – he and Sidney open the car door to try and warn Randy, only to find the killer has already caught up with them.  Sidney escapes out of the back of the van.  We then get the background of John Carpenter’s Halloween score playing while Dewey investigates the empty house, due to the film still playing on TV, which provides an automatic creepy atmosphere and presumably meant less work for Marco Beltrami.

Given that blood is pouring from the car roof, why doesn’t Gale realise there’s a body on top of there? She then knocks herself out by crashing the van, which is not helpful.

Dewey gets stabbed in the back offscreen, which is standard for an incompetent cop.  Sidney can’t escape in the police car, because the killer has taken the car keys, which is at least original – usually horror movie killers just let out the petrol.  The killer then somehow gets into the back of the car and grabs Sidney from behind, which echoes Halloween again.

Sidney escapes and runs into the house.  Randy and Stu come running up behind her, each accusing the other of being the killer, but Sidney doesn’t trust either of them (which is understandable, given how creepy they both are).  Billy is shown to be still alive – he seems at first to have survived his injuries but then reveals himself to be the killer by shooting Randy and explaining that his ‘blood’ is corn syrup.  ‘Same stuff they used for pig’s blood in Carrie‘.  It’s now quote-a-minute with the horror references, with Billy’s next line being Psycho‘s ‘We all go a little mad sometimes’.

Stu turns out to be Billy’s accomplice, which is not really surprising.  Billy reveals his motive (his father was having an affair with Sidney’s mother, causing Billy’s mother to leave town), and also a tied-up Neil Prescott.  The killers reveal that it was them who killed Maureen Prescott, not the guy who is in jail for the murder, and then explain their plan, which is to frame Neil for the murders and appear to ‘survive’ the killings.  This means the two of them start stabbing each other to cause believable injuries, which is really grim!  Billy’s motivation is clearly revenge, but I think Stu is just mad.

The plan appears to be foiled when Gale returns, having survived the car crash, and steals the gun.  Unfortunately, she doesn’t know how to take the safety off, and Billy knocks her out.  Just as he’s about to kill Gale, Stu notices Sidney has disappeared – she then turns the phone game on them, puts the ghostface costume on herself, and seemingly manages to kill both killers.  In what is could be yet another Halloween reference but is probably just me obsessing, Sidney has the sense that Laurie didn’t, and picks up the knife from next to Billy’s body (seriously, it’s always really annoyed me in Halloween that Laurie is continually dropping knives next to Michael Myers whenever she thinks she’s killed him, so that whenever he wakes up he can just pick up the knife and go again!).  Stu, meanwhile, suffers death by television, meaning we finally stop hearing the Halloween soundtrack in the background.  I wonder how many royalties the filmmakers had to pay John Carpenter?

Billy wakes up and attacks Sidney again, but Gale wakes up at the same time, and has finally figured out the safety on the gun.  ‘Careful,’ warns Randy as they approach Billy’s body.  ‘This is the moment when the supposedly-dead killer comes back to life for one last scare.’  He’s not wrong, but Sidney now has the gun, and shoots Billy in the head.  ‘Not in my movie,’ she says, bringing things neatly to a close.

As the film wraps up, we see that Dewey has survived (spoiler: he sort of becomes the Dr Loomis of the Scream franchise in this respect).

Side note: it was Roger Jackson who did the ‘phone killer’ voice!  I’ve loved his voice acting in videogames for years.

Back to the Halloween films tomorrow!

31 Days Of Horror: The Exorcist

Today’s horror movie is The Exorcist (1973).

Steps from The Exorcist
The steps that everyone gets thrown down to their deaths!

We open in Northern Iraq on an archaeological dig, where an elderly archaeologist and his team find a demon head statuette and a metal pendant.  The old guy is a sort of grizzled Indiana-Jones-before-Indiana-Jones, and later in the film is revealed to be a priest (some guy here does call him ‘Father’, but I presumed it was his son).  He goes to look at another site that has a large statue similar to the small statuette, which seems to be causing dogs to fight.  All very confusing, and thus ends the Iraq sequence.

The action moves to Georgetown, Washington DC, where a clearly-quite-well-off lady lives with two house staff.  She turns out to be Chris MacNeil, an actress currently making a film around the Georgetown campus.  An apparently-important priest passes by as the director calls cut.

Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells is used beautifully as Chris walks home!  The scene is very autumnal, clearly set at Hallowe’en time with leaves falling and kids in costumes everywhere.

Chris arrives home and greets her daughter Regan, who, at this point, is just a normal rich girl who wants a horse.

Father Damien Karras, the priest we saw earlier, stands on the subway platform and doesn’t help a homeless man, which is not very priestly.  Instead, he goes home and visits his elderly mother, who is refusing to move out of her house.

Father Karras smokes and drinks a lot.  Are priests allowed to do this?  Were things different in 1973?

Back at the MacNeil house, Regan turns out to have found a ouija board in the wardrobe and has apparently been talking to someone (supposedly an imaginary friend but one that seems to have telekinetic powers) through it.

Father Karras is in the pub now with his priest friend Tom Dyer, so I’m going to assume drinking is A-OK under the priest code.  Karras thinks he’s lost his faith, which doesn’t bode well for the rest of the story.

Regan’s dad is a bit deadbeat and doesn’t call on Regan’s birthday, which leads to some over-the-phone hysterics and rudeness on Chris’ part.  This is kind of a theme throughout the film, I guess because she’s an actress and therefore a bit of a diva.

Chris investigates a noise in the attic that she thought earlier was rats.  House staff member Carl has also investigated, and says it’s not rats.  I’m not really sure what the point of this subplot is, because the ‘noise in the attic’ thing is not really followed up.

Karras’ mother is hospitalised in a public hospital because the family can’t afford private care.  Karras tells her he’ll take her home, but she won’t listen as she feels betrayed.

Chris hosts a fancy ’70s party with lots of booze and canapes, and some of the party guests talk about Karras – apparently it’s now a couple of weeks later and his mother died in her house alone, with her body not being discovered for two days.  This doesn’t really make any sense, as we last saw her in hospital, so we’re left to assume that Karras did indeed take her back home and then didn’t visit very often, despite her being so ill that she should really be in hospital.

Film director Burke Dennings gets really drunk and accuses someone else of being a Nazi.  This is not followed up either.

The ’70s party ends with a drunken piano singalong, but it’s interrupted by Regan, who, despite seeming perfectly normal when she was at the party in the earlier part of the evening, has suddenly switched to strange behaviour and urinates on the carpet.  She tells Chris her bed was shaking and asks what’s wrong with her – apparently she’s been seen by one of those highly competent horror movie doctors, who thinks it’s ‘nerves’ and has prescribed pills.

Next time Regan’s bed shakes, however, Chris is there to witness it, so she now knows there’s something strange going on.

‘I should have been there,’ Father Karras says about his mother’s death, and then has a dream about his mother coming out of a subway station, interspersed with images of the devil’s face and the pendant that the old priest/archaeologist found in Iraq.

Regan has undergone a full personality transplant now and is swearing and screaming at her doctors.  The chief specialist doesn’t believe Chris about the bed shaking, stating that some mental issues can cause abnormal strength.  Despite the fact that the doctors think it’s a brain lesion, an EEG shows up nothing, and when her spasms get more violent and the doctor comes to see her at home, there’s a brilliantly tense scene with Regan fighting the devil within her own body, the control going back and forth.  The doctors perform further scans, but again they show nothing.

Chris arrives home to find the lights flashing on and off and Regan alone in her bedroom with the window open.  House staff member Sharon arrives just afterwards and explains she left Regan with Burke for a few minutes while she went out, but Burke is nowhere to be found.  However, there’s soon a knock on the door – they just found Burke dead on the steps outside.

Side note: I’m very fond of the Exorcist steps because Geth and I visited them when we were in Washington DC in 2009!

The Exorcist steps, October 2009
We didn’t get chucked down them by a demon though.

A psychiatrist comes to talk to Regan/the devil, but is violently attacked.  We cut to Karras running on the Georgetown racetrack.  He should go for a run around Georgetown itself – it’d be much prettier!  He’s approached by a police officer, Lt. Kinderman, about Burke’s death, which was apparently now a week ago (it seems that the narrative of the film lasts for pretty much the whole of November).  Kinderman asks about witchcraft in relation to a church desecration that was shown earlier, as Burke’s body was found with his head twisted a hundred and eighty degrees, which indicates witchcraft…apparently?  He also wants Karras to come and see films with him, ’cause he’s a bit of a lonely film buff and wants someone to discuss them with.

The doctors are still attempting to come up with explanations for Regan’s condition – they now think it’s a rare sonnambulism.  The doctor actually suggests exorcism to Chris as a last resort, which in the real world would be nuts but in the horror movie world is a rare example of a doctor talking sense!

Chris discovers a cross under Regan’s pillow, and there’s a bit of pointless back-and-forth with the house staff about who put it there.  This is interrupted by a visit from Lt. Kinderman, who after diligently asking lots of questions about Burke’s death, turns into a shameless fanboy and asks for Chris’ autograph.  Nice that he’s got a hobby!  In the course of his questioning/theorising, though, Chris comes to the horrified realisation that Regan killed Burke.

There’s a horrific scene with the now completely possessed Regan raping herself with a crucifix, forcing her mother’s face into her own bloody crotch, and using telekinesis to move heavy furniture about.  It’s definitely time to get the priests involved.

Chris meets Father Karras and is surprised that Father Dyer, who was at her party, didn’t mention what happened with Regan.  Karras doesn’t believe exorcisms even happen anymore, but agrees to go and see Regan.  The devil indicates he knows about Karras’ failure to help the homeless man (‘Would you help an old altar boy, Father?’) and offers to take a message to his mother.  Despite this, it takes a few visits for Karras to be convinced that an exorcism is necessary.

Karras’ boss recommends Father Merrin as the only priest he knows who has experience with exorcism.  This turns out to be the old priest from Iraq, whom I’d forgotten all about at this point!  He shows up at the MacNeil house in a nice moody, atmospheric scene, and he and Karras crack on with the exorcism.

The whole exorcism is a really powerful sequence – Merrin is apparently an old hand, and so the devil concentrates on trying to break Karras’ will by mimicking his mother.  This eventually gets too much for Karras, and Merrin sends him outside so he can complete the exorcism alone.

Karras sits downstairs for a few minutes, but decides to go back and help when Chris expresses her fear that Regan will die.  As he goes upstairs, Lt. Kinderman arrives at the door, with nice convenient timing.

Karras goes back into the room to find that the devil has killed Merrin offscreen (it’s unclear how, but we know from earlier scenes that Merrin had a heart condition, so presumably the strain was just too much for him).  The devil and Karras get into a fist fight, and Karras sacrifices himself by asking the devil to enter him instead (I’ve no idea why the devil obeys!) and then throwing himself out of the window and down the stairs.  Lt. Kinderman’s convenient arrival enables him to enter the room (where a now unpossessed Regan is crying for her mother) and see everything that has happened.  Speaking of convenient arrivals, Father Dyer just happens to be outside and is able to give Father Karras the last rites before he dies.

Chris and Regan prepare to move out of the house, and Sharon seemingly quits her post, which is understandable.  Regan can’t remember what happened, but she has retained some sort of sense of gratitude towards the priests, and kisses Father Dyer as they leave.  Chris, meanwhile, gives Father Dyer the pendant that Father Merrin had brought back from Iraq, which I’m not sure is the luckiest gift in the world.

A lot of unexplained stuff in this film, but at least it ends better than Halloween 6!

Something slightly more recent tomorrow.

31 Days Of Horror: Halloween 6

We complete the ‘Thorn trilogy’ with Halloween 6 (1995), generally considered to be one of the worst films ever.  While it is pretty daft, there’s a lot to like in this one.

Halloween 6 DVD
They actually officially dropped the numerals with this one, but I’m still using it for clarification’s sake.

The film opens with the teenage Jamie Lloyd (now played by a different actress) in labour – she’s been kept prisoner by a weird cult for five or six years.  Once she’s given birth, the creepy cult take the baby away to be used in some bizarre ceremony.

The midwife who delivered the baby has a change of heart about the cult, helps Jamie escape, and is almost immediately killed by Michael, who is seemingly allowed to wander around the cult’s headquarters at will.  Either that, or the fact of it being Hallowe’en has woken him up again.

Jamie escapes in a truck.  I’m not sure where she learnt how to drive, given that she’s been kept prisoner since she was nine!

The Myers house has now been refurbished and has a new family living in it – the young boy in the house, Danny, is being psychically influenced by Michael somehow.

Paul Rudd shows up in his first film appearance, playing the character of Tommy Doyle from the first film.  Like everyone else in town, he’s listening to a local radio station that’s doing a show about Michael Myers.  I love the radio show, as it provides a bit of comic relief with all the nutters phoning in with their theories.

We see Dr Loomis (Donald Pleasence in his last film appearance) is still about too (also listening to the show, obviously)!  He’s visited by ‘old friend’ Dr Wynn at this point, who wants him to come back and work at Smith’s Grove sanatorium again.  Dr Wynn was one of the people who didn’t listen to Loomis in the first film, so I’m not sure why Loomis considers him such a good friend!

Jamie pulls up outside the empty bus station and wanders around there for a while, rather than just driving somewhere where there might actually be people who can help.

The radio show is a good way of setting up the subplots, including the group who want to take Hallowe’en in Haddonfield back from the Michael Myers narrative.

Jamie calls the radio show from the bus station in the hope that Dr Loomis will hear her, which is very ‘Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi’.  ‘Dr Loomis?  Can you hear me, Dr Loomis, are you out there?’

A car chase between Michael and Jamie results in a crash, and Jamie wanders around a creepy deserted barn before Michael eventually kills her.  ‘You can’t have my baby, Michael,’ she says as she dies, and indeed he can’t at the moment.  Returning to the truck, he finds that Jamie has swapped the baby for rolled-up towels and has hidden him somewhere.

The family in the Myers house are quite nice except for the abusive father.  They turn out to be Strodes, relatives of Laurie’s adopted parents. The parents are called Debra and John after series creators Debra Hill and John Carpenter, which is a nice touch, though I’m not sure how John Carpenter would have felt about having such a nasty character named after him!

Tommy, who has been obsessed with Michael Myers since 1978 and whose room is full of newspaper clippings and recording equipment, tracks down Jamie’s location during her call to the radio station by playing the segment back and hearing a bus noise in the background. He goes down to the bus station to check his suspicions.

Why has nobody noticed or cleaned up the blood in the bus station toilets?  You’d think someone would have complained.  Anyway, it means that Tommy easily finds the baby, who has been hidden in a cupboard.

Loomis and Wynn hear that Jamie’s body has been found, and go down to investigate the barn.  Michael has burnt the Thorn symbol into the hay, and Loomis somehow knows all about it now.

More unknown local bands doing the soundtrack, this time playing mid-’90s indie music!

Danny is drawing the Thorn symbol too, along with a creepy picture of his family all getting stabbed.

Tommy conveniently bumps into Loomis at the hospital and infodumps a load of backstory about Jamie not being the last Myers relative and the Strodes having moved into the Myers house.  As a result, Loomis shows up at the Myers house and gives Debra Strode the full poetic/crazy speech about Michael’s evil – unusually, she actually listens to him.

Danny’s backwards baseball cap takes me right back to ’95!  He bumps into Tommy and drops his pumpkin, which splits everywhere, a nice callback to a similarly broken pumpkin in the first film.

Debra calls her husband at Strode Realty to tell him she’s getting the family out of the house, and receives an earful of abuse for her trouble.  She realises John hid the house’s background from the family and bought it himself because he wasn’t able to sell it to anyone else in town.

John turns out to be an alcoholic too, getting his bottle of whisky out as soon as he hangs up!  Lovely guy.

Unfortunately, Michael catches up with Debra before she can warn the family.  The Strodes’ daughter Kara (Danny’s mother) arrives home to a seemingly empty house, but Danny has made friends with Tommy, and she finds them both upstairs.  Tommy tells her they need to leave the house, and so they go to Tommy’s place across the street (super safe and far away!), where he rents a room in Mrs Blankenship’s boarding house.  While Kara is busy being freaked out/intrigued (it’s not clear) by all of Tommy’s newspaper cuttings, Danny sees Michael out of the window in another neat callback to the first film, when Tommy was constantly spotting Michael outside the window.

Tommy’s ’90s computer makes me all nostalgic for Windows 3.1/Windows ’95 graphics!  He’s done a lot of tinfoil hat research about the Thorn symbol – it’s a druidic thing and a constellation that appears around Hallowe’en, apparently.

Mrs Blankenship is a bit ‘Conal Cochran’ about Samhain, which should give us some indication that she shouldn’t be trusted.  ‘He hears the voice, you know – just like the other boy that lived in that house,’ she tells Kara, thus providing a (fairly poor) explanation for why Danny is drawing creepy pictures and pulling knives on people.  She also claims to have been babysitting Michael Myers the night he killed Judith in 1963, which (a) is not really something to brag about in terms of babysitting skills and (b) contradicts the first film, in which Judith believes Michael to be ‘around somewhere’ in her own house and thus must be (poorly) babysitting him herself.

Barry the radio DJ comes to do a show in the park in Haddonfield, and is a right prat who is obviously not going to last long.

John comes home to the Myers house drunk, and soon meets up with Michael, who electrocutes him in the garage.  The effect of his head exploding is pretty silly.

More ’90s nostalgia from Barry’s dodgy old primitive mobile phone!  As expected, he meets his end at Michael’s hands before he can go and meet Kara’s brother Tim and his girlfriend Beth to do a radio show live from the Myers house.  Tim and Beth return to the house and completely ignore the warning signs of the power cut and missing family members, choosing sex over sense, and we all know how that ends in these films.

‘It’s raining red,’ says the little kid who is getting blood dripped all over her, ’cause for some reason Michael has put Barry’s body in a tree.  Loomis catches up with Tommy at this point, and they head back to find the baby.

Tim takes a post-coital shower, and Michael hands him a towel and waits for him to come out before killing him, for some reason (maybe the filmmakers didn’t want to get sued by the Hitchcock estate).  Michael then kills Beth while she’s on the phone to Kara (who can see her from Tommy’s window) – this provides quite a cool moment with Kara frantically trying to warn Beth.  Of course, Danny has gone over to the Myers house while Kara was on the phone, irresistably drawn to Michael/the house/the voices/something.

Kara follows Danny into the house, and at least has the sense to arm herself with a poker!  After a round of find-the-body, the two of them escape, and there’s yet another callback to the first film as they bang frantically on Tommy’s door, having to wait until the very last moment for him to open it.

The baby is gone, and Loomis realises that there’s only one other person who knew that Tommy was looking after him.  It’s Dr Wynn, who turns out to be the man in black from Halloween 5!  Mrs Blankenship is helping him, which is wholly unsurprising.  Loomis and Tommy are drugged and left in the house, but the cult take Kara and Danny with them.

Loomis and Tommy give chase towards the cult’s headquarters, which turns out to be Smith’s Grove sanatorium.  Tommy rescues Kara, while Loomis confronts Wynn and gets knocked out for his trouble.

Wynn and his team prepare to carry out some unspecified procedure on the baby, but Michael comes in and wipes them out, which is quite well deserved.  Kara and Tommy take advantage of the confusion to rescue Danny and the baby.

Tommy tricks Michael by pretending to offer him the baby, and drugs him, then Kara whacks him with a steel bar.  This doesn’t have much effect on Michael, and he comes after Kara.  He can kill most people in a single second, but even strangling Kara for ten seconds isn’t enough to hurt her – she’s right as rain after a moment.  The power of the final girl!

Tommy really goes to town on Michael, managing to beat him unconscious.  He, Kara and Danny prepare to drive off, but Loomis chooses to stay behind.  ‘I have a little business to attend to here,’ he says, but we never find out what that is – we get a shot of the discarded mask on the floor with Loomis screaming in the background as he realises Michael’s escaped again, then a shot of a lit pumpkin lantern, then the film ends very abruptly.  Bizarre and unsatisfying!  Apparently the director’s cut rectifies this, but I’ve never been able to track down a copy of that one.

Another break from Halloween tomorrow!

31 Days Of Horror: Halloween 5

We continue today with the next film in the Halloween series, Halloween 5 (1989).

Halloween 5 DVD
These DVD covers are not the most beautifully composed things in the world!

The film starts with a reprise of the last film’s ending, just like at the start of Halloween II.  We see how Michael escaped, ’cause obviously he escaped – he crawls underground into a river, nearly kills a hermit in a hut, then passes out.  We then get a ‘One Year Later’ caption and meet Jamie in the children’s hospital, still traumatised and mute a year after stabbing her mother.

Either Jamie’s nightmare (she’s very clearly mentally connected to Michael now) or the fact of it being Hallowe’en awakens Michael, and we see a strange symbol on his wrist.  He gets up and murders the hermit, and you have to wonder why the latter’s bothered to take care of an unconscious guy in a mask for a year without calling the authorities.

Dr Loomis has hung around for a year at the children’s hospital, obviously, but it’s still the case that the other staff don’t take him seriously and treat him as a crazy old man.

I’m not sure where Tina’s come from (she wasn’t anywhere to be seen in the previous film), but it’s nice to see that Rachel has friends now.  It’s also fun to hear some ’80s pop music (nothing you’d recognise – it’s all small local bands again!) while Rachel gets ready.  Unfortunately, she’s soon interrupted by a phone call from the hospital, as Jamie’s psychic ability is telling her that her sister’s in danger.

(The characters keep referring to the Carruthers family as Jamie’s ‘stepsister, stepmother’ etc., which isn’t accurate according to the last film – they were fostering her then and might presumably have adopted her by now.)

Rachel calls the police, and some comedy incompetent cops appear, accompanied by silly honky-tonk music.  I can’t stand this attempt at humour – it falls completely flat in the context of slasher horror.

The incompetent cops fail to find Michael in the house and tell Rachel it’s perfectly safe, meaning that she gets offed by Michael pretty quickly.  This is the first example we’ve seen of the interesting trope of ‘final girl from previous film gets killed early in next film’ – I’ll note this again in other films this month.

Tina shows up at Rachel’s house, and tells the frantically barking Max the dog that she’ll get him some water in a minute.  She fails to find Rachel, obviously, but her other friend Sam shows up, and so they both decide that Rachel must have gone out of town with her parents without telling anyone.  Annoyingly for the viewer, Tina never gets Max the water she promised, and her surmising about Rachel seems to be off – why would Rachel leave the dog tied up and alone for a whole weekend?  In general, both Tina and Sam come across as a bit thick.

Tina’s boyfriend Mike is a violent idiot, and I can’t wait for him to meet his namesake.

The other Michael arrives at the children’s clinic and chases Jamie through a deserted part of the building, but the editing is headache-inducing and you can’t see what’s going on.

A man in black (you never see his face, only his black steel-toed boots) shows up outside the drugstore where Brady and Kelly worked in the last film, having arrived in Haddonfield on the Greyhound bus.  He has the same symbol on his wrist that Michael does (a new tattoo trend?) and is clearly a bad guy, so I find it quite quaint that he used the bus!

Loomis goes to creep around the scary rundown Myers house, knowing Michael tends to return there when he’s on the loose.  The man in black has had the same idea!

As expected, Mike soon gets butchered by Michael, and we see the man in black watching as the wrong Michael picks up Tina for the evening in Mike’s car, wearing the mask she gave Mike instead of his usual whitefaced Shatner mask.  We don’t usually see Michael Myers attempting strategy like this (even if it’s not completely clear what his plan is) – I would have expected him just to dispatch Tina and head back to the children’s clinic.  In fact, what has he been doing away from the clinic all afternoon?  He nearly caught Jamie earlier, and it’s not like she’s under guard all the time.

Tina kisses the wrong Michael through the mask.  Ew!

I like the sequence with Jamie identifying the store where Tina is in danger, with help from her friend Billy.  ‘Cookie woman!’ she manages, and one of the cops immediately realises she means a poster on the wall of the store.  A rare example of Haddonfield police competence!

There are some odd inconsistencies with the ‘One Year Later’ caption mentioned earlier.  One year later (after the 1988-set Halloween 4) would set the film in 1989, the year of its release, but there are a few indications in the dialogue that it’s actually 1990 – Loomis talks about Hallowe’en 1978 as being twelve years ago, and Jamie is referred to as a nine-year-old girl, when she was seven in Halloween 4.  A possible indication is that Hallowe’en seems to fall on a weekend, as none of the teenage characters are in school – but as it fell on a Tuesday in 1989 and a Wednesday in 1990, that doesn’t help us!

At the party at the Tower Farm, we get some nonsense with teenagers playing pranks on cops, which is becoming a bit of a theme in the Halloween movies.  Tina, Sammy and Spitz all come across as annoying idiots, so I wasn’t exactly disappointed when Michael dispatched the latter two in the barn.

I quite like Billy and Jamie’s initiative in hunting down Tina by themselves.  Naturally, the incompetent cops from earlier don’t last long, and as the rest of the partygoers from Tower Farm have decided to go skinny-dipping elsewhere, the three of them are left alone with Michael, which results in an awesome sequence with Michael chasing down Jamie in a car through a wheat field (apparently she can run faster than a car!).

After Tina dies saving Jamie, Jamie agrees to Loomis’ dangerous plan.  The plan turns out to be to get Jamie to brush her hair in the bedroom in the Myers house, just like Judith Myers was doing when Michael killed her in 1963, and then fake an incident at the clinic so that Michael won’t be deterred by police presence.  The plan works, and Michael shows up as soon as the police cars leave.

Michael often attacks Loomis when he has the chance, but never actually kills him for some reason.  On this occasion, the injury is enough to put Loomis out of action for ten minutes or so, meaning that Michael can chase Jamie around the house, and we get the first of the Halloween laundry chute sequences, with Jamie hiding in the chute, which makes for a really tense sequence!

Michael has set up some kind of weird shrine upstairs with candles and a child’s coffin, similar to the gravestone he stole in the first film.  Jamie comes across the bodies of Rachel and Max here (poor Max!  I don’t know what Michael has against dogs), which makes for a good scare.

Jamie escapes downstairs and bumps into Loomis, who has come prepared with all sorts of gear for capturing Michael.  He throws a net over his ex-patient and beats him into submission, before collapsing himself.  Unusually, this actually works to subdue Michael, and the cops manage to take him into custody and put him in a cell!  Unfortunately, this is the point where the man in black shows up, kills all the cops in the station, and helps Michael escape.  We end with Jamie wandering alone and terrified through the destroyed police station.

This is another film where it’s not clear if Loomis is dead at the end, but as (spoiler alert) he shows up in the next film, I expect he’s been taken to hospital.

Halloween 6 coming tomorrow, where things will get really silly!