6. Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007)
Many may be surprised that this film made it so high up. Rob Zombie’s take on the original film sees the movie split into two sections – the back-story of Michael, and his eventual break-out and murder spree – with Malcolm McDowell taking on Donald Pleasance’s role as Dr. Loomis to track him down.
There are some things that need to be addressed in regards to this film. Notably, as has been outlined before, Zombie can’t direct dialogue, and in this film we have the prime example in a particularly infamous breakfast table scene. Explaining Myers’ rise to evil is also a negative as it takes away the mystery from the little boy who just suddenly snapped one night. This version of Michael might be any other generic slasher villain with a tragic backstory, one out of a Lucio Fulci gore-fest. Laurie isn’t an incredibly likeable survivor girl in this adaptation either, and most would see it as a disrespectful re-imagining of a film that didn’t need to be touched.
That being as it is, the film still shows off Zombie’s incredible ability to capture images, and offers paintings of violence and mayhem that are as beautiful as they are shocking. The murder-spree is relentless, never giving you any time to breathe, and Michael feels as big and powerful as ever; he has bulked up and he’s a merciless machine of destruction. It’s one of the better directed films in the franchise, with a startling ability to shock and disturb, at least if one forgets to compare it to the original film. Rob Zombie’s Halloween is in no way amazing, but it’s certainly one of the better remakes of classic horror films and definitely more powerful than the original string of sequels following Halloween 2.
5. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
The oddball of the franchise, Season of the Witch is an entirely new narrative that follows on from Carpenter’s plan to make each instalment in the franchise completely different, an anthology series, all revolving around Halloween. Here in this film we follow the attempts to stop a toy manufacturer from using child Halloween masks to bring about the return of Samhain, an ancient Celtic Festival, connected to witchcraft.
There’s no Michael Myers, no Laurie Strode, but the violence and intensity is still there. With a dark fantasy feel driving the film, the all-encompassing evil surrounding the story is palpable. The Silver Shamrock commercial is incredibly memorable and the pumpkin-head death is possibly one of the most shocking deaths in all of horror. The scope of the film is much wider, and whereas the Myers arc is very personal and intimate, with one man after one girl, Season of the Witch is much more apocalyptic, having a feel very similar to what Ringu would eventually attempt to capture.
It’s not perfect in any way, and there are some aspects of the scenario that feel very out of place (I’m still not convinced by the androids), but it’s a good, solid film in its own right that can be respected and liked away from the other Halloween films. If you like your horror a little more psychological and haven’t checked this one out because you think it’s a slasher, you’re in for a little bundle of fun.
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4. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
Twenty years after Michael’s attack on Haddonfield in ’78, and disregarding all sequels after Halloween 2, Laurie Strode is convinced that this year, just like every year, Michael Myers will come to finish what he started. This time, she’s right.
It’s important to remember that this was a Halloween film that came in the wake of Scream, also made by Dimension Films, and even in the opening 10 minutes before the titles, you can see its impact. The whole film feels cleaner and tighter. The orchestral arrangements (that I don’t think had been present, or as present, in the scores thus far) add to the scope of the film, and the writing is bordering closer to playful, with more comedy in the film than there had been in previous instalments. It’s a slicker, more polished film, which helps it to stand out from the crowd as something more than a Halloween sequel, but a sequel fully embracing the new school of horror.
All of the acting in this instalment is superb, with Jamie-Lee Curtis returning as a harrowed, post-trauma Laurie in hiding from Michael who she fears is still alive. The final act in the school is well executed and full of scares in all the right places, with a high enough body count to satisfy all the gore-hounds in the audience. It’s simply a well-crafted film, as good a sequel as anyone could hope for, and a much-needed injection of adrenaline back into the franchise.
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