Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) [review]

Any of us who watched “Halloween 2”, considered the chance  that the vilian of the film was not dead; we all know a successful film will probably produce another sequel. Some would consider the third film to be a failure, and therefore the return of Michael Myers would at some point be what the filmmakers were presuming the fans wanted.

With nothing more than a quick explanation that Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) is the daughter of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), we never know much more than that. It appears that if Michael cannot kill his sister, his niece will have to do.

We do not know why Laurie isn’t looking after her daughter. If we were to presume it’s a new life with a new name for Laurie, to protect her, why is her daughter not being protected too? Or, maybe Laurie is in some kind of hospital and therefore Jamie must be looked after in a foster home… this is all left up to the audience to consider and therefore we can come up with our own conclusion. Which could be thought of as the filmmakers thinking the audience is smart and capable of coming up with their own ideas… This is something I like about this sequel.

Not only do we see the return of Michael, we also see the return of Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence), who’s scars are evidence for the choices he made at the end of “Halloween 2”, although, they do seem a little on the minimal side, considering what happened the last time we saw the two characters.

It has been ten years since the events of the second film, and Haddonfield has tried to move on, although, with any film such as this, people are so willing to move on with their lives, they seem unable to. Situations such a killer in their town many years ago, seem to define a town and many people seem consumed by the events… those old enough to remember.

Michel seems to have become something of an indestructible individual who can take one beating after another and still find a way to keep on coming. His reasoning is just as explainable in this film as it was in the first two, he is no more sane than he was back then and there really is no reason to kill any member of his family. But this is one of the points of the film we enjoy; we can all come up with our own thought and theories about what is going through his mind.

Although this does have the obvious sequel feel to it; in that it will never be the original classic, this is enjoyable. Taking us on a ride of chance and misfortune of a town unprepared for a killer who seems determined on murder of his last know family member.

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Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) [review]

This entry is something which is either loved or hated by those who are fans of the series; I’ve never come across anybody who is middle of the road on what they think about what we have here. I am one of those who love this film and find myself enjoying it for all that it has to offer.

This is something completely different from that which proceeded and followed it in the series. For one thing, (spoilers if you have managed to avoid this for all these years) this does not feature Michal Myers and it is not set in Haddonfield. The only on screen connections are the title of the film and the fact that it is set on Halloween.

This is a new mystery with completely new characters… although; one of the minor parts is played by Nancy Loomis who, this time portrays a different character than we saw in the first two films. Which oddly works, as she film seems to be in a different universe; we see a trailer and a scene from the first film shown on television in a couple of scenes. Therefore we find ourselves not caring how this fits in the series. There is no need to remember what happened in the previous instalments and we can enjoy it for a standalone story. Leaving us to care for these people in a different way than we did for those in previous films, these are individuals who are older and wiser, who have lived a life outside of their own town, seen more of what the world has to offer. Therefore they know there is more than what goes on in their small group of friends.

They are not simply trying to survive the horrors of a murderer that is out to take some kind of revenge on a single person. This time around our main characters are trying and figure out the mystery of an individual who is looking to harm more than one corner of the world. Although, the sanity of the villain is no more stable than that of Michel Myers, we find ourselves wondering about their true motives, as their public behave is more civilised to the point which feels out of place and unnatural, leaving this to feels a little more conspiracy theory in places… which I liked.

Although there are small faults in the story, we find them entertaining, as they’re something which does not take us out of the joy of this film. A film which does not try to tax the brain on some grand scale, it plays with what it has to offer; the fun of a creepy and entertaining horror film; which, without a doubt is a 1980s a classic.

Halloween II (1981) [review]

I cannot say this is as good as the original, which is not to say it is a bad film, it is nowhere near being terrible. There are as more positives than there are negatives which make this a very entertaining film.

We do have John Carpenter and Debra Hill returning as writers; therefore we get a true follow up when it comes to the story and characters, something which feels like we are offered a continuity which feels genuine. Another great part to this film is, we picking up exactly where the previous film left off. Not even a second has pasted since the previous film. As a result the tension and the characters are already in the middle of the action, nerves are already being tested, and people are by now feeling the stress of what they’ve been through thus far.

Possible spoilers… this film explains the reason why Michael Myers came home and why he’s found himself looking for Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), giving this a little more of a personal feeling than the original. Although this is written by the same writers as the original, this film is directed by Rick Rosenthal, offering a different feel and look. There are moments which feel a little forced, as if Rosenthal was not completely sure what to do, maybe dragging out moments in the hope of heightening the tension, unfortunately and only occasionally; not quite hitting the desired mark.

As many people have said over the years, the fact that the hospital is so empty leaves us to wonder where all the patents are. Once again, it depends how much you want to think about this aspect of the film. There are scares which seem to be more obvious in this film than the original and some characters seem there merely to be murdered and therefore we don’t really connect with them. Although, we find ourselves mainly focusing on those who survived the original film, hoping to see them reach the end of the film.

This is certainly more bloody and gory than the original film which we can maybe assume that Michael is less willing to hold back in this film, maybe he’s angrier due to the amount of time it’s taking to find himself where he wants to be.

This would be perfect as part of a double bill with the original, due to fact that this is the continuation of the same night… that is, is you are prepared to spend just under three hours with these characters and story… which I certainly am, every Halloween.

Halloween (1978) [review]

It would be easy to simply call this a classic and leave it at that, but where would that leave any of us? This is one of the many films John Carpenter created with Debra Hill in which they told a story through characters who all seem like those we’d come across every day. From the students to the police, to those we only glimpse for a moment.

There are only a handful of characters who we focus on, letting us care about them more, giving us time to have opinions about them and therefore know who we like and care for; thus we wish to see certain characters survive the film.

With a killer who does not talk, we are left to wonder about what his true reason for his attack on the locals can possibly be, why it took him years to return to his home town. Simultaneously we do not get long winded speeches prior to any killings which would give the good guys time to escape or defeat him.

Michael is on a mission which is known only to himself and for reasons unknown by not only us, but those he wishes to murder. Leaving us to think for ourselves and come up with copious reasons why any of this is happening… That is, if we don’t just presume Michael is simple a person who’s been in a mental hospital and could possibly have no sane reason.

John Carpenter certainly knew how to take his time and create a pacing such as this, which takes us on a journey of suspense, rather than blood and gore. Which may seem unusual for such a film to some, but this slowly builds; we wait to see how and when Michael will attack. All the while, those in authority are more than willing to pass the buck in who’s to blame, on why Michael is on a rampage.

There is never a dull moment here, never needing to offer us something which is unimportant. John Carpenter’s score adds to the beauty of the film, in a simple form, that heightens the tension perfectly. The ending of the film leaves us with questions we; the audience can come to our own conclusion… along with the obvious possibility of a sequel. This has a grand feeling of being made by people who wanted to create something which would last years beyond its run in the cinema.

The Great Outdoors (1988) [review]

When it comes to John Hughes films, this is among his family films, moving on from the teen offerings he made in the mid 1980s. This film shows us more of the relationship between parents and their children; siblings of not only the younger generation, but their parents’ generation, and then there’s the relationship between husbands and wives. All of which offers the love and awkwardness of being part of a family.

There are the values of two families linked by blood, but who have taken different paths and idealisms in their lives. One which is more family oriented and the other more money minded. This, as you would expect, brings out the worst in the family gathering on a holiday and the best in the humour and our interest in what we enjoy here.

This really is a film which holds the two families together when there really is no reason to, but then again, there would be no film if that wasn’t the case. But, that would be to presume there is nothing more than what lies on the surface. There is always something more to pull us in than we presume and therefore this film works nicely in that we want to see a family at war with itself. This is a great hour and a half which is fun and takes us on a ride that spans over a few days of a holiday, which reveals the actual intentions of why certain people are as they pretend not to be.

This is a light hearted look at life that will make you laugh and find yourself enjoying the misfortune of those who have to put up with it. The younger generation of the film try to find their own interests and people they would rather hang around with. The added idea that both families are out in the country, away from their normal city lives which they are accustomed to, there is much to be enjoyed here, which is a grand sight to see in a way that it is neither abusive or over the top.

This is a film which I have watched numinous times and still find entertaining many years after its release in the late 1980s, and I’m sure I’ll see it many more times. There are moments which will make you laugh, some which will make you smile and some which will make you understand and appreciate family members for all their faults.

Barney’s Version (2010) [review]

This is a rare film, in that it is among the few films to be based on a novel which is either as good as or extremely close to being good as the book. This certainly has the spirit of the source material which comes across so beautifully that you can’t help be pulled in. Therefore you feel more than you may realise.

This is a drama which manages to make you laugh, smile, feel sorrow and anger as the characters go through situations which are so every day, but, as the title sagest it is all from one man’s point of view, with his thoughts and feeling of how those incidents went down. One of the great parts of this film is; I was on the fence on whether or not I actually liked Barney, you certainly like him when there are characters which are more unlikeable than he, but then there are moments you find yourself feeling angry for something he’s said or done when it comes to somebody who did not deserve it.

Barney is definitely not a perfect person and there are many layers to him, then again that can be said for many of the characters, as they are not perfect either, which is why you feel so many emotions and find yourself actually feeling some connection for what is happening with these people.

The bigger moments of the film cause you to realise there is more than you were consciously aware of or thinking about in the story, it sinks in while you think you’ve got what’s going on, while you may think there is something which seems unimportant or a small detail, which suddenly causes you to think about what is happening in a way that you may not have expected or even cared about.

Watching this for the first time, there are signs which you may be unaware of, which you suddenly think about in the second half of the film, but these moments are done so perfectly, therefore you do not feel that you should have realised sooner, thus when you come to see what becomes of certain characters, it hits you in the way it should.

The uncertainly of the story telling is a plus, in that it is the way of life and nothing is ever told perfectly from memory… nobody’s memory is perfect. Memories changing in what is remembered as the characters become older. This undoubtedly gets under your skin and settles there. From story to characters, to the emotions we go through, all which created a film worthy of your time.

The is a film which moves at its own pace and is not in any hurry to get to the end, but one that wishes to tell the story in the way it should be told.

She-Wolf of London (1946) [review]

The title of this film would sagest that it is a sequel to “Werewolf of London”, any link to that film is extremely minimal, but if you get the chance, the two films are a grand double bill for the enjoyment of seeing a couple of Werewolf films of this standard. As the title of this film suggests the main villain of the piece is female… if you consider the Werewolf the villain of the film. As, it is not always the creature themselves that are the so called unlikable, but those who do not know what they are dealing with or deny the existence of such a creature.

Here we have more than meets the eye, in that there are controlling and deceitful characters who wish to benefit from other character’s misery and demise. This, unlike the possible previous film, feels a little more like a drama than a horror film, but then again, the lines are a little blurred on the two genres on this occasion. The ideas of such things as Werewolves in this film is done so nicely that I found myself caring more for and connecting with certain characters than maybe you would think was possible of such a film. Giving those we don’t like, a more genuine feeling of being dislikeable as they seem more humanly real than many horror films portray.

This maybe a heightened and intense version of the more realistic characters, as you may expect; which perfectly creates tension that draws us in nicely and lets us enjoy what we have here. A mystery which may be a little obvious to a modern audience but one that is worth the viewers’ time, in that this is more to do with the journey than the destination. Some of the characters you may wish had a little more backbone… there seems to be a little too much of the English politeness that restrains some characters but prolongs the story which runs for just under a hour. Which is another reason why this would be great grounds for it to be a double bill with “Werewolf of London”.

Scotland Yard being a presence in both films is one of the three links between the two films; along with the location and the existence of Werewolves… as if you needed telling. The black and white of this offers a fine look to the film.