Still plugging away

Another good day getting on with my text adventure, then I headed out to ukulele class. The tunes we’re doing at the moment are fun but challenging, and as I’ve said before I feel like I’m at the right level in the intermediate class.

Hoping for another good loss at Slimming World tomorrow as I’ve been on the treadmill a lot this week!

Christmas catalogue 2019
Not an OOTD: the first Christmas catalogue arrived through the door today. Not in the mood at all yet – let’s have Hallowe’en first!

Today’s earworm playlist:

James Taylor – Wichita Lineman
Monty Python – Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life
Peter Hames – Ordinary Man
OneRepublic – Counting Stars

All the text

I’ve had a really fun day planning out my Hallowe’en-themed text adventure game. It’s going to be much bigger than my last one and so I’ll be spending a lot of time working on it over the next few weeks!

I also went out for a run this morning, meaning I only had to do a short treadmill walk to hit my Garmin step count.

Looking forward to another day of writing tomorrow.

Hallowe'en lanterns
Not an OOTD: there’ll be a fair few of these in my new game. Picture is of my 2015 collection 🙂

Today’s earworm playlist:

Laura Branigan – Gloria
Duran Duran – Is There Something I Should Know?
Mike Harding and Myfanwy Talog – DangerMouse Main Theme
Duran Duran – Vertigo (Do The Demolition)
Billy Joel – We Didn’t Start The Fire

Bouncing ahead

I know I shouldn’t wish my life away, but today is the day I always start to get excited about autumn, my favourite season of the year.

It’s the first of August – just a month away from meteorological autumn – and while I know most people are still enjoying the summer (I’m not sure how, given that after last week’s brief heatwave the weather has since returned to a constant cool, grey dampness that means Geth can’t mow the lawn), I’m already dreaming of darker evenings and Hallowe’en chocolate and getting my ’80s jumper collection out again.

The BBC are starting to announce the first few Strictly contestants, and I’m stepping up my training for the Great North Run, and I’m already busy planning out my writing for all the fiction and poetry competitions I’m going to be entering from September to November. I’ve got a lot of gigs lined up for that period as well – it’s going to be a really great autumn this year!

In the meantime, I’ve got one last summer trip away to enjoy this month. It is Shetland, though, so I’m not hopeful for the weather (last time I was there, it rained the whole time).

A nice normal Thursday today now that we’ve got the internet back – Geth and I went to the earlier Slimming World group today so that we could be in when the new router arrived, and we’ve got boardgaming guests coming round this evening for more adventures in the Lord of the Rings universe.

OOTD 1st August 2019
OOTD: weigh-in top with added cosy hoodie due to the cooler weather. Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), hoodie Gildan for Resistanz (2016), vest top Primark (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Haim Saban and Shuki Levy – The Mysterious Cities Of Gold Main Theme
Ed Sheeran – Castle On The Hill
A-ha – Take On Me
Andy Taylor – Broken Window
Lizzo – Truth Hurts
Gunship – Dark All Day

Happy Hallowe’en!

It’s finally Hallowe’en…and because my job is what it is, I’ve spent all day and evening doing work for clients.  I’ve also had a lot of Treehouse Of Horror and Now ’80s Hallowe’en playlists (including the full version of Thriller! nice touch) on in the background, though, so it’s not been all bad!

Geth and I also had our very first guisers ever knocking on the door for treats!  In all of our eleven years living together at previous residences, we’ve never had them before.  It’s a nice sign that we’re living in a proper suburban location now!

(Of course we had treats ready, ’cause every Hallowe’en we buy them just in case.  It’s just that it’s usually us who ends up eating them!)

OOTD 31st October 2018
OOTD: fun Hallowe’en outfit for the big day! Deelyboppers Tesco (2008), dress unknown brand (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2018), belt H&M (2017), tights Pamela Mann (2014), socks unknown brand (2007), shoes Primark (2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Lionel Richie – Hello
Wham! – The Edge Of Heaven
Duran Duran – Rio
Feargal Sharkey – A Good Heart
Spagna – Call Me
NSYNC – Tearing Up My Heart
Brian May – Too Much Love Will Kill You

Hallowe’en week

Because I’ve been doing my month-long horrorthon and have properly decorated the house this year, I feel, for once, like I’m properly celebrating Hallowe’en.  Geth and I had guests round to play horror boardgames last night, I’ve been doing my annual Simpsons Treehouse Of Horror rewatch, and I’ve eaten far too much Hallowe’en chocolate already!

I also finished my outline for this year’s NaNoWriMo novel today.  I’ve got an 8,100-word outline, which is more detail than I’ve ever done for any novel in the past, and I am so excited to start writing on Thursday.

One more day of horror films and delicious sweet things to get through first, though!

OOTD 30th October 2018
OOTD: my newest ’80s jumper. Earrings Primark (2018), jumper Jac (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2018), leggings Primark (2018), boots Carefree (2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

The Housemartins – Happy Hour
Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf
Danny Elfman – This Is Hallowe’en
Arcadia – The Flame
Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin – It’s My Party
Duran Duran – Late Bar

Getting excited about Hallowe’en

I blitzed through with work today to get it all done by mid-afternoon, so that I could (a) get the old digiboxes from years ago set up upstairs and access all the old horror films I’d recorded back then, and (b) get the house decorated for Hallowe’en!  It’s looking nice and spooky now, and will look even better at the weekend once I start getting the lanterns carved.

Hallowe'en decorations
The first Hallowe’en in our new house!

I’ve got another long work day tomorrow, but I’m hoping to have some time for a quick bit of house stuff as well!

OOTD 24th October 2018
OOTD: another new-to-me dress from my weekend haul. Dress Fink Modell (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2018), belt H&M (2017), tights Primark (2017), shoes Zara (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Sigala and Ella Eyre – Came Here For Love
Duran Duran – Girls On Film
Bucks Fizz – Piece Of The Action

31 Days Of Horror: Halloween 2018

So, I just got back from the cinema, where Geth and I spent the afternoon watching Halloween 2018 (2018)!

Halloween 2018 cinema tickets
Cinema tickets for my collection!

I’m really glad I got to go see this film on opening day, because I’ve been looking forward to it for months, and it was part of the reason that I decided to do a month-long horror film watchathon this year.  It’s the eleventh Halloween film, but it’s the first one since the original where John Carpenter has been involved in creating the story, and so in some ways it’s more of a true sequel than any of the ones that came before it.

In what is now becoming a cosy Halloween series tradition, the continuity is rebooted yet again.    Furthermore, unlike the Thorn continuity and the H20 continuity, this continuity also decanonises Halloween II.  So, to recap:

  1. Laurie Strode now did not get chased around a hospital the night of Hallowe’en 1978 after she’d survived Michael Myers’ first attack.  Michael did not kill the staff of that hospital, and Dr Loomis did not set a room on fire, seemingly killing both himself and Michael.
  2. Laurie Strode most definitely did not have a daughter called Jamie in 1981 and then die with Jamie’s father in a car crash in 1987.  There was no Thorn cult trying to use Michael and anyone related to him for bizarre rituals.
  3. Laurie Strode did not fake her death in a car crash sometime before 1981, move to California and change her identity to Keri Tate, get married, have a son called John in 1981, get divorced, and become the headmistress of a private boarding school.  She also did not get locked in a sanatorium for three years between 1998 and 2001 and then get killed by Michael on 30 October 2001.
  4. Laurie Strode, thankfully, absolutely did not get adopted by the Strodes after originally being Angel Myers, was not an unlikeable idiot, and did not go mad after suffering hallucinations of a woman in white and a horse.
  5. Most interestingly of all, Laurie Strode is not the sister of Michael Myers.  This is the only sequel other than Halloween III that has not gone with the story of them being brother and sister, and that’s only because Halloween III was a completely different story set in a completely different universe.

Instead, in this continuity, Laurie Strode has remained in Haddonfield for forty years, suffering from PTSD, has been divorced twice, and has a daughter and granddaughter.  Michael Myers was captured shortly after doing his disappearing act from the garden of the Doyle house, was taken back to Smith’s Grove sanatorium, and has been held there for the intervening forty years.  Dr Loomis passed on his knowledge to another British doctor, Dr Sartain, before he died at an unspecified point in time.  Michael, prior to the events of this film, only murdered five people: his sister Judith Myers; an unnamed truck driver during his journey to Haddonfield; and Laurie’s high school friends Annie, Bob, and Lynda.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on with this film!

Callback to Halloween: the opening credits are exactly the same as the first film, except that the pumpkin starts off rotten and gradually returns to a fresh state.  Creepy!

The film starts off with a couple of British investigative journalists, Aaron and Dana, visiting Smith’s Grove.  They’ve been looking at the case (they specialise in shining new light on historical murder cases) and meet up with Dr Sartain, who trained under Dr Loomis and has been Michael’s doctor for many years.

Callback to Halloween 4: Michael is about to be transferred to a different sanatorium (that’s always a good idea!).  This is because the state have apparently got bored of studying him, and are planning just to let him rot somewhere for the rest of his life.

Aaron and Dana, who are clearly idiots, have managed to get hold of Michael’s original mask, and when Dr Sartain takes them to meet Michael, Aaron presents it to him, trying to get him to speak.  Dr Sartain explains that Michael can speak but just chooses not to.  Undeterred, the journalists head off to try and get an interview with Laurie Strode, who has been living in an isolated house for many years.  Laurie grants them an interview in exchange for $3,000, but tells them to get lost when they start asking questions about why she lost custody of her young daughter.

We’re introduced to Laurie’s family – daughter Karen, son-in-law Ray and teenage granddaughter Allyson.  Allyson wants her grandmother to come to a meal out that the family are having to celebrate Allyson’s success at school and to meet her boyfriend Cameron.  Karen claims to have invited Laurie and that Laurie can’t make it, but she’s clearly lying.

We get a lot of sequences of Laurie practising in a makeshift shooting range, showing that she’s been preparing to face Michael again for forty years.  Everyone, especially her family, thinks she’s kind of nuts.

Allyson walks to school with her friends, Vicky and Dave, and we get the backstory infodump.  Apparently Karen is lying about Laurie being able to come to the meal out because Karen doesn’t like having her around – the reason that Laurie originally lost custody of Karen was because she was bringing her up based on her fear of Michael’s return, training her to shoot guns and so on.  Dave has heard that Michael was Laurie’s brother, and Allyson denies this, saying that it was just something people made up to try and explain things.  Aside from being a slight fourth wall dig at all the sequel filmmakers who went with the family connection story, I think it’s very interesting that John Carpenter always saw things differently.

At school, Allyson meets up with boyfriend Cameron.  He’s okay about coming to the meal that night, but is more excited about the following night, when they’re going to be attending the school Hallowe’en party dressed as Bonnie and Clyde.

Callback to Halloween: Allyson is taking a philosophy class in the exact same classroom as Laurie did in the first film.  The classroom hasn’t changed at all and the teacher (voiced by original Lynda actress PJ Soles!) is still talking about fate.  We then get Allyson looking outside for the traditional spotting-Michael-outside-the-window, but in this film, it’s not Michael – it’s Laurie watching her from outside.

Back at Smith’s Grove, Michael is offloaded onto an ambulance with a bunch of other patients.  Dr Sartain, either heroically or stupidly, gets on the bus with them, because he believes that Michael is his responsibility right up until the moment he’s transferred to a new doctor.

At the family meal out that evening, Cameron is making a good impression on Allyson’s dad Ray, but Laurie arrives late, having driven to Smith’s Grove to watch the bus leave the sanatorium.  This has really shaken her, and she starts crying at the dinner table, causing general awkwardness.  I really love the characterisation and dynamics between the family – they’re all sympathetic, and you can understand everyone’s point of view.

On a quiet road, a kid and his dad have to stop the car suddenly, because the bus from Smith’s Grove has crashed (who didn’t see that coming?).  The dad goes off to investigate and is never seen again (the first of many offscreen deaths in this film).  The kid, after calling the police, gets out of the car with a shotgun, goes to investigate the bus, accidentally shoots Dr Sartain (who has survived the crash), panics, runs back to the car, and gets killed by Michael, who’s waiting in the backseat.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a young character (the kid looks about eleven or twelve) get killed in a slasher before!  The police find the bus crash scene, and Dr Sartain turns out to be alive, mumbling about someone having escaped.

The next morning, at the Haddonfield graveyard, the journalists are being shown Judith Myers’ gravestone.  Aaron, who is definitely the more unlikeable out of the two (though I won’t miss either of them when they inevitably get killed), sits on the grave and starts going through all the gory details of Judith’s murder, to the graveyard keeper’s obvious distaste.  We get the original footage of the killing from the first film, which is a nice touch (and means Sandy Johnson, who played Judith in the 1978 film, gets a credit at the end!).

Dr Sartain is now in the hospital, still alive and mumbling.  The main police officer in this film is Frank, an older officer who is said to have been the first on the scene when Michael was recaptured in 1978.  There is also a comedy relief sheriff in a comedy sheriff’s hat, but frankly, his only job in this film is to crack wise – it’s Frank who basically fills the Brackett role.

The journalists stop at a petrol station, taking the opportunity to confuse the American staff by using terms like ‘shop’ and ‘loo’.  Michael’s original mask is shown prominently in the boot of the car, so we know what’s about to go down.

Callback to Halloween H20: Dana sits in a toilet stall, and it’s shot very similarly to the scene with the mother and child from the 1998 film.

As expected, the journos aren’t long for this world.  Michael attacks Dana in the stalls first, then when Aaron, who has just gone through a quick round of find-the-body with the petrol station staff, comes to rescue her, Michael kills him and finishes off Dana by strangling her.  The police find the scene, and Dr Sartain shows up, apparently feeling much better.  The story soon makes the news, and Laurie sees it on TV.  Rather than freaking out, she just calmly starts making preparations.

At the high school Hallowe’en party, Allyson is enjoying herself – calling Vicky (who’s babysitting and can’t come to the party) to make post-party weed-smoking plans – until she catches Cameron kissing another girl.  He’s drunk, and angrily throws Allyson’s phone into a bowl of custard, which is a great and highly original way of getting rid of the convenience of a mobile phone (I’m so sick of 21st century horror film characters being ‘out of battery’ or ‘out of reception’!).  After this scene, Cameron is never seen again – I’m disappointed that we don’t see him die horribly, seeing as he turned out to be a dick, but at the same time I actually love the ballsy move of having a character in the film whose whole purpose is to remove the ability for the final girl to phone people!  Allyson leaves the party in disgust, accompanied by her friend Oscar.

Callback to Halloween II/Halloween 4/Halloween 5: Michael is wandering about, killing randoms in Haddonfield.  He needs to steal a knife from an old lady’s chopping board, just like in Halloween II, but in order to do so he kills her in a scene that is shot identically to a killing in either Halloween 4 or Halloween 5 (I forget which – I’ll have to watch them again to check when I’m not so Halloween-ed out!)

Callback to Halloween III: some of the kids trick-or-treating around Haddonfield are wearing the Silver Shamrock masks, which is an absolutely beautiful touch.  I spotted them straight away, but it was nice to have it confirmed during the credits!

Allyson’s friend Vicky is babysitting a kid called Julian, who is the best character in the whole film.  The relationship between the two of them is teasing and lovely – it’s basically the New Laurie and New Tommy relationship from Rob Zombie’s Halloween done right.  Unfortunately, once Julian’s been put to bed, Vicky’s boyfriend Dave shows up and the making out and weed-smoking commence, which always means Michael’s not very far away.  The two teenagers are soon killed (Dave’s death is offscreen, curiously), ready for the bodies to be found by Officer Frank, who is prowling around nearby looking for Michael.

Laurie has had the same idea, and she and Frank soon bump into each other, nearly accidentally shooting each other in the process.  Frank introduces Laurie to Dr Sartain, leading to another fourth-wall-breaking moment: ‘You’re the new Loomis,’ says Laurie, even though we know perfectly well that nobody could ever fill Donald Pleasence’s shoes.

Oscar leads Allyson through what is apparently a shortcut to Vicky’s house, but it turns out he has ulterior motives: assuming that Cameron’s out of the picture, he tries to kiss Allyson.  She reacts angrily, ’cause he’s a creep, and storms off, meaning that Oscar is easy pickings for Michael.  Hearing him scream, Allyson runs back, only to find his bloodied corpse.  So begins the final sequence!

Laurie, Karen and Ray, having failed to get in touch with Allyson due to her phone being awesomely taken out of action earlier, hole up in Laurie’s fortress of a house in the expectation that Michael will show up.  Allyson, meanwhile, gets found and picked up by Frank and Dr Sartain, and the three of them drive off in the police car.  When they see Michael in the road, Frank runs him over, but is then killed by Dr Sartain, who turns out to be crazier than his patients, and wants to keep Michael alive for further study.  He puts the unconscious Michael in the backseat next to Allyson, and starts driving to Laurie’s house.

Outside Laurie’s house, we get some classic Haddonfield incompetent cops keeping guard in a police car outside, having an inane conversation about sandwiches.  Dr Sartain stops nearby, and the cops spot the car and try to radio the driver.  Michael wakes up and kills Dr Sartain, the latter still imploring him to say something.  The comedy cops are also quickly dispatched, and Allyson manages to escape into the woods in the confusion.

At Laurie’s house, she equips her daughter and son-in-law with guns.  Unfortunately, while Laurie and Karen are having a heart-to-heart upstairs, Ray goes outside to investigate the police car, finds the dead cops, and is soon killed himself.

Laurie shuts Karen in the hidden cellar and prowls the house, looking for Michael.  This is a good tense sequence, as it takes ages for him to show up.  When he finally does, he and Laurie fight for a bit before he throws her off a balcony.

Callback to Halloween: Michael sees Laurie’s unmoving body on the grass below the balcony, then looks away for a second.  When he looks back, she’s gone.  This is the reverse of the classic cliffhanger at the end of the first film.

Allyson shows up at Laurie’s house after running through the woods for a bit (there was a scene with her doing so about five minutes prior to this, but there was no real tension to it, because we knew that Michael was in Laurie’s house at the time).  She calls out to her mother and grandmother.  Karen hears her from the cellar, as does Michael from upstairs, and Karen has to come out and hurry Allyson into the cellar before Michael comes down.  It looks for a moment as if they’ve managed to get away with it, but Michael soon realises what’s under the kitchen island, and manages to rip the island from the floor, exposing the cellar entrance.

In what is a really nice scene, Karen, readying her childhood shotgun, tricks Michael into confronting her by pretending to be too scared to use the gun and calling for her mother.  As she shoots him, Laurie appears at the door, and then there’s quite a cool sequence where the three generations of Strode women manhandle Michael into the cellar, Allyson stabbing him to get him to let go of her mother, and trap him there, the cellar becoming a cage.  Laurie then turns on the gas and sets fire to the house, kind of like the end of Halloween II on acid.

Allyson flags down the nearest driver, and the three of them escape, with the camera coming to rest on Allyson’s bloody knife.  Roll credits on what is definitely the best Halloween film since the original!  Having watched every single film in a short space of time, this Halloween fan will be very happy if that turns out to be the last film ever made in the series, because it ends the story beautifully.

(A quick Scream rules sidenote: I was relieved after Rob Zombie’s Halloween II that nobody said ‘I’ll be right back’ in this film, but there were an awful lot of instances of ‘Who’s there?’!)

A couple of behind-the-scenes notes from the credits:

  1. This is the second film in the series that has a dedication to original producer Moustapha Akkad, meaning he joins Donald Pleasence in being doubly memorialised.
  2. Michael is played in his Shape form by James Jude Courtney and, fan-pleasingly, in one scene with Jamie Lee Curtis by original Shape Nick Castle.  When he’s not wearing his mask, he’s played by Tony Moran, just like in the original film!
  3. Jamie Lee Curtis, who served as executive producer in addition to playing the lead, was really hands-on with this film – she apparently helped Carpenter with writing songs for the film and all sorts!  It’s really nice to see that this project meant so much to her.

Obviously, that’s me done with Halloween movies now.  We’ll be watching other stuff for the rest of the month, starting with another very old film tomorrow.

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 29th 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 theatrical release.

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: 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!