Most of the dialogue spewing from Bill’s mouth will turn the stomach of viewers who can understand his exaggerated delivery, as he munches on fried clitorises and medium rare testicles, while lamenting the heat and firing attacks at every single character he comes in contact with.
Of course, he has monologues directed at African Americans, Mexicans, and Muslims. Rest assured, he also makes sure to offend homosexuals, dwarfs and especially women. Speaking of women, there is only one of them in the entire film (Bree Olsen, one of Charlie Sheen’s “goddesses”), and she exists only as a sexual object that is even more attractive when she is beaten up.
Some other familiar faces also are along for the show, including Tiny Lister, Rob LASardo, and Eric Roberts, further confirming his anything-for-a-paycheck work ethic. The meat of the film (so to speak) comes in the final third, after a particularly graphic nightmare inspires Bill to finally accept the idea of transforming his prisoners into the first human prison centipede. They consult a shady prison doctor who insists he can make it work and set about attaching the prisoners in a 500-person-long string around the prison yard.
Director Six even shows up halfway through the flick as himself, acting offended at the sights he inspired and even vomits in revulsion to his own film that he wrote and directed. If that doesn’t give some clue to what kind of twisted genius Mr. Six is, then nothing will. I picture him as the misfit kid from grade school who always asked everyone whats grosser than gross, and would answer every single test question wrong just to prove he was smarter than everyone else.
A visionary troublemaker with some seriously twisted ideas, Mr. Six has the balls to be the guy poking all the bears with his cane, and most likely basking in all the outrage while he rolls around in a pile of hate mail. Love him or hate him, we need directors like him, lest the only options for viewing become big budget dumb affairs without a bit of originality. After the entire film pushing the envelope, I still found myself shaking my head in amused shock as the Star-Spangled Banner played over the rolling credits.
With all that said, Final Sequence is a difficult film for anyone to like, which I suspect was exactly the point Six was trying to make.
I loved it.
Over the past five years, Pardee began to work closely with Green to develop the idea as a live action feature, and at long last we horror fans get treated with the end result. What Adam Green has crafted from these years of work is an expert-level tale of misunderstood monsters of all shapes and sizes, which turns the found footage sub-genre on it’s head (“It’s not found footage! It’s footage footage!” he argues exasperatedly at one point.) and ultimately reveals itself to be a heartfelt love letter to these ghouls who go bump in the night. Adapting Pardee’s original premise of a strange man convinced of monsters who is trying to share his story, the film is a psuedo-documentary which follows Green and his cameraman Will as they interview Decker and attempt to bring the story of these elusive creatures to the masses.
The intro of the film sets the tone immediately, establishing roots in the horror convention scene in interviews and conversations with horror luminaries such as Tony Todd, Lloyd Kaufman, comedian Steve Agee, and artists like Jason Edmiston and Pardee himself, all professing their love of horror, and specifically, monsters. In one touching tribute to the director’s good friend and frequent co-star, the late and sorely missed Oderus Urungus says “I have been a monster. I will always be a monster. And after I am dead, I will still be a monster.”
The heart of the film is laid from the beginning ; a true love of monsters. And Adam Green is the perfect guy to tell this story ; his likeable presence in front of the camera has been great for his web-series Holliston, and here, playing himself, his love of the dark underbelly shines through and the passion with which he pursues the possibilities of real monsters is infectious. Even though most of his co-horts and fellow horror geeks are skeptical, Green remains a firm believer and it is hard not to get as excited as he is when they get their first glimpse of the creatures in the woods. Kane Hodder shows up and steals one scene as Green excitedly shows him some of the footage only for the horror icon to shake his head and scoff “Found footage? Oh boy, like that hasn’t been done before…”
The whole story is sold even further by the note-perfect performance by Ray Wise (Twin Peaks) as Decker, as he explains the “Marrow” and his relationship with it in a series of amusingly deadpan interviews. He takes some of the more absurd dialogue to new levels with his completely serious commitment to the character. One particularly chilling anecdote tells the tale of Brella, a story we only hear through the telling and a painting of her likeness, but serves as a creepy warning of what is to come.
In fact it is this kind of ambiguous storytelling that makes the film so effective. In true monster movie form, very little of the creatures are seen full on. In fact, the mythology around these misunderstood ghouls is built surely and steadily with stories like this, small unexplained details, quick glimpses of shadow, until the audience is just as eager as Green is to ultimately confirm or deny the existence of these real monsters. The film moves along at such a brisk pace that sucks the viewer right into this world where something else really is out there in the woods, underneath our feet, living their own lives as we go about ours.
As Decker ultimately reveals himself to be a sort of gaurdian of these misfits with his own secret ties to their society, things escalate beyond control, and the hidden tribe is forced to defend themselves and protect their territory, as Green and his crew continue to film. The unpredictability of the third act keeps the viewer guessing the whole time, and shows us some truly innovative sights, equal parts terrifying and heart-wrenching. The practical effects based on Pardee’s unique artwork are convincing and creepy as hell, especially the way they are presented to us, not as special effects but as real breathing beings. One of the many triumphs of this truly amazing and memorable film.
Overall, Digging Up The Marrow is a top-notch entry in to the horror films of 2015, and a confident move in a new direction for director Adam Green. Here’s hoping he continues to make innovative passion projects like this for years to come.
I can’t recommend this film enough. This is a must-see for horror geeks of all shapes and sizes.
Digging Up The Marrow opens in limited theaters tomorrow February 20th, and simultaneously On Demand that same day.
It will be available on DVD and Blu-Ray on March 24th, 2015.
For more news and updates, follow Adam Green on Alex Pardee on Facebook.
Grade : A
I’m going to be honest here, as I am with all of my movie reviews.
I love a lot of horror movies, I love monsters and weird stuff, crazy inexplicable violence on screen.
But the whole “torture porn” sub-genre has never done much for me. The original Saw was pretty good, but I honestly lost interest after the first few sequels, and Hostel never did rub me the right way, as much as I consider myself to be a fan of Eli Roth. (Can’t wait for The Green Inferno!)
Trying to think of examples of the genre I liked, I’m coming up with a short list. The first Wolf Creek. Martyrs, but that film re-invented the whole idea of “torture porn”. I don’t know, I am sure there have been a few more that I enjoyed but they never stand out as my favorites.
With that said, the major selling point of the new film In The House Of Flies, to me, was the casting of legend Henry Rollins as “the voice of the killer”. I am a life long fan of Rollins, through his music, books and spoken word performances. I love the incredibly ironic on-screen roles that he chooses, for example the cop in The Chase or the Nazi skinhead in Sons Of Anarchy. I especially love that he isn’t afraid to play in the horror genre, giving us that awesome Rambo-esque performance in Wrong Turn 2, the fornicating motivational speaker-turned-battering ram in Feast, and even in a starring role (I think he is a vampire, but still not a lot of news about this one) in the upcoming horror film He Never Died.
So yeah, the flick more than lives up to this premise, and gives some good chuckles and serious gross-outs along the way, but in the end it is just another tedious torture flick.
Honestly, without the inclusion of Rollins’ horrifying phone calls as he playfully puts the screws to our beleaguered and bland lead couple, I probably would have just skipped it.
The predicament that Steve and Heather find themselves in is unique and compelling at first, as they inexplicably wake up trapped in a random basement, with only a few mysterious locked suitcases and an old rotary phone. It is incredibly claustrophobic and uncomfortable as they become accustomed to their surroundings, only to repeatedly be menaced by Rollins on the phone making ridiculous demands in exchange for the combinations to the suitcases. As Henry’s demands become more sadistic and the contents of the cases become increasingly stranger, the main characters obviously and unfortunately become more fatigued and uninteresting. To be fair, if you were trapped in a basement for three weeks playing the mindfuck games of a sadistic stranger, you would probably become a lot less active and interesting. So it is realistic, I guess, but it just isn’t a whole lot of fun to watch two defeated, deflated characters wish that they could just die already. It makes you long for it to just be over, as well.
So, in that sense, I think the film is successful. By the end of it you feel like you have slogged through the ordeal with them, for better and worse.
It is worth a watch for any Rollins fan to hear him say lines like “Bad girls don’t get water“.
One last quick note. I find it really odd that even though the title of the film is obviously inspired by the Deftones song [Change] In The House Of FLies, nowhere in the film does the song appear, although during some tense basement scenes, you can hear some tones reminiscent of the tune. I for sure thought it would play over the closing credits. Maybe the rights cost too much or something, but the songs that bookend the film felt jarringly inappropriate, and feel like the film as a whole would have benefited from actually using the titular song.
Grade : C
Available on DVD and On Demand today is the latest installment in the ground-breaking [REC] franchise.
The first two Spanish films have definitely earned their reputations as some of the most genuinely frightening films of the past decade, and shining examples of “found footage” perfection. While the third in the series took a wild turn in a new direction (that I actually really enjoyed, although sometimes I think I am the only one), the news that the director of the original, Jaume Balaguero, would return to helm the fourth installment gave great hope to fans of the quick and dirty terror of the first two films.
However, [REC] 4 has more in common with the often unfairly-derided third film than it does the first two.
The real great news here is the return of Manuela Velasco as the journalist Angela, and the progression of her ferocious character through all of this madness. I mean, the last time we saw Angela, this was happening to her :
When we catch up with the developing story, everyone has been coralled onto an ocean liner staffed with scientists and military, all seeking to either escape or destroy this virus. They neatly tie the third film in by including an elderly woman who was a guest at the disastrous wedding from that installment, and quickly establish that these are the most desperate times. By ditching the hand held style that defined the first two films, we get a much more cinematic experience, and the claustrophobia of the doomed boat is eerily similar to the confined hallways of the apartment building. Integrating the found footage of the originals in a neat twist, the scientists on board the ship piece together what previously happened and try desperately to find a way to cure this plague, which leads to a lot of confusion and yelling. Then an unexpected storm causes a blackout, which leads to a new outbreak and BAM!
A fucking zombie monkey attack!
Yup, you guessed it, the monkey was carrying the virus all along, and someone let it out and now it infected all of the food and we get a horrifying series of action set pieces climaxing with Angela stumbling around in the dark belly of the ocean liner rather than the dark attic of the tenement. The film takes a brief turn into John Carpenter territory when they discover that the parasite that was living within Angela has been transferred elsewhere, and the scene is a great homage to The Thing.
Otherwise, it is pretty typical run for your life stuff, although there is something particularly unnerving about the way these infected move, super-fast and utterly reckless. It is especially frightful as they barrell down the slim underwater corridors of the doomed ship, grunting and dripping with goo.
The whole affair is very well-crafted and tense, punctuated with intense bursts of violence. The infected are suitably disgusting and drippy, and it is great suspenseful fun while it lasts. I enjoyed it very much as the “action-packed thrill-ride” the poster promises, but any fans of the originals who were looking for a return to the genuine scares and creep factor of the first films will most likely be left wanting. This fourth film is apparently meant to be the last in the series, and ends on a suitably bleak but slightly cheesy note.
Overall [REC] 4 is a must see for fans of the series, and a well-executed addition to the tired “zombie/infected” films of the past decade, but really doesn’t bring much new to the table.
I still recommend it, the zombie monkey is priceless!
“Conformity is the key.
Put on the mask of a simple man and no one ever knows the difference.
Everyone is so concerned with how you see them that they never bother to see you.”
Coyote is that creepy weird piece of lonesome nastiness that you never knew you were looking for in a film.
The independent production made big waves on the festival circuit last year, and it will finally be available on DVD this month, on December 16th.
I first heard it described as “a nightmarish psychological horror that blends Taxi Driver with Videodrome“, which is as accurate a description as any. However, first time writer/director Trevor Juenger and independent horror icon Bill Oberst Jr. have created a main character so desperately lonely that he makes Travis Bickle look like an upstanding socialite.
A non-linear assault on the senses, it seems that the whole purpose is to keep the audience on edge and break taboos, which they succeed in greatly. Essentially a window into the mind of a man slowly losing his sanity, the confusion and horror is expertly conveyed with grotesque imagery, bizarre double takes, and inventive use of sound effects.
As a film about loneliness and desperation should be, the story is very sparsely populated, and the focus is directly on Bill as he slowly descends into a surreal madness. Bill Oberst Jr. is no stranger to playing dark roles like this (If you haven’t seen Circus of the Dead yet, do so right away!), and he proves himself to be a treasured gift to the horror genre with another fearless performance.
Right off the bat it is established that our protagonist is a strange sort, as he struggles over how to convey his happiness in a letter to his mother. In reality, he works a dreary job in a moving van, surrounded by darkness and negativity. The character seems to feed on this energy in a way, letting the evil around him slowly grow his own hidden darkness. He is also a struggling writer, who is plagued by vicious nightmares of being murdered in bed, leading him to believe in the mantra, “If I sleep, I will die.”
As time passes in a hazy surreal way, Bill realizes he is changing, but also seems powerless (or unwilling) to stop the change. He knows that his current form is only the pupal stage, that he began as a worm, and that he is evolving “for no reason at all“. The story is simple and fragmented, weaving in and out of dreams and visions, switching between bursts of violence to serene scenes of beauty. This is exactly what I look for in horror films, the simple chance to get lost in someone else’s madness for a while, and forget about my own for the running time.
Coyote is that rare intense film that you wont soon forget, a visually inventive and unflinching nightmare of madness and depravity. According to Bill Oberst Jr., Coyote is the same strange vision on film that it was on paper. It is available on DVD today December 16th 2014 from Wild Eye Releasing.
Open Windows, the new film from Timecrimes director Nacho Vigalondo is a groundbreaking and hypnotic journey through the nightmares of modern technology.
The film tells the twisted tale of Nick (Elijah Wood), a young geek with a fan blog who gets pulled deep into a convoluted plot by a mysterious voice on the other end of the internet. His website is a classy fan site for big time star Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey), who is attending a press conference for her newest sci-fi big budget adventure film. Nick has been contacted by her representatives and been told that he has won a dinner date with the young lady, which he learns she has abruptly cancelled. The voice on the other end of the line is “Chord”, who initially claims to be one of the producers working with the starlet, but leads Nick down a rabbit hole of strange and uncomfortable twists and turns. Before Nick knows it, he (and the audience) is sucked right into this strange sequence of events, and the pace is so frantic we never even have the chance to question what is going on.
While the concept can be considered to be a modern day take on Hitchcock’s Rear Window, the real gimmick here is that everything you see in the film is via a computer screen, so Nick’s laptop is of key importance. The screens and windows dance in and out of our focus, and really help the voyeuristic tone of the film, making the audience complicit with the progressively more nerve-wracking events. Chord quickly reveals himself to be more enigmatic than we thought, as he orchestrates a convoluted series of events that involve torture, kidnapping and virtual extortion. Touching on a timely theme of young starlets being exploited by media outlets, this ambitious film has a lot to say, and in an entirely new format.
According to the director, “Some years ago my producers asked me to come up with a movie in which social networks and the language of the Internet would feature heavily. I made a counter-proposal: taking the concept to its limit by writing a film that took place entirely on the desktop of a computer, pushing the envelope of the production to make it a really unique adventure.”
Elijah Wood is great in his part as the puppet being dragged along by the strings of a sinister maniac, and I love seeing the little hobbit take on strange roles like this at this time in his career. Nick is a sympathetic stalker, being forced into an uncomfortable situation by a much more nefarious puppeteer, but he tellingly doesn’t wrestle too hard with his conscience when he gets a chance to peek at the holy grail. When the stakes become considerably higher, however, he rises to the occasion to become her hero and joins forces with some amusing French hackers to save the day. Sort of…
Nothing in this film is what it appears to be, and while the breakneck pace of the first two thirds drags the audience along for the ride, the final act kind of stops the film dead in its tracks. Some questionable technology combined with new characters (and one easily forgettable but vitally important one from the beginning) turn the climactic scenes into a jumbled, confusing mess.
The first time I watched it I found myself asking What the FUCK just happened?
Upon a second viewing, things became a little clearer toward the end, but I think it is safe to say that the director used a few cheats to get to the desired conclusion. As with Timecrimes, the science of the sci-fi is clearly not as important to the director as the fiction, but I just didn’t feel that it worked as well here. Overall, Open Windows is a fun and unique experience in a whole new style of film-making, and will not be easy to forget despite the somewhat unsatisfying wrap-up. The film is currently available On Demand, and will also start a limited theatrical run today November 7th, although to be honest I think watching this one on a laptop or mobile device makes the whole package more satisfying.
The new documentary Fantasm is a love letter to the horror community, specifically the huge groups of dedicated fans who frequent conventions all over the country.
Begun as a student film project, director and ardent horror fan Kyle Kutchta has assembled a dedicated and loving look at the phenomenon of horror conventions and the people just like you and I who religiously attend them.
In an effort to understand his own fascination with the genre, the young director embarked on a journey to six horror conventions throughout the united states. Through interviews with actors, directors, horror experts and fellow fans at conventions, Kyle discovered that it’s not only the love of the genre that makes these gatherings so special, but it’s the sense of community.
Fantasm features insight from such notable names as Tom Atkins (Escape from New York), Heather Langenkamp (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Lloyd Kaufman (The Toxic Avenger), Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2), Richard Johnson (The Haunting) and more, alongside the dedicated fans who attend horror conventions.
Clocking in at just under an hour, the documentary is a quick and fascinating look at the culture of weirdos and horror nerds and our connection through the love of horror on film. In fact, the entire show seems to be more of an introduction to the scene meant for outsiders and naysayers. Many of the interviewees try very hard to defend their love of the genre and prove that horror folk are just like everyone else. Obviously this could be a great help for any horror fans who have ever felt unjustly persecuted for their love of cinematic grue, as this film provides proof that young outsiders and misfits are being welcomed in and accepted to the fold.
Aside from the fascinating conversations with the aforementioned horror luminaries in defense of our beloved gore, which would make it well worth a watch, the film proves to be somewhat of an eye-opener to older more jaded fans like myself. With a director who is barely in his twenties, he has an entirely different perspective on horror culture than I do. For example, early on in the film he describes how first seeing the remake of “Dawn Of The Dead” in 2006 led to his fascination and eventual passion for the dark side. In a way, this makes the case for remakes, which us older fans tend to write off without merit. According to this young man, the remake led him to the original Romero films, and further down the rabbit hole of classic films that many of us know and love. In fact, the Dawn remake is mentioned fondly several times by younger horror fans, and it is interesting to think of that film a different way, through the eyes of a new horror watcher. The fact that it ignited love for the genre and created a whole new generation of horror geeks is wonderful, and it is a key to the effectiveness of this documentary that it inspires people (even us old guys) to look at the genre in entirely different ways.
Overall, Fantasm is a quick and fun watch which makes the viewer feel right at home among friends, which is the obvious legacy of the community of horror fans who frequent these conventions. It is the next best thing to being there, and will be fun to pop in and watch during the off seasons. It also serves as a great introduction for new and future generations to the whole culture and experience of the convention scene. While at times it seemed to be defending horror just a bit too much for my taste, it is good evidence to have the next time you feel ostracized or left out of something because of your infatuation with fictional evils.
Fantasm will be officially released on DVD on November 11th 2014, and anyone who pre-orders the film before then can get it for a discounted price of $13, also signed by the director.
The DVD will include such special features as the original student film, extended interviews, bloopers, trailers, and a special “Dinner at the Kuchta’s” featurette.
Follow Fantasm on Facebook and Twitter, and be sure and get your very own copy right here!
“I searched forever for a memorable quote to start this article with, but couldn’t find a single one in this horrible, pointless film.”
- Larry Darling Jr, author of this article.
Any constant readers of this site over the past three years will recognize and hopefully appreciate the fact that I rarely post negative reviews. The way I look at all of this is simple: I love horror movies, even the bad ones. In certain cases, I especially love the bad ones. As a blogger, I tend to subscribe to the “Promote what you love rather than bash what you hate” point of view, and there is generally something positive to be found in every film if you look closely enough. Sometimes just the simple fact that someone got off their ass and created something is enough to give me some measure of enjoyment.
All that being said, I fucking hate Halloween : Resurrection.
If you have been following along at home, I have been counting down to Halloween 2014 by watching every single film and trying to build an interesting post about each one, thanks to the new Blu-ray collection released last month. And honestly, up to this point it has been a pretty enjoyable journey through the twisted, nonsensical, and often convoluted mythology the film-makers created over the years. The genuine chills of the original and clever execution of the first sequel ; the randomness of Part 3 ; the introduction of Danielle Harris as Jamie in part 4 and 5 ; even the critical overload of oddball ideas that made up part 6, each of these installments brought something interesting to the table. Culminating with the cathartic 20th anniversary of the original with H20, which brought the story of Laurie Strode vs. her murderous brother to a satisfying conclusion for fans of the series.
Is there a more fitting end to the decades-long saga than Laurie finally putting Michael Myers down once and for all, as we fade to black along with the desperate crooning of that guy from Creed? Well, possibly a better choice of song, but I digress…
After H20 hit big at the box office, work started immediately on the next film in the series, which was then referred to as Halloween : Homecoming. Continuing the film-making by committee way of doing things that had haunted the franchise for years, there were of course many disputes on the direction the series should take, especially after being ended so definitively in the last film. The Weinsteins suggested a completely new direction for the series, similar to the spectacular failure of part 3, but long time producer Moustapha Akkad would have none of that nonsense. Online polls and test screenings influenced this film heavily, as public opinion seemed of much greater importance than creativity. The script went through several writers and two directors were attached and dropped due to creative differences, before they finally settled on Halloween 2 director Rick Rosenthal, who should be ashamed of himself.
All of these spoons stirring the cauldron, and the best that they could come up with was this?
The film begins with what can only be described as a giant slap in the face to everything that came before it. We catch up with Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis filling out her contractual obligation of a cameo in the sequel), now catatonic in some low-level asylum. We quickly learn from two nurses during an expository walk down the hallway, that Laurie lost her mind after finding out that the man she decapitated during the emotional climax of the previous film was not Michael after all. He was an innocent security guard, and Michael had actually crushed the poor father of three’s larynx and switched costumes with him, playing the ultimate trick on everyone. Yeah.
So, essentially in the opening scenes of the new film, the idea is to piss all over everything that came before and insult the fan base that has been along for the ride for all these years. Whoever came up with that one deserves an award for being a huge asshole.
Within the first ten minutes, Michael shows up at the asylum and hacks his way through a few bumbling guards, chasing Laurie to the roof of the building. Little does he know she has cleverly assembled an Ewok-level trap which he steps right into for some fucking reason! She pushes a button and has him dangling in the air by one roped foot, but hesitates, and he turns the tables and stabs her and she falls to her death after a sisterly smooch on the lips.
To hear the people responsible for this travesty call it a satisfying conclusion to the story of Laurie Strode is just plain offensive. This is not satisfying in any way, rather incredibly lame, disappointing, and downright unforgivable. You know what was a satisfying conclusion to her story? The ending of H20, that’s what! Okay, let me take a breath.
While it is tempting to just turn the damn thing off right there, it would be a shame to miss the one good performance in the whole movie. The kid in the dorm room who bursts in to warn the new batch of victims that they are, well, victims all the while caressing their panties on a drying rack. He is the best thing about the whole movie. What the Cabin In The Woods crew would refer to as “The Harbinger”, this kid eats the scenery alive in his few seconds on screen, and leaves the rest of the actors in the film to try and catch up to his incredible performance.
Considering that after the appearance of The Harbinger there are still about 80 minutes of film to fill up, we get a bunch of half-baked ideas thrown into a blender with a cast of one-dimensional characters all tossed sloppily into a ridiculous and technologically-naive scenario.
Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks show up for some fucking reason (well, the honest reason is that the producers learned that the Halloween films tested well with African-American audiences thanks to LL Cool J, and rushed to populate this sequel with more brown faces) as producers of some stupid show with an even more ridiculous name — Dangertainment. Seriously.
They assemble a fresh-faced cast of hot-at-the-time young stars (because that was what made H20 successful, right?) and fit them all with cameras in the goal of producing the biggest new thing in the “internet universe”, whatever that is. These one-dimensional future victims are brought to the childhood home of Michael Myers, in order to broadcast the scary night to the whole world through the grossly misunderstood 2002 world wide web.
I don’t even know if the characters have names, other than Bitch, Slut, Black Guy, Dorky Guy, Smart Redhead, and Edgy Leather Jacket Guy. The dialogue is stiff, forced and unconvincing, and sounds like what old guys think teenagers sound like. The characters are vacant and uninteresting. At one point Slut (or Bitch I can’t remember) asks Black Guy if all he ever thinks about is food. He might as well just answer, “Yes, because that is the only characteristic that they wrote for me.”
Oh yeah, there is also a subplot concerning the geeky kid who has an online crush with one of the victims, and corresponds with her using some giant primitive internet text messaging device. Seriously, what the fuck is that thing supposed to be?
Anyway, unbeknownst to any of these moronic caricatures, Michael has returned to his home. Apparently he has given up on his life-long goal of ending his bloodline (which would have logically led to him stalking Laurie’s still-living son) and only wants to come home, only to find it populated with nubile young victims. Could they make it any easier for him?
As expected, he takes them out one by one in a style that is meant to recall the first film but is just plain boring as filmed, seen through POV camera angles and grainy footage on security screens. Michael meets his match, however, when he comes across the one and only Busta Rhymes, who then proceeds to spin kick Michael in the face (while making Bruce Lee style noises) and ultimately electrocutes him right in the balls.
Yup, Michael Myers got taken out once and for all by a loud-mouthed rapper, who even proceeds to insult the legendary killer after his death. Which, of course, is followed by a lame jump scare attempt in the morgue which lets us know that he is still alive…zzzz
Certainly the worst entry in the whole series, and it can even be blamed for the franchise becoming ripe for a complete overhaul, which then leads us to Rob Zombie’s remakes, only serving as another reason to hate this movie. A pointless, ignorant and offensive entry to the series, this one will be collecting dust on my shelf while the originals will certainly come out again and again.
As for the special features, there is a lot to slog through, but most of them consist of on-set interviews, in which the actors and crew are forced to speak politely about the piece of garbage they knew they were unleashing on the world. A few alternate (but just as bad) endings and deleted scenes round out the bonus material, along with featurettes talking about how innovative the head cameras were and blah blah blah.
Laurie Strode:With a really big, sharp kitchen knife.
After almost 20 years of trying to escape her fate as the ultimate scream queen, at long last Jamie Lee Curtis decided to return to the role that made her famous. Setting aside her well-known distaste for the genre that had made her, she zealously came onboard to this sequel, hoping for a full reunion including original director John Carpenter.
Although for years Carpenter had been absent from the series as well, he agreed to return to the director’s chair for a nominal fee of $10 million. An exorbitant amount in the eyes of producer Moustapha Akkad, despite the fact that Carpenter’s original had grossed over $55 million on a budget of $300,000 back in 1978. In 1998, however, Carpenter remained adamant that he deserved to earn from his creation one way or the other and stood his ground.
That said, the director they finally brought on for the film was Steve Miner, a veteran of the early Friday the 13th films, who had recently worked with Jamie Lee Curtis on Forever Young. A script that abandoned all of the convoluted elements from the previous sequels was written by Robert Zappia, and was later polished by the ubiquitous-at-the-time Kevin Williamson. Considered a direct sequel to the events of Halloween II, it was meant to return the series to it’s roots as the suspenseful creation it had once been.The film was released on August 7th,1998 boasting the biggest budget yet in the history of the franchise.
While it seems very odd to just abandon the entire notion of everything Danielle Harris’ character of Jamie had gone through in the intervening years, the film quickly acknowledges that Laurie did indeed fake her death in a car crash before establishing a whole new life and continuity for the character. When we first see Laurie Strode all these years later, she is a tightly wound headmistress at an all-girls school, suffering from severe nightmares and barely keeping her functioning alcoholism under control.
Despite the fact that the film-makers all claim to have the intentions of returning the film to it’s humble beginnings, the script is one that tries too hard to be clever. The omnipresent in-jokes which populate the film, combined with distracting stunt-casting threatens to overwhelm the carefully built undercurrent of tension. The film is mostly successful, and ultimately much more satisfying than any of the previous sequels, if only for the delight the audience gets from returning to one of modern horror’s most beloved characters.
The connection to the original 1978 film is immediately established in the opening scenes of the film, as nurse Marion from Halloween 1 and 2 finds her office ransacked and robbed. The file on Laurie Strode has gone missing, and young neighbor Joseph Gordon Levitt gets an ice skate to the forehead for his efforts to help, while Michael makes a bee-line for his sister’s new home in Northern California. The opening credits roll with a haunting re-recording of Dr. Loomis’ chilling speech from the original, and all of this helps to make the audience feel that we are in familiar territory.
Laurie has a comfortable albeit jittery life at the school under the name Keri Tate, including a teenaged son and George Clooney-lookalike boyfriend. The aforementioned stunt-casting rears it’s head here for both better and worse. The good is in the form of Janet Leigh, Curtis’s mother and veteran of Hitchcock’s Psycho, as Laurie’s secretary still driving the classic car from her iconic appearance at the Bates Motel all those years ago. It is a great nod to the things that came before. Where the casting goes horribly wrong is rapper L L Cool J as the security guard of the school, with aspirations to become a romance novelist. His scenes and performance are hokey and distracting.
The film as a whole is without a doubt a product of it’s time. The slasher and franchise films were seemingly dead, and the Scream series (also written by Williamson) had debuted with a self-referential splash just two years before, changing the face of contemporary horror. So, obviously, more “homages” and references to the past populate the film, but it rarely distracts from the meat of the story, which is pretty lean and mean.
Although H20 does take it’s time getting to the finale that audiences had been clamoring to see for years, the slow and steady pace is in fact more reminiscent to the first film than any of the previous sequels ever came. It is also a bold move to change the setting completely from the streets of Haddonfield to a wide open and vacant boarding school, lending itself to some new ways to thrill the audience.
When Laurie comes face to face with her persistent brother at last, it is a showdown that works to great effect. When Laurie finally decides to stop running and go on the offensive, calling out for Michael while brandishing a fire axe, it is a rewarding sequence for fans of the films, a pay off twenty years in the making. The fight between them is decidedly epic, and leads to a touching moment between the disparate siblings a moment before she removes his head with a satisfying swing of her fire axe and fades into the credits with a ridiculously out of place Creed song.
Definitively ending the saga of Laurie vs. Michael which had begun two decades before, H20 was the most satisfying entry since the first one, and should have ended the series once and for all, with class and a soulful 90’s power ballad. But no, even decapitation couldn’t keep Michael down, as we will learn tomorrow when we take a look at the single most insulting film in the whole series, Halloween : Resurrection.
This new disc in the complete Blu-ray collection includes a brand new commentary with director Steve Miner and Jamie Lee Curtis, along with an all-new featurette, The Making of Halloween H20. Also included are some vintage interviews, the original trailer, and an interesting collection of scenes using the original, largely rejected score by John Ottman, which interestingly change the tone of the film quite a bit.
“When Michael Myers was six years old, he stabbed his sister to death. He was locked up for years in Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, but he escaped. Soon after, Halloween became another word for mayhem! One by one, he killed his entire family, until his nine-year-old niece, Jamie Lloyd, was the only one left alive. Six years ago – Halloween night – Michael and Jamie vanished. Most people believed them dead but I believe someone hid them away. Someone who keeps Michael, protects him… tries to control him. If there’s one thing I know, you can’t control evil. You can lock it up, burn it, and bury it, and pray that it dies, but it never will. It just… rests awhile. You can lock your doors, and say your prayers, but the evil is out there… waiting. And maybe, just maybe… it’s closer than you think!”
- Paul Rudd as Tommy Doyle, Halloween 6
The sixth film in the Halloween series took its sweet time in development, coming almost six years after the fifth film debuted as the lowest-grossing entry in the franchise history. Behind the scenes, however, there were many interested parties attempting to get another sequel off the ground. Legal squabbles over the rights to the film were delaying production, as Moustapha Akkad had somehow let the rights to his life’s work slip, and Miramax bigwigs the Weinstein brothers had slipped in for a piece of the Michael Myers pie. While all of these legal rumblings were taking their sweet time to get worked out, several different writers and directors made pitches for the direction of the next Halloween film, intriguingly including Quentin Tarantino (!) in 1994.
Ultimately, young aspiring screenwriter Daniel Farrands won the opportunity to write the script based on an extensively-researched treatment he put together on his own as a fan. A dream come true for a fan-boy, Farrands seemed to know more about the mythology and seemingly random plot points from previous entries in the series than the producers did and set about attempting to tie it all together with a big satisfying explanation for the many mysteries behind the pale faced stalker.
The sixth film begins abruptly with a replacement actress as the character of Jamie (despite the fact that Danielle Harris wanted to reprise her role so badly that she became legally emancipated at the age of 17 for that sole reason), now aged 15 and giving birth to a child under some adverse conditions. It is revealed (explicitly in the new cut) that the baby is the product of incest with her uncle, and Uncle Mike seems intent on finding the child. And we all know how Michael gets when he sets his mind to something…
Meanwhile, an elderly Donald Pleasence returns once again for the final time as Sam Loomis, and comes out of retirement after randomly hearing Jamie on the radio trying to warn the citizens of Haddonfield of her family’s return to town. There are a new family of Strodes, distantly connected to the adoptive parents of the original’s Laurie, and even the debut of Paul Rudd as a now grown up Tommy Doyle, the kid Laurie was babysitting that fateful first time that he came home. While Farrand’s tireless research and detailed connections to the past films are certainly respectable, after a while the film just feels bloated and bogged down with inconsequential references that do nothing to advance the story.
We get something for everyone, I suppose. A new group of disposable teens; a family with the sole purpose of gory deaths; a random radio shock jock; Paul Rudd lugging a baby everywhere he goes; a black-robed cult; a strangely placid (and un-scarred) Dr. Loomis — and all of these characters are forever tied to one pale-masked weirdo lurking in the shadows.
Eventually it is revealed that Michael has essentially been controlled by a cult of Druids for all of these years, suffering under “The Curse of the Thorn”. The symbol of the Thorn was first seen in Part 5, as an unexplained tattoo on the wrist of Michael and his mysterious benefactor in black. In this film it has an explanation : Thorn is an ancient Druid symbol that represented a demon that spread sickness and caused destruction. To prevent this, one child from each tribe was chosen to bear the curse of Thorn to offer a blood sacrifice of its next of kin on the night of Samhain. When the corresponding Thorn constellation appears, Michael appears. The curse explains why Michael is out to kill his family and also accounts for his superhuman resurrection abilities.
One last thing that always bothered me about this film is the inconsistent movements of Michael Myers, who was played by several different gentlemen this time around. There is a specific scene late in the film where, while not exactly running, Michael is pursuing one of his victims at a rapid pace, something we have never seen him do before. “The Shape” is best remembered for his professional lurking, and slow measured pace while he confidently stalks his victims. As a character that never speaks, who audiences have grown to recognize for years, the decision to have Michael suddenly speed-walking after his victims is laughable and appallingly inappropriate.
Of course, there is no one to definitively blame for the botched handling of this sequel, as the film had two directors, numerous on-set rewrites, re-shoots that took place months later under dodgy supervision, and as many as a dozen potential endings. A classic case of two many cooks in the kitchen, the uneven result is nevertheless a unique and ambitious entry into the series, especially if you look at parts 4, 5 and 6 as one complete story. It is impossible to point fingers in one direction, and Farrands even coined the subtitle “The Curse of Michael Myers” as a joke in reference to the troubled production itself. Ultimately though, in the sequels that followed, ALL of this storyline is dropped and never even mentioned again!
The inclusion in this new set of the long-rumored “Producer’s Cut” was one of the most interesting additions, making this one a must buy for me. After years of poor quality bootlegged versions of the film floating around the internet, we finally get treated to what is said to be a closer version of the story to the script than what audiences ultimately got in 1995. While the original ending is slightly more satisfying than the theatrical ending, by the final scenes of the film it has all become pretty complicated and frankly too silly to care all that much.
Overall, part 6 of the Myers saga is an ambitious but ultimately very flawed addition to the legacy of “evil on two legs”. While it is nice to see old plot threads followed up on and forgotten characters return, the complicated over-explanation of Michael and his motivations gets taken to a ridiculous degree in this sequel. In either version, the film ends up effectively destroying the mystery and enigma that originally was Michael Myers, and revealing him to be little more than a dog on a leash all these years. I have said it before and will say it again, it is the unknown which is scary. Audiences think they want all the answers, but they really do not. The horror of the original comes from the inexplicable lack of motivation, not from a cult of elderly weirdos in silk coats with high collars controlling the actions of evil.
Although the previous two films in this new set came with some pretty skimpy special features, this disc is crammed full of fascinating bonus items. As mentioned above, both the theatrical and the producer’s cuts are featured here, along with several interviews with various cast and crew and an audio commentary from lucky writer Farrands. Everyone seems to recall the troubled production differently, and while they generally acknowledge the production’s problems they tend to look back upon the film fondly and respectfully. That is, with the exception of Danielle Harris, who in an incredibly candid interview tells her side of the story of her exclusion from the film, and her dissatisfaction with her treatment. Also of interest are some very gory deleted scenes not found in either official cut of the film, and a nice tribute to the late Donald Pleasence, who passed away at the age of 75 during filming.
Both cuts of the film are dedicated to the memory of the legendary actor.