Sunday, November 01, 2015
At Flashbak: Ranking the Halloween Movies (1978 - 2009)
Well, Halloween is officially over until next year, which is sad. Reset your internal clock (not just for Daylights Saving Time, but for the next visit of All Hallow's Eve...)
But if you want to re-experience the holiday or are having a Halloween hangover, you can read an article I wrote this week at Flashbak: "Dismembering the Halloween Movies: Ranking the Saga of the Shape Worst to Best (1978 – 2009)."
This article ranks all ten Halloween movies in ascending order, from worst to best.
Here's the start of the article (beginning with the bottom three films, in my opinion):
"...it seems an ideal to remember and rank the franchise that carries the name Halloween, and began with the efforts of legendary director and genre icon, John Carpenter. Without further ado, here -- ranked worst to best -- are all entries of the ten-strong horror franchise. As always, your mileage may vary (and that’s okay).
10. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
This underwhelming final entry in the “original” franchise is so bad that it led to the decision to re-boot the whole bloomin’ thing in 2007.
But worse than that, Halloween: Resurrection looks horribly dated in 2015, focusing on a Web 1.0 reality series and the callow youths (including one played by Katee Sackhoff) who star in it, exploring the abandoned (though staged…) Myers House in Haddonfield.
If the premise of a web-cam MTV-style show set in the Myers House isn’t lame enough, then one need only remember the cringe-worthy climactic scene that witnesses Busta Rhymes kung-fu fighting Michael Myers to the death.
Last but not least, Resurrection also kills off legendary Final Girl Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) when it could have chosen instead to make her the new “anchor” for the franchise, following the demise of Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis.
If that was not a possibility given Jamie Lee Curtis’s lack of desire to star in an ongoing horror franchise, then Halloween: Resurrection still fails resolutely for offering no new protagonist to become invested in; one who can take the franchise in a new direction.
I suppose the film is disappointing too, because it followed immediately after Halloween H20 (1998), an entry which is considered a latter-day high point for the saga.
9. Halloween VI: The Curse of Myers (1995)
One great virtue of the overall Halloween story is simplicity. The franchise involves, on a very basic level, a relentless, unstoppable antagonist; one who, Terminator-like, hones in on a target (preferably a babysitter) on October 31st, and then stalks, and stalks.
The sixth entry in the franchise totally forsakes the simplicity of the saga for a byzantine and confusing new mythology. Here, a grown up Jamie Lloyd -- a leading character in entries IV and V -- is all grown up, and somehow has been impregnated by Myers while in the captivity of a cult. She escapes from the custody of the Thorn acolytes, dies early in the proceedings, and before the end of the movie we see a lab where the cult seems to be making more “Michael”-like beings with unknown green chemicals.
It’s not just that the film’s plot is overly complex; it’s that The Curse of Michael Myers is so bad it doesn’t make clear why certain events occur.
The Curse of Michael Myers also forsakes any sense of suspense or build-up, and so there is a cursory, rushed feel to the whole enterprise. This is a sad last entry for the great Donald Pleasence, one as faulty in narrative as it remains in execution. Once upon a time, an alternate cut of the film (known as The Producer’s Cut) was promised as a superior version of Curse, but the truth is that it’s not really any better.
8. Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007)
The reboot makes a crucial creative mistake: it forgets the cardinal rule of horror movies that we aren’t afraid of what we know, but rather what we don’t know. Alas, the film goes to great lengths to show us Michael Myer’s youth and home-life as an abused child in a white-trash family.
By giving us this back-story (and motivation for his behavior), we lose all sense of Michael as “The Shape,” or possible Boogeyman. A character who was once electrifying in his inscrutability and ambiguity is now made wholly “known” -- and understandable -- because of the decision to tell us everything about his formative years. As a result, fear and terror bleed out of the picture, and we’re left with no real scares.
I like Zombie’s films (including his balls-to-the-wall Halloween sequel), but his flawed reboot is further undercut by the choice to re-stage many of the set-pieces of the 1978 original. In terms of composition, pacing and impact, these scenes look like pale, half-assed imitations of the work of a genuine film maestro.
Zombie is a guy with vision, and filmmaking chops, but it ill-suits him to ape Carpenter’s (superior) sense of film style."