[31 Days of Horror Part VI: Jason Lives] Day 31 – Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

Director: Joe Chappelle

Cast: Donald Pleasence, Paul Rudd, Marianne Hagan, Mitchell Ryan

Screenplay: Daniel Farrands

87 mins. Rated R for strong horror violence, and some sexuality.

 

Well, it’s the end of October, and we find ourselves at the end of 31 Days of Horror. I’ve enjoyed it very much, and I hope you have as well. Like any October ending, we find ourselves at Halloween, and today we’ll be talking about The Curse of Michael Myers, the sixth and arguably most controversial in the series. Let’s get started.

It’s been six years since Jamie Lloyd, Michael Myers, and the Man in Black disappeared from Haddonfield, and Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence, The Great Escape, Fatal Frames) has very much retired, but his old friend from Smith’s Grove, Dr. Wynn (Mitchell Ryan, Gross Pointe Blank, TV’s Dharma & Greg), informs him that he has suggested Loomis as a replacement, and now the body of Jamie Lloyd has been found, and Tommy Doyle (Paul Rudd, Ant-Man, Between Two Ferns: The Movie), survivor of Michael’s killings from back in 1978, has discovered that Jamie had been pregnant and given birth, and MIchael’s after the baby, being the last-known family he has. Loomis, Tommy, and the baby must now contend with the dangerous Michael and the insidious Man in Black who both want the baby.

If you read that synopsis and you’re asking yourself, “Wait! Isn’t this supposed to be a Halloween movie?” then don’t worry. You are in the right place. Much like Jason Goes to Hell, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers was made to expand the mythology of Michael Myers by connecting all the previous films (minus Season of the Witch) and answer the questions that the previous film asked while forging a path for future sequels. Well, that’s a tall order, and it’s the most likely reason why this movie turned into such a bonkers disaster.

The screenplay, Frankensteined together but credited to just one writer, Daniel Farrands (The Amityville Murders, The Haunting of Sharon Tate), tried to give a good answer to the mysterious ending to Halloween 5, one that the writers of that film weren’t even sure of, and so the Cult of Thorn was established, a wacko group that protects Michael and helps him accomplish his task of murdering his family members. That’s probably the least-strange new element to the film. The mystery of the Man in Black is given here too, but you probably won’t care about the answer, and then there’s the whole maybe-possible-incest thing in the script that’s not just strange and gross but also really stupid, but hey, in the age of Game of Thrones, maybe this subplot works. Probably not.

Donald Pleasence does solid Loomis work again on his last film appearance as the character, and Paul Rudd’s debut performance is weird enough to fit the crazy plotline of this entry (though he’s still a bit much), but there isn’t much of what I’d call acting in the film. I can’t say I blame a lot of the actors, though, because they signed on for one movie and ended up making another, using a script that was referred to as incomprehensible.

There is a Producer’s Cut of the film that fixes some of the narrative problems but not all, compiled from footage that was shot and cut after a bad test screening, and it’s not a better version, just a different one. It also introduces more subplots that aren’t ever tied up. Safe to say that, no matter which version you see, it’s a mess of a film.

I cannot defend Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. As a child, it actually scared the hell out of me. It’s a more cruel version of Michael Myers, and for that, it affected me a lot as a kid, so I will say that part of me prefers this one to the fifth film, but they are both among the bottom of the barrel of the Halloween franchise. It’s sequels like this one that make that whole retcon thing that Halloween 2018 did make sense.

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

For my review of John Carpenter’s Halloween, click here.

For my review of Rick Rosenthal’s Halloween II, click here.

For my review of Tommy Lee Wallace’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch, click here.

For my review of Dwight H. Little’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, click here.

For my review of Dominique Othenin-Girard’s Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, click here.

[31 Days of Horror Part V: A New Beginning] Day 31 – Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

Director: Dominique Othenin-Girard

Cast: Donald Pleasance, Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Beau Starr, Wendy Kaplan, Tamara Glynn

Screenplay: Michael Jacobs, Dominique Othenin-Girard, Shem Bitterman

96 mins. Rated R.

 

After being essentially rebooted (before it was a thing) in 1988, the Halloween franchise appeared to be going strong again. So it’s a strange happening that, in 1989, the series died again, only to be bought up six years later. So what happened? Why did Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers effectively rekill the franchise? How did this happen? Let’s take a look.

After a horrific encounter one year ago, Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, Victor Crowley) is now mute and living in a children’s hospital. Michael Myers, however, has escaped after falling down a mine shaft and falling into a coma, where a homeless man finds him and fixes him up. When Michael awakens, though, he again goes on a murderous rampage, all the while looking for niece Jamie.

There are a lot of reasons that Halloween 5 is responsible for rekilling the franchise. First and foremost, this fifth installment is the worst one of the five thus far. There are so many mistakes made, some large, some small, and the film just stumbles through these bad decisions.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: the addition of the Man in Black. Throughout the film, we get glimpses of a mysterious man walking through Haddonfield, searching for Michael. We never get a real answer to what he is (until the sequel was forced to), and Don Shanks, who played Michael, also did a lot of work as the Man in Black. Here’s the thing: he was told that there was a possibility that the Man in Black was a relative to Michael, but as it turns out, the producers had no idea who the Man in Black really was! Was the intention to just figure out this major plot point later? Seriously? This was something that inevitably had to fixed in the sequel (and that explanation turned a lot of fans away and rekilled the rekilled franchise again), but even for this film, having this awkward character introduction and his eventual play into the main film’s story lead to an unsatisfying ending.

The look of Michael is really odd as well. A new version of the mask was created to fit Don Shanks’s head, and it really doesn’t look good at all. In fact, it’s flat-out awful looking and cheap at that. His look was further muddled by an accident in filming where Donald Pleasance (The Great Escape, Fatal Frames) hit Don Shanks with a 2×4 and broke his nose. The mask needed to be fixed to fit over a nose bandage. This made the thing look downright ridiculous and it’s pretty noticeable throughout the finished film.

As far as the actual film goes, most of the potential victims are downright unlikable, from Tina (Wendy Kaplan, Summer Dreams: The Story of the Beach Boys, The Labyrinth), teenage friend to Jamie, to Tina’s friend Samantha (Tamara Glynn, Daddy and Them, Life on the Flipside). You kind of want them dead.

The film is directed towards these attractive teenage potential victims instead of to Loomis, Jamie, and Rachel like it should. These characters are the heart of the story and they are where the interest lies. This ridiculous subplot about a mute Jamie doesn’t work, it just kind of annoys, which I don’t blame on Danielle Harris. She just isn’t given anything to do until the very end and it doesn’t amount of much of a character arc.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers takes all the good will of the previous installment and shatters it. It is universally disliked as a sequel by franchise fans, and it is partly responsible for the weird direction the series had to take to justify it. This is one I don’t usually pay much mind to, and I don’t think its a place for casual viewers to go.

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of John Carpenter’s Halloween, click here.

For my review of Rick Rosenthal’s Halloween II, click here.

For my review of Tommy Lee Wallace’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch, click here.

For my review of Dwight H. Little’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, click here.

[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 31 – Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

Director: Dwight H. Little

Cast: Donald Pleasence, Ellie Cornell, Danielle Harris, Michael Pataki

Screenplay: Alan B. McElroy

88 mins. Rated R.

 

Well, here we are again. The end of the month and another installment in the Halloween franchise. As we come to an end of 31 Days of Horror, I just want to thank you all again for another awesome month, and as always I am open to your amazing feedback, so let me know what you want to see for future events here. As sad as I am that this is the last day of The Final Chapter, it is important to note that, in horror, the final chapter is never usually final for very long. Now, let’s look at Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers.

It’s been ten years since he came home on Halloween night, and now Laurie Strode’s daughter Jamie (Danielle Harris, See No Evil 2, TV’s The Wild Thornberrys) is living with a foster family after Laurie was killed in an accident. Jamie has been terrified of visions of a man with a white mask standing outside at night, but this is the first year she really wants to go trick-or-treating on Halloween, so she enlists sister Rachel (Ellie Cornell, House of the Dead, Reconciliation) to take her. There’s only one problem: Michael Myers has escaped from his holding and is returning to Haddonfield, and only Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence, The Great Escape, Prince of Darkness), Michael’s old psychiatrist, can stop him.

Halloween 4 is a lot better than most people give it credit for. Sure, Jamie Lee Curtis does not return, but enlisting the young and very talented Danielle Harris to take the lead is an inspired choice. Director Dwight H. Little (Murder at 1600, TV’s Bones) researched Halloween in-depth to give it the full harvest feeling, and it radiates from the film. Halloween 4 feels like the continuation of Halloween II’s Samhain imagery just more fleshed out.

The issues in the film are apparent, though, in the many supporting roles that feel incomplete and poorly acted. At its core, there are fine performances, but there are far too many people that cannot hold their own scenes.

Then there are the issue of the film’s occasional reliance to fall back on its formula. It isn’t surprising at this point in a franchise to be losing the spark or originality, and Halloween 4 does suffer because of it.

Plotting aside, there are things to like in Halloween 4. It’s not a great film, but it is more watchable than other fourth installments. This is strictly for fans of the series, though, as Halloween 4 will be de-canonized next year with an upcoming reboot to the series. We fans have survived this before, and we will survive it again, but sadly, the Halloween franchise will take a hit. Enjoy this one while it’s still kind of canon.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of John Carpenter’s Halloween, click here.

For my review of Rick Rosenthal’s Halloween II, click here.

For my review of Tommy Lee Wallace’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch, click here.

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

[Oscar Madness] Jurassic Park (1993)

jurassicpark1993a

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Ariana Richards, Joseph Mazzello, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, Wayne Knight, Samuel L. Jackson

Screenplay: Michael Crichton, David Koepp

127 mins. Rated PG-13 for intense science fiction terror.

  • Academy Award Winner: Best Sound
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Effects, Visual Effects

 

I’m going to tell you a story now. When I was a young child, I was positively blown away by Jurassic Park. I just always wanted to watch it. Unfortunately for me, I was absolutely terrified of the film. I never got past the famous T-Rex sequence without running out of the room as fast as possible. Finally, when my next-door neighbor volunteered to babysit me one night, he made me a promise: We were getting through Jurassic Park tonight. And we did. And it remains one of the most thrilling examples of perfect filmmaking even now, 22 years later.

Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill, TV’s Peaky Blinders, The Hunt for Red October) and his colleague Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern, The Fault in Our Stars, Wild) have just been hired by John Hammond (Richard Attenborough, The Great Escape, Elizabeth) to look into his newest project, an amusement park on the island of Isla Nublar. They are joined by Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum, Independence Day, Mortdecai), an observer of the Chaos Theory, as the three discover that Jurassic Park is filled with genetically cloned dinosaurs. When the island’s security defenses go down, the dinosaurs are unleashed, and the scientists must find a way off the island before chaos takes them out.

MCDJUPA EC038

First of all, I want to discuss the screenplay from Michael Crichton and David Koepp. I love the original novel and this adaptation is pretty damn close in the overall scope and the tone conveyed. There are a few changes and a few scenes omitted in the name of time, but the script is pretty great for both an adaptation and a film in general.

The list of performers, Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, and Richard Attenborough are so perfectly cast that it amazes me. Add in veteran character actors Bob Peck (The Black Velvet Gown, Slipstream), Martin Ferrero (Heat, Air Bud 3), and Wayne Knight (TV’s The Exes, Space Jam), and you have some genuinely perfectly cast players.

Director Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln) had so much invested in this project, and so much faith in it at the same time. It is refreshing to find a director that cares so much about a project. His care for pushing the visual effects envelope while maintaining his style and flair for the suspense and the fantastic.

The look and sound of the dinosaurs literally created the modern view of dinosaurs in film. The incredible sound work (the noises of the velociraptor hatching were created by cracking an ice cream cone and the squishing of a cantaloupe and pineapple) is what earns this film the realism that Spielberg so desperately wanted.

Lastly, I wanted to discuss the famous scene in which the T-Rex’s movement causes a water ripple in a glass. The sound originally came to Steven Spielberg while listening to Earth, Wind & Fire. His production team eventually, after many, many failures, created the effect with a guitar string placed underneath the fake dashboard.

jurassicpark1993c

Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park stands as one of the most groundbreaking and equally effective films of its or any generation. The film still looks gorgeous and has stood the test of time. The special effects haven’t even aged all that much. My hope is that Jurassic World is even partially as good as this one.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

31 Days of Horror: Day 31 – Halloween (1978)

halloween1978a

Director: John Carpenter

Cast: Donald Pleasance, Jamie Lee Curtis, P.J. Soles, Nancy Loomis

Screenplay: John Carpenter, Debra Hill

91 mins. Rated R.

 

Well, here it is. I promised you would make it to Halloween with me, and you did. Congrats!

 

I think I knew that this would be the movie for today. I didn’t plan for it until I got down to the last couple days. It just so happens that John Carpenter’s Halloween is my favorite horror film, and I am excited to share it with you today. Enjoy and then go have some tricks and treats, whatever they may be, and thank you for a great month.

halloween1978b

Halloween opens with an absolutely amazing shot (okay, it looks like a single shot but is actually three, I think) of Halloween night some years ago. Young Michael Myers is supposed to be watched by his older sister Judith but instead she chooses to have her boyfriend over and she ignores Michael as her and her fella proceed to have sex upstairs before he leaves for the night. Michael, in a seemingly unbelievable act, grabs a kitchen knife and his clown costume, goes upstairs and kills his older sister in a gruesome and merciless way. He then goes downstairs to greet his parents as they come home and discover his grisly act. Flash forward several years to modern day 1978 Haddonfield. Michael Myers has escaped from Smith’s Grove Penitentiary and made his way home, now stalking several teenagers on Halloween night.

The film might seem very simple for younger audiences, but it was one of the very first slasher films of its time, and certainly the odd that created all the elements that would later be overused into mediocrity. The plot, though, isn’t about the normal stalker chasing down woman. This isn’t just Michael Myers we are talking about. The credits perhaps say it best, calling him The Shape. He is being pursued by the incredible versatile Donald Pleasance (The Great Escape, Escape from New York) as Dr. Sam Loomis (see the Psycho reference?). Pleasance is at the top of his game here, and it equally matched by the commanding performance of then-newcomer Jamie Lee Curtis (True Lies, Veronica Mars) as Laurie Strode, a normal girl who just wants to finish her babysitting gig and get home alone, a task not always as simple as she would assume. Laurie is a girl plagued by real-world big problems like the question of whether or not Ben Tramer like-likes her. Her fellow friends Lynda (P.J. Soles, Carrie, The Devil’s Rejects) and Annie (Nancy Loomis, The Fog, Assault on Precinct 13) are also on The Shape’s radar tonight, and both are ably performed characters that do nothing special but also do not deter us from our fears.

It is difficult to talk about the cinematography of a low-budget horror film. Many contain nothing of merit. Halloween is not one of these regulars. John Carpenter (Escape from L.A., The Ward) has always been known for his handling of the camera. His shots are sweeping and focused and always purposeful. When the camera doesn’t move, it haunts. From there, the film is perfectly plotted and edited into a tight package of fear.

halloween1978c

There are times when I try to come up with something bad about this movie as a fun little game, and I usually lose. I find John Carpenter’s Halloween to be a perfect film in every way. There isn’t a single thing I would change about it. I have been watching it since I was four years old and I will keep watching it multiple times throughout the October holiday. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, I advise it. Not only is it a working film school of guerilla movie-making, but it is still scary today. Enjoy it. It is Halloween after all, and everyone is entitled to one good scare.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For the rest of the 31 Days of Horror, click here.

31 Days of Horror: Day 3 – Monsters, Inc. (2001)

MV5BMTY1NTI0ODUyOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTEyNjQ0MDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_

Director: Pete Docter, David Silverman, Lee Unkrich

Cast: John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Mary Gibbs, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly

Screenplay: Andrew Stanton, Daniel Gerson

92 mins. Rated G.

  • Academy Award Winner: Best Music, Original Song “If I Didn’t Have You”
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Music, Original Score
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Sound Editing
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Animated Feature

iMDB Top 250: #215 (as of 7/14/2015)

I might get some trouble for reviewing a family film in the 31 Days of “Horror” category for the month of October, but I should stress. These posts are meant as a celebration of horror, and in that way, Monsters, Inc. is very fitting.

Pixar is a brand name all its own these days, about as recognizable as the name of its owner, Disney. Known for creating fully realized worlds that are capable of translating highly complex moral questions, Pixar is perhaps most well known to me for the creation of Monsters, Inc., a gorgeous little gem from 2001.

screenshot-med-01

It tells the story of James P. Sullivan or “Sully” (John Goodman, TV’s Roseanne, Transformers: Age of Extinction) and his roommate and best friend Mike Wazowski  (Billy Crystal, When Harry Met Sally…, Parental Guidance), two monsters existing in a world parallel to our own, in which their main source of power and energy comes from human children’s screams. It isn’t an easy job scaring the screams out of kids anymore, especially when a single touch could kill you. But when a child called Boo (Mary Gibbs, The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride) is found after hours in Monsters Incorporated, where Mike and Sully work, the two find themselves in quite a pickle trying to right the many wrongs and solve the mystery of why she is there. Mike and Sully have to discover while how fellow scarer Randall Boggs (Steve Buscemi, TV’s Boardwalk Empire, Fargo) is involved, get the information to boss Henry J. Waternoose (James Coburn, The Great Escape, Snow Dogs), and avoid Mike’s girlfriend (for her own safety), Celia (Jennifer Tilly, TV’s Family Guy, Bound).

Monsters, Inc. is one of the best films in Pixar’s roster (my personal favorite, in fact). The voice work from Goodman and Crystal (who actually recorded lines together, a rarity in the voice work business) is phenomenal. The animation here is top notch for its time and still looks pretty good for being over thirteen years old. The pacing on the film is another major take-away. It never misses a beat.

Even the musical score just stays with you; this whole film does.

Enjoy watching this film if you haven’t already seen it; it plays with the mythos as well as pulling at the right heart strings, and it pours a couple dashes of The China Syndrome in for good measure.

Take a moment to enjoy some of the little in-jokes that Monsters, Inc. has to offer. Notice that Randall Boggs threatens to throw someone into a wood chipper (a fate he isn’t all too unfamiliar with himself from his work with the Coen brothers). Laugh at Mike’s chair during the employee theatrical performance of “Put That Thing Back Where It Came From or So Help Me” (it happens to resemble one Krang’s chair from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon).

The best little homage in-joke comes from the restaurant Harryhausen’s, which takes its name from Ray Harryhausen, famous stop-motion creature maker known for Clash of the Titans and Jason and the Argonauts. Also, when Harryhausen made the film It Came from Beneath the Sea, he only had the budget for a six-tentacled octopus, which appears as a chef in the restaurant named for him in Monsters, Inc. Isn’t learning fun?

Also, wait around during the credits for a list of Production Babies (a staple for Pixar, covering all the children born during production) and a notice proclaiming “No Monsters Were Harmed During the Making of this Film.”

monster-inc-abominable-hombre-de-las-nieves-100-disney-8776-MLA20008035171_112013-F

What a terrific film, I was so excited to revisit it for the 31 Days of Horror and I hope you will view it yourself, either for the first time or the 1000th.

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

Screen Legend James Garner Dead at 86

ActorJamesGarner

Some sad news this morning coming from Hollywood. The wonderful and talented James Garner has passed away.

Garner was most famous for his role on television’s The Rockford Files, which ran from 1974-1980. He won his first Emmy for his performance.

Garner was also notable for his work on Maverick, The Great Escape, Promise (for which he would win a second Emmy), Space Cowboys, The Notebook, and Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

No cause of death has been released, though there may be some connection to the stroke he suffered back in 2008.

For more on James Garner’s life and career, click here.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑