These Slasher sequels are supposed to be simple. Trot out a brace of clay pigeons, watch them all die one by one, tack on some stupid cliffhanger, and you’re all good to go. It seems impossible to screw that up, but by God, Mustapha Akkad found a way. Several, in fact.
The first, Halloween 4, was a complete waste of its own potential, meant to compete with the other Big Names in this sub-genre by copying all their worst eccentricities. By 1989, the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street films had long-since surpassed the original Halloween in the popular imagination. They (rightly or not…mostly not) were synonymous with American horror movies of the late-80s, leaving their mutual progenitor in the box office dust.
Akkad couldn’t allow that. Nor could he allow Halloween 5 to pick up where the last left off. Sure, The Revenge begins with a re-staging of The Return‘s final moments, but that somehow makes it worse. Unlike the mouth-breathing audiences Akkad obviously targeted, I actually remember the end of Halloween 4. I hoped it signaled a spark of creativity finally flaring up within this franchise. Nice of Halloween 5 to crush that right out of the gate. Continue reading Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
In all the history of cinema, Godzilla and Star Trek stand alone as the only franchises in history who’ve managed field strong fourth films (Mothra vs. Godzilla and The Voyage Home, respectively – though this feels like an invitation for everyone to “well, actually” me). One day they will do epic battle for the hearts and souls of nerds the world over. But until then we, their partisans, must content ourselves with taking the piss out of other, less-fortunate film series.
After Halloween III‘s non-success, John Carpenter apparently had an idea: the story about some small town, haunted by the memory of a violent killing spree in its all-too-recent past…rather like Haddonfield, Illinois. It could’ve been an Our Town for the 1980s…except George went insane and murdered his sister Rebbecca at the end Act One, spent the scene break in an asylum, escaped, and spent the whole of Act Three trying to murder Emily. C’mon: you know you’d love to see that. We won’t see it here, but you just know it’d make a better movie. Continue reading Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
Everyone ignores this Halloween sequel, and why shouldn’t they? I’m guilty of it myself. Why should we waste our time on something called Halloween that’s not centered around one Michael Myers? Besides, it’s written and directed by the man who’s puerile “mind” vomited up Amityville II: The Possession: Tommy Lee Wallace.
Not that I hold that against him. Sure, Tommy participated in a classic Dino De Laurentiis land grab, writing the screenplay for a film the De Laurentiis Group had no right to make. Sure, Tommy began his screenwriting career by slandering real-life murder victims, telling a story that absolved their killer of any responsibility by straight-up ripping-off The Exorcist. Sure, all that is horrible human (and, more important for me, writerly) behavior…but does being a horrible person mean you have good horror movie in you? We’ll find out tonight, won’t we? Yes. Continue reading Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
And here we have a film never should’ve seen the light but, like that three-car pile-up on your way to work, resolutely sits right in the middle of the road refusing to be ignored. The same way most critics ignore John Carpenter’s made-for-TV movies.
Awkward segues aside, there’s two very good reasons to focus on the man’s studio pieces. For (1) they’re better, and for (2) they’re easier to find. Yet in their blindness, critics miss essential facets of Carpenter’s story, which is in many ways the story of genre cinema in the 1980s. That’s sad because it’s a great story in itself…often much more interesting than the films it created. A story littered with greed, betrayal, and compromised aesthetic principals that will probably go on to make a great bio-pic once everyone forgets who Orson Welles was…or, if they remember him at all, remember him only as “the voice of Unicron.” Continue reading Halloween II (1981)