That’s Auntertaiment Mini-Episode: What’s Jeff’s Watching? #2

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Dr. Laughter (CREDIT: Screenshot)

Jeff recaps his Halloween-centric viewing and has a thing or to say about IFC’s Wednesday night lineup.

Also: what’s really the scariest month of the year?

‘Halloween Ends’ After Taking a Detour Through a Cracked Mirror

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Impressive Halloween Costumes (CREDIT: Ryan Green/Universal Pictures)

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, Rohan Campbell, James Jude Courtney, Will Patton, Kyle Richards

Director: David Gordon Green

Running Time: 111 Minutes

Rating: R for Brutal Stabbings, Punctures, and Dismemberments

Release Date: October 14, 2022 (Theaters and Peacock)

What’s It About?: It’s been four years since the bloodiest Halloween of all time in Haddonfield, Illinois! So what’s Michael Myers up to now? Well, he’s somehow survived strikes at point blank range with every conceivable weapon, but he hasn’t been taking advantage of his seeming invincibility to go on a non-stop killing spree. Instead, he’s basically disappeared. But Haddonfield’s not doing so good in his absence, as the town is understandably reeling from a hangover of trauma and paranoia. However, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) are doing their best to actually move on from those nightmares. Alas, there might be a new monster in the making in the form of troubled young man Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell). He and Allyson are sweet on each other, but an inescapable evil threatens to consume him.

What Made an Impression?: Every time we’ve seen Curtis return as Laurie since the first Halloween, she’s been too traumatized to register as a full person. But that’s no longer the case at the beginning of Halloween Ends. She’s writing a memoir about her encounters with a killer, and it genuinely appears that she’s fully processed the worst of it all. She’s even allowing herself to flirt with Deputy Frank (Will Patton)! Allyson is going about her days in much the same way, getting along as a nurse at Haddonfield Hospital and instantly recognizing a kindred spirit when she meets Corey, despite a recent incident of manslaughter (the unforgettable opening sequence explains it all).

These early scenes feel like a metaphor for our scary present, with the looming unkillable threat of Michael serving as a stand-in for a status quo of violent political unrest, constant climate disasters, and a renewed threat of nuclear annihilation. The fact that anybody could find joy in this context is basically a miracle, so it’s a wonder to behold it here. Of course it can’t last forever, as this is a Halloween movie, after all. But it’s nevertheless a treat while it lasts before the carnage arrives.

And things get pretty inexplicable once that carnage does arrive. Michael Myers has never needed an accomplice, but somehow that’s what he ends up with when he crosses paths with Corey. It’s a stunning turn, and one that never struck me as justifying itself as something adequately interesting. But I have to at least respect it when a long-running series tries something so wildly unpredictable, especially in an entry that’s supposed to be the ultimate conclusion (at least for now, anyway). So, yeah, what stood out the most about Halloween Ends was how it made me constantly wonder, “Why did they ever decide to do it that way?”

Halloween Ends is Recommended If You Like: Deceptively happy beginnings, Weird middles, Cathartic endings

Grade: 3 out of 5 Blades

‘Halloween Kills,’ and That Makes for a Bloody Mess

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Halloween Kills (CREDIT: Ryan Green/Universal Pictures)

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Anthony Michael Hall, James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, Kyle Richards, Nancy Stephens, Robert Longstreet, Charles Cyphers, Dylan Arnold, Scott MacArthur, Michael McDonald

Director: David Gordon Green

Running Time: 105 Minutes

Rating: R for Blood, Guts, Viscera, Screaming

Release Date: October 15, 2021 (Theaters and Streaming on Peacock)

According to Halloween Kills, there are two main reasons why you should avoid mob justice:

1. You might go after the wrong person and end up killing an innocent man.
2. The guy you’re targeting seemingly can’t be killed.

That second lesson applies specifically to the Halloween film franchise (although it can certainly be extended to other horror classics). These seem like pretty obvious lessons, but I guess I should cut the characters in this film some slack, considering that they don’t have the same context that we viewers do. In case you need a refresher: the David Gordon Green-directed Halloween Kills is a direct sequel to the 2018 Halloween (also directed by Green), which was itself a direct sequel to the original 1978 Halloween that ignored all the other sequels. So while in the current continuity it might be a slight surprise to the residents of Haddonfield that Michael Myers is indestructible, it’s not at all surprising to the audience.

As the Halloween franchise is 43 years old and a dozen films deep, it’s forgivable if it doesn’t pull off too many genuine shocks anymore, so long as it has something to say. And Halloween Kills certainly wants to have something to say vis-a-vis that mob justice angle. But it seems to me like the townspeople seeking justice are actually fairly effective. Sure, the misidentification is pretty bad, but they eventually do manage to corner Michael. Their plan would have worked against someone a little more mortal!

But of course, the dictates of pre-planned sequel-dom make it clear that an ultimate victory is fully out of reach. A third entry directed by Green, entitled Halloween Ends, is already on the schedule for next October. So right now, we can feel pretty confident that Michael will return and that Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode will as well. Everyone else, even some returning favorites (including child star-turned-Beverly Hills housewife Kyle Richards herself), are a little more vulnerable.

So then, we’re left to hope that the set pieces are at least effective. Pretty much all of them are throwbacks to the style of the original. Some are pretty funny, others are melodramatic, all of them end in relentless violence. Probably the most amusing is the series of scenes with Michael McDonald (the steamroller-crushed security guard from Austin Powers) and Scott MacArthur (best-known for the short-lived Fox sitcom gem The Mick) as a couple just trying to have a relaxing Halloween night in. Unfortunately, they decided to live in Michael Myers’ former home, and that just doesn’t bode well for their future together. If Halloween decides to go in a sillier and campier direction, they’ve got the blueprint right here.

Halloween Kills is Recommended If You Like: Saw-style gore, Inevitable death, Anthony Michael Hall springing into action

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Masks

This Is a Movie Review: The Latest ‘Halloween’ Examines the Brutal Roles of Killer and Survivor

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CREDIT: Ryan Green/Universal Studios

This review was originally posted on News Cult in October 2018.

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Nick Castle, Toby Huss

Director: David Gordon Green

Running Time: 105 Minutes

Rating: R for Relentless Knife Piercings All Over the Body

Release Date: October 19, 2018

What if your purpose in life is to kill people? What if your purpose in life is to be in a decades-long struggle with that killer? Horror sequels that come many years after the original and feature the same main character unavoidably grapple with matters relating to the circular nature of fate. Halloween, the same-named sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 original, is especially committed to those questions in a way that deepens the meanings of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode without straying too ridiculously far from their initial incarnations.

As a direct sequel to the 40-years-earlier initially entry, this Halloween ignores everything that happened in all previous sequels and reboots. It is thus somewhat confusing that it opts for the identical title, but it is also thematically appropriate. Director David Gordon Green and his co-writers Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley are working under the presupposition that where evil struck once, it will strike again, in much the same manner that it did before. That is certainly what Laurie Strode believes, with Jamie Lee Curtis returning to her iconic role once again by jumping headlong into the disaster preparedness lifestyle. Michael has been locked away since the night of his rampage, but Laurie is convinced he will escape and kill again. Her relentless focus on readying herself for that probability has helped her survive, but it has also ruined her relationship with her daughter (Judy Greer) and anyone else she has ever been close with.

Green understands what made Carpenter’s approach so effective, as he similarly relies on tension-building instead of jump scares when showing Michael at work. We see more of the bloody brutality than we used to, which in one way is an indication that it is so hard to shock anymore but in another way is so frightening in its implication that rehabilitation may be impossible in some cases. For Michael, killing is practically a vocation. There are attempts by a few characters to explain his motivations, but he remains so terrifying mysterious, because the explanation ultimately never goes beyond the tautology of “he kills because he has to kill.” While Laurie is one of his favorite targets, there is a mythically eternal element to their struggle that suggests that he cannot ever actually kill her and also that she cannot ever kill him. Thus, at the moment that she gains the upper hand and we see his confused reaction, it is devastating. Not because we sympathize with the killer, but because the saga may very well have finally reached the point when it must end.

Halloween is Recommended If You Like: Halloween (1978), Disaster preparedness

Grade: 4 out of 5 Stabbings