In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it.
Originally posted on Cinema76.
In anticipation of the upcoming sequelboot of the Halloween franchise, in which every entry but the first are to be eliminated from canon, I decided to give one last look at the whole series before it is banished into the Soul Stone for good. As it currently stands, the Halloween series has a pretty crazy continuity, complete with alternate endings, ridiculous retcons, and an unrelated anthology entry about magic masks that fill kids’ heads with bugs. There’s a reboot and a sequel to the reboot, both of which have multiple conflicting endings of their own as well. It’s a glorious mess, so there’s really no reason to treat any future story developments as anything out of the ordinary. No, Michael Myers has never made it to outer space, nor has he dueled with another horror heavy (although Halloween vs Hellraiser did almost happen) but he’s certainly been around the block enough times to merit an investigation into just what has kept this killer alive for so long, and just why we are now throwing most of his work in the canonical trash. I will be watching the entire series in order of release, starting with John Carpenter’s seminal 1978 classic which, for my money, remains one of the finest fright films ever made. Check out the whole series here!
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
“Terror Never Rests In Peace”
Director: Joe Chappelle
Writer: Daniel Farrands
Stars: Donald Pleasence, Paul Stephen Rudd (yes, that’s exactly who you think it is), Marianne Hagan, Mitchell Ryan, Kim Darby, J.C. Brandy
Michael Myers played by: George P. Wilbur (returning from the previous film – a first!)
Plot: Six years after the last time this dumb shit happened, Michael Myers is back yet again, this time as part of a ritualistic cult that has to do something that doesn’t make sense or matter. Jamie has recently escaped their grasp with her newborn child in tow, and now Michael is stalking the streets of Haddonfield in order to…um… I don’t fucking know. Also, Tommy Doyle, the little boy who survived the first movie is now a dweeby, faux-creepy loner who lives in a boarding house across the street from the Myers house where Laurie Strode’s extended family now lives, and ya know what? This movie BLOWS.
Review: This movie is godawful in every way. Nonsensical, boring, and stupid as hell in the few portions of the film that manage to show any sort of coherence at all. The kills are much better than in the previous two entries, but since we still haven’t reached a Jason Voorhees level of campiness, it’s all very shitty.
Convoluted to begin with, and then hacked to pieces before release, almost none of this movie makes any sense, nor does it have any sense of rhythm. Things just kind of happen, rarely as a consequence of any one character’s actions. It’s just one big ball of yarn that attempts to tie up all the lore of the entire series into a neat bow, and fails miserably at doing so. It’s not fun to watch, nor is it pretty to look at. In fact, most of the time I just felt embarrassed for everyone involved. We’re now pretty deep into the 90s horror aesthetic, meaning that it feels like a music video for a post-grunge one hit wonder. Everything is beige and black, and it all looks as if it were lit entirely with candles. Ugh I hate it.
But how is Paul (Stephen) Rudd, you ask? Well, as much as I like the guy and his body of work, I have to be honest in saying it’s one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen. Perhaps this is because it pales in comparison to his typically excellent work (seriously, watch Mute), but I don’t think so. This is just a case of a green actor miscast and under terrible direction, being given awful material to work with. It’s such an odd choice. Rudd, if known for anything, is known for his angelic face and acerbic wit, fueled by an almost pathological honesty. Rudd is cinema’s premier “good dude” (except for in Mute, which you should see), so it just doesn’t work to have him cast as a hardcore occult enthusiast. He just doesn’t do macabre. Also, sometimes he has a Brooklyn accent, while other times he’s doing a Vincent Price spoooooky voice. It’s so bad that it felt disrespectful to the original iteration of his character (he’s the kid who Laurie babysat in the original film), who was a side character I’d be dumb to consider sacred. It’s that bad.
There is a small attempt at making a meta joke which I appreciated. A conspiracy theorist character posits that Michael Myers was busted out of prison by the CIA, who wanted to use him as an assassin. However, they couldn’t control their acquisition and had to send him to space. This assertion gets a clever response of “Michael Myers in space? COME ON!” Very funny, especially since we were in that odd pre-Scream era of horror where the zeitgeist frequently noted that space adventures were the only logical development for all of our fading slasher franchises. Kudos to Jason X for saying “fuck it” and pulling the trigger on that one. Funny too that the Fast Fambly is currently experiencing the same silly development (which, for the record, I am all in for). Alas, all this joke succeeded in doing was making me want to be watching Michael Myers: Space Murderer instead. Anything is better than what we got. This movie such a turd.
It is, however, very much a 90s movie. It has a very 90s understanding of satanism/the occult, and is so heavily punctuated with what I’ll call “flash swipes” that it feels a lot like the trailer for Scream. For those not aware of what I’m talking about, a flash swipe is when instead of showing action in the scene, there are just random insertions of shots of ambiguous motions infused with a flash of white and the slice sound that a knife makes. So, a flash swipe. This movie has tons of them, and not a single one feels like anything but a lazy way to try and unsettle the viewer. Did these work back in the day? Did these look cool? I feel like they were right up my alley when I was 12, but I honestly can’t remember. God this movie sucks.
The score, by Alan Howarth and Paul Rabjohns is basically in the style of a lame A Perfect Circle tribute band who were given the original score as a basis, and then only a crappy guitar and battery powered Casio keyboard to play with. It sucks. This movie sucks very much.
Best Kill: I didn’t care for this movie at all, but this one kill is so wonderfully gruesome, so deeply inspired in its staging, and is such a hideously violent comeuppance for an absolutely rotten character, that it makes the 88 short minutes I spent with this slog of a movie more than worth it. The dad in this one is a complete turd. He’s a violent drunk who hits his family members, demands everyone bend to his unreasonable will, and speaks only in throaty yells. He is despicable in every way, and from moment one you know he has to die. He looks like a giant baby (very presidential in that way). Typically in horror movies, the biggest asshole gets the most violent death, and this is very much the case here. I’d love to describe it to you, but I’d rather you process his demise in the moment. Check it out:
Was that not the best thing ever?!?!?!?! And now that you’ve seen it, you don’t have any reason to watch this movie. Hooray!
Actually, since a few of the kills are half-decent, here’s every last dang one of em:
Best Line: Loomis is invited back to his old job at Smith’s Grove, and in a moment of knowing incredulity says, “You know it’s not wise to play Halloween pranks on me.” It’s the first time he has acknowledged that he almost always accidentally gets anyone killed who has the misfortune of not taking Halloween seriously while in his presence.
Worst Line: Within the film, there’s a shock jock radio DJ named Barry Simms who makes His money off of the exploitation of spooky urban legends and such. Naturally, he’s taking calls on the topic of Michael Myers. This garbage exchange occurs during our introduction to his show.
Caller: I… I know I sound crazy, Barry, but I think I’m in love with him. He’s so untamed. So uninhibited. He’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a man.
Barry: Mmmhmm, this is good. I can see the tabloids now! ‘Psycho Lays Nympho: The Best Sex He Ever Dismembered!’
Someone wrote that. Someone else approved it. A craft services table was set up to give bagels to the people who had to say it, and say it they did. This movie is crap.
Mask: Out of all of the sequels, this mask is the best. It looks closest to the original, and feels appropriately dirty. Close ups reveal a slightly more intricate design, especially around the mouth and jowls, and it looks great. Texturally, it seems like it’s made of clay, which gives it a lived-in, clammy look. At this point, Michael Myers doesn’t have a face other than this mask, and this one feels very much like it is his natural face. But don’t let it fool you. This movie sucks.
Dr. Loomis’ Health: It seems that in retirement, Loomis has found some semblance of peace. At the beginning of the film, he’s a kindly, bearded old man who wears sweaters and drinks tea. He doesn’t want to work, nor is he interested in wasting any more time chasing after Michael Myers. He knows that his past pursuits have done more harm than good, and he just wants to live out his days in a happy state of self-imposed exile. And ya know what? I’m happy for him! At least I was until Myers returns and Loomis just can’t help himself from getting involved. He’s a bit more controlled this time, but in the scheme of things it’s too little too late. His ultimate fate is left ambiguous, mostly because the movie is so cut to pieces that none of it makes much sense anyway. Yes, the producer’s cut apparently puts a bit more closure on things, but I’m not going to spend another moment in this drab, boring world to find out how.
It should be noted that this movie is dedicated to the memory of Donald Pleasence, which is appropriate, but still makes for a helluva lame swan song.
Lore: Oh, I don’t know. Jamie is dead. Laurie Strode’s extended family is dead. It turns out Michael Myers is just a pawn in a magical occult scheme to create an evil being that kills their own family or something? I don’t know. At the end, Michael Myers may be alive (I’m guessing he is), but it’s hard to tell any specifics. There’s a cult called the “Cult of Thorn” that is led by Loomis’ former employer, Dr. Wynn, which makes for a noble attempt to tie all of the entries together, but it doesn’t work at all. This movie is terrible. I never needed to know why Michael Myers killed, and now that it’s been explained, I still don’t know. What the hell happened?!? Just send him to space already.