The Best, The Worst, The Shape - A Recap of The Halloween Series
Halloween was not one of the first slasher films that I ever saw, but it was one of the most important slasher films I ever saw; and arguably, the first of it’s kind. John Carpenter’s little indie film has become a legacy of terror that has preyed on the fears of boys and girls since 1978. Michael Myers is one of the few old-school slasher killers that hasn’t been portrayed in a campy or humorous light. The Shape is an almost immortal character in the films, but he is certainly immortal to horror fans everywhere as one of the scariest fucking movie antagonists of all time.
To get into the “holiday” spirit, I’ve compiled a list of the best and worst Halloween films to date, at least according to me. Whether you’re an old fan looking to reminisce over what you thought was the dumbest thing in the series or the scariest goddamned thing you’ve ever seen captured on celluloid or you’re just a newcomer to the series and are looking to weed the truly evil out, you’ve come to the right place.
No.1 Halloween (1978)
The obvious forerunner here is the original film of the series, when we’re first introduced to all of the pivotal characters of the movies. Young babysitter Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is saddled with kiddy obligations on All Hallow’s Eve, while her friends get to have the time of their soon-to-be-short lives. Little do any of them know that violent psychopath Michael Myers has just awoken from his catatonic state and busted out of a sanitarium.
While the blood and gore weren’t over the top (John Carpenter was working on a limited budget of roughly $325,000) and the production value wasn’t high (but it’s just right for the atmosphere of the film), the storytelling was/is amazing. It’s a film that stays with you and it’s one of the first horror films that I can clearly remember as having a true cliffhanger; it set itself up for sequel after sequel, and many films after it followed suit.
More than anything, Halloween gave us the gift of Michael Myers. He’s truly a vision that haunts your dreams. Admittedly, the whole thing gets a little less scary when you take into consideration the fact that Michael Myers’ trademark mask is just a mask of William Shatner’s face painted white… or does it?
No.2 Halloween II (1981)
The next film in the franchise picks up right where the first left off. Doctor Loomis (Donald Pleasence) continues chasing Michael Myers through Haddonfield on Halloween night, while Laurie Strode is sent to a hospital. It’s in this film that we learn a good portion of Laurie and Michael’s origin stories, which manage to be surprisingly twisted.
When the movie came out, it wasn’t a hit with critics like it’s predecessor and contained much more gore than the first film. The movie still went on to be a box office success. It was intended to be the last film in the series revolving around Michael Myers and Haddonfield, but that didn’t quite pan out the way that it should have, resulting in a few lackluster films that we’ll get to shortly. The story in Halloween II is incredibly solid and makes for one of the better horror film sequels to date from any franchise.
No.3 Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998)
This is where the film canon gets a little tricky. As suggested in the title, this film takes place 20 years after the events of the very first movie. Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role as Laurie Strode, who is now living under the name Keri Tate after having faked her death. She has a mostly normal life, complete with a cush job as a headmistress at a private boarding school, an intelligent teenage son, and a safe, normal, pretty-damned-boring boyfriend. Probably a nice change of pace for Laurie Strode, right? That is, until Michael Myers decides to fuck some shit UP.
Like a good deal of horror movies from the late ’90s, this movie gives the franchise a fresh spin on the teenage hormone angle without overdoing it. There’s a lot of excellent suspense in Halloween H2O from the get-go and the rest of it didn’t disappoint. Despite the somewhat obvious (and in this reviewer’s opinion, much needed/appreciatied) retcons, it’s still a worthy addition to the series and somewhat more plausible than oh, New Nightmare. The film’s biggest downfall is the fact that LL Cool J was a cast member, which is almost forgivable since it wasn’t Vanilla Ice… or Busta Rhymes, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
I debated whether or not to include the Rob Zombie film here, but it is still part of the franchise and it certainly brought Halloween back from the dead in a big way. You simply can’t go into this movie with hearing Rob Zombie’s name attached and expect anything less than what you’re getting here. The Halloween reboot is a brutal two-hour rampage that leaves you breathless and wanting more — and feeling guilty about wanting more, at that.
The first half of the film tells of Michael Myers’ childhood in a way that only Rob Zombie could make seem as sad and lonely as it comes across, while also conveying that there is something very fucking wrong with little Mikey. The movie showcases extreme violence, mayhem, blood, and gore, but also prominently features what a kick-ass storyteller Rob Zombie is.
This is one remake that’s sure to touch a younger audience for years to come and leave a lasting impression on most horror fans.
If you’re brave enough to judge The Shape and see him at his worst, you’ll have to click through…
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