Sunday, September 02, 2007

Halloween II (1981) & Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)


I decided to take a look at these before seeing Rob Zombie's Halloween. Both were produced by John Carpenter and therefore feel similar to his other films - anamorphic widescreen, minimalist electronic scores, even some of the same scares - sharp stings when a bad guy suddenly appears in the frame.

Halloween II starts off very well, picking up immediately where Halloween ended. This gives the first half of the movie a feeling of immediacy and uncanniness - we're plunged into the middle of events already in progress, moving fast and unpredictably as Michael Myers continues on his killing spree and Donald Pleasence tries to track him down. The feeling of a small town under siege is also sharply depicted. Unfortunately, the movie's second half devolves into the standard 'who's getting murdered now' formula and it gets kind of tedious. The revelation that Jamie Lee Curtis's Laurie Strode is really Michael Myers's younger sister is interesting but...so what?

Then, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, which I had never seen before. Good lord, what a bad movie. It was ballsy and perverse of Carpenter and producing partner Debra Hill to decide to make a Halloween sequel which didn't have anything to do with the previous movies, and they paid for it. Instead, this is about an evil druid-ish toy company making evil Halloween masks for kids that will melt faces or something when triggered by an evil television commercial. The evil mask maker(Dan O'Herlihy) also has a private army of evil androids to do his bidding.

All of this nonsense could have worked if the movie was aware of its own ridiculousness, but instead the movie adopts a tone of ponderous seriousness. It's a dumb, tedious, utterly illogical movie with a bunch of lifeless, uninteresting performances (Tom Atkins, your leading-man career is not mourned) and it seems to insist on being taken for serious horror. Ugh.

Halloween III also makes a big mistake by putting a couple of clips of the original Halloween on TV screens that characters are watching. When an audience is watching a bad movie, it's a terrible idea to remind them of a much better movie they could be watching instead.

3 comments:

cjKennedy said...

I haven't seen it for years and years, but a lot of Halloween II is very memorable to me (no, I've never seen III or any of the other sequels). As you say, the beginning is encouraging. I liked the bit of business with the drunken guy in the costume they think is Michael Meyers, though having him burned to death is a little excessive and obviously an excuse to later jolt the audience with his charred cadaver on the morgue table.

Much of the stuff in the creepy hospital where the injured and freaked out Laurie is laid up was pretty good too, but a lot of it was the same old Friday the 13th type boring crap.

The revelation regarding Laurie's lineage always kind of bugged me and I was sorry to see Rob Zombie jumping on it in his remake. I guess it's become a part of the whole mythology, but this would've been a good opportunity to erase it.

Jeff McMahon said...

The drunk guy who gets clobbered by a police car, which then crushes him into a van, causing him to explode, is one of the most jolting moments in the movie, and the peak of the movie's haywire, chaotic energy. The crispy cadaver later on is just icing on the cake, as it were. I wouldn't call any of that excessive, though - seeing stuff like that is one of the pleasures of the genre.

cjKennedy said...

I think I enjoy the suspense more than the shocks. The shocks kind of make me laugh and take me out of the moment which drains the suspense. I suppose the release is intentional, but still.

I think the original Halloween had little in the way of those kind of jolts but they became common in the years between the first and second films.

Just a personal taste.