Tag Archives: Halloween

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TRICK OR TREATS

1 Stars  1982/92m

“…when Halloween night stopped being fun!”

Director/Writer: Gary Graver / Cast: Jackelyn Giroux, Peter Jason, Chris Graver, Carrie Snodgress, David Carradine, Stave Railsback, Jillian Kesner, Paul Bartel.

Body Count: 3 (!)

Laughter Lines: “These horror movies… they make me scared to drive home alone at night!”


“When Halloween night stopped being fun,” goes the tagline. Darn tootin’. Short of falling ass-first on a running power drill, I can’t think of a less fun way to spend Halloween night, or any other given night, than watching Trick or Treats.

Carrie Snodgress gets her husband carted off to an institution in the opening scene. Why? No clue, ToT doesn’t care about in-filling its plot holes. The scene is slapstick heavy, with two orderlies struggling with the flailing hubby, who tries to climb a tree at one point to escape. They all end up falling in the pool. The only thing missing was a table of cream pies.

‘Several years later’, struggling actress-cum-babysitter Linda (Giroux) accepts a Halloween night job to look after the couple’s horrible, horrible son, while Mom and her new squeeze (Carradine), head off to a party. Meanwhile, Hubby has broken out of the institute disguised as a female nurse, and is heading home to murder his wife and anyone else who gets in his way and nobody else.

Yeah that’s right, this is the slasher movie without any slashing. Hubby punches out a security guard rather than stabs him, threatens a couple of homeless guys (one of whom is horror-fixture Bartel), and eventually mistakenly kills a random blonde chick whom he mistakes for his wife.

This might sound okay, but nothing remotely resembling a threat of violence happens for well over an hour into the 92 minute film. Until then, it’s a never ending cycle of the bratty kid playing a prank on Linda, that she always falls for, and some trick or treaters coming to the door. Again. And again. And again. Until death. Your death. From boredom.

With just 15 minutes remaining, Hubby finally catches up with Linda, thinking her to be Carrie Snodgress, and chases her a bit. Although the film is so darkly turned out you may as well close your eyes and rest for all the good they’ll do you open.

A fittingly annoying twist for a fittingly annoying child in the world’s most disappointing ‘slasher’ film is the shitty icing on this cake. A cake made of the shittiest shit one might dredge up from a shit-filled canal in Shitsville, Tennessee.

Blurbs-of-interest: Carradine was in Children of the Corn V and Detention (2010); Steve Railsback was in Deadly Games and Slash; Paul Bartel was in Killer Party. Graver later directed the equally awful Moon in Scorpio.

The 13 best Halloween characters

Last, but by no means least, we turn to the Halloween franchise to countdown the best characters therein.

Strangely, I found it difficult to elect many characters I genuinely liked… I don’t know why, I like all the Halloween movies (bar Season of the Witch, that can go fuck itself), but they seem a tad short on super-fab-I-want-to-be-your-friend types, as we’ll see…

Mya // Rob Zombie’s Halloween II

There’s not that much to like about either of the RZ Halloweens, largely because he populated them with objectionable, self-absorbed twats for characters. That said, Brea Grant (also in Midnight Movie) as Mya was my kinda girl. Specs, spunk, and attitude – though not a bad attitude, unlike Scout Taylor-Compton’s horrible excuse for a heroine. I was sad she died.

*

Charlie the cop // The Revenge of…

Cops in slasher films are rarely afforded names before they’re done away with almost summarily: They usually exist to get in the way a bit and take an axe to the head. Charlie (Troy Evans), makes a small exception to that rule by going all out to protect little Jamie Lloyd from her marauding uncle, calling her the bravest little girl he’d ever met and standing up to an increasingly unhinged Loomis. Alas, it does fuck all to save him, but he has the honor of dying to protect a child. Good show, Charlie.

*

Sassy Reporter // Halloween II

This chick only appears for a matter of seconds during the better scenes of Halloween II (before the dull hospital drama), don’t you just love the giant cravat thingy? The bouncing hair? The amazingly proto-Gale Weathers approach of: “You need their parents permission to make a statement, if you can’t find their parents, get a statement anyway.” Awesome.

*

Mrs Blankenship // The Curse of…

Most of Mrs Blankenship’s screen time in Halloween 6 is inconsequential. She owns a rooming house across the street from THE MYERS HOUSE! and babbers on about being Michael’s babysitter that night, but things peak when it turns out she’s a part of the Thorn Conspiracy, turns around wielding a huge knife and greets Marianne Hagan’s heroine by saying: “Hello dear,” like any huggable grandma.

*

Rudy // Resurrection

The most likeable of the reality TV explorers in the much-hated (but loved by me!) Halloween: Resurrection. With gal-pals, Rudy (Sean Patrick Thomas) wanders around THE MYERS HOUSE! looking for clues about what turned Michael into a loon. His main character trait is his love of food. Not eating it, creating it. He’s probably also the only person to ever stop one of these psycho’s by throwing the right mix of herbs in his face…

*

Annie 2.0 // RZ’s Halloween II

 Danielle Harris is something of an enigma in the Halloween realm, playing two different characters. We’ll get to the other one later, but here, she also became another character rarity: the not-final girl who survives (in the ‘first’ movie). She’s has more to do here as the resentful best friend of Laurie, disapproving of her BFF’s wayward lifestyle, nursing scars of her own. It’s a good performance from Harris, in contrast to her bouncy-sexy high school girl schtick.

*

Dr Hoffman // The Return of…

Bitchy Loomis-adversary Dr Hoffman is another minimal backgrounder, though Michael Pataki got his name in the name in the opening credits for the mammoth two scenes he’s in. Still, his presence is amusing, not least for his tired-of-your-shit attitude towards Loomis: “For Christ’s sake, spare me the speech – I’ve listened to it for a decade.” See him also as the beleaguered principal in Graduation Day.

*

Jamie Lloyd // The Return of… &
The Revenge of…

It’s Danielle again! Laurie Strode’s orphaned daughter Jamie (until H20 went and stomped all over that thread) becomes the unlikely heroine of the late-80s Halloween franchise, as Uncle Michael wakes from his coma to come and end the bloodline for good, primarily targeting little Jamie, who shares an unclear psychic connection with him. An outstanding acting job from the 10-year-old Harris leaves many of the more accomplished players in the dust.

*

Lynda // Halloween

Who couldn’t totally love Lynda? Nobody, that’s who! As one of Laurie’s girlfriends, PJ Soles, who’d already tasted teen horror as a nasty girl in Carrie, is the more carefree, hippie-esque member of their little group. But she’s totally nice. She might have sex in the bed of a total stranger and drink their beer, and totally not care about school or the future (kinda fortunate considering she had none), but she’s perky and sweet. Had she not totally died, I’d have foreseen a career in waitressing for Lynda. Fuh-neee…

*

Rachel Carruthers // The Return of… &
The Revenge of…

Jamie’s sister by adoption is initially self-obsessed high schooler Rachel (Ellie Cornell), who is too into her boyfriend Brady to realise he’s more into his own dick. Nevertheless, Rachel is able to alter her priorities and take lil’ sis trick or treating, thus entering into the nightmare of escaping Michael. She puts Jamie first in everything and pays the ultimate price in the next film. Sad times.

*

Tommy Doyle 2.0 // The Curse of…

Here’s a curveball. Halloween 6 was one of the first slasher films I ever saw and thus I probably am too kind to it. Part of the appeal of the Halloween franchise up to this point was bringing old characters back into the drama, in this case Tommy, one of Laurie’s babysitting charges from the original, now a Myers-obsessed weirdo living across the street from THE MYERS HOUSE! Paul Rudd allegedly hates the film, but he gives a twitchy, interesting performance anyway.

*

Laurie Strode // I, II, H20 & Resurrection

THE final girl of all final girls, Jamie Lee Curtis’ took Laurie from bookish nerd to, well alive bookish nerd – and later alcoholic head teacher. Ignoring what became of her in the sequels, Laurie is just everything in the first film. Youwanther to be your big sister, your babysitter, your friend. She’s just that nice girl you’d take home to Mom and Dad with about a gazillion thoughts going through her muddled mind, some of them not quite so innocent…

*

Dr Sam Loomis // All but Season of the Witch and everything after The Curse of…

While I want Laurie to be my friend, Doc Loomis is Halloween, just as much as Michael Myers, if not more. Donald Pleasence’s engaging performance as he goes from self-assured to paranoid to eccentric over the arc of the five films he features in is like a cuddly old sweater you can’t throw away. Though if he was ever right about anything essential is never established as Michael kept surviving, but the character has influenced so many imitations in his wake, and after he died, the spirit of the series kinda went with him.

Get well soon

HALLOWEEN II

3 Stars  1981/18/89m

“The nightmare isn’t over.”

Director: Rick Rosenthal / Writers: John Carpenter & Debra Hill / Cast: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Charles Cyphers, Jeffrey Kramer, Lance Guest, Hunter Von Leer, Nancy Stephens, Pamela Susan Shoop, Dick Warlock, Gloria Gifford, Tawny Moyer, Ana Alicia, Leo Rossi, Ford Rainey.

Body Count: 10-13 (depending on who’s counting)

Laughter Lines: “You need their parents permission to make a statement, if you can’t find their parents, get a statement anyway.”


Lovers of this sequel (and that guy who stalks its IMDb message board claiming it’s better than the original and proclaiming anybody who doesn’t agree to be a moron) may question why it never featured in the Top 100 here. Well, wonder no more as we enter the topsy-turvy world of Halloween II

Things begin so well, picking up from the moment Doc Loomis shoots Michael Myers out of the window at the Doyle house. When he sees Michael has vanished, he hits the streets looking for him. Meanwhile, the cops and reporters arrive on the scene as word spreads as to the murders… Michael is using backyards to escape and find Laurie, who’s been whisked off to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital.

Carnage breaks out in town, Loomis misidentifies a trick or treater as Myers, who is subsequently hit by a squad car and burnt to a cinder (and turns out to be the crush Laurie had mentioned to Annie!). All the while, Laurie is put into an unguarded room at the world’s emptiest hospital, and it’s not long before Michael works out where she is.

Thus, the knife fodder in Halloween II comes in the form of the hospital staff: Sexy nurses, horny paramedics, dumpy security guards. Unusually for an 80s slasher film, it’s the middle stalk n’ slash act that is the least interesting here. The cast of victims are largely indistinguishable, with so little dialogue bandied out between them, there’s nobody really to feel sorry for when they bite it. And it features that most annoying quirk in horror: People who might have died. Jimmy. Gone, or not gone? He was absent at the end, as per Paul in Friday the 13th Part 2, so I’m voting gone.

Halloween II also carries an erring sexist undertone: Male victims are killed quickly and forgettably or off camera, whereas the young nubile nurses are subjected to longer, far more voyeur-heavy demises. The reactive element to the box office bell ringing of Friday the 13th and its gorier imitations is evidently strived for here, with more blood than atmos, and the less savory genre elements ticked off in order: There are boobs, drugs, and lots of wandering off to investigate strange sounds. The original film may have invented half of these tropes, seeing them approached in such a blase way here is just sad.

Things eventually come down to Laurie on the run through the hospital basement and car park in a series of near-misses that simply shift what happened in the Wallace house to a new locus. While that’s going on, Dr Loomis has learnt that Laurie is actually Michael’s other sister, and speeds off to the hospital. A decent showdown ensues and the story comes to a very final end. One would think.

Carpenter and Hill’s script is as weary as Curtis appears to be of playing the same final girl role for the fifth or sixth time (and her wig sucks); Pleasence throws himself in admirably, but the crowded supporting cast blur into their one-note roles without leaving much of an impression.

Functional and occasionally brilliant (possibly the inserts Carpenter supposedly directed to amp up the violence in post production) but so off-kilter with the excellence of the original that it could only ever disappoint, though something of a minor masterpiece compared to the bewildering Halloween III.

Blurbs-of-interest: Curtis returned in Halloween H20 and Resurrection, plus was already in Prom Night, Terror Train, Road Games, and The Fog as well as the TV series Scream Queens; Pleasence came back for all Michael Myers Halloweens until his death after shooting the sixth. He was also in Alone in the Dark and Phenomena; Nancy Stephens returned for Halloween H20; Jeffrey Kramer and Lance Guest both appeared in Jaws movies (1/2 and The Revenge, respectively); Rick Rosenthal later directed Halloween: Resurrection and had a cameo in Lost After Dark.

Happy Halloween!

Be safe n’ all that shizz…

I’ve not been that thorough in covering the Halloween series around here, which is curious as I do love it so.

One day I’ll get round to reviewing the original (and the first sequel), but until then explore what there is if you will…

The films reviewed:
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later
Halloween: Resurrection
Rob Zombie’s Halloween
Rob Zombie’s Halloween II
Halloween: 25 Years of Terror (documentary)

Other stuff:
Twists of fury: Halloween: Resurrection
God forgive me, I like Halloween: Resurrection

Ka-ching! Don’t O.D. on candy.

Today I love… Halloween: Resurrection (God forgive me)

Halloween: Resurrection… at the time of writing it has a 4.0 rating on IMDb and everyone moans how crap it is. But not me, no! I can’t help it, there’s just something about it that I like…

  • It’s not Busta Rhymes’ sorry excuse for acting;
  • It’s not the beyond-ridiculous Twist of Fury that is the explanation for Michael being alive;
  • And it’s not the stupid ‘murder’ of Laurie Strode (notice that her fall is partly broken by tree branches?)

It’s the slashtasticness of it… As a dead-teenager Halloween-set stalk n’ slash film, it’s just super fun.

  • The slayings are bloody and archetypal of the genre;
  • The final girl is remotely aided by a room full of over-acting teenagers;
  • The theme tinkers along when needed;
  • It’s more than well enough made;
  • And it’s still about 10,000,000 times better than the Rob Zombie films;
  • Tyra Banks makes this face:

There, pool your cash resources and get me therapy.

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