Today’s the day! Halloween is upon us, and I wanted to have a special blog post. Ever since it was announced that David Gordon Green and Danny McBride had signed on to pen the latest entry in the Halloween franchise, I had my eye on this one, waiting rather impatiently for any inkling of news. I had my doubts, given not only the fact that McBride had mostly been involved in comedy projects before his part in Alien: Covenant, but also because of the previous installments. Basically, everything in between the original and Rob Zombie’s remake (which I did enjoy) was forgettable. And after Rob Zombie’s sequel to the 2007 remake revealed itself as a discombobulated mess (save some creative liberties that I didn’t totally hate), it felt as though this series had been slaughtered for the last time. But that was certainly not the case: Halloween (2018) was fantastic, and just what we needed to tie up the story of Carpenter’s original classic with a rather bloody bow.
I won’t be providing spoilers in this review (or any—at least, I’ll try not to!), but I will discuss as many pieces of this film as I can. The first is the new Myers mask. This mask is simple, but exactly what it needed to be: aged, dirtied, and menacing. No more stark-white rubber, no more cracked material that reveals any part of the face. The mask characterizes Michael Myers without allowing him to be a character, if that makes sense. This film pushes the fact that Myers is supposed to be evil personified, and while we do see bits and pieces of his face throughout, when the mask is off, we never see anything about Myers that tells us he’s anything but darkness. He stalks, kills, then moves onto the next victim. As he should—that was the core of the 1978 classic: we don’t know what drives Michael, we don’t know why he kills. That’s what makes him scary.
Piggybacking off that point, the plot of this film is also simple; the tangled storylines of the various other sequels and re-boots are scrubbed clean, leaving us only with what remained after the events of the first film. Laurie is no longer Michael’s sister, and no cult controls the strings that move him. We’re again given a figure identified only by his presence as well as his mask. It’s Laurie Strode’s fear, her anger, and her obsession with Michael that ultimately bring her into his sights. Both the lead-up and the payoff are satisfying. There are, however, some goofy moments, and some significant plot-holes, such as the plotline with the journalists (er… podcasters) who are investigating Michael’s case. And some comedic moments do pull us away from rather intense scenes. But overall, I think the plot held its own. And the actors (at least some of them) pulled their weight.
Jamie Lee Curtis finally reprised her role as Laurie Strode the right way, by injecting more depth into the character than in previous restorations. She is, in ways, hindered by her fears, but rightly so; she experienced such terrors at a young age. And symptoms of PTSD take center stage. But her passion of defending her family at any cost, her confidence in her strength, and her preparation for the worst tell us that Laurie Strode isn’t messing around, this time. She's got a mission.
Lastly, David Gordon Green’s directorial efforts don’t go unnoticed, here. Even though the awesome tracking shot that follows Myers through his Halloween haunt was included in a few trailers, I still found it impossible to look away throughout. It showcases James Jude Courtney’s (and, returning to the mask, Nick Castle, one of the original players in the 1978 film!) rendition of Michael, seeming to glide through the suburbs of Haddonfield like a ghost, until it comes to the kills. He’s brutal this time around, angry. And the camera reflects that; shots like this tell us that Michael, like Laurie, isn’t messing around. He’s waited long enough to feed his murderous desires, and he doesn’t hold back. While we do get some Blumhouse-esque silliness in some of these over-the-top kills, I’d say the brutality is still commendable, coming from a lover of slasher films.
Halloween 2018 is a slasher feat wrapped up in the nostalgia catered to long-time fans of the original. It stands on its own while keeping a close second to the first film. I loved it, and I look forward to seeing it again. If you’re expecting Oscar-worthy efforts, you’re looking at the wrong film (and the wrong series, to be blunt). But if you’re hoping for a horror film, for intensity, for brutality, and for a crazy awesome revenge thriller, I highly recommend giving it a watch.
Did you see the new Halloween? What did you think? Let me know what I missed, or what I might have missed the mark on. Let’s discuss!
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It’s Friday! Time for another piece of my October movie marathon. I’m a bit ahead this week, since I’ve watched a lot over the weekends this month. So let’s get to it:
1. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Hey, you can’t go wrong with this one. I still argue that this is a Halloween movie, as opposed to more of a Christmas holiday film. But it’s ok—others are allowed to have their wrong opinions! And to say I relate so much to the vampire trio in this movie is an understatement. This is always a fun treat to return to, no matter what time of year.
2. The Blackcoat’s Daughter
A slow-burn to say the least, The Blackcoat’s Daughter is subtle, but effective. It took me a bit of thinking to fully understand it, and upon a second watch-through, it all fell into place. Kiernan Shipka’s performance is haunting, and although I’m often on-the-fence about Emma Roberts’ performances, I’d say her character added a layer of mystery that really kept me wondering throughout. It’s spooky, it’s quiet, it’s ominous, it’s oddly sad—I really recommend this one, if you love films that are simple yet require attention to detail.
3. Return of the Living Dead
I happened to watch this just days before learning of James Karen’s passing. He was so wonky in Return of the Living Dead; his casting was perfect for the film. It’s a crazy zombie movie that doesn’t take itself seriously in the slightest, and that only benefits it in the long run. I love it for its zaniness. James Karen will be missed!
Sure, Hellraiser isn’t my favorite horror film, but I do love watching it from time to time. Pinhead is such an interesting player in the horror icon game; the film doesn’t shy away from gore in the slightest, and the demon designs are great. It’s unfair to judge a film like this for the acting, but it is one of those that certainly suffers from the acting throughout. It’s saved by its interesting concept, said demons, and the totally bonkers skeletal dragon at the end. Like—what? I question it, yet I applaud it.
5. The Haunting (1963)
Arguably one of the best classic horror films, The Haunting honors Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House marvelously. It plays with tension and fear with precision, and, while it may not have aged perfectly, it still holds up as a hair-raising effort in a long line of haunted house movies. The Haunting does so much with so little, entering the protagonist’s mind almost as maliciously as the ghosts themselves. Plus, that mansion is seriously creepy, especially in the way it’s framed in the film.
6. The Strangers
One of my favorite modern horror films for its simplicity, this movie still gives me chills every time I watch it. Anyone who’s seen it knows which scene I’m referring to, when I say I always think of that scene. It certainly had me sleeping with the lights on when I first watched it in theaters years ago. The idea that the events in this home-invasion horror can (and do) happen, and to anyone, at that, makes it even that more frightening.
7. Evil Dead (2013)
Not all remakes hit the bull’s-eye the way this one does. While paying homage to Raimi’s 80’s classic, this rendition of Evil Dead cranks the gore up to 11. What director Fede Alvarez does with sound is out-of-this-world, and the film’s score is fantastic. It doesn’t hold back, and doing so would have been heresy to the original. Just when you think the craziness has hit its peak, Evil Dead grabs you by the severed hand and pulls you into a world where people for some reason have to read ancient texts aloud to themselves. But hey, would we have it any other way?
Tune in next week! I hope everyone's got fun plans for the rest of October!
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This week, I’ll be talking a bit about the next round of movies I’ve watched for my October movie marathon. It’s been a wild month, so far, and full of interesting movies for the Halloween season!
1. Trick ‘r Treat
This is one of my favorite movies to watch around Halloween-time. It’s a fun film; not a lot of anthology movies get it right, but Trick ‘r Treat is a perfect mix of funny and dark that definitely warrants multiple watches. Plus, little Sam provides a new entry as a horror icon that we didn’t know we needed. It contains various sub-genres of the horror genre that appeals to many audiences, so that only adds to its appeal.
2. The Omen (2006)
I’ll admit, the remake to the classic religious horror The Omen is one of my favorites. It’s not necessarily memorable, but its modern take on Damien’s story as the antichrist, I think, was really well done. The imagery and suspense that builds throughout is sturdy and effective, and Schreiber and Styles’ performances as Damien’s parents are great, surpassed only by Mia Farrow as the horrific nanny. It’s dark, crisp, and seriously evil. The Omen is a fine remake that I do enjoy re-watching.
3. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
As inferior of a sequel as it is to its predecessor, Halloween 5 is still watchable. It’s not necessarily high on my ranking of the Halloween films; it doesn’t add anything spectacular to the series, and it seems to drag as a film, as a whole. If it was a bit more contained, it might have worked. Also, the whole “Jamie Trilogy” isn’t my favorite. She is a charming character, but her connection with Michael Myers feels out-of-place and forced.
4. Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers
Wow, this movie always makes my head spin. It tries to be so many different things and fails to land any of them. I see what they were trying to do, with the addition of a cult that strives to keep Myers’ presence as a demented killer alive, but it falls flat and feels ultimately hokey. At this point in the series, Donald Pleasance was the only solid piece clinging onto this discombobulated puzzle. And that’s a stretch.
5. Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later
This entry into the Halloween series isn’t specifically an eyesore; don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty insane, given its significance to the series (I can’t help but associate it with its sequel), but it holds no candles to the original two films. The return of Laurie Strode is the steel beam holding up this house of horrors. But it does feel rushed, given the fact that Curtis hadn’t been in any Halloween films in two decades.
6. Halloween: Resurrection
God, this movie is bad.
7. Halloween (2007)
I’m a fan of Rob Zombie, so that does put a bit of bias into my opinion of his reboot of the Carpenter classic. I do like his rendition of Michael’s character, his place in society, and the result of his upbringing being the main cause of his violence. It is over-the-top, as so in good ol’ Zombie fashion, but it does make us feel for the new Laurie Strode. Taylor-Compton’s rendition of the character is charming and, ultimately, badass. I don’t hate this installment, and it is one that I do find re-watchable.
8. Halloween II (2009)
This film isn’t re-watchable. But, I had to remain consistent with my Halloween movie marathon, leading up to the new 2018 sequel to the original film. Zombie’s sequel to his 2007 remake attempts to add layers to an already over-stacked cake. The appearance of Michael’s mother with the white horse (and the horribly miscast re-cast of young Michael) is so horrible. It’s not something that adds to Michael’s character; it only muddles the film beyond recognition. I get that Zombie took creative liberties with the franchise, but this sequel was like hitting a home run, but returning to the field with the entirely wrong ball.
9. Halloween (2018)
Knowing the rollercoaster-esque nature of Blumhouse, I went into the new Halloween with an open mind. Of course, I was excited, considering John Carpenter’s return to the series. But it did not disappoint. The score was fresh, while still heralding the classic theme, the plot was only minimally hokey (which I’m okay with, given the genre and the franchise as a whole), and Laurie Strode is a total badass. I will be writing a more formal review for this film, because I have a lot to say, but I will say this: Go see Halloween! It succeeds in wiping the Halloween slate (post the original film) clean, and I have no qualms with that. It’s a good Halloween film, and a good film, overall.
I’ll see y’all next week for my third October movie update!
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The last few weeks have been quite a rush. I went to New York Comic Con last weekend, exhibiting at the Globe Pequot booth, and the prep work for that was, needless to say, time-consuming. Head to my social media channels to see some photos from the con! It was an awesome experience, and I would do it all over again (with the right amount of sleep afterwards, of course).
Every October, I do my best to watch a scary movie a day throughout the month. Now, I say scary, but Halloween-related movies do apply, given the holiday, like The Nightmare Before Christmas, for example. I figured I’d update through my blog what movies I’m watching every day, and I’ll provide some thoughts. There is a special event happening this year, however, and that is the release of Halloween 2018, the sequel to the original 1978 John Carpenter classic. Anyone who knows me knows my love for Halloween, so my excitement for this new installation is through the roof. I’m planning on watching every movie in the series before the new one comes out, save the original (which I save for the 31st, of course!). Now, I am a few days behind because of NYCC, but here is my watch-list thus far:
Wishmaster didn’t age well. I mean, it wasn’t a great movie at all, but it’s one of those that I can watch and laugh at and enjoy. Plus, the design of the Wishmaster himself is great; his voice alone is awesome. Andrew Divoff is perfect as the Djinn. While this film wants so badly to be Hellraiser, it’s still a good time.
Under the Skin
This was a first-time watch for me. The atmosphere of this film had me hooked from the start, and while it does feel like it drags at certain moments, it’s still a beautifully shot movie. Some might argue that this is more of a sci-fi and that it’s not scary at all—sure, I agree with that, but the tone, soundtrack, and imagery definitely have horror elements that I’d still say apply. At least, it still applies to my October marathon! All-in-all, I thought the film was great, save some specific moments that I won’t divulge in this thread. But Scarlett Johanssen’s performance wowed me; she did an excellent job playing this part.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
It goes without saying that Romero’s classic is just that—a classic. This is one of those films I can watch repeatedly and love even more every time. I love Romero and Russo’s zombies, their exploration of humanity, and the fact that they sparked a trend that still continues to this day. This is a staple of the horror genre, for sure!
The Mummy (1932)
Ok, The Mummy is not the best of the Universal monster classics, but I enjoy the camp, and the set and monster designs are just so cool. Besides, this one is eons better than any other Mummy incarnation we’ve seen since. And Boris Karloff is a champion. I also can’t stop thinking about the scientist at the beginning, who watches the mummy come to life. As he walks off screen, the scientist breaks down into hysterics, laughing maniacally, unable to process what he’d just seen any other way. As goofy as it might seem, I still think it’s such a great scene.
Halloween II (1981)
As I’ve stated, I’m a sucker for the Halloween series. Yes, I know that basically none of the sequels to Carpenter’s original aren’t any good, but I love ‘em. The (first) direct sequel to the original is a close second for me. Sure, the characters are kill-fodder, the absence of a full staff at a hospital (on Halloween night!!) is wonky (like, where are the other patients?), and Michael’s familial relationship with Laurie Strode feels totally shoehorned in, but the movie is what it claims to be: a slasher. We get a guy hacking and slashing his way through helpless victims, and that’s all we need. Forget the fact that Michael is shot several times (again), or that he’s blown up and there are still sequels. He’s a horror icon, and I’ll keep watching until they stop making these movies.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
This was my first time watching the movie all the way through. I think I agree with most complaints about the film, that it could have been great had it been written better and had it not have been filled with plot holes. This big block of Swiss cheese forgets about the existence of time zones, and it fails to make us care about the characters. But I will say, it goes above and beyond with gore and visuals. So it’s not a complete loss. But in terms of the series, it sticks out like a sore thumb. And Halloween: Resurrection exists (even though I don’t think anything can be worse than that one, here).
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
I’m going to start off with a note-to-self: Ryan, the Myers masks only get worse from here, and you’re aware of that. Pretty sure everyone is. For some reason, I remember this portion of the Halloween series being super scary, as a kid. But re-watching, all I see are scenes filled with the same lines: “Stay with me, I’ll protect you! But while I do, I’m going to need to leave you alone for at least 20 mins of screen-time, because logic is the name of this slasher game.” I love the trope of “one cop is in charge of protecting dumb teenagers from a killer who can unexplainably teleport, even though several cops are involved, and can help at any time.” Sigh. But, again, these movies are just fun. I’m hoping the new installment carries a bit more weight than anything after the first two original films, sans the Zombie remakes, which I don’t necessarily hate!
That’s as far as I’ve gotten, so I’ll try to post Friday blogs more often this month, as opposed to every other week. October is a good month for Nothing Peak! Stay spooky, friends.
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