Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween

Daddy Warpig, at both Geek Gab, and at Castalia, reviewed the new Halloween release. He brings up mostly the same set of strengths and weaknesses in the movie in both, though in the (I presume) latter Castalia review, he comes across a bit less happy about the movie.

Now, I'm a huge fan of his reviews, and usually find them spot on, but in this case, I have to differ with him.

First - one of the things DW pointed out on geek gab is simply not true. I think this is in part because he hasn't seen the original - which I watched the night before going to see the latest release - and because he didn't realize how completely the writers of the latest version threw out everything after that original movie.

Namely, Laurie Strode is not Michael Meyer's sister, and that was something added in the second movie. The easter egg comment about it being "added later" was not dismissing the first movie at all - and thus its fans - but making it crystal clear within the context of the story, by treating later additions to Laurie's backstory as rumors, that this was a sequel to the first movie. Ignore everything else.

This becomes important later.

First - if you haven't seen the original, especially if you're a fan of Carpenter flicks, do yourself a favor and watch it. Yes, it suffers from Low Budget(tm) and to a smaller degree from 70's film style and tech, with some resultant uneven acting, but is tight, and tense as hell.

Most importantly, it establishes a couple things that weakens some of DW's complaints.

Second - fuck spoilers. The movie is strong enough that even with spoilers I think you'll enjoy it if you're inclined to.

So. 40 years after the original serial murders, life has moved on for some. Laurie - played again by Jamie Lee Curtis - got married, had kids, and had them taken away by the state for her monomania in preparing for Michael's return. Her daughter hates her for growing up in a de facto boot camp, but her granddaughter, not having had to live the experience, is more open to keeping a relationship with her grandmother. A pair of investigative journalists/podcasters, of the fluffy liberal persuasion, go to visit Michael in the sanitarium, where they are told by his doctor he is about to be transferred. They attempt to talk to Michael, and get nothing but some truly creepy goings-on when they try to show him his old mask. They then also try to talk to Laurie - and imply that her obsession with him is just as bad.

You definitely get the feeling that they don't believe in evil or boogiemen.

Needless to say, the transfer does not go as planned, and Michael escapes. To lethal effect. A kid dies, but he is not the only one.

Soon, we meet our reporters at a gas station, where the certainty that something must go horribly wrong is confirmed when you see Michael beating the crap out of someone out of focus in the background. In a scene that sells claustrophobia and terror, the reporters also die.

Laurie finds out about the escape, and begins searching the town. Meanwhile, Michael, having acquired his trademark mask and mechanics outfit, begins his rampage. DW is utterly spot on when he points out that the filmmakers effectively use both on and off screen violence as needed to effect, and don't simply use gore for gore's sake. One moment brings up the interesting question of why Michael didn't kill an infant but simply walks by after pausing.

She also meets the new doctor. When introduced she states "so you're the new Loomis". I don't think it's a deliberate choice in crafting but he does not answer yes - instead, he starts talking about how long he's studied Michael. Does seem a bit fixated. Given that Loomis stood out even in the 70's, never mind today, for not being of the fluffy hugger "misunderstood" crowd, it implies some interesting things about the dangers of trying to understand evil too well. And that no, he's not the same kind of man as Loomis.

We get to see the granddaughter leaving the dance after discovering her boyfriend is a schmuck. We also get to see a loser orbiter type who tries to make a pass at her once the guy she was attracted to is out of the way. She makes it clear that just because he's been hanging around doesn't mean she suddenly wants him.

Oh yeah, he dies.

The Granddaughter makes it to her grandmother's fortress home. Then things proceed to get cat-and-mouse.

Now - one complaint that DW had was that in getting his hand partly blown off before actually getting into the house, Michael was lessened as an implacable and unstoppable force. Made to look ridiculous.

The problem is that he's not shown as untouchable in the original movie. He goes down with a knitting needle to the head - but gets back up. He goes down with a knife to the chest - but gets back up. he goes down with several bullets to the chest and falling off an upper balcony - but gets back up. In every case whole and apparently undamaged, but this is the first time I remember him losing extremities, so not sure how that affects the canon.

The point is that Michael could and did take physical damage, even bleed. But then he'd be back up as if nothing had happened.

If anything, for those who had not seen the original, making that point of him getting back up earlier through his rampage would have fixed that concern in movie, and not making that clear earlier - that Michael could be damaged or even apparently killed but would keep getting back up - is a legitimate gripe because within the context of the movie in and of itself, without knowledge of the past, you wouldn't know it, and thus trades out one form of unstoppability without letting you in on the other - one that also makes the ending more ambiguous.

Insofar as why the glass panels were left in that he could punch through - given the stupid oversights I've seen in real life AND that the point was to trap him in the house, I'm willing to buy that as "not entirely stupid" on Laurie's part.

Given how most of the guys with real screen time were some form of loser, except the Sheriff and to a lesser degree one of the reporters, yeah, there's an argument to be made that the writers fell into making a grrrrl power fantasy. That said, the movie was not only refreshingly free of virtue signaling overall but explicitly frowned upon being too fascinated with understanding and excusing evil, and explicitly had the viewpoint that for all of the good and love in the world, that there was darkness and violence and that one had to be prepared for it.

It's a solid and well-crafted watch. It's a worthy sequel to the original, and while it strays a bit from pure horror to a bit more "monster hunter" near the end it remains tense and gripping throughout.

About Last Redoubt

Ex nuke mechanic, jack of all trades.