Halloween might be over—noooooooo!—but the Halloween film franchise will never die—or End, as the latest installment claims. If you’re like Ponty and myself, you try to watch at least the 1978 John Carpenter classic at least once a year, preferably on Halloween.
Unlike Ponty, I haven’t seen the plethora of sequels, besides—of course—Halloween II (1981) and the unusual Halloween III: Season of the Witch. I’ve also seen the “soft reboots” since 2018, thought I haven’t seen Halloween Ends (2022) yet.
As Ponty points, I, like many others, will. I’ll also see Halloween Ends Again or whatever comes out next. Heck, I’ll probably see Halloween Ends Again III: Season of the Witch: The Musical, with an original score by Andrew Lloyd Webber, including that annoying Silver Shamrock jingle. These franchises know how to hook in suckers like yours portly, who will never hesitate to drop a $1.25 RedBox coupon to sample some tasty trash.
But I digress. Ponty asked to take a stab—no pun intended—at reviewing 2021’s Halloween Kills, a film I reviewed last November. Ponty assiduously avoided my review, so it’s interesting (though not entirely surprising) that we walked away with some similar reflections on the film. “Evil dies tonight!”—ugh. How could anyone miss that braying mantra?
Regardless, Ponty’s review goes far deeper than my own, delivered with his own brand of acerbic and longsuffering wit.
On a lighter note, he also includes some pictures from his and Tina’s Halloween festivities. Well done on the decorations, Tina!
With that, here is Ponty’s review of 2021’s Halloween Kills:
Halloween this year was pretty much like every year but with an addition or two. Tina let me dole out the sweets to trick or treaters this year because her compunction for generosity could mean emptying the entire bucket in one visit, but it turns out I’m just as generous; the first set of kids got half of the bucket. Ah well, isn’t that the whole point? Making a few kids happier on the holiday while keeping the waistline in check? As it is, there are a few chewables left in the tub and they won’t last long with me around.
Anyway, Tina put up the decorations a day earlier, as she does. And she never lets me anywhere near the decorating aside from handing her a drawing pin or holding up the stepladder. Same goes for Christmas. She knows what she wants to do and my involvement would mean ballsing up her plans so I let her get on with it. On Halloween morning, we used our funky new spoons to gouge out the pumpkins which took no time at all. Tina put the cake stand together and we were good to go.
We set ourselves down, ready for the first film of Halloween; John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), as is tradition. And then Halloween Kills (2021). It’s great that we start off with a top film. It really sets up the day. What comes after that, well, you can’t always get it right and this film was about as wrong as it can get.
Why do I do this to myself? Every time, without fail, I pop on a movie in a film series, it’s dreadful and yet, when the next one comes out, I just have to buy it because it’s part of a much loved franchise. And I know it’ll be crap, probably worse than the last one I saw but into the basket it goes. It’s a self-inflicted punishment for being too damn curious. And do you know what, this series has another one out and I’ll probably buy that too. I deserve what I get.
The first of this series was absolutely superb, the second a good follow up, mainly because it follows on immediately from the events of the first. From there, it just went to pot, each successor vastly inferior, aside from H20 (1998), which was a reasonable sequel. But it should have ended there. After all, Laurie Strode does decapitate Michael at the end and I’m sorry, there’s just no coming back from that. Except there is.
Since H20, there have been 6 more Halloween films, one a Rob Zombie remake and after House of 1000 Corpses (2003), I vowed I’d never watch anything again from the appropriately named Zombie. That one even escapes my curiosity in this franchise and will remain that way.
We watched Halloween (2018 version) last year. This one isn’t a remake but picks up Laurie Strode’s story many years after her first ordeal with Michael Myers in 1978. Bizarrely, the sequels don’t come into this; Michael is in a hospital for the criminally insane, where he has been locked up for the 40 years since that fateful night in Haddonfield. I guess this is how the filmmakers negated the death of the nurse, Marion Chambers, but we’ll get to that annoying little titbit later.
Strode is a hermit now, drinking heavily and trying (and failing) to persistently warn her estranged daughter about the threat presented by Michael. The daughter doesn’t listen and Michael turns up, killing everyone in sight, as he does. Mother, daughter and granddaughter eventually come together and lock Michael into a basement before setting it on fire. Remember now. This is a guy who has been set on fire in previous installments. He’s been shot, stabbed, blown up, decapitated. But whatever. The sequels have fallen into the Bermuda Triangle of the franchise so none of that matters. Strode should have known that a bit of heat wouldn’t kill him, and kill him it didn’t so with that, we were set for another round of Myers vs. Strode, with Halloween Kills, a movie so dire, I’d have happily taken on Strode’s alcohol problem if it made me forget this movie.
Where to begin with this? I will say that it started off well, going back to the events of that very first film, with the Haddonfield police searching the neighbourhood for Michael. They eventually find him in the Myers house where he kills a cop but he is caught and imprisoned for his crimes in a psychiatric hospital. The beginning, interesting, the rest? Urgh. I’ll have a good go at dissecting this film as well as Michael dismembers the wet blankets that make up the cast.
Once the flashback has finished, we pick up directly after the events of its predecessor. Laurie is being rushed to hospital with a stab wound to her abdomen and a fire crew head to the house which she helped burn down to kill Michael. Except he isn’t dead and proceeds to butcher the entire fire crew in his escape. We cut to a bar where some of the survivors from the first film are drinking – Tommy Doyle, the kid Laurie babysits on that fateful night in 1978; Lindsay, who Laurie’s friend Annie was supposed to be babysitting; and Marion Chambers, the nurse who was dragged from her car when Michael escaped in the original film. Even Lonnie, one of Tommy’s kindergarten bullies, is there. Anyway, they hear about Michael’s more recent killing spree and decide to form a posse, bringing in the community to help to destroy Michael once and for all. They don’t. Michael cuts through this new tickbox community with as much ease as he’s done in God knows how many films and is left to fight another day. That’s where Halloween Ends (2022) comes into play and I’ll bet my last penny that Halloween doesn’t End. I have repeatedly said that the only way to kill this guy is to either put him into a woodchipper or drown him in an acid bath. Shooting, stabbing, burning – none of it works and when Strode’s daughter stabs him and walks off at the end of the movie, I just knew what was going to happen. And it did.
My first gripe is how the film makers used this movie to take a great steaming dump on the original and definitive Halloween. As the black barman at the start says, ‘I remember those events 40 years ago.’ Really? Because I can’t remember Haddonfield in 1978 having a thriving black community or gay population but, hey, that’s probably because they were written out of it. Or so the modern writers would have you believe. Not so this time. There were probably some from the alphabet brigade who the makers of this tripe missed out on – though one character is dressed like a woman – but for the most, the director managed to massage his halo in getting this incarnation to be somewhat diverse. Not that it mattered to Michael, who killed virtually everyone in this film, bar Laurie. Gay couple die. Gender bender dies. Black couple die. Michael Myers 1 – Diversity 0. It also takes Laurie’s intervening years and completely makes a mockery of it, in obliterating the sequels. I’ve got no issue with panning some of them, especially Season of the Witch (1982), which has as much to do with the series as Mrs. Vorhees does to the Friday the 13th sequels, but what the new movies are saying is Laurie has gone through 40 years, during which she obviously had a family and child, in a state of perpetual fear and isolation. Sorry, I don’t buy that. As a mental health carer, I know what severe trauma can do and yes, I could understand someone living with it for decades but in this case, no. Certainly not when you see how Laurie manages with Michael turning up again. And again. I’d understand Laurie’s self isolation more if, say, the sequels HAD occurred and her constant battles with the seemingly omnipotent Michael had left her an emotional wreck but in these films, we’re asked to believe the timeline they set. I just can’t.
We’re also reintroduced to power women and gender swaps because in this modern age, the audience needs to know that men are no longer important in the battle against evil. The black couple, who we see in the bar at the beginning, are a doctor and nurse – he the nurse, she the doctor. In a crisis situation, he can’t handle himself but she can – apparently. She knows how to shoot a gun. Except, she can’t, with every shot missing Michael and the last one redirected into her head. Strode’s granddaughter can handle a shotgun but her sissy boyfriend, still running around in his girly outfit (he went to a fancy dress party in the previous film with his girlfriend, dressed as Bonny and Clyde, he as Bonny – isn’t that crazy cool? (Sarc)), is killed with consumate ease. Tommy is highly strung and gets an innocent man killed and so it is left to the women to save the town. But they don’t. Better luck next time, I guess.
And we’re back to the original sequels again. Does anyone remember Marion Chambers, the nurse who drove Dr. Loomis to the hospital where Michael escapes in the first film? Then you’ll also remember that in one of the sequels, H20, she has her throat slit at the start by Michael. But nah, the sequels are in the bin so she’s back from the dead. And in a really crap homage to the first film, where Michael leaps onto her car to get her out, they do it again here, though this time she is repeatedly stabbed and killed. Maybe Halloween Ends will abandon its predecessors and Chambers will turn up again. Who knows? More to the point, who cares?
We were also informed in this film that it’s never been about Michael killing Laurie. All he wants to do is go home, once again negating every film that came before Halloween 2018. We’re being asked to believe that Michael’s attack on Strode and her friends in 1978 was just coincidence. That he never intended to repeat the murder of one sister, which put him away at the age of 6, with another. Riiiight.
And lastly, the mantra that pervades the entire film. ‘Evil dies tonight.’ As much a label as a tagline, we hear this constantly through the movie, as the mob stir each other to fever pitch in their search for Michael. Which doesn’t work as their fear and tension results in an innocent man losing his life. Labels are very 21st century as are mobs and I’m not sure whether this film was trying to identify them as a good thing or ill advised. Whatever the case, vigilantism is never a good thing and it doesn’t always produce the best results, as this one shows. When they do finally catch up with Michael at the end, they might as well have tickled him for all the good they did. And no doubt they’ll be back, to try and tackle him again. And we’ll buy it because we’re suckers. And we’ll suffer. Not through fear, just blind boredom.