Thursday, October 25, 2012

Middle Aged Angst That Is Laurie Strode: Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998)

Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998)
Rating: *1/2
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnett and Adam Arkin

So, this was Michael Myer's own comeback for the 90s? Really? Why are every one of his comebacks so underwhelming?

Now, don't get me wrong, I remember liking this as a five year old kid back one Halloween night when my dad brought home a copy. I know it's the same movie cuz I recall the oh so shocking "beheading" of Michael Myers. But as a true test of time, I decided to rewatch this again two years ago, and again today as of writing, and honestly, I wondered if my dad just fast-forwarded the whole movie to the good bits cuz there are so many uninteresting fillers here. So. Many. Uninteresting. Fillers.

After finding her home ransacked, Marion Chambers, a colleague of Dr. Loomis seen in the first two Halloween movies, informed her neighbors of the robbery where in they called the police to drop by later and investigate. But whilst waiting, Marion finds some of her files on Laurie Strode, the survivor of the original Halloween massacre, missing and that she's not entirely alone in the house. Rushing to her neighbors for help again, she finds them murdered and that the killer's none other than Michael Myers. After a brief chase and a near close call on flagging down the police, Michael gets to her eventually, slits her throat and leaves right before the cops could get in.

We later find out that Laurie faked her death and changed her name to Keri Tate. She's now the headmistress of a private boarding school in Northern California and life's anything but roses for Laurie/Keri as the events of 20 years ago still haunt her, taking a hobble to her parental capabilities as a mother of a teenage son and as a girlfriend to her lover.

Now that Halloween is fast approaching, it's the holiday closings for the school and Laurie's son and his friends decided to hold a private party in the School's basement. Unknown to them, using the files he stole, Michael found his way to his little sister and soon, the Halloween night years ago will repeat itself once again...

As far as I'm concerned, I'm not gonna blame the producers on doing an entirely different approach; the movie is less of a slasher flick as it is more of a character study around the first two thirds, focusing on Laurie's turmoil from the night her brother came home. I'm guessing the filmmakers wanted a sequel, or an alternate timeline, that will cater for both old school Halloween fans and the new generation wave of slasher fans, courtesy of Wes Craven's Scream. Unfortunately for me, this means slow burning the story on Laurie only to feature Michael in the last act in his honest-to-God slasher-y goodness.

Not the best approach since it means giving less screen time for the rest of the casts, including the boogeyman who started it all, thus overdoing the drama that is Laurie and Michael's odd family matters, tying itself too much from the original and overdo the details to the point that it is kinda annoying. The mother-son conflict is also a tired run as I saw this act too many times, with the one tackled here hardly making any dent to the sub-plot.  There is also a stab at alcoholism to give Laurie some depth, but, um, when was the last time that wasn't done, too?

What I can highlight from the movie, however, is how it managed to flow quite nicely around the last act; sullen the plot may be, even an unsatisfied fan such a myself can't deny on how good the climax is with its surprisingly shocking finale that divides fans on whether accepting this or not. Personally, I hate to see Halloween end with a movie as dull as this but yes, this should have been how it all ended. (Seriously, why has it nobody ever thought of just cutting off Michael's head instead of shooting him repeatedly? Isn't his very existence right now already a proof that he can survive bullets? As invincible as he is, why not cut off his head then?) Then there's the Tim Burton-esque variation of the theme that I learned to enjoy through its haunting tune and a cameo of Ms. Curtis own mum Janet Leigh!

Scream may had added a new sense of wit to the slasher genre of the 90s, but that ain't no excuse to jump into a fray and do every trope religiously. Halloween was a slasher movie, from head to toe. H20? It's only a third of a slasher flick and more in common to any MTV teen angst series, only with a middle aged mum in place of a bratty teen girl. I love Jamie Lee Curtis, she's a wonderful actress (despite not embracing her horror flicks pre-Hollywood life, which is bad juju if you ask me. You don't bite the hand that fed you, Ms. Curtis...), but not even her performance was enough to save this rather overcooked mess of a meal.

Halloween fans may clamor, but I'm sticking elsewhere in this franchise. Least it's better than that lame "middle child" Halloween 5: Revenge of Michael Myers...

1 male found with an ice skate sliced through his face
1 male found with throat cut
1 female had her throat cut with knife
1 male found with throat cut via corkscrew
1 female had her legs crushed by dumbwaiter, knifed
1 male knifed at the back
1 male decapitated with axe
Total: 7


  1. I remember seeing it in the theater and it almost blew me away. 1 year later, my mom bought the VHS as a birthday present for me. Seen it countless times and loved the hell out of it. I'm one of the few who thinks that this is the best Halloween-sequel. Just my two cents :-)

    1. ...okay, now I feel outnumbered...guess I see that one coming, eh? XD

    2. Looks like everyone loves it - except you :D

  2. I think it's third best in the series, myself. 1,2,7. That's my order of quality. I had some almost experience with the making of this one - as it was shot in California between seasons 1 and 2 of Dawson's Creek. One of our directors was Steve Miner - and Steve Miner directed the presentation pilot for Dawson's Creek, which was created by Kevin Williamson and going on during the shooting of the movie Virus here, starring Jamie Lee Curtis. So, she met Steve Miner, and Kevin Williamson, and she went back to the Halloween producers and said she wanted Miner to direct H20 and Williamson to take a pass at the script, which he did (uncredited). Then Steve Miner hired Michelle Williams - and they took her stand-in from here to be her stand-in there - she's also an extra schoolgirl in a scene near the beginning...

    And then I got to hear all of Michelle's stories about working on it when she got back here for Dawson's season 2...

    1. well, the production of the film does look fluid, I'll give the film that. The movie really did got some good names...and by that I meant Steve Miner! A Friday the 13th guy! Now that's slasher quality! but really, what's with all the talking? I want stalkings! Not Yakkings!

  3. I like it but I don't love it and was flabbergasted that Total Film gave it 5 out of 5.
    What it REALLY needs is just one extra scene of a couple of sexed-up teens getting slashed up before the rest of 'action' begins.
    4th best Halloween for me (after 1, 4 and *gasp* 6)

    1. hey, just in case you hadn't noticed, I gave Curse of Michael Myers 4/5, too! now THAT was Halloween!