Tag Archives: Halloween

Stock Background Characters 101: Evil Adults

In this feature, we examine the lesser beings of the slasher movie realm, which, if you’re making your own slasher film, could provide a good cast roster for you.

No killer or final girl profiles here, this is a celebration of those underlings who made the most of their fleeting flirtation with stardom. And usually died.

This month, we bite our tongues in the face of those EVIL ADULTS!

sbc-eviladults

Overview: What teenager doesn’t have an adult nemesis? Parents, teachers, that nasty old man who runs the local store… In slasherdom, such nefarious individuals are widespread, always telling the kids how to live, what not to do, keeping information vital to their survival from them because they were “just trying to help”… Sucky thing is, they were often right.

That I’m an adult myself (for, like, almost twenty years) should be noted. But I still act like I’m thirteen. 1991 thirteen, not 2015 thirteen.

Linguistic Snapshot: “Now listen to me, young lady, you may think you want to know what happened at the old farm out on Highway 66, but you don’t! And don’t go there either. Go to your room. Do your homework. Stay away from boys! It’s for your own good!”

Styling: Evil Adults come in many forms, so there’s no real all encompassing style, only that they’re well past their teen years and are blindly convinced they know best. Kinda like religious folk. But always pompous.

Hallmarks: Evil Adults vary in terms of their place and role in the slasher film, sometimes they can cross paths with The Oracle or the Holy Vessel (such as the über-strict Mother Superior from Silent Night, Deadly Night) and they don’t always die.

"I know what's best for you. You don't."

“I know what’s best for you. You don’t.”

Knowing or doing what they think is best is usually the one-dimension that the Evil Adult trades on: be it the parents of Elm Street who hide their dirty secret from their children, or the shrink trying to exploit his patient’s telekinetic abilities.

EA’s can also live in complete denial of the facts: The psyche ward doctors in Elm Street 3 (“young lady, your opinion is of no interest to me”) and the heroine’s uncle in Friday the 13th Part VIII, they don’t listen to the young, consigning them to a gruesome, stabby death, or they point blank refuse to accept the obvious – that Jason Voorhees is alive and is here.

Downfall: As such, the Evil Adults who do end up seeing the sharp end of the machete live merrily in denial until the last minute. Mr McCulloch of Friday VIII stands idly by barking orders at his students while their ranks are depleted, calling everyone who posits Jason is alive as an idiot, seeing decapitated heads, victims snatched away in front of him, and still gasps “it’s not possible!” when Jason is bearing down on him.

In the previous instalment, Tina’s selfish shrink first sacrifices her mother to aid his own escape, but then gets a buzzsaw to the torso.

Bride-Of-Chucky-John-Ritter

Likewise, Jade’s nasty uncle/guardian in Bride of Chucky is more hellbent on ruining her life, completely blind to the killer dolls in the picture. Yet another unpleasant father figure appears in Halloween 6, having moved his family into the Myers house, he overlooks his wife’s pleas to leave and ends up suffering an exploded head for his ignorance.

But it can work backwards, Mrs Slater, the cranky housemother of The House on Sorority Row keeps a dark secret that sees her killed, but instead of by the killer, it’s in a prank-gone-wrong that prompts the killer to start doing away with the girls responsible.

Or, the Evil Adult escapes death completely. This is the case for the aforementioned Mother Superior, horrible Dr Simms from Elm Street 3, and McGregor, the teen-hating campus cop in Graduation Day. While their on-screen demises might be gratifying, the fact that they don’t die underscores the unfairness of the situation, especially in the Elm Street film: The sins of the parents are visited on their children.

"You evil girls will pay for this! Mark my words!"

“You evil girls will pay for this! Mark my words!”

Genesis: Meddling, annoying people have always been present in the genre, from swaggering motorcycle cops throwing their weight around at Camp Crystal Lake, to sadistic gym teachers at Springwood High… There seems to be no one Adam or Eve figure from which they stem, their existence is all part of the teen experience, though at least they seem to be outnumbered by well-meaning adults who want to help.

Legacy: As long as the teen years are fraught with defiance, I-know-everything attitudes, beer, and sex, so there will always be Evil Adults looking to put an end to that fun. You might even say Michael, Jason, Freddy and the like are the faces of that discipline, correcting behaviour in a way the parents, teachers and cops couldn’t.

And they’re still thriving, as the mean camp counsellors who bully children in Return to Sleepaway Camp, as the distrustful mother who refuses to listen to her daughter in Fingerprints, or the asshole boss who can’t even remember if his staff are alive or dead in Final Destination 5, and the teachers who protected the nasty bullies in Tormented.

Drone on, Evil Adults, someone somewhere might be listening.

Sucks to be Soles

INNOCENT PREY

3 Stars  1983/87m

A.k.a. Voyeur

Director: Colin Eggleston / Writer: Ron McLean / Cast: P.J. Soles, Kit Taylor, Grigor Taylor, Martin Balsam, John Warnock, Susan Stenmark, Richard Morgan, Debisue Voorhees.

Body Count: 11


Poor P.J. Soles… As if being saddled with the worst perm in Texas isn’t enough, one night she spots her new husband’s car at a motel and decides to creep outside the window and find out if he’s cheating on her.

Her suspicions are confirmed when she sees him doing a young hooker, and then made worse when he produces a knife and slashes the girl’s throat as they climax. At home, she confronts him and as he makes a move to do away with her, the police spring up and cart him away.

Later, hubby escapes from prison and returns to the house to finish off P.J., doing in a few luckless cops as he goes. She evades him again but this time he flees, so she sees fit to take some time out down under and visits her friend Gwen in Sydney.

The Sheriff back home (Balsam: Arbogast! ARBO-FUCKING-GAST!!!) later informs her they found a burned body with hubby’s signet ring and all is well again. Only we know better: hubby set it all up and has hopped a ship to Oz, ever committed to his cause.

Rodeo P.J. – everybody loves her

As if this isn’t enough, the sub-Norman Bates landlord at Gwen’s place has hidden cameras all over the girls’ house and watches their every move, obsessed by the new arrival, and jealous of her burgeoning romance with single dad, Rick. When the first loon arrives, what will second loon do, I wonder?

Early on in the film, P.J. ponders that if there such a thing as a habitual criminal, perhaps she is a habitual victim. Hell yeah, sister! From the arms of one psycho into those of another! Innocent Prey should be suffixed The Misadventures of the World’s Unluckiest Woman. Nothing goes right for poor P.J., and when Gwen disappears, well, where else could she go!? These wackos gravitate towards her. And just wait for that final freeze frame. Come to my house, Peej, I won’t kill you! Promise!

Mass sludge of conveniences aside, Innocent Prey is a solid little thriller, sort of a proto-Sleeping with the Enemy by way of Terror Train, possibly explaining why it was released in 1991, seven or eight years after it was made.

P.J.’s always likeable charisma carries much of the weight, but director Eggleston – who later helmed weird arty-farty slasher Cassandra - builds up some palpable tension here and there, most notably in the scenes where Hubby comes back to the house.

A ridiculous film by any measure, but an entertaining one for sure.

Blurbs-of-interest: Aside from her role as Lynda, Soles was also in The Tooth Fairy and Uncle Sam. She also narrated the documentary Halloween: 25 Years of Terror; Martin Balsam was, duh, Arbogast in Psycho; Kit Taylor was in Eggleston’s other film Cassandra; Debi Sue Voorhees – playing the hooker – was Tina in Friday the 13th Part V and was also in Appointment with Fear.

Taglinus accuratus

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 VDetention (2010), and Fall Down Dead; 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 and later the dreadful 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.

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