Franchise with Me: HALLOWEEN w/ Michael Palladino

Welcome to my first recurring segment on margetismoviereviews.com, Franchise With Me, where me and a lucky buddy watch a movie franchise together, then assess its value based on overall quality, cultural significance and how entertaining it is.

Joining me for this is Phoenix comedian, free-lance writer, avid 80s horror fan and the man who sleeps 24 feet away from me, Michael Palladino. In this back and forth, the BLUE text you see belongs to me (Michael Margetis) while the RED text you see belongs to Michael Palladino.

To kick things off, we’re tackling the Halloween franchise. The stunted little brother of the Elm Street and Friday the 13th franchises. While it almost unquestionably has the best starter film of all three franchises, shit gets a little wonky along the way with 12 individual films if you count both the theatrical and producer’s cut of Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers, which we do. That’s 184 minutes of our lives we’re not getting back. Let’s start with John Carpenter’s original:

Halloween

directed by: John Carpenter ; screenplay by: John Carpenter, Debra Hill.

starring: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Charles Cyphers, Nick Castle, Nancy Loomis, P.J. Soles, Nancy Stephens.

runtime: 91 minutes

release date: October 25, 1978

other horror films released that year: Someone’s Watching Me!. Dawn of the Dead, Jaws 2, Damien: Omen II

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Palladino

The definitive slasher movie can’t even be called a slasher a movie in good conscience. That’s because John Carpenter’s ultra stripped-down thriller is more an exercise in suspense than an orgy of blood splatter. In fact, I don’t think there’s a single drop of blood in the entire film and while that might piss off young, dumb, CGI-saturated horror fanatics, it works entirely to Halloween‘s benefit.

Besides being a great exercise in suspense there’s so many other things Halloween does right. The three babysitter characters aren’t the most three dimensional horror characters ever, but they’re more lived in than 90% of horror movie characters. Especially Nancy, the Sheriff’s daughter, who has perfect comedic timing. The writing is simple but never overreaching and even becomes quite poignant in Dr. Loomis’ Michael Myers monologue, owing no small part to the nomination-worthy performance of Donald Pleasence. My only gripe would be maybe it takes too much time to get to the action. Some scenes here and there, especially at Smith’s Grove, seem like they could have been cut for time. These are the only scenes that don’t feel like Michael is observing them happen from a distance. Speaking of Michael, Michael, what did you think?

I don’t know if you could even call it a “slasher film,” since this film kind of predates that term. It’s got more of a Hitchcock vibe, in my opinion. The movie takes its time and doesn’t rely on the jump-scares and outlandish kills that you see in the sequels.

When you really start to get into the franchise, you find yourself becoming more and more appreciative of this one. I’m a huge fan of seeing what artists can do with limited resources. And Carpenter doesn’t disappoint here. He’s one of my favorite filmmakers because he knows how to do a lot with a little. As the sequels pile up, the whole franchise starts to look like a Sega Genesis in 1995, just a mess of cords and add-on devices that take up space and have unclear purposes. The original film has a fresh-out-the-box feel, and unless you’re helping a friend with his movie review website, I recommend stopping here.

Oh nice, I had a Sega Genesis as a child, Altered Beast rocked my shit. POWER-UP! Let’s move onto the first sequel…

Halloween II

directed by: Rick Rosenthal ; screenplay by: John Carpenter, Debra Hill.

starring: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Charles Cyphers, Dick Warlock, Lance Guest, Dana Carvey!?, Nancy Stephens.

runtime: 92 minutes

release date: October 30, 1981

other horror films released that year: Friday the 13th Part II, The Evil Dead, The Howling, American Werewolf in London, Scanners, My Bloody Valentine

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Palladino

We’ve now entered the first phase of the Hollywood meddling that this franchise is known for. This film didn’t necessarily need to exist, but a sequel was an inevitably, whether we like it or not.

The story of Laurie and Michael continues at the hospital, and it kicks off with the classic horror trope of the thought-to-be-dead villain who was shot, stabbed and burned in the previous film suddenly springing to life in the back of an ambulance before strangling the paramedics, usually after one of the unlucky first responders says something like “he doesn’t look so scary now, does he?” or “man, this guy sure is ugly.” (Actually, did that happen in this one? I’m still disoriented after watching all twelve of these damn things.)

We also discover that Laurie and Michael are brother and sister for some reason.

So did I like it? Kind of. I can totally identify with anyone who’s had a rough night in the hospital. The final scene with a blinded, frustrated Michael trying his level best to stab Laurie and Dr. Loomis to death once and for all is a great scene, in my opinion. But again, we’re wandering deeper and deeper into the cliche elements of 1980’s American horror films. The best example of this is the drowning/scalding/stabbing of a nurse and paramedic who wanted nothing more to fuck in a physical therapy hot tub. That was very rude of Michael and I wish he was a little more sex positive. He has a bigger problem with young people fucking than my high school drama teacher who would often launch himself into a speech about the virtues of abstinence at the drop of a goddamn hat. (If you’re reading this, Mr. Zimmerman, I hope you spent the past twenty years learning how to loosen up and mind your own business.)

This is the series pivoting hard into Friday the 13th/Jason Voorhees territory. From the extravagant and sometimes nonsensical (scalpel lift?) deaths, to the quite literally explosive ending (which you’re right Michael, is great), this is ultimately a real lazy way to continue what the original established. Michael Myers is about stealth, he isn’t about FUBAR’ing people. Motherfucker is a cat, a big white cat. Also, there’s a lot of sex going on in this hospital. I doubt that’s realistic, especially two nurses fucking on medical equipment. I hope that still isn’t going on with Covid-19.

I really don’t like this sequel because it set the tone for everything catastrophic that followed it. I think there is such a disparity of quality between the original and this one that they don’t even feel like the same series. The brother/sister plot seems like a desperate way to force it all make sense, but the entire point of the original was that it didn’t make sense. The original is scary because this thing just exists and we don’t know why, but we do know it will fucking kill the shit out of us. The more we learn, the less scary it becomes. Obviously when you make a franchise you undoubtedly have to explain all this shit to keep the series moving, which is a a reason why most franchises (ESPECIALLY horror) get worse as you go.

The original Halloween is a lean, mean genre exercise that cares infinitely more about technique than characters or world-building. For a 91 minute movie, that’s fine by me, but the second one seems to build on a mythology that was never really there at all. And everything Halloween II adds seems hacky and borrowed from something better. This is still an entertaining movie but I hate it more than I should and will make me rank objectively inferior sequels above it (namely 4) because it takes a great monster and makes him super generic and by doing so, cheapens the worth of the original.

P.S. – I think you’re right, Michael. Someone in the ambulance body shames Michael into action. Maybe Halloween II is more relevant than we think.

Up next, the most controversial sequel in the franchise, and for my money, the best.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch

directed by: Tommy Lee Wallace ; screenplay by: Tommy Lee Wallace

starring: Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dan O’Herlihy.

runtime: 98 minutes

release date: October 22, 1982

other horror films released that year: Friday the 13th Part III, Poltergeist, The Thing, Creepshow, Basket Case, Slumber Party Massacre.

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Palladino

I make no apologies for loving this movie, because I love it for knowing what it is. It’s not high art, it’s not logical in the slightest and it’s not even really a Halloween sequel, not really. It’s a fun, dumb, somewhat creative and technically very well polished campy horror movie and it’s unfairly maligned by fans. They feel that it has no business existing because it doesn’t feature the Michael Myers stalk, kill, rinse and repeat, but I’d argue this is the only sequel that is justified in existing because it explores something entirely new. It explores both a dumb alternative story from a narrative standpoint, but it also explores new themes that are ultimately more in keeping with Carpenter’s anti-fascist sentiments.

An evil toy company tries to murder American children on Halloween because the toy company owner is an evil Irish wizard who resent American children because he didn’t have shit growing up in Ireland? That’s Carpenter commenting on our insatiable greed in the face of having everything. The stolen piece of Stonehenge used to magically power the machine that activates the masks to explode on kids’ heads? I have no idea what the fuck that was about or supposed to represent, and like I said, this movie is far from perfect but it’s a better standalone movie than any other sequel on this list.

Tom Atkins ass? A+.

I have no opinion one way or the other regarding Tom Atkins’ ass. But I will say that it was nice to see Lethal Weapon‘s Michael Hunsacker carry a movie fairly well.

This movie has earned an unfair amount of disrespect since the moment it hit theaters, through absolutely no fault of its own. If this were the second entry in a Halloween-themed anthology series, as was the original plan for the franchise, it would have gotten a little more respect. If it were simply Season of the Witch, a stand-alone horror movie completely separate from the series, people wouldn’t shit on it like they do. But instead, it’s wedged into the series like a knife that’s too big for the knife block, a dangerous eyesore that we’re asked to accept, if not ignore.

Once you get past the whole all that convoluted business, you’re left with a horror movie with a very original concept. To my knowledge, there’s never been another movie in which Pagan ultra-capitalists use pieces of Stonehenge to make microchips that can turn kids heads into a rotting pumpkins full of snakes.

It was actually based on a QAnon short story about Joe Biden, Michael.

Moving onto the sequel that officially turned this into a seemingly endless franchise, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers...

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

directed by: Dwight H. Little ; screenplay by: Alan B. McElroy

starring: Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Beau Starr, Sasha Jensen, George P. Wilbur.

runtime: 88 minutes

release date: October 21, 1988

other horror films released that year: A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, Child’s Play, Beetlejuice, They Live, Dead Ringers, Night of the Demons, Phantasm II.

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Palladino

Guess who’s back? You already know, fam. And speaking of “fam,” Michael Myers is now a devoted uncle. And by “devoted,” I mean he’s decided to kill his niece and won’t let anyone stand in his way, be they horny teenagers or an aging Donald Pleasance.

Again, I didn’t hate Halloween III, but I was glad to see Michael Myers get back in the mix. Not a terrible sequel at all, but it does have its faults. For instance, Dr. Loomis’ little soliloquies about his most famous patient start to contort into a running gag that goes on too long. Anytime a character in the film says the words “monster” or “evil,” he launches into his bullshit. You could mention Cookie Monster within earshot of him and he’ll stop everything to butt in and say something like “You call that a monster? I’ve seen a true monster. One that feeds off terror, not cookies. You have no idea what evil truly is.” He sounds like a Midwestern grandfather spending Christmas with family in Arizona and reminding them that he is the foremost authority on what constitutes “real” cold weather.

I will say that Danielle Harris gives one of the better performances I’ve ever seen from a kid actor in a horror film. I’ll go so far as to say she gave a better performance than Corey Feldman in Friday the 13th Part IV. (The worst horror film performance from a child is of course Andy from Child’s Play, as we all know.)

My favorite sequel as a child, mostly because the most amount of ADVENTURE! that happens in this one. We get Michael chasing someone on a roof, Michael involved in a high speed car chase, Michael getting blown to smithereens by Proud Boys with assault rifles. Also, because the protagonist was someone my own age at the time, I instantly related to her more than Jamie Lee Curtis or Tom Atkins’ ass. Jamie Lloyd starts out as a wuss but proves herself to be a strong-willed, bad-ass 8? 9? 12? year old and she’s played terrifically by Danielle Harris. The actress who plays her foster sister, Ellie Cornell, is also fantastic, as is Dazed & Confused‘s Sasha Jensen and really just about everyone. While Halloween 4 has one of the strongest ensemble casts of the series, that’s kind of where the pros stops for me.

I hate how this one really solidifies Michael as this unstoppable killing machine more akin to Jason Voorhees than his own, stealthy, quiet self. I see why they did that, that’s what every other slasher movie does because it’s easier to think of creative or ironic ways to kill teenagers than it is to generate honest to goodness suspense. Halloween 4 thinks we won’t notice by adding a bunch of explosions (and that fantastic Power line guy death!!) but really it’s just putting newspaper over a puddle of spilled milk. Sooner or later, it’s gonna get stinky. Which reminds me Michael, I had a yogurt-related accident in the kitchen I need to get to….

P.S. – Michael has the stupidest mask of the entire franchise in this one.

Coming up next is the sequel made less than a year after this one, and believe me, it shows – Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

directed by: Dominique Othenin-Girard ; screenplay by: Michael Jacobs, Dominique Othenin-Girard, Shem Bitterman.

starring: Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Beau Starr, Wendy Kaplan, Jonathon Landman, Don Shanks.

runtime: 96 minutes

release date: October 13, 1989

other horror films released that year: A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Pet Semetary, Society, Puppet Master, Parents.

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Palladino

God, I hate this movie so much it makes my blood boil. This is the one that first introduced that awful Michael Myers is an employee of the Illuminati plot, chosen at birth to kill babysitters on command and to host toddler sex parties with the Clintons. Of course, Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers would go on to take that to weird and anything but compelling places, but Halloween 5 planted the seed. However, this isn’t the reason I hate this shit-smeared monkey diaper, the real reason I hate this shit-smeared monkey diaper is because it has the goddamn audacity to thinks it is something it’s not – an art film. This is the one where Michael Myers takes off his mask to cry and we see a single tear roll down his face, this is the one where Jamie is psychic for some reason, this is the one where we kill off a genuinely interesting character from the previous installment ten minutes in, just to replace her with the most annoying final girl of the franchise. This is also one where Dr. Loomis acts like a fucking nutcase for no apparent reason (in one scene he’s holding up little twelve year old Jamie as bait to an angry Michael). Also when the “comic relief” cops arrive, they have their own Cirque de Soleil clown music. All this might sound interesting, but it’s actioned so poorly and without thought, that somewhere, deep in depths of wherever, Ingmar Bergman is gnashing his teeth into a chalky paste, in pure disgust.

Just watch the behind the scenes featurette included on the Shout Factory! blu-ray where actors unethusiastically tell the camera “Get ready, it’s the best one yet” as if franchise producer Moustapha Akkad has a gun pointed to their head. This is when a director on too much cocaine or just delusions of grandeur, kids himself into thinking this is anything other than a cheap thrill cash grab at this point and that he, of all people, possesses the skills and the technical prowess to make it actual cinema. What a fucking loser.

In Friday the 13th: Part V’s final scene, we find that protagonist Tommy Jarvis may very well be the new Jason. Then Part VI comes along and the first five minutes ask us to forget all about that. Halloween 5 does this in its own bullshit way, by taking the twist ending from the previous film and sweeping it aside. Yes, little Danielle Harris stabbed a family member while wearing a clown costume, just like her uncle did in 1963. Logic dictates that this would be the first step into making Jamie the new Michael, but logic isn’t really a major player in these movies. So instead, we get a slow, muddled walk through the same old premise. It’s a paint-by-numbers take on Halloween, which is a shame when you remember that the original was the one that put the numbers down in the first place.

Also, I just saw that the VHS cover says “Michael Myers is FINALLY UNMASKED!” I’d like to point out that Michael’s mask was removed in the first one and his big dumb face is totally old news at this point.

Yeah it’s like if you don’t want to take the risk of doing Danielle Harris as Michael Myers, Jr. then why take the even bigger risk of shoehorning in the whole Michael Myers Illuminati Cult subplot?

That “shocking” (but really just nonsensical) ending led to an even zanier sequel six years later, Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers, which we had to watch two different versions of, hahahahaha….

Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers

(Producer’s Cut vs. Theatrical Cut)

directed by: Joe Chappelle ; screenplay by: Daniel Farrands

starring: Donald Pleasence, Paul Rudd, Marianne Hagen, Mitchell Ryan.

runtime: 88 minutes (theatrical) ; 96 minutes (producer’s cut)

release date: September 29, 1995 (theatrical) ; October 27, 2013 (producer’s cut)

other horror films released this year: Se7en, Tales from the Hood, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 4: The Next Generation, Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh, Leprechaun 3, Village of the Damned, Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight, Castle Freak, Species, The Prophecy.

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Palladino

We’ll start with the film’s only saving grace, which is, of course, Paul Rudd. If I’m not mistaken, this was his first film, and it’s glaringly apparent that he knows what a piece of shit he’s in. He has fun with it, and if he looked at the camera and rolled his eyes at some point, it wouldn’t feel out of place in the least.

If you must make a sixth sequel to Halloween, I guess the only way to go is the route they took. Make Michael Myers the golden idol of a murderous cult and finally give him some supportive friends. But they didn’t have to give Michael a son. And they certainly didn’t have to make his niece the mother of that son. And they certainly didn’t have to show her getting tied down and raped by Michael in a satanic ceremony. And then on top of all that, Jamie gets killed by Michael in a way that completely disrespects the fact that he spent the last two movies chasing her down with their psychic link. You can’t just throw a character like that away so easily. I wish I could say this is the last time the franchise makes this grave error, but it’s not. More on that one later.

And yes, there are two versions of this film that are verrrry different from one another. The Producer’s Cut is for sure the bigger wreck here. It’s pacing and focus come from a whole other angle, and this cut’s goal seems to be to explore the Official Michael Myers Fan Club and it’s Ancient Aliens take on the man, asking us to believe that Michael isn’t so much a being as he is a conceptual phenomena that comes around every year and kills teenagers who trip down staircases. The Theatrical Cut, however, does away with a lot of this horseshit and just gives us a straight ahead 90’s slasher. This makes it the better version, but it’s still just as redundant and unnecessary as it’s cousin.

I agree with you, the choice between the Producer’s Cut and the Theatrical Version is like choice between being stabbed or drowned, but I too have to give the edge to the Theatrical Version, if only because the pacing is better. Producer’s Cut has way more ideas, but the ideas are a mishmash of hot garbage that any idiot could have come up with. The Jamie Lloyd incest/rape storyline is bizarre and super mean-spirited given that this is the protagonist of our last two films, very much the best part of those last two films, and she’s treated like this? At least she’s played by a different actress, seeing Danielle Harris in this role might have made me cry. 

The kills in this one are actually more creative and entertaining than what most of the other non-Rob Zombie sequels, including a hilarious scene where this asshole abusive father gets electrocuted to death in the laundry room. The performances here are some of the weakest of the entire series, with Donald Pleasence delivering his single worst performance in the franchise. Only then-newcomer Paul Rudd is interesting to watch. He’s terrible but one certainly gets the feeling he’s playing it up because he knows how shitty the material is. 

Ah shucks, looks like it’s time to talk about one of my favorite sequels in the franchise, Halloween H20…

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

directed by: Steve Miner ; screenplay by: Robert Zappia, Kevin Williamson, Daniel Farrands

starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Michelle Williams, Josh Hartnett, Joseph Gordon Levitt, LL Cool J, Adam Arkin, Adam Hann-Byrd, Jodi Lynn O’Keefe, Janet Leigh, Chris Durand.

runtime: 86 minutes (shortest entry)

release date: August 5, 1998

other horror films released this year: The Faculty, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legend, Bride of Chucky, John Carpenter’s Vampires, Blade, Children of the Corn V, Disturbing Behavior, Psycho Remake, Phantoms, Species II, Phantasm IV, The X-Files Movie.

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Palladino

I’m probably the biggest Halloween H20 defender I know. I can’t help it I just really, really enjoy this movie. First of all, it’s not a great movie, but it’s a decent one and compared to lion’s share of the awful sequels in this franchise, it’s easily one of the best. 75% of this is due to the delightful Jamie Lee Curtis who gives us a fairly realistic portrait of a middle aged white woman handling trauma. I think it’s a much more accurate portrait of what Laurie Strode would be like after those horrible attacks than as David Gordon Green and Danny McBride present her in the 2018 remake. Laurie is successful because she distracts herself with work and she’s clever enough to climb the political ladder to become the dean of a swanky-ass boarding school. It makes sense she’s a teacher because she’s a natural born protector, it’s in her nature, and the reason she always (not always — see Resurrection) survives Michael.

I love her arc of sheltering herself but then realizing this is never going to stop unless she kills this motherfucker. That moment when she shatters the boarding school gate code box with a rock, locking Michael Myers into their little death match arena, is so badass and the first indisputably feminist moment of the franchise. She’s like, “Fuck you, you big, mute idiot! I birthed a human, I rose to the top of this prestigious boarding school, you don’t have shit on me!” And that ending where she chops his head off — HELL YES. This is the first sequel to focus on a final girl over Michael Myers, and it’s about goddamn time. Fuck this deranged, CLEARLY misogynist incel doofus who can’t even get his little boy dick hard. Speaking of someone who is none of these things, Michael, tell me why you felt compelled to declare “it sucks!” after the credits started to roll. Also tell us why you never have a problem getting your little boy dick hard.

Because it sucked, that’s why. It’s certainly not the worst in the series, and I will say that the final showdown between Laurie and Michael was done pretty well. (Although the first few minutes of Resurrection completely fucks that up in the most bullshit way possible.)

I know it’s foolish of me to want to find logic in these films, but I couldn’t get over the fact that if you completely disregard parts 3 through 6, as this movie asks you to do, then that would mean that Michael Myers spent the past twenty years doing fuck-knows-what. He wasn’t locked up in an institution or anything, all we know i sthat he survived the fire in part 2 and then he re-emerged in 1998. What the fuck was he doing for the past two decades? Living in the woods? Leading a double life and raising a family? Sitting in a chair in a white room facing the wall? Explain to me how Michael Myers, a murderous invalid who has been in institutional care since age six, was able to take care of himself from ages 21 to 41 without anyone cutting his spaghetti for him or keeping his knives on the high-shelf. You can’t.

I mean if you go down that route, how does it make any sense he’d survive six bullet wounds to the chest, a knitting needle to eye, two gunshots to the eyes and a fire that indisputably incinerated him and Dr. Loomis beyond recognition? How does it make any sense he’d learn how to drive and pump gas and go by so undetected by everyone? This entire franchise (even the original) is built on irrational fears, Maybe it’s the collective irrational fears of the American Public, of this external boogeyman that will come to their house, kill them, rape their families, ect? Doesn’t it sound like Michael Myers represents white surburbia’s fear of the inner city or of minorities? Or since it’s actually the Myers’ son, maybe it represents white surburbia’s ultimate fear that they are no different than those they see as the animals undeserving of healthcare and drug rehabilitation programs? Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, I dunno.

But for me, horror films and logic go together like water and oil. Horror films are all about mood, atmosphere and thrills ranging from cheap surface level shit (pretty much every entry in this series minus the original) to deep-rooted psychological shit (see shit like It Follows, Hereditary, ect.) That’s why I have no problem with the lack of logic in this, he’s just this external force that represents Laurie’s trauma and she has to get her shit together and overcome it. I think this entry undoubtedly has deeper characters (even if they’re still shallow as fuck) and more to get excited about. FYI, last time I saw this me and my mom were flying on Percocet.

I refuse to let this pile of shit tear a rift in our friendship, so let’s move on to something we both agree is garbage…

Halloween: Resurrection

directed by: Rick Rosenthal ; screenplay by: Larry Brand and Sean Hood

starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Busta Rhymes, Tyra Banks, Bianca Kajich, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Ryan Merriman, Katee Sackhoff, Sean Patrick Thomas, Luke Kirby, Daisy McCrackin, Brad Loree.

runtime: 90 minutes

release date: July 12, 2002

other horror films released that year: Jason X, Signs, Queen of the Damned, Ju-on: The Grudge, The Ring, Fear Dot Com, Red Dragon, Resident Evil, Blade II.

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Palladino

Holy shit, this movie fucking blows.

My list of grievances with this film piled up faster than the kill count of any previous Halloween movie. First off, after all these years, Michael kills Laurie in the first ten minutes of the film. That’s tantamount to laying off a devoted employee after forty long decades. She deserved a better fate than just getting stabbed and thrown off a roof. It’s another example of how this franchise will piss itself over and over again right before our eyes and then act like the room doesn’t reek of urine.

But the disrespect towards Laurie does not stop there. It turns out that the person who can truly knock Michael on his ass isn’t Laurie at all. It’s not even Dr. Loomis. It’s Busta Rhymes. He plays a TV producer who comes up with the bright idea to do a webcast from the old Myers house and pack the place with a squad of Road Rules rejects. This negligent act leads to the death of several people. You would think that this would make the guy a sub-villain, kind of like Max Shreck in Batman Returns or Burke in Aliens. The short-sighted capitalist whose quest for ratings and profit inadvertently aid the real threat. But he’s no villain at all, it seems. In fact, he ends up being the only one in all these movies who has the ability to verbally berate Michael into walking away with his tail between his legs. In the film’s “climax,” he pretty much beats the shit out of the unstoppable killer who we saw take lives with ease since 1978. Cherry on top, he gives a straight-faced and in-earnest monologue at the end in which he condemns those who would use Myers as some kind of sideshow attraction for a quick buck. (Again, the whole premise of the movie hangs on the fact that his character used Myers as a sideshow attraction in order to make a quick buck.)

Fuck this movie and everyone who decided it should exist.

I adore terrible movies, but this is a bridge too far for me. The main problem with Halloween: Resurrection is that it’s no damn fun. No damn fun at all. The body cam footage means most of the kills are distorted and hard to see, and completely devoid of any suspense. The characters are so underdeveloped they don’t even get a chance to be obnoxious, and the performers are all doing piss poor work. Busta Rhymes maybe gives the best performance, what the fuck does that tell you? This is truly one of the laziest pieces of filmmaking I’ve ever seen. That’s it, I’m done writing about this one. It’s not worth my energy.

Up next, after the series took a nose dive into irredeemable shit territory, Rob Zombie stepped in to do something completely different…

The Rob Zombie Remakes

Halloween (2007) & Halloween II (2009)

*NOTE – Director’s Cuts for both films were screened for this entry because those were the titles provided with the Shout Factory! blu-ray set.

directed by: Rob Zombie ; screenplay by: Rob Zombie

starring: Tyler Mane, Sheri Moon Zombie, Malcolm McDowell, Scout Taylor-Compton, Danielle Harris, Brad Dourif, Danny Trejo, Ken Foree, William Forsythe, Bill Moseley, Leslie Easterbrook, Dee Wallace, Udo Kier, Clint Howard, Tom Towles, Lew Temple, Sid Haig, Octavia Spencer?!, Weird Al Yankovic, Margot Kidder, Richard Riehle, Richard Brake, Dayton Callie, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Daniel Roebuck, Brea Grant, Chris Hardwick, Mark Boone Junior.

runtime: H1 – 121 minutes (longest entry) ; H2 – 119 minutes

release date: H1 – August 31, 2007 ; H2 – August 28, 2009

other horror films released 2007-2009: Friday the 13th, Grindhouse, [REC], 28 Weeks Later…, Trick r’ Treat, 30 Days of Night, 1408, Cloverfield, The Strangers, The Ruins, Let the Right One In, Lake Mungo, Jennifer’s Body, House of the Devil, Drag Me to Hell, Last House on the Left, Triangle, Thirst, The Human Centipede, Saw VI, Cropsey, Zombieland.

Rob Zombie can direct the shit out of a movie but the work he does on screenplays usually ranges from barely passable to obnoxiously vile. The scripting of his Halloween reboots are definitely closer to the latter, with every character in the movie be it a 17-year-old girl or an 85-year-old man saying revolting and not clever shit like “You hear the one about the elephant’s diarrhea shit that was smeared all over that nun’s hairy slit?” or whatever, that’s not a direct line, but a prime representation of the kind of the inflammatory, offend EVERYONE net it usually casts. The Devil’s Rejects had a wholly unnecessary scene where two guys graphically talked about the logistics of successfully completing sex with a chicken. While extraneous shit like that exists in The Devil’s Rejects, Rob Zombie’s writing style certainly complements the characters in that movie more than his others. You buy that these low-rent, racist, sexist, rapist, anti-masker, you name it, sociopathic rednecks would speak like that. Halloween on the other hand, is always a tale set in suburban America, and that’s not how they speak…period.

However, besides awful dialogue, a lackluster second half and serious pacing issues (mostly in the second half), Rob Zombie’s Halloween isn’t a terrible remake. It’s not a good movie, let’s get that straight, but what movie in this franchise sans the original and Season of the Witch (maybe H20 as well) really is? Sheri Moon Zombie gives us really good work as does Malcolm McDowell, a criminally underused Brad Dourif and character actor William Forsythe. People genuinely hate the first half of this movie and I don’t understand why. After 8 movies, why do you want the same story over and over and over again? If you want a soulless remake, hire Michael Bay and the company YES men directors that did the Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw and Friday the 13th reboots. Halloween 2007’s soul might be as muddy as an elephant’s diarrhea shit smeared all over a nun’s hairy slit, but you know what? At least it has one.

First of all, you’re being fucking gross. Second of all, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. Not usually a fan of Rob Zombie’s film work, and this one had all the familiar hallmarks that have defined his movies and rubbed me the wrong way. Things such as:

  • Skinny, stringy haired rednecks who shout some variation of “What’s wrong boy, you ain’t never had no pussy before?!”
  • Teenage girls who exclusively and playfully call each other “bitch” and “slut.” Bonus points if they act out wild orgasm moans and pantomime oral sex in front of their parents just to make them uncomfortable.
  • Long, drawn out killings that often cross over to straight up torture. Basically human cats toying with the lives of human mice before they finally swallow them. Not my thing, never has been. So if you’re thinking of asking me to do one of these about the Saw or Hostel films, I’m gonna go ahead and let you know that it’s a hard pass from the get-go.

There’s also a heavy rape scene between two orderlies and one mentally ill female patient. It comes right the fuck outta nowhere and it doesn’t belong in the film at all. I was later informed that this scene was only included in the director’s cut, which makes me wonder why the fuck Zombie felt that this was such a crucial part of the story.

So what did I like about this one? The backstory. By the time we got to Halloween 4, I told you that an HBO series that focuses on a young Michael and Dr. Loomis’ relationship would make for for some good television. There’s so much that can be mined from all that, and it was left on the table for far too long. I’m glad Rob Zombie decided to pick it up.

First of all, I’m being nowhere near as gross as the actual movie. Second of all, yeah I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, that rape scene is pretty offensive because it’s pretty clear it’s just there to justify Michael killing people? Maybe Rob Zombie should spend some time with sexual assault survivors to realize you never trivialize rape in movies. I also think very much the first half is far superior to the second half, however, I think Zombie’s follow-up Halloween II, is superior to this film. So…

Two years later comes Halloween II, perhaps the most divisive entry in the entire franchise, with some critics and fans praising the film as this visually poetic masterpiece while others loathe how disgusting, mean-spirited and messy it is. I find myself somewhere in the middle. I’ve seen this movie probably six or seven times over the past 11 years and my conclusion is that conceptually it is a great sequel but a lot of the execution, especially in terms of character development and dialogue, is among the worst any film has to offer.

Let’s start with the bad — Dr. Loomis’ 180 from a caring psychiatrist to basically a teenage celebrity throwing a temper tantrum makes absolutely no sense. I get Zombie was trying to show what fame does to people, but in order to do that he has to hold onto some shred of reality. The Laurie character is just as awful as she was in the first Zombie Halloween, with Scout Taylor-Compton delivering what could be the single worst final girl performance in horror film history. It’s not even that it’s bad, it’s loud, screechy and obnoxious. Some of the kills here also feel like, well, overkill. There’s just such a mean-spirited and outrageous nature to Michael punch-stabbing his victims, slicing them as well as breaking bones from the power of his impact. The scene where a stripper gets her face bashed into a glass mirror so many times it turns into red play dough seems over the line.

The good? The opening 20 minute dream sequence in the hospital is the best part of the movie. Zombie expertly uses tension here made all the more worrisome with a brilliant use of The Moody Blues’ Knights in White Satin. All the hallucinatory mother stuff with Sheri Moon Zombie and the white horse is stunning and the ending is as perfect an ending as John Carpenter’s 1978 original.

All in all, despite being one of the best sequels of this franchise and certainly the most unique, Halloween II just isn’t a good movie. The cons outweigh the pros and while it is gorgeous to look at, it proves to be completely hollow from a narrative sense. But goddamn is this movie beautiful to look at. Like a rose covered in barbed wire and swollen flesh. Palladino, you had similar thoughts?

After some internal debate, I’ve come to the conclusion that I did, in fact, like this sequel more than its predecessor. Zombie was able to take a bullshit plot point that was thrown into the other Halloween II and give it a whole new layer of depth. This time, Laurie and Michael’s brother-sister thing doesn’t feel merely incidental. It’s tied together with a way-better-than-I-expected performance by Sherri Moon Zombie, who plays the guiding spirit of Laurie and Michael’s mom.

And the final scene, which ended with Laurie, Loomis AND Michael dying simultaneously? And the melodic cover of Nazareth’s “Love Hurts” that plays as Laurie gets “reunited” with everyone? *CHEF’S KISS*

How many eye rolls must there have been when this sequel was announced? All the more reason to give Zombie some major credit here. He took what might seem like another soulless chance for Hollywood to squeeze a few million out of Michael Myers and gave us a pretty compelling story with a definitive ending. What a fucking relief after watching all those meandering stutter-steps that the franchise took time and time again.

But I agree, why Loomis is a total dick in this one makes no sense to me either.

Speaking of dicks, Eastbound & Down‘s David Gordon Green and Danny McBride created this next reboot/sequel, the most recent in the franchise. Look out Michael, Kenny’s cuttin’ innnn….

Halloween 2018

directed by: David Gordon Green ; screenplay by: Danny McBride, David Gordon Green.

starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, James Jude Courtney, Andi Matichak, Judy Greer, Will Patton, Toby Huss, Virginia Gardener.

runtime: 106 minutes

release date: October 19, 2018

other horror films released in 2018: Hereditary, Mandy, High Life, The Nun, Climax, Unsane, Truth or Dare?, Insidious: The Last Key, Leprechaun Returns, Unfriended: Dark Web, The First Purge, Hellraiser: Judgement.

Somewhere out there, there’s an alternate universe in which the only two Halloween films are this one and the original. I imagine a stand-alone version of Season of the Witch also exists in this realm and is considered to be a legitimately not-bad horror film rather than a Hollywood gamble that didn’t pay off in the least. Perhaps this universe’s order and logic extends beyond the Halloween films, complete with an Andrew Yang presidency and Chik-Fil-A locations that are open on Sundays.

That’s not to say that it’s a necessarily great movie. It just seems to be the most faithful to the original. So if you just have to do a sequel to the only one of these damn films that actually mattered, I think this is the best thing you’re gonna get. It has its ups (dead podcasters) and downs, (Laurie spent the past forty years in a fortress preparing for Michael’s return?) but I couldn’t help but like it. Rob Zombie gave us a great reboot, David Gordon Green gave us a great sequel. I don’t care who I piss off with those statements. Least of all you, Margetis.

Yeah, my biggest problem with this one is as good as Jamie Lee Curtis is in it, I just don’t buy this is where Laurie is right now. I thought her Halloween H20 scenario was much more in keeping with who Laurie was in the original. As fun as it is to watch her wail on Michael’s clowning ass like fucking John Rambo, I just don’t buy someone as clever and resourceful as Laurie is established to be in the original not being able to carve out a better situation for herself, even with the unbelievable trauma she deals with every second of every day.

Besides that, so much of this sequel is executed well. The performances are across the board good, the teen dialogue is believable while even being mildly funny, and James Jude Courtney is bar none the best Michael the franchise has ever had. He’s large, imposing and fairly quick, but he never moves like someone younger than his 55-60 year old self. It’s a frightening portrayal and the first one to induce sincere dread since probably the original.

But when David Gordon Green and Danny McBride are like, “Hey! We’re rebooting one of the most revered and timeless horror films ever made…”, one has to be disappointed they didn’t have more in mind than just a very well executed variation on the formula. Say what you want about the Rob Zombie sequels, but at least they attempted to take the franchise in another direction while succeeding half of the time.

Closing Arguments/Final Rankings

This is the weakest horror franchise out of the Big 3, despite having the strongest initial film. It’s not as creative as the Elm Street series and it’s nowhere near as fun as the Friday the 13th series. Series Grade: C

Final Ranking:

  1. Halloween (1978)
  2. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
  3. Halloween H20 (1998)
  4. Halloween II (2009)
  5. Halloween (2018)
  6. Halloween (2007)
  7. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
  8. Halloween II (1981)
  9. Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (Theatrical Cut) (1996)
  10. Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (Producer’s Cut) (2013)
  11. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
  12. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

You will never find a more tangled mess of a franchise. It’s as disjointed and poorly put together as my own writing throughout this article, as I’m sure the comment section will politely point out. Watching all of these movies was at times a harrowing ordeal. But damn if didn’t teach me what’s possible when a compelling character ends up in the right hands or the wrong hands. Stick to the first five I mentioned below and leave with a better overall impression of the franchise than I have right now.

Final Ranking:

  1. Halloween (1978)
  2. Halloween (2018)
  3. Halloween II (2009)
  4. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
  5. Halloween (2007)
  6. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
  7. Halloween II (1981)
  8. Halloween H20 (1998)
  9. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
  10. Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (Theatrical Cut) (1996)
  11. Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (Producer’s Cut) (2013)
  12. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

The Future of the Franchise

David Gordon Green and Danny McBride have turned their reboot/sequel into a threequel, with Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends in theaters October 2021 and 2022, respectively (both pushed back a year due to Covid-19) I’m beyond surprised the boys thought there was more juice in the reboot seeing as though Halloween 2018 didn’t really set up anything big. Who knows, though? Halloween Kills might turn out the Empire Strikes Back of the franchise.

On the Next Franchise With Me

One of my best friends and fellow pizza partner, Michael Paul Kohn, joins me to assess all 7 of the Tremors movies. Apparently, one is set in the 1800s and three have Jamie Kennedy in it. Pray for us.

One thought on “Franchise with Me: HALLOWEEN w/ Michael Palladino

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