Patron Pick – The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror I-III

This is a special reward available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 a month levels. Each month those patrons will get to pick a film for me to review. They also get to include some of their own thoughts about the movie, if they choose. This Pick comes from Matt Harris.

Treehouse of Horror 
(original airdate: October 25, 1990)
Written by John Swartzwelder, Jay Kogen, Wallace Wolodarksy, Sam Simon, and Edgar Allen Poe
Directed by Wes Archer, Rich Moore, and David Silverman

Treehouse of Horror II
(original airdate: October 21, 1991)
Written by Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Jeff Martin, George Meyer, Sam Simon, and John Swartzwelder
Directed by Jim Reardon

Treehouse of Horror III
(original airdate: October 29, 1992)
Written by Al Jean & Mike Reiss, Jay Kogen & Wallace Wolodarsky, Sam Simon, and Jon Vitti
Directed by Carlos Baeza

I can vividly remember watching the first Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror on a Thursday evening in 1990. I was genuinely scared and entertained by it. I think that’s one of the great appeals of those early Treehouse episodes; the writers injected it with genuine horror but pulled back just enough so you wouldn’t get too frightened. The annual series was inspired by the anthology horror comics of E.C. (Tales from the Crypt, etc.), evidenced by the prevalence of gruesome puns in the opening credits. It wasn’t intended to become an annual tradition but rather an experiment with the show’s format. 

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Movie Review – Halloween Kills

Halloween Kills (2021)
Written by Scott Teems, Danny McBride, and David Gordon Green
Directed by David Gordon Green

Trilogies are tricky things. Often a first film is made and, if it does well financially, then a sequel will be greenlit. There are rare occasions like Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings where the movies are shot back to back, but most trilogies happen because the first movie did well. David Gordon Green and his collaborators wanted to do a series of Halloween films but waited to see how their first entry was received before locking everything in for follow-ups. I am a fan of their take of the Halloween universe. As I said in my review of the 2018 picture, there’s some atmosphere lacking, but thematically I am right on board with the sort of story being told here. In some ways, it reminds me of my favorite comic books, where new creators build on old ideas to make new points. I prefer that much more than rebooting things and feeling as if you’re in stasis.

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Movie Review – Halloween (2018)

Halloween (2018)
Written by Jeff Fradley, Danny McBride, and David Gordon Green
Directed by David Gordon Green

It began with Rob Zombie stating he would not return to make another Halloween film. Halloween II (2009) was a box office success, and days after its release Halloween 3D was announced. That fell apart, and attention at Dimension went to a potential Hellraiser reboot (they never happened either). There were ideas tossed around like making a direct sequel to Halloween: Resurrection (god why?), doing a found footage film or mockumentary, and even an insane multiverse idea tossed around. John Carpenter returned to act as a producer and chose an unlikely duo to make a trilogy of films: Danny McBride and David Gordon Green.

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Movie Review – Halloween II (2009)

Halloween II (2009)
Written & Directed by Rob Zombie

Rob Zombie expressed extreme exhaustion from making his Halloween reboot. I think it was a task he put a lot of weight on his own shoulders because Zombie admired the original film. So, when talk of a sequel came up, Zombie was pretty much out. Instead, French filmmakers Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo were in talks to helm the follow-up. Eventually, the producers wooed Zombie back to write and direct Halloween II. Would he follow the first film by doing a remake of the original sequel? Kind of. There is a small portion of the movie with Laurie in a hospital, but this Halloween II goes in a very different direction. With the whole cast reprising their roles (sans young Michael as that actor had gotten too tall), Halloween II was a go.

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Movie Review – Halloween (2007)

Halloween (2007)
Written & Directed by Rob Zombie

For a minute, we almost had a Michael Myers vs. Pinhead (from Hellraiser) movie. With the success of Freddy vs. Jason, Dimension Pictures seriously looked at pitting those movie monsters against each other. I don’t think that would have been a great idea. An idea was pitched to bring back Jamie Lloyd. That didn’t go anywhere. This was around a time when reboots and reimaginings were becoming a hot thing. Texas Chainsaw Massacre had a moderately successful reboot based on its budget, and telling the characters’ backstory was the thing to do (see the Star Wars prequels, Batman Begins). Setting a standard that would be followed by Freddy and Jason a few years later, Rob Zombie was brought on board to flesh out the origin of Michael Myers.

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Movie Review – Halloween: Resurrection

Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
Written by Larry Brand & Sean Hood
Directed by Rick Rosenthal

Jamie Lee Curtis said she was done. So at the end of H2O, she beheads Michael, and the movie ends. But the producers wanted to keep milking the franchise. Moustapha Akkad, the producer who owned the Halloween film rights, provided a clause in his agreement with Dimension Pictures that Michael could never be killed. So when the inevitable sequel was announced, they went to Curtis and asked if she would play Laurie Strode again. Exasperated, the actress told them that if they couldn’t kill off Michael, they would have to kill Laurie in this next movie. So they did. The result is the worst entry in the entire franchise. It’s disjointed, with the first twenty minutes feeling like a short film with Laurie. Then the rest of the film is a poorly aged god-awful mess that completely misunderstands the entire series.

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Movie Review – Halloween: H20

Halloween: H20 (1998)
Written by Robert Zappia & Matt Greenberg (Kevin Williamson uncredited)
Directed by Steve Miner

It was clear from the box office returns that the Thorns trilogy of Halloween was not a success, particularly the final butchered entry of The Curse of Michael Myers. It just so happened that the series’s twentieth anniversary was coming up in 1998, so it seemed appropriate to recapture some of the original film. Unfortunately, Donald Pleasence had passed away in 1995, so he wouldn’t be part of the story. This meant the producers would have to try and lure back Jamie Lee Curtis, who had distanced herself from the series. It also meant the last three films would be retconned out of the timeline.

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Movie Review – Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
Written by Daniel Farrands
Directed by Joe Chappelle

One of the most infuriating things about the Thorns trilogy is how both Return and Revenge end on promising cliffhangers only to have them dashed with the next film in the series. Likewise, the Curse of Michael Myers takes all the character development of Jamie Lloyd and subsequently flushes it down the drain. For what purpose? To apparently introduce a whole host of new characters whom we never really care about and tangentially connected to Laurie Strode. It seems at times that this movie exists in the same universe as the previous two, and then at other moments, it ignores anything we might have learned during them.

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Movie Review – Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers

Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Written by Michael Jacobs, Dominique Othenin-Girard, and Shem Bitterman
Directed by Dominique Othenin-Girard

So after leaving audiences hanging with a pretty great cliffhanger in Halloween IV, the producers decided to retcon it immediately and handwave it away as a dream. I wish I could say I was joking. Jamie Lloyd kills her foster mother in the final scene of Halloween IV, wearing a clown costume similar to her uncle’s. It was a daring, shocking frame to close the movie on, hinting at the hereditary nature of the evil within Michael. But then this movie opens by showing where Michael ended up after being riddled with bullets and proceeds to show that the whole foster mommy stabbing was a bad dream Jamie had. It was a clear sign we were bullshit territory.

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Movie Review – Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers

Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
Written by Alan B. McElroy
Directed by Dwight H. Little

After the box office failure of Halloween III, likely because audiences weren’t keen on the anthology angle, the producers decided to pivot back to Michael Myers. The franchise would be centered around him, causing the slasher to join the ranks of the constantly returning killers like Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhies. John Carpenter was pulled back in along with Debra Hill, but they wrote with horror author Dennis Etchison this time. Whatever was in that script was rejected as “too cerebral,” and the desire to just have a meat & potatoes slasher movie was reiterated. Finally, Carpenter & Hill were done with the series and sold away all their rights. They didn’t see anywhere else you could go with Myers other than a cheap by-the-numbers slasher. And that’s basically what the franchise became.

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