HALLOWEEN (7) H2O: Twenty Years Later (1998)
SLASH’S SHITFACED SATURDAY:
Welcome Halloween Heads as we continue the celluloid saga of one Michael Myers, a bad boy who has become a bad man, demonic, possessed, raging even against his supposed masters in the tradition of many of the screen’s most memorable monsters.
Ironically, as we approach our own celebrating of All Hallows Eve in just over three more weeks, I am winding down on the ten films in the HALLOWEEN franchise; didn’t plan it that way, but it is cooler than bat shit on a shingle on a moonlit night that it will come down that way.
One of the early titles for this film was HALLOWEEN 7: THE REVENGE OF LAURIE STRODE. It turns out to be a superb hybrid, but very interesting addition to the Myers canon. Jamie Lee Curtis was talked into doing another of the HALLOWEEN features, & when she accepted, she was under the impression that John Carpenter would direct it; even stipulated that much of the original cast & crew be reunited–but things did not work out that way.
Carpenter actually had agreed to direct this film, but he demanded 10 million bucks to do it, believing that this fee would be some retroactive compensation for all the revenue he felt that he never fully received on the original HALLOWEEN (1978), a bone of bitter contention between Carpenter & producer Akkad even after twenty years had passed. When Moustapha told him that he was out of his fucking mind, old Johnny took a prideful hike & Jamie Lee was locked into a contract already.
Now, the odd thing about this film for me was that it was a direct sequel from HALLOWEEN (1978) & HALLOWEEN II (1981)–as if Michael Myers had not been heard from for the full twenty year interim, as if the events we have tried to digest & accept & understand in HALLOWEEN 4 (1988), HALLOWEEN 5 (1989), & HALLOWEEN 6 (1995) had never occurred, dismissing the RETURN, REVENGE, & CURSE of Michael Myers, with no references to Druids, Thorn, daughter/niece Jamie Lloyd, the Man in Black, or the many adventures of Dr. Samuel Loomis; a clean slate, both a reboot & finale. Jesus, all these horror franchises produce the LAST, FINAL chapters long before the saga concludes. We all know it is filthy lucre that dictates yet another RETURN.
One of the early drafts of the script did have a scene where a student at the posh CA private school gave a report on the Haddonfield Murders, in which there were references to events in HALLOWEEN 5 & 6; wish they would have left that bit in.
HALLOWEEN H2O: 20 Years Later @ 86 minutes
The film was finally directed by Steve Miner, who has helmed 48 film projects since 1981,
including FRIDAY THE 13TH: PART II (1981), FRIDAY THE 13TH: PART III (1982), WARLOCK (1989), FOREVER YOUNG (1992), LAKE PLACID (1999), TEXAS RANGERS (2001), & DAY OF THE DEAD (2008).
TAGLINES: Trick or Treat, Kill or Die–it’s that time of year again!
This summer terror will not be taking a vacation.
Blood is thicker than water.
The opening scenes were shot in Salt Lake City, but the rest of it was filmed in California, in Los Angeles, Silver Lake, & La Peunte. The body count is a slim 7, counting Michael; no dogs or cops this time. The budget was 25 million, & it grossed 73 million.
The cast was powerhouse, even though besides Jamie Lee Curtis, only Nancy Stephens as Dr. Loomis’ old secretary returned from the original cast. But Jamie’s mother, Janet Leigh was in it (her last feature 18 years before had been John Carpenter’s THE FOG),
it was Josh Harnett’s film debut, Michelle Williams was in it as love bait for Josh. She had never seen any of the other HALLOWEEN films when she got hired.
LL Cool J appeared as a school security guard, & he managed to keep his shirt on. Adam Arkin played Jamie’s boyfriend, & Joseph Gordon-Levitt was like 13 years old as one of the early victims. They used a voice actor named Tom Kane, to do the voice of Dr. Sam Loomis, which sounded as lame as my Richard Burton imitation.
Chris Durand became the sixth actor to play Michael Myers. He is mostly a stuntman, having done stunts in 69 films. He is 6’ 2”, & seemed quite convincing as the Shape. He had never seen any of the previous HALLOWEEN films when he accepted the job. Jamie Lee Curtis nicknamed him Shapey on this set. He was a stunt double for the masked killer in SCREAM 2.
The musical score was done by John Ottman, replacing the venerable Alan Howarth. Ottman is equally famous as a composer & a film editor–though he didn’t edit this film. He has scored 49 films since 1993, including THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995), THE CABLE GUY (1996), INCOGNITO (1998), LAKE PLACID (1999), EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS (2002), X-MEN 2 (2003), GOTHIKA (2003), HOUSE OF WAX (2005), SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006), VALKYRIE (2007), & ORPHAN (2009).
The cinematography was done by the remarkable Daryn Okada,
who has lensed 55 films since 1984, including PHANTASM II (1988), CAPTAIN RON (1992), LAKE PLACID (1999), CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE (2003), shooting a lot of American television in that few years.
HALLOWEEN BABE GALLERY
Now we have enjoyed bodacious tit-shots of Jamie Lee Curtis
in three of the former films, with me fudging a bit to add some
to HALLOWEEN III because they used her voice as an operator.
I have just about run out of nude shots of this lady,
but I was smitten as a fan with her shots in TRADING PLACES.
THANKS Jamie Lee for adding quality breasts to slasher horror.
Next up we have the petite & lovely Michelle Williams;
this film being one of her early roles.
She certainly did not shy away from great nude scenes,
& her tit-shots are sterling.
I chose a lot of her shots out of pure lust.
Finishing up with a striptease collage to die for.
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe played Sarah
& she got pretty sliced up by Michael Myers in this one.
The camera loves her face,
& the rest of us enjoy her voluptuousness as well.
She certainly did some nude photo shoots,
but that did not stop the fake shopping shots from showing up with her name on them.
Larisa Miller played Claudia.
Because this film has set aside, or disowned the three movies that came before it, it does not open with clips & asides from them. It opens on October 29, 1998 in Langdon, Illinois (shot in Salt Lake City like HALLOWEEN 5 & 6).
We remeet nurse Marion Chambers, who worked with Dr. Sam Loomis, who had looked after him before he died, & apparently inherited the house from him. (Nancy Stephens played this character in the original film & in HALLOWEEN II (1981). She notices her front door is ajar. This being pre-cell phone days, she rushes next door to the neighbor’s house to call the cops.
Young skateboarder, Jimmy, holding a street hockey stick, offers to check out the house, while his timid pal, Tony, offers to stay outside with Marion. Jimmy steps into the darkness, tries the lights, but, they, of course, do not come on (this electric issue seems to be consistent for Michael Myers, who definitely prefers to fuck around in the dark). He wanders from room to room, but somehow we know Myers is gone. He notices that the den/office has been ransacked, with files & folders all over the floor. In the kitchen he steals a couple of beers, then heads back outside.
He reports that the house is safe to Marion, & the boys slink off to enjoy their liberated beers. Marion goes into the house, gets pissed off that the lights are off–it’s getting dark outside. She finds a flashlight, & checks out the office, finding that the Laurie Strode file is empty. We get a look at the clippings on the walls & bulletin boards, all Michael Myers related, & we get to hear actor Tom Kane do his inane ridiculous imitation of Donald Pleasence talking about how evil Myers is (WTF, why hire some hack to imitate Loomis when all the audio clips from the five movies he appeared in were available? Wonder what the back story on this crap was?).
Marion sees that that the back door is open, gets freaked, runs out of the house, shaking her booty all the way back to the neighbor’s. She knocks, but finds the door unlocked. Inside she finds Jimmy stabbed in the face with an ice skate, & timid Tony with his adolescent throat cut.
She goes to the phone to call the cops again, but the line is dead (of course). Michael Myers appears behind her,
& he cuts her throat, saving her from lung cancer since in all her scenes she was smoking like a bourbon soaked barfly.
While some of this is commencing we watch intercuts of the police squad car arriving, with the two clueless (aren’t they always so in these flicks?) officers going into the Loomis house, finding no one at home. They call it in, & as they are exiting they see a broken window at the neighbor’s house; as they enter with guns drawn (don’t they know that Myers fears no fusillade of lead?) we see Michael exiting the back door carrying the Laurie Strode file, driving off in a 1970 beater Oldsmobile.
Cut to California as Laurie Strode, aka Keri Tate, awakens from yet another Myers nightmare screaming. Her teenage son, John, wakes her.
I notice that she is braless in her night shirt & she is nipping out shamelessly in front of her son. He is getting ready for school, & so is she. We discover that she had faked her death in a car accident in order to be put in the witness protection program, relocating to CA–where now she is head mistress at the posh private school, Hillcrest Academy. John opens a birthday card, lamenting that his birthday was the week before–he is 17; the same age Laurie was when Michael came home in 1978, twenty years prior.
We soon find out that Miss Keri/Laurie is a lush, finding alcohol as a refuge from the persistent fear that somehow, even after two decades, Michael still might show up (no shit).
There is some banter at breakfast about her not being willing to let John go camping with the rest of the student body at Yosemite.
At school we meet his three friends, Molly–his squeeze, along with Sarah & Charlie. Turns out none of them plan to go camping; they want to stay behind & have a party, celebrating with cafeteria chow, wine, beer, & sexual high jinks.
Cut to a CA rest stop along a rural highway (I have to wonder how in hell Michael Myers could drive from Illinois to northern CA–he doesn’t talk, he has no identification, his face is scarred & disfigured from the hospital fire, he has no money or maps, driving along with that fucking white mask on would certainly alarm others or draw the cops–I’m just asking).
An International power wagon stops, a young mother & her little girl rush to the rest room; but they find the women’s room locked, so they scurry giggling over to the men’s room, both getting into stall.
Cut to Myer’s beater green Oldsmobile out in the parking lot.
Inside we see that the woman has dropped her keys when she dropped her jeans. Then they hear a man’s heavy footsteps; the little girl starts whimpering. The man reaches down & picks up her keys, then splits. We watch the smoking International truck driving off, leaving the Olds & the ladies behind (WTF, why didn’t he at least waste the mother?). I sense a low body count for this flick.
Cut back to Hillcrest Academy. Keri/Laurie at a school assembly is warning the students to behave themselves, citing a zero tolerance for sexual encounters, drugs, or alcohol. (Good luck with that as we could hear the teenage hormones raging). In class, before the students board the three buses for the camp out, Molly sees Michael standing in the courtyard–but when she looks again, he is gone; just as Laurie did in high school 20 years before.
Laurie gives in & hands Johnny a permission slip to go camping with the others. He takes it, but also decides to hide out & party with his friends.
We meet Jamie/Keri’s boyfriend, Will, the school social worker. Behind closed doors in her office her grabs her butt & gets a lip-lock on her.
Her prim & proper secretary, Norma, wishes them well, & takes off in her 1957 Ford for the weekend. We know this is Janet Leigh doing a cameo after 18 years of hiatus, & we hear strains of music from PSYHO as she drives off.
OK, the scene is set, right? The three buses depart, let out of the locking gates by Ronny, the black security guard always on the phone trying to explain why he can’t quite finish his novel. Will makes a lunch date with Laurie in town.
John & buddy Charlie talk Ronny into letting them sneak off to town where they can score (shoplift) some alcohol.
Laurie seems agitated, since it is Halloween. She imagines she sees Michael Myers at every turn. She swills wine at lunch like it was lemonade. Of course, she bumps into the boys, & this is an opportunity to ask “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” Johnny is embarrassed by her use of the F-word. He chides her in return for being a lush, for running off his father, for ruining their life with this unhealthy fear of the long-dead Michael Myers.
Cut back to the Academy–it’s Halloween night; let the festivities begin! The four teenagers have set up a party room in the basement, with love seats, banners, pretty lights. Laurie is swilling vodka straight from the bottle, then gargling mouth was to mask it.
Will shows up & they begin to make out.
Charlie heads off to the kitchen to find a cork screw for some of the wine he stole in town. He takes a shortcut using the old fashioned dumb waiter. While fishing around in the utensil drawer, Michael appears & slays him like the punk bitch he is.
Cut to someone banging on Laurie’s residence door, interrupting her intimacy. Ronny reports he heard screaming, & there is some mystery truck parked out front of the gate. Ronny heads off to investigate further. Laurie finds her pistol, & she & Will join in the hunt, with Will walking behind Laurie in the ball-less milk-toast position.
Sarah, tired of waiting for Charlie to return, heads off to find him. Johnny had his tongue down Molly’s throat, & his hand under her sweater, so they do not notice Sarah’s departure.
After wandering around calling for him, reminding him that dinner needed to come before pussytime, she finds Charlie–actor Adam Hann-Bird, who I just realized had played the prodigy son of Jodie Foster in LITTLE MAN TATE (1991), crammed into the dumb waiter, sliced up like cold cuts with the corkscrew sticking out of his neck.
Michael Myers appears; screaming, Sarah crawls into the dumb waiter with deceased Charlie. Myers stabs her in the leg. She descends back down to the basement. We see Michael leaning into the shaft, being frustrated. Then we are asked to believe that just after Sarah crawls out of the dumb waiter, Myers cuts its rope & the dumb waiter lands on her wounded leg, crushing it. (WTF, she was out of the damned thing already, & the jump cut editing was just trey illogical).
Sarah is crawling along the floor with her leg horribly disfigured, when Michael appears (this fucker certainly can find stairwells quickly, & appear in a matter of minutes; a cool feat repeated in every sequel; even the ones we are supposed to fuggetabout). He has a machete sized butcher knife, & he stabs her with it at least 9 times; really enjoying his work it seems.
Cut back to John & Molly on the love seat finally realizing that some kind of wrong-headed nasty shit must be coming down. They grab a flashlight & head off looking for their friends. They find Sarah sliced up & hanging in the pantry. Before they can finish screaming & piss themselves, Meyers appears, stabs John in the leg & the chase is on.
The kids rush hand in hand until Molly, of course, trips & falls.
Myers nearly catches up to them, as they pound on a locked door (as in previous films, who is it that locks all the fucking doors on the hospitals & schools?).
Will & Laurie answer the door, the kids scoot inside just in the nick of the blade, & as Laurie stares out of the porthole window, she is face to face with Michael Myers for the first time in 20 years.
The adults hide the kids, & decide to go off on their own to confront Myers. Laurie & Will are then sneaking along a shadowy hallway. A figure in dark silhouette appears at the end of the hall.
Eager to demonstrate his manhood, Will grabs the gun & fires off five rounds. The figure goes down hard; only issue is it wasn’t Michael Myers–it was the security guard, Ronny; oh fuck me, mouthes Will.
Then Michael appears and skewers Will with a fat blade, doing the now classic hold the body off the fucking ground while it twitches its feet & foams blood out of its every orifice.
Laurie goes back for the kids, encounters Michael, knocking his ass out with a steel fire extinguisher. She finds an exit, tells the kids to go for help down the road a bit, to call the cops. She gets that real determined look on her heroine’s face & goes back in to face her bat- shit crazy killer brother.
She breaks the glass cage, & picks up a fire axe. She walks around strutting her tits tightly, taunting Michael to come out & end this bullshit once & for all; which finally he is obliged to do. She takes a girly whack at him, wounding his shoulder. He goes to his knees, but gets up immediately, tossing the axe on the floor.
Laurie splits, hiding in the cafeteria under a cloth-covered table. We get this kind of ridiculous scene where he knocks over a bunch of the tables, finding standing tall atop one waiting for her to emerge; which she does. She grabs a flag from the stage, & rams it into his chest like a knight’s lance.
This does hurt him, & he goes down. He drops the knife. She swoops it up & moves in close to him, stabbing him over & over until she is nearly exhausted. Michael, pushed backward by the ferocity of her attack, pitches over backwards off a balcony (just like in the original film).
This time it is her turn to get downstairs in the blink of an eye, to go up to his crumpled body, kick him in the face, then lifts the knife high ready to bury it to the hilt in his heinous heart. But just then, old Ronny, who somehow survived the five gunshots to his body, stops her, telling her to wait for the cops.
Cut to later; the courtyard is swarming with squad cars & aide cars. Myers is loaded into a body bag, & put into an ambulance. Suddenly the bandaged & bruised little lady snaps, grabbing a cop’s gun, picking up the discarded fire axe, holding off the cops as she car-jacked the van. We all understand what must be done. The dumb cops are always the ones to underestimate Michael’s recuperative powers.
Cut to the ambulance swerving around corners, with her watching the body bag in her rear view mirror. We see it start moving before she does, of course. Michael comes back to life, or at least consciousness, & escapes the bag. He attacks Laurie, who slams on the brakes, catapulting Myers through the windshield, out over the hood, onto the pavement (just like Rachel did to him in HALLOWEEN 5).
She lays rubber, which wouldn’t be easy for that overweight underpowered piece of shit van, & slams into Michael (he never tries to get out of the way of vehicles running his ass down it seems), breaking through the steel guard railing (another difficult feat, since it would bend to shit before it broke), rolling down a hill, landing upside down.
She, without wearing a seat belt by the way, survives intact. She picks up the fire axe, & gets out of the ambulance.
She finds Myers pinned between the overturned van & a tree. He seems to be passed out. She calls to him, Michael, Michael. He opens his eyes, & they are tearful. He reaches out to her silently, mute with despair & feigned regret. Touched by his “brotherly affection” she reaches out to his bloody hand, but then thinks better of it, & retracts her hand.
(In the original script, Michael spoke for the first time, saying “Laurie”, which would have been a significant emotional moment). Then we see his eyes change back to the malevolent demonic spark. With a growling scream, she swings the fire axe, decapitating his lying sorry head from his killing machine body.
The head rolls down the hill a ways. We hear Laurie exhale, cue the end credits & the music.
ROTTEN TOMATOES rated this film at 51% Critic’s Approval & 49% audience approval; with a perfect split as to folks who liked the direct sequel concept, & those, like myself, who did not fully appreciate erasing HALLOWEEN 4, 5, & 6 out of the franchise canon.
Derek Adams of TIME OUT wrote: “While Carpenter’s original film was all about economy & a skillful use of empty space, Steve Miner’s busy compositions have a cluttered fee that is echoed by superfluous orchestral music.”
Kevin Thomas of the LOS ANGELES TIMES wrote: “HALLOWEEN: H2O is as stylish & scary as it is ultra-violent. It brings back a stunning Jamie Lee Curtis in the role that made her a star, & it’s a work of superior craftsmanship in all aspects.”
James Berardinelli of REEL VIEWS wrote: “Now that they have produced something vaguely enjoyable, hopefully the filmmakers will let this series rest in peace.”
John R. McEwen of FILM QUIPS wrote: “If you are a HALLOWEEN fan, you’re probably over 30, & this film will suit you fine–for you need your sleep.”
Bob Graham of the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE wrote: “The scary slasher movie genre has been ratcheted up several notches with the release of HALLOWEEN: H20.”
Just a few minutes into this seventh son of the seventh saga, I forgave the producers for making no references to Michael Myer’s Return, Revenge & Curse, for keeping the body count under 10, for not bringing actor Donald Pleasence back in CGI, & for not killing any canines.
The musical score by John Ottman, far from cluttered, was excellent, moving away from the slim parameters of a synthesizer to include a fuller orchestral romp; even including a few echoing bars of Bernard Herrman’s music from PSYCHO as the fragile aging Janet Leigh stood in front of the 1957 Ford Fairlaine just like the one she drove in the Hitchcock classic. John Carpenter has always said that Norman Bates was an influence on Michael Myers.
Sadly, I read where the actual score we heard was not all Ottman; that they used excerpts from Marco Beltrami’s scores for SCREAM, SCREAM II, & MIMIC–oh well, what the hell, the final product seemed to work for me. Director Miner, at first, wanted to hire master composer Jerry Goldsmith to do the score, having worked with him on WARLOCK (1989), & FOREVER YOUNG (1992).
The cinematography by Daryn Okada was stunning, rock solid, complete with smooth crane shots, steadi-cams, low perspectives juxtaposed to high shots, deep saturated colors, fluidity that must have made editing the film a joy.
I did have some Michael mask issues, since the mask changed at least four times in the movie. One of them had the hair all spiked up making Michael into a clown. I prefer the slicked back look & more human looking face; a look Rob Zombie adopted for his two HALLOWEEN re-makes. I read where the different masks did not match so glaringly, that in one scene they had to use CGI to create cohesion.
The acting, even by the teenagers, was several notches above most of what we have encountered in the past franchise entries. The visual suspense, the faster moving Myers, the shock shots, the violence–all worked well. I was glad that Michael did not kill the young mother & her daughter in the park restroom scene. He was much less accommodating in HALLOWEEN 6, in the public crapper in the Haddonfield bus station. I loved the old International truck/power wagon he drove around in; it just seemed like the perfect slasher ride.
H2O not only refers to there being a twenty year anniversary since the original film, but interestingly, water has the PH balance of 7.0.
I love the moment early on in the film where Janet Leigh says to Jamie Lee Curtis, “If I may offer some maternal advice”. I am pleased to rate this feature higher than most of them in the saga, giving it a whopping 8 out of 10 HH stars; technically it was just a superior film.
It really appeared that the producers were finally finished with the mute mother fucker in the coveralls & white mask; but four years later Michael Myers would reappear, in RESURRECTION (2002), aping the return of Jason 13 times & Freddy Kruger 9 times.