Monday, October 29, 2018

Halloween (2018) is the greatest movie of all time

Halloween (2018). Yes. Not a masterpiece. In fact, one of the worst twists of all time. But almost certainly the best sequel (although I may make a case for Halloween II and Halloween III: Season of the Witch). Believe at least that part of the hype. But that is a low fucking bar. We will see if it holds up on the second viewing before I definitively rank the films in order. Sort of love/hate the franchise as a whole even when it goes off the rails. Maybe because it does. This is one of only a couple of them that are genuinely not terrible. If you haven't seen it, you probably shouldn't read this unless, like me, you don't give a shit about spoilers. I'm generally of the "oh man, I've got to see this shit!" when I get a spoiler. I will also read Wikipedia pages before I go see a movie to get the plot. So you get spoilers. Respect that, as Spike Lee would say. Anyway. Danny McBride surprising me again. This time with his writing abilities. He is a pretty underrated talent IMO because he is so goofy and iconic in his comedic work, namely as Kenny Powers in Eastbound and Down. Sort of like how you couldn't cast Ed O'Neill in anything without the audience LOLing because he is Al Bundy to everyone. So yeah, better than all the other sequels, probably, but it totally should be. Those others were generally written but just some random guy and directed by some cheap first-timer. This is David Gordon fucking Green and Danny mother fucking McBride. It should almost certainly be better but this is what we got and it is serviceable. So focus on the good. It is scary, funny (occasionally when it shouldn't be), and is a genuinely alright movie. Yeah, greatest film of all time.

Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Halloween largely wipes the slate clean after decades of disappointing sequels, ignoring increasingly elaborate mythology in favor of basic - yet still effective - ingredients.

Pros: Doesn't fuck around. Gets into it and doesn't do a lot of exposition. The opening credits with the pumpkin. John Carpenter score is fucking sick. Child dancer is sweet. So are the kills. That long tracking shot is perfection. Actually, several really dope scenes. Same look as the original. It is legit scary at times. Lots of tension and he doesn't pop out a lot. Opening jack-o-lantern scene. Black watching Repo Man was a sweet little easter egg.

Cons: Tone is sort of off. Too much random comedy thrown out there. The podcasters are stupid. Not my favorite opening. Basically everything with Dr. Sartain is fucking unwatchable and takes you out of the experience. It almost ruined the movie. Also, although there a lot of solid scenes, they are kind of disjointed. Doesn't flow all that well. Black kid is funny but throws off the tone. You laugh when it should be scary and shit.

"Remember... THIS?!?" What could go wrong
The gist... Jamie Lee Curtis is back as Laurie Strode who squares off against Michael Myers, again. In this incarnation Myers killed a mechanic and three of her friends before getting captured on Halloween night in 1978. The hospital stuff in Halloween II didn't happen in this universe as it is a direct sequel to John Carpenter's original Halloween from 40 years ago. Here Laurie has some serious PTSD issues that cost her a relationship with her daughter Karen, played by Judy Greer from Arrested Development, and granddaughter Allyson, played by newcomer Andi Matichak. So we have three generations of Strode woman all affected by Myers, all traumatized, yet strong, in their own ways. Myers, for his part, aged incredibly well. I guess homicidal rage works for him.

A Blumhouse production directed by David Gordon Green who also did Pineapple Express and Prince Avalanche among other shit, and written by Jeff Fradley, Green, and McBride. This is the second retconning after Halloween H20: 20 Years Later did it back in 1998. Nick Castle, who played Michael Myers aka The Shape in the original, reprises the role was word on the street but all but one scene had out of work stuntman James Jude Courtney, who did a wonderful job, putting on the mask. Others in the film include Haluk Bilginer (never seen him) as Sartain, Toby Huss who will always be The Wiz from Seinfeld (he was also Felix in Carnivale and Artie in The Adventures of Pete & Pete) as Judy Greer's husband, Virginia Gardner as the pretty, blonde friend Vicky who dies horribly, Will Patton who is one of those whats-his-faces as Officer Hawkins, and Miles Robbins who plays Vicky's boyfriend who is a stoner nice guy and basically the same role he played in Blockers.

Couple of other characters of note are Cameron, the boyfriend of Allyson played by Dylan Arnold, and his buddy Oscar played by Drew Scheid. Cameron is possibly the biggest douche-bag in the entire 11 movie franchise. It's implied that he is cheating on Allyson with a chick who goes to the Halloween school dance as a sexy tiger and then acts incredulous when he gets caught blaming it on her being on her phone. He throws it in dip or pudding or whatever and she can no longer get calls. It's a plot device that movies employ that explains away lack of cellular telephone technology. You think he is going to die like most bad boyfriends but we never see him again. Spends the rest of the movie balls deep in the sexy tiger chick most likely. Anyway, so after Allyson storms off, Cameron's best bud Oscar starts to walk her home. This is the setup for one of the best scenes in the movie. It is a close second to the long tracking shot that I'll get to in a moment. Here, Oscar tells Allyson that she is the coolest and prettiest and nicest girl in the school. See where this is going. He tries to bang her. WTF, dude? She shuts it down and storms off. He doesn't get rapey, thank fuck, but he is an idiot and says as much. They are taking a shortcut to wherever and Allyson is gone by that point. He sort just lays there berating himself when Myers shows up. There is this motion light there that kicks on and off conveniently. Shit was dope by the way. He sees Myers and thinks it is Mr. Elrod (a reference to Halloween II, Mr. and Mrs. Elrod were the old couple he steals the knife from that are watching the original The Thing movie at the beginning of the movie). Myers creeps him out more and more as he gets closer and closer to him every time the light goes off and comes back on again. He eventually gets killed horribly.

Favorite line of the movie is from Hawkins, Will Patton's character. That line, which is some dope shit to say and true, is: "There's a reason we're supposed to be afraid of this night." Other than that nothing really stands out except for the funny ass shit the little black kid says.

References in this movie are more or less constant. They are retconning the movie because they think all of them are shit but then they pay constant homage to them which is weird but ultimately pretty cool. There are probably double-digit references to the original and II--the classroom scene where a teacher drones on with the main teen sitting in the back right corner looking out the window [also in Halloween H20], the three teens walking Laurie falling off the roof [roles reversed as it was Michael that fell in the first {this also happened in Halloween: Resurrection}], the ending with the fire was basically the same as II (also that they mention people thinking Laurie and Michael are brother and sister), the escape from Smiths Grove, the kill with the hammer, the woman that gets stabbed in the neck talking to Sally on the phone that lived next door to the Elrods, and I am sure several others--a lot of which have been referenced in other movies within the franchise. The main one we get for III were the masks that the kids were wearing were the Silver Shamrock masks from that film. From Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers we get a very similar brutal scene in a gas station/garage that looks more or less exactly the same. From Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers you get the comic relief cops, these legitimately funny unlike 5. From Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers you get the evil doctor, I guess. Bunch of stuff from H20, most notably the bathroom scene where Michael goes into the lady's room, which looks exactly the same, and confronts a lady taking a shit. From Resurrection we get the falling off a roof and the lady in the truck at the gas station that says "Resurrection" on the side of it. Not sure about the Rob Zombie movies as it has been a long while but I do recall a guy getting his head stomped which spoiler happens in this one and is probably the coolest kill.

Speaking of kills, lots of carnage in this flick. Off of memory, so I may be missing one or two, I can recall 17 kills, 16 by Myers. What can you say? Dude just wants to kill. He is pure evil. In this universe he doesn't necessarily need to kill Laurie but there she is so he might as well go for it. She is chasing him around and what not which is she is on his radar. If she didn't show up and try to stop him, then he would have just been out there rampaging and what have you. Most of these deaths are head smashings and neck breakings. But he sort of levels up as the movie goes along. When he first escapes from the bus as he is being transferred to another hospital, they say the one he is being transferred to is a real piece of shit compared to the one he is at which is truly disturbing considering what that one looks like, on the 40th anniversary of his murder spree, which is fucking bananas that they would do it then, he kills the first dude on the scene by breaking his neck. This guy is some hunter who is taking his little kid to go shoot defenseless animals in the face. The kid tells him he just wants to dance, which was endearing. That is when they come to the bus crash and Myers somewhere in the vicinity. The dad goes out and, as mentioned, his neck gets broke. After some time, the kid goes out and investigates. This kid is maybe 10. He finds a cop on the ground and is told to run. Instead he gets on the bus where Michael's doctor is chilling. He says not to shoot him but the kid must have thought he said to shoot him because that is what happens. The dancing boy goes ape shit and runs to the SUV and tries to peace the fuck out even though he, you know, probably can't drive because he is 10. But before he can figure out how to put that bitch in drive, Michael gives him the old reach around and chokes the shit out of him before snapping his neck. Yeah, they fucking go for it and straight up murder a child. Don't see a lot of child murders these days but this movie is all like fuck it. It was a seriously shocking death but I was on board with it.

Later it is implied that the doctor freed Myers which brings us to the shit. Basically everything with this doctor character is fucking stupid. The first we see of him is at the asylum where he lets those podcasters break out the mask which seems to have awakened something in Myers. Then he gets shot. Then we see him in the hospital where he makes the worst joke ever. The Will Patton sheriff character doesn't want to take the doctor along to help find Myers but this other black cowboy sheriff guy who is maybe in charge or something who might be a throwback to "The Man in Black" from Halloween 5 but disappears after the first half hour of the movie convinces him otherwise. Well while they are driving around at one point he says he wants to see Michael in his own element which is insane and dumb. Something like, "I want to know his pleasure." Think we know where this is going. Should have kicked the guy out of the car right then. But instead, after the Will Patton character picks up Allyson (which he is cool with her riding around with them for whatever reason), they roll up on Myers who is just walking around in the country. Patton is all, fuck this, and runs him over with his SUV which is a bold move. Thought it was going to be another Ben Tramer situation from Halloween II when they run over the wrong dude but it is not and is instead like Halloween 4 and H20 when they run his ass over which results in momentary loss of consciousness and slight irritation. But when they get out of the car, Sartain says that Patton killed him even though Myers is property of the state. Patton is going to finish the job and blow his head off when suddenly Sartain suddenly breaks out this weird knife thing and slits Patton's throat. What the fuck? What. In. The. Actual. Fuck. So let me get this straight. He goes to medical school, treats patients in Smiths Grove for however long, studying insane people and what not. And now he just starts killing cops so he can keep studying this guy that was getting transferred to another hospital anyway? What the shit is that? Yeah, this is the dumbest fucking thing I've maybe ever seen in my life. I almost fucking left the movie. This was surprisingly predictable considering how fucking stupid it was and the worst thing in the movie. That this movie easily breaks the top three dumbest things in the franchise is infuriating. It is very hard not to focus on this. It almost transformed the movie into the worst of all time. But when you take that out it isn't half bad. Try not to let it taint the movie which will be hard. He then puts on the mask and throws Myers in the back of the police cruiser with the girl. Watched this at the Starlite Drive-in here in Bloomington, Sammy Terry was there, it was dope, so watched it in the car with two other folk. We thought Sartain was going to be the killer now. "Oh, fuck," was the reaction in our car. All agreed this was fucking dumb.

But this brings us to the best kill. Again, 16ish from Myers. Most of them brutal. About half of them onscreen. Several of them on the periphery. But the most satisfying and most brutal is Sartain. So after Sartain makes his kill and throws Myers in the back with Allyson, she is all, "I need the fuck out of here, he is going to wake up and kill me." Sartain gist here is something like, "if only Michael would talk to me. He can talk but chooses not to. I know what he wants to say, I know the other side of murder." Uh, ok. So the girl is like, "oh, he said something to me when he was trying to kill me." Doctor is like, "do wha?" She tells him to let her out and he'll tell her which is all bull shit. But Michael wakes up and kicks his way out of squad car by breaking through the cage and pinning Sartain between the driver's seat and the steering wheel. He crashes or whatever, Allyson Scream 2's her way out of the cop car, and Sartain falls out of the car onto the street. Michael eventually gets out and stands over Sartain. Sartain, who threw his life/career away for this is all like, "say something, Michael." Michael looks down on him, says "something" (j/k, he doesn't really say that), and then stomps on his head so that his brain explodes out onto the street. It was fucking gnarly. 

Another solid couple of kills come right after that and are off screen. Two cops see the crash or whatever and go over to investigate. Basically there to pad his stats late in the game. They are endearing and funny. One of them is trying to turn the other onto banh mi sandwiches, which are to die for with the aoli, pickled veggies, mushrooms, and cilantro and what not, but the guy wants no part. Just wants his PB&J. Other guy thought he would say that, and explains that the term "banh mi" refers to the bread, not what is inside, and had them make him a banh mi PB&J. Don't find out if it is any good or not though as they have to go investigate this shit which leads them to good ole murdering Mikey Myers. Next time we see them the sandwich enthusiast's throat is slashed and the other cop, the sad one who lives off of trash and homemade brownies, his decapitated head is in the other guy's hands and all his shit is hollowed out and he has a flashlight shoved up his neck hole, making it look like he is a human jack-o-lantern. It's pretty sweet but would have taken so fucking long to execute. 

There is another group of dope kills early in the movie that is fucking sweet and ends up being, IMO the best scene of the movie. That scene comes not long after Myers escapes and gets his mask. It is early evening and trick-or-treaters are out in the town. It is about the only time we really get a sense of Haddonfield, when Myers is out there stalking the neighborhood. Again, he is a dude here, just some nut who kills. Never is that more apparent than in this scene where he is walking down the street and these kids bump into him, like the ones from the original that we learn did peyote with The Wiz back in high school. That sort of kicks it off. Its the long tracking shot where he goes from being out on the prowl to committing a bunch of silent rage kills that call back to the first two flicks. It was the one we get almost in its entirety in the second trailer. It is intense and cray. Hear a baby cry and you are sure Michael is going to kill it. The whole thing is nuts and it never gets better than that.

So... Who's the MVP of this film? Really tough decision between The Shape and JLC. Judy Greer would have definitely been in contention here but I feel she is underutilized. The ending though was super solid for her though when she acts all scared, saying"Mom, I can't do it," and cries and acts all weak and stuff even though she has been trained like John Conner from Terminator, I was sort of angry here thinking this was fucking dumb when Myers pops out and she is all, "Gotcha" and shoots him. It was an "oh shit" moment for sure. That shit was cool. The actor playing The Shape, one James Jude Courtney, whose acting credits include Biker #2, Man in Bar, Mafia Goon, Huge Goon, Thug, so forth, hasn't done shit since 2002. Not a fucking thing. Fucking nails it. I'd put him at third best among the various actors that put on the mask. Dick Warlock, not touching that performance from Halloween II, he basically defined the movements for the rest of the films. Nick Castle, the original, also can't fuck with that. To quote Sidney Prescott in Scream 4, this is from before I had a best quote section or this would have been it, "Don't fuck with the original." BTW, all that Nick Castle returning to the role of The Shape was fucking horseshit. One fucking scene was Castle on camera. When Laurie sees Myers in the mirror and takes a shot at him. That is it. Yeah, a who gives a fuck, bullshit second and a half of footage. Anyway, mostly basing Courtney's performance on a couple of scenes. The best scene of the movie where he is pretty much moving like a shark: deliberate, focused, with efficiency. Then the scene at the end when he gets shot and falls down the stairs. When he pops up. That shit was dope.

But ultimately, gotta give it to JLC. Overall she does a good job of selling her character as a bad ass that is severally traumatized. Most apparent when she goes to Smiths Grove to kill Myers when he is being transferred but doesn't and then goes to her granddaughter's National Honor's Society or whatever dinner that she isn't entirely welcome at. This dinner is nuts. She immediately grabs her daughter's wine glass, her daughter really didn't want her there, chugs it, and then freaks out which ultimately leads her to breaking down in tears and almost walking into traffic. In the ending she really shines as well where she actually goes on the offensive and hunts Myers throughout the house. There is a pretty cool scene, much like one in The Prowler and also Tourist Trap, where there are these manakins all over the place. She uses them as target practice in her backyard (there is an awful, stupid scene when Allyson is making her way there when and she sees all this and just screams in terror even though she probably knows they are there and that shit isn't scary anyway). You think Myers is hiding amongst them. This is indeed what happens but it is a pretty effective scare nonetheless, IMO. BTW, this whole ending, which we are getting into, is pretty polarizing. Laurie lives alone in the woods and has converted her basement into this bunker with an arsenal of weapons. To enter you have move this motorized island in the kitchen. Eventually Myers rips that shit off its tracks or whatever. That is when you get Greer's character shooting him and him falling down the stairs. He does pop up, as mentioned, and Laurie is there to help her daughter and granddaughter escape. But Michael grabs onto one of them. At that point Allyson stabs Myers in the hand with a butcher's knife which causes him to let go. Here Laurie hits some button and these spikes bars block the exit in the floor. It wasn't a hideout, as Akbar would say, "it's a trap", and they pump flammable gas down there and light that shit on fire. The floor is wood meaning they probably wouldn't be able to watch it burn and get out alive, which they do, "happy Halloween, Michael." The end. But we don't see Myers die and during the closing credits we hear him breathing. So they kill him but might be more. Of course there will be. That shit is already confirmed, son. But yeah. This was no Halloween. Probably no Hallow

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