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Life 2017

 

I’m in two minds about Life. On the one hand I am ALWAYS in favour of an Alien rip off. I don’t care how many years after it came out (in this case a generatinal 38 years) or how cheap looking your movie turns out, if you are going to supply my senses with a creepy outer space monster movie then I am all in. On the other hand, something bothers me about this version called Life. Is it the incredibly serious tone? Or is it the alien itself which I have a lot of problems with. I’ll get back to that…

So Life is set at the International Space Station where a group of rag tag scientists are trying to grab hold of a passing satellite which contains a sample from Mars which may in fact be LIFE!! For reasons I can’t understand, director Daniel Espinosa seems to think that we are living in a post Gravity world. So the opening scene is done in one take with lots of deep space and sudden excitement as Ryan Reynolds tries to grab the satellite. Now no one is denying that Gravity wasn’t a great film because it clearly was, but surely Life should at least try to march to the beat of its own drum. Presented here you have a damn fine cast of actors in essentially a B movie, and stylistically it is trying to rip off something that is totally unique. Yeah alright I know I was just saying go film makers! Rip off the unique Alien all you like! But Alien felt like l, and indeed was, the start of a whole new genre. Gravity was a one off. There’s no point in trying to copy it. Also this approach just adds to the overly serious tone of Life, a seriousness which really undermines it’s own story.

Hey, I am all for serious horror, and no one can deny that the tone of Alien is also very straight. But where Alien felt refreshing being a trashy B movie but with real characters in a real universe, Life, by going the Gravity approach, just feels a bit po faced. Gravity at least had George Clooney charming banter to lighten the load. Life has the always likable, though small of facial features, Ryan Reynolds, but he doesn’t provide enough levity mainly due to story developments. Instead we have a script which although, well written and admirable in some ways, has characters stopping what they are doing (usually trying to trap/not be eaten by the alien) to philosophise about their existence in the universe or life in general. It’s great to have some depth to the characters but at the expense of the suspense? I think not. Also whenever they start having these monologues it reveals the mechanics of the script -as if the need for deeper character was an afterthought – which just makes it feel clunky.

Beyond this though the film is beautifully made. The sets are claustrophobic and help add to the desperate nature of our heroes plight. The direction, apart from the desire to Gravity-fy everything, is tight and each scene involving the alien had a genuine menace and a well presented sense of the stakes at hand… well at least it would if the alien itself wasn’t so completely shite.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that the alien is badly done, far far from it. The visual effects team have done a marvelous job with the monster’s constantly evolving translucent body and watery tendrils. But the creature feels overly designed to the hilt. It has so much going on that you can almost see the various stages it went through before reaching this beast. It feels like something made by committee, the result of too many ideas rather than one single vision like H R Ginger’s. It may seem unfair to compare it to that masterpiece but then if you’re making an Alien rip off, homage, whatever, then that’s what’s gonna happen I’m afraid. The monster here for all it’s cleverness just doesn’t have a very strong or scary image, and this undermines the whole of Life.

Maybe I’m being too hard. Life is a technically very accomplished movie, especially for its budget. It’s nicely directed and the cast are uniformly great (it’s always good to see Jake Gyllenhaal embrace his love for genre). But ultimately it’s hard to get too engaged when the main threat looks like a cross between a jellyfish and some semen floating in a bathtub.

 

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The Babysitter 2017

Traditionally if you are making a horror movie based around what is usually considered normal and mundane in our lives, you make it incredibly serious and freak everyone out. Look at Halloween or The Stepfather, one minute we’re all having a happy holiday or living with a loving family, the next the film comes out and everyone is hiding in the closet in fear of their lives. The Babysitter should follow this pattern – a kid’s babysitter turns out to be a Satanist or devil worshipper or just a murderer (it’s never made that clear) and wants to use her charge’s blood for something terrible. However instead of being a straight up horror, the film is kind of played for laughs. And indeed, why not?The Babysitter is directed by McG after all.

Director McG is not a popular film maker. Coming from the same kind of pop promo background as the likes of Brett Ratner (did I just hear everyone spit on the ground?) McG brought his music video sensibility to the Charlie’s Angels movies that everyone hated a few years ago. Then he annoyed the fan boys by making Terminator Salvation which was a big old mess with its clunky story and endless reshoots (although ironically enough is actually pretty well directed). Even if McG made a decent film, for example We Are Marshall, he was doomed to be hated for things like This Means War (understandably so in that case) because let’s face facts here: no matter what he directs people think he’s a knob because his name is McG.

Poor guy, he can’t get away from it: he’s a dick because he’s called McG so he must make dickish films. He can make scifi epics or serious dramas but he’s never going to be taken seriously because of his name. So it seems McG has just accepted this fact and embraced his own stupidity… and The Babysitter is result. And boy is it dumb.

Plotwise… let’s keep this brief. Nerdy kid Cole is still being babysat when he is twelve whilst all his classmates have grown up and are, I don’t know what? Being left home by themselves by deeply irresponsible parents? Anyway it might be because his babysitter is a classic all American “smokin’ hot babe” – blonde, big tits and a pair of hot pants you could measure in millimetres. Cole’s chum suggests that the babysitter is only looking after him so she can have boys over after Cole has gone to sleep, so he decides to stay up and see if that really is the case, and if so… erm… perv on the babysitter having sex? Is this a good thing for the main character to have as his motivation? Especially when he’s twelve? Oh well, that’s what’s happening so we just have to move on. Anyway, as it turns out she has a bunch of friends who are the previously mentioned cultists or whatever who want to kill people in order to live forever or something… like I said before this is all a bit vague. I mean, they seem to have the Book of the Dead from The Evil Dead but that’s about demon resurrection not immortality. Who knows…

More to the point, who cares? The Babysitter is not interested in details like that or even making a hell of a lot of sense if you think about it. What it is interested in is entertainment and fun and that’s what you get! The babysitter’s gang is about as broad a stroke as you can get: there’s the jock, the slut and a token black guy. There’s someone else but I’ve already forgotten him. They are all far too good looking. Cole as the kid is sooooo wrong for the role. He’s meant to be a picked upon dweeb but apart from the comedy glasses on his face he’s the kind of kid we all recognise as the coolest dude in your class. Even at the age of twelve all the girls would be in love with him and he’d probably already have a fourteen year old girlfriend. That’s not to say Judah Lewis isn’t good in the role, he’s charming and full of confidence and screams a good scream. But a Poindexter? Never.

Also while I’m here who the hell is this film aimed at? The main protagonist is a a twelve year old so aimed at kids yeah? But then the babysitter is a killer sex kitten so is this for teenage boys? But it’s extremely violent and gory so… okay no that’s still for teenage boys. Okay, I’ve got it. This is a weird sexual fantasy for teenage boys. Now it all makes sense.

Actually looking at it through that eye it really does. Sure the characters are broad but they are also interesting and entertaining. The whole film has focus like an old eighties movie so you are constantly engaged. Actually what this is most like is like an R rated Home Alone, but instead of a couple of bumbling robbers you have a pack of horny youths and instead of Macaulay Caulkin you have someone who can act.

I’m not saying that The Babysitter is good by any stretch of the imagination good, but it is relentless entertaining. It’s the kind of film you’d happen across in the old video stores and thoroughly enjoy despite yourself.

A decent McG film… who’d of thought it?

 

Leatherface 2017

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 was widely criticized at the time of its release for being too far removed from the original film. Not only was there hardly any killing (outside the opening sequence) but it also seemed to be embracing other genres: it mostly play for laughs and seemed to be trying for a bit of romance between Leatherface and his hostage, Stretch. But maybe Tobe Hooper had the right idea – was it ever possible to recreate the perfection that was the first film?

Certainly the pile of sequels, prequels and remakes suggest not. Making the same story over and over again just lessened the impact. So when it came to making an origin story for how Leatherface came into being, doing something other than a bunch of teens show up at the Sawyer house and getting massacred wasn’t such a bad idea, depending on what that other idea was…

Don’t hold your breath people.

Actually you would probably be dead if you had been holding your breath for this film. This was filmed a long while ago and then either sat on a shelf or went for reshoots. It doesn’t show it though. Unlike some recent messed up movies (cough, cough The Mummy) it is a well made and coherent piece of movie making. I wonder if this is down to directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury who made the masterful Inside and the wonderfully mad Livid. They are the main reasons any sensible horror fan would want to see Leatherface (outside just generally hoping against hope that there is still another good Texas Chainsaw movie to be made) and they do a good job as far it goes. The film looks nice, it’s relatively well paced and all the acting is way up above what you would expect for this kind of thing.

There’s one problem though, and it’s massive.

We begin with Ma Sawyer (played by a surprisingly restrained-for-her Lili Taylor) and her inbred family around the old dinner table. It’s the youngest child’s birthday so she gives him a chainsaw for his birthday and tells young Jed to chop up the chap they have tied to a chair. Presumably he is going to be the main course. After some shenanigans with a sheriff’s daughter Jed ends up in a mental asylum and we cut to ten years later. Now a bunch of patients escape the asylum and race across Texas with a nurse as hostage. As all of the mentalists have had their names changed we don’t know which one was once Jed and will become Leatherface, and that is basically the story.

The trouble with this is that it’s SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT.

Let’s ignore the fact that out of the potential Leathefaces, one is a girl, one so mouthy and obnoxious that he will almost certainly die first and a big hulk of a mute just screams red herring so loud we are left with one other character who must be it. So no mystery there then. The main problem is that whoever it is won’t act like Leatherface until the end of the movie, so you end up with a film about a character who isn’t that character. It’s just head-banging-against-wall dumb.

To mix things up a bit the girl and one of the men embark on a killing spree like a low rent Natural Born Killers but without that film’s wit and charm. I am being sarcastic here: I hate Natural Born Killers. Okay, without that film’s pseudo intellectualism and pretension. Yeah, that will do. Also there’s another bit of romance, this time between the kidnapped nurse and the other escapee who isn’t a giant mute, but this is almost as ridiculous as the one between Leatherface and Stretch in Part 2 but without the laughs. I mean I’m all for a bit of Stockholm Syndrome but these two potential lovebirds stretch all sense of reality.

There’s also an incredibly idiotic bit near the end when whoever-it-is is wounded in the face so his mother puts a leather harness around his head to hold the wounds in place. So he quite literally has a leather face. I almost knocked myself out I slapped my forehead so hard.

There is gore aplenty. I remember back in the eighties when as a blood thirsty teenager I craved a horror movie with a good splattering of blood and guts. This was especially tricky as the censorship board was snip happy with their scissors. I still like a decent, gory death in horror movies now, but the violence in Leatherface is somehow just depressing. Victims are sawn open, smashed through windows and have their heads caved in, all in lurid detail. But it’s all so miserable. There’s no showmanship to the violence, it just has a realism that is repellent rather than thrilling. Maybe it’s just me…

On the positive side… nah… forget it, I ain’t got one. It’s a really bad story, and as a prequel it means you know pretty much where it will end up, and it’s not worth the journey. And, you know… Leatherface with a leather face… Christ that’s stupid.

 

Don’t Go In The House 1979

In my review of Don’t Go In The Woods I asked, In a roundabout kind of way, how any conservative MP in their right mind could take such a film so seriously as to ban it. Don’t Go In the House, which was also on the Video Nasties list, is surely more the film they were thinking of.

A young man, whose mother burnt him as a child, lures women back to his place, hangs them up in his custom made steel, fireproof room and torches them with a flamethrower. Yey, fun. Unlike Don’t Go In The Woods with its crazy music and comedy bead-wearing killer, Don’t Go In The House is an incredibly bleak and sober movie. There are few laughs to be had as we follow Donny the Incinerator around in his mad, sad life. However, despite the grim subject matter, this film, once more, is not a piece of a shlock needing to be removed from public viewing but a clear homage to Psycho with its own, albeit limited, merits.

The Psycho influences are everywhere. Donny lives in a large, spooky house with his dead mother, although she is kept upstairs in the bedroom rather than the fruit cellar. Expanding on the mother/son relationship, we have flashbacks to Donny being tortured with naked flames as a child which have lead him to his psychotic state of mind now. There are weird old trinkets throughout the property. Donny himself is clearly a schizophrenic with his dead mother talking to him, but instead of dressing like her he has a handy fireproof outfit that he picked up from a clearly deeply irresponsible gun shop.

Where things differ from Psycho is that instead of following the (semi) innocent character of Marion Crane into murderous Norman Bates’s sick world, here we follow Donny as the main character. Considering how pathetic his life is, it makes you question do we want to know about Donny’s tragic existence? And in truth we probably don’t. It’s not like you can watch Don’t Go In The House and start rooting for Donny: “go on my son! Get another victim and cook her!” is, hopefully, not your response. If it is please seek immediate psychiatric help. No, mostly you just want someone to intervene and have him locked up before someone else is hurt.

This is probably what lead the film to end up in the Video Nasties list: the tone of relentless bleakness. It probably didn’t help itself by having been made in the seventies. Donny has a job, at an incinerating plant obviously, which has that gritty working man/blue collar feel to it that movies such as Rocky and, well, Blue Collar did. Life was hard for the working man and it would be just as easy to spend your spare time punching meat and people as it would losing your mind and killing women. However despite all the grimness, Don’t Go In The House is not a particularly violent film. The first woman is fairly graphically burnt in front of us, however the analogue fire effects probably were not particularly realistic then let alone now, so we rely on the terrible IDEA of what is happening rather than the execution of it. After her death the murders are cleverly shown after the fact, so the bodies build up but we aren’t subjected to the brutality of their demises.

If Don’t Go In The House is like any movie then it is William Lustig’s ultra sleazy Maniac. It shares the same madman’s perspective approach to the story. So much so that it has similar scenes of the crazy person talking to his victims and dressing up their corpses. It even has the same ending. Don’t Go In The House was made a year before Maniac but I don’t know if Lusting ripped it off so much as it was just a sign of the times. Maniac is the much better film though.

What this does have over Lustig’s film, however, is a lot of disco. The twist, if you could call it such a thing, is that about two thirds of the way through the movie, director Joseph Ellison clearly had had enough of all this misery and decided to liven things up. Donny has a John Travolta style makeover and ends up down the local discotheque. Things seem like it could work out for a little while but then Donny, instead of boogying with all the pretty girls all night long, blows it by setting fire to one of them instead. At least disco makes a triumphant, and deeply inappropriate, return over the end credits.

Don’t Go In The House is a weak made but odd, creepy and somewhat disturbing variation on the Psycho story. It isn’t a particularly comfortable watch but it does have something to say about child abuse and the damage it can cause in adulthood, which may, or may not, be something you want to see. Even if it’s not, don’t ban the thing.

The Rezort 2015

 

It’s hard out there for a zombie. In the never ending barrage of undead movies it’s getting tougher to stand out from the crowd. I think it’s it’s fair to say that most of the blame must go to The Walking Dead. That TV show sets the zombie bar so high that little can compete.  You can have all the running, swarming or flying zombies you like but no one can compete against the quality of the shuffling corpses that Rick and Co battle against week in, week out. The best of recent fair have either gone for bonkers action with zombies on a train (Train to Busan) or something a bit more thoughtful and intelligent (The Girl With All The Gifts). Basically if you don’t have an angle you’re dead in the water.

Fortunately The Rezort does have such an angle: it is Jurassic Park with zombies. Not with dinosaurs AND zombies sadly. And not with zombie dinosaurs… I wish. Just zombies, but it’s an okay premise.

Several years after a zombie pandemic kills two billion people worldwide, the undead threat has been wiped out apart from an island where the rich and stupid can drive around in logo strewn jeeps to hunt zombies for kicks. Obviously something goes wrong and the security system goes down, the zombies get loose and everyone has to get out before the whole place blows up. Good times.

It’s a simple enough premise and doesn’t have any delusions of being anything other than an entertaining horror flick. There is some evil corporation stuff which isn’t anything new but adds some flavour to the plot. Also there’s some conversation about how in times of war it’s the humans who have lost their humanity more than the zombies. I’m not so sure about that: I think if you start rotting, crave human flesh, growl a lot and never change your clothes again you’ve probably lost most of your humanity.

I can’t say that I entirely buy the idea of a resort where people can go and shoot zombies either. It just feels like far too much can go wrong for it to be a viable business venture. Take for example the main group we follow around in the film. Okay you have Dougray Scott as a mysterious marksman who knows how to handle himself and a weapon, but the rest of the tourists seem to handle a submachine gun the way I would handle a numeric drill: randomly and all over the place. Surely far too many guests would get killed in the crossfire? Also who actually would want to go to a place to kill zombies seven years after two billion friends and families became them? Wouldn’t most people be too traumatised by the war to want to go back to a version of it? It would be like opening a Nazi killing theme park in 1952.

Well at least most of the characters have a reason to be there, from being prepared for the next war to winning a competition on the internet. Apart from Scott who, apart from adding a touch of class, remains mysterious.

What is also mysterious but is most welcome are the relatively high production values for this sort of thing. Of course much of the film involves running around dark corridors or mountainscapes but a clever use of matte paintings and set extensions give the impression that the film is bigger than it is. This particularly helps give the impression that The Rezort itself is a large scale and well run operation. However there are also some other nice wide shots, like the ariel view of the boat arriving at the island at the beginning which helps with the sense of size.

Being a British production it feels more like a well made BBC drama rather than something that would give the Hollywood boys and girls something to worry about, but it’s a fun diversion. It’s not going to set the world ablaze with a new rush of zombie apocalypses, but it’s a nice enough break for an hour and a half.

 

The House On Sorority Row 1983


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In the never ending quest to watch a decent slasher movie I will often check out the headlines of reviews to see if a movie could be worth a watch. Under normal circumstances if a film is described as having “competence” it’s generally seen as damning with faint praise. However, if you’ve seen as many slasher movies as I have over the years then competence is a rare and wonderful thing, I mean have you ever seen Don’t Go In The Woods? They don’t know the meaning of the word.

So if The House on Sorority Row is competent then we’re already onto a winner. Fortunately it is much more than that.

The plot is… oh I don’t know why I bother explaining the plots of slasher. They are the same every time with only a small variation. This time, although not for the first time,  events are set at a sorority house (maybe the title of the film gave it away) rather than, say, a woods or a campsite or shopping mall. We are into the slight slasher sub sub genre of I-know-what-you-did-last-summer-itis in that the girls of the sorority accidentally kill someone and have a pact to never tell anyone but are then picked off one by one blah blah blah. The difference here is that instead of the main events taking place a year after the accident they happen immediately. The girls haven’t even got rid of the body yet and someone is already chopping them up.

This is probably what sets this film apart from some of the others. The girls foolishly pull this stupid prank on their mean sorority mother moments before they hold an end of year party at their house. The upshot of this is that they have to cover up their crime and their own repulsion with themselves whilst trying to pretend that they are having a good time. It also gives a vaguely valid reason why they have to separate off quite a lot. So they are alone in a basement or attic trying to cover up the murder and it doesn’t seem so dumb when they are killed. They are acting more like normal human beings would under the circumstances rather than idiots.

The girls are also wracked with grief and self loathing so they don’t suddenly forget themselves and start partying. In fact there’s one great shot as the camera pans across the party revellers to each of the girls looking dumbstruck with the horror of what they have done. All the actresses are well above “competent” too, making their situation genuinely engaging. Well apart from the blonde and busty actress who plays Morgan. She struggles keep her head straight let alone deliver her lines (as she removes her top) but looking at her credit list she never worked before or since this movie. Who knows why she was cast?

The party they hold doesn’t seem that great. Everyone seems like an idiot there and there are far too many shifty looking moustaches for my liking. Also the lead singer looks like this:

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Did anyone think that that was a good style in 1983? I thought we’d all moved onto the New Romantic look by then.

As WAS common at this time there is a question of who-done-it? which was soon abandoned for the more straightforward Freddy-did-it approach to slasher where it was only ever a madman in a mask/hat. This more traditional mystery killer approach seems almost quaint nowadays, like they were still trying to convince you that the movie was an Agatha Christie adaptation even whilst covering the screen with teenage gore.

Talking of which, there is a modest amount of gory deaths on display here, none of it very memorable but at least they tried unlike some slasher which wholly missed the point. It really does seem like unless you had Tom Savini involved in your make up effects your movie was going to be at a distinct disadvantage. Other artists just didn’t seem to have the knowledge and skill that he did, so you end up with stuff like this:

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Which, you know, is fine and all that but loo death will never be anything other than silly. And this isn’t really an effect at all, just some poor actress having the indignity of having to shove her head through a toilet bowl.

The House On Sorority Row is a well shot, well acted and well directed slasher made at a time when you’d be lucky if one of those boxes was ticked. In fact being more than competent but actually pretty good means it’s one of the best slashers from that early eighties boom. Who’d have thought that from the word “competence”?

 

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Halloween 4 The Return of Michael Myers 1988

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After everyone wrongly rejected Halloween 3 Season of the Witch for not having Michael Myers in it, the Halloween franchise went into a dormant state. Obviously this wasn’t a bad idea as a) Halloween is an out and out classic and cannot be beaten so why even try and b) Michael Myers isn’t known as The Shape for nothing – he is just a lump, a physical embodiment of evil sure, but what really could one do with the character? (Pretty sure John Carpenter knew this hence his lack of involvement with the series after 3) However, several years later the Friday the 13th producers were still bashing out Jason Voorhees sequels which proved that personality counts for nothing. So in 1988 it was time to dust off the William Shatner mask and send Michael out for another killing spree in Haddonfield, Illinois.

 

By 1988 the eighties horror boom was in full swing. Jason was fighting a Carrie rip off in Friday the 13th Part 7: The New Blood and Freddy was turning teens into cockroaches in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. Actually thinking about it the horror genre was in decline creativity, it just didn’t know it. Into this climate of increasingly silly slasher movies staggered Michael Myers and I, for one, never bothered with Halloween 4 because there was so much over guff out there I just couldn’t handle any more disappointment. As it turns out this is a remarkably solid entry in the slasher series. Certainly better than Part 2 which is so boring even the lead character is asleep for most if it.

 

Michael Myers escapes from his confines once again and heads back to Haddonfield, this time to kill Laurie Strode’s daughter, Jamie. Also again Doctor Loomis is hot in his trail telling anyone who will listen what an enormous prick Michael is. Let’s face facts here. It is exactly the same plot as the first film. I was having this conversation with the lovely May the other day after watching the new Alien: Covenant trailer. “it’s the same story again,” May correctly stated.”A bunch of people in a spaceship land on a planet where something awful has happened before and then it happens to them. It’s the same as Prometheus!” And Alien I pointed out and indeed Aliens. Yes all this is true and there is certainly an argument in saying lets do something different. However when the Alien franchise has tried something else they ended up with the troubled Alien 3 or the disastrous Alien Resurrection. Maybe it is best to just stick to what works in a franchise, plot wise, and just have variations within that framework. This sounds like what the current producers of the Friday the 13th movies have forgotten: they’re stuck in an endless none development of a new Friday movie (eight years and counting) with found footage ideas and origin stories because they have forgotten that what works about those films IS the simplicity of it all: a bunch of teens get murdered by Jason in the woods.

 

It’s the same with Michael Myers. All he wants to do is go home! Series producer Moustapha Akkad knew this so he repeats the beats of the first film and together with director Dwight H. Little makes a decent stab at things. So to speak.

 

It helps that everyone takes things seriously. Donald Pleasence is back as Loomis, still wild eyed and crazy although bless him he was 68 when this was made and he does seem a little tired at times. Especially now Loomis seems to be in full action mode – diving out if the way of exploding petrol stations and getting thrown through doors. Whatever, Pleasence was the kind of actor who you could rely on to add a touch of class to any film he appeared in. Go knows you needed that in the eighties when teens seemed to be cast in horror movies for their hair and willingness to take their tops off. Fortunately the teens hijinks here are kept to a minimum. The only one of any real consequence is Rachel (Ellie Cornell) who is looking after young Jamie and is basically battered about by everyone else emotionally and Michael physically until she has had enough and (spoiler) drives over the fucker.

 

Jamie herself is played by Danielle Harris in her first role. Harris has gone into have a long and successful career, mostly fighting monsters, and you can see why here. A tiny, big eyed moppet, Jamie might be the most traumatised child in horror. She starts off having visions of the “nightmare man” and then is rejected by her adoptive sister, mocked for being an orphan by her school peers (children really are awful sometimes) before being stalked by a six foot two madman in a boiler suit who turns out to be her uncle. It’s not surprising that most of Harris’s performance consists of crying. But she does cry REALLY well. Certainly better than teens like Brady and Kelly who struggle with walking let alone showing any emotion. In fact poor Jamie has only one scene where she even smiles and that’s when she’s offered some ice cream, which never even gets. It makes me want to cry.

 

Anyway, events go at a decent pace and I didn’t get bored which is saying a lot. As much as I love the slasher genre, and I do love it, I cannot deny that most if them are incredible dull. Not so Halloween 4. It doesn’t take Michael long to get back to Haddonfield and he’s soon stolen a new Shatner mask, killed an entire police department and turned off the whole electricity grid by throwing an engineer at it. It fact it is remarkable how quickly Michael gets about Haddonfield. He’s at the grid at one point and then at Kelly’s house in the next shot. Either he has got some serious wheels we haven’t seen or Haddonfield is tiny. Still it helps keep things moving. In fact there’s a lot going on here: the police station massacre (sadly off screen) a chase in an abandoned school, car chases, redneck lynching mobs, Michael Myers lookalikes, explosions, a thumb in the forehead and a really decent set piece on the roof of Kelly’s house. Dwight H. Little keeps things coming at you right up to the twist ending which if you think about it is absolutely nonsensical but I kind of liked it all the same. He also wisely keeps as much of the classic John Carpenter theme in the film as possible which can make any scene feel tense.

 

If there is a problem it is as I mentioned before – the actual return if Michael Myers shows what a non personality he is. He really IS just a shape. You can give Michael all the relatives you want but when it boils down to it he’s just a figure in a boiler suit. He makes Jason seem like a charismatic life of the party. That’s not to say that that blank masked face isn’t creepy but really, if it wasn’t for Loomis telling us how evil he is he could almost just disappear before our eyes, like he did at the end of the original film.
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers ultimately was a welcome return. Not necessarily because of the title character but it was a well made and serious entry in the slasher genre when the rest of its peers were getting increasingly stupid. I’m not sure Halloween stayed this way though, later films had Myers cult worshippers, mysterious men in black and Coolio, but for now the franchise was back on track.

 

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