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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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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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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Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Written & Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace
After 1982, John Carpenter and Debra Hill honestly had zero interest in making more movies about Michael Meyers. The producers, however, saw there was still money to get out of the Halloween brand. The compromise was that Halloween III not be a direct sequel to the preceding two films; this meant zero Michael. Instead, they proposed that Halloween movies could become an annual horror anthology. Each film would be set on the holiday but feature original characters in a plot divorced from previous entries. To start this off, writer Nigel Keane penned a script but was so displeased with changes that he asked for his name to be removed. Director Tommy Lee Wallace did a rewrite; therefore, he receives the story credit.
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Halloween II (1981)
Written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill
Directed by Rick Rosenthal
Little did John Carpenter and Debra Hill know that their low-budget indie slasher flick would spawn so many sequels and reboots, creating a veritable multiverse of Michael Meyers. Timelines branch hither and thither so that the casual viewer will immediately be confused by which reality the story takes place in. Is this the Thorns Trilogy, or is it the Rob Zombie reboot, or is it the one where they bring back Jamie Lee Curtis or the other one where they bring back Jamie Lee Curtis? This October, we will be watching every single Halloween movie post the original 1978 feature. Will we be making sense of it? Hell no. But it should be an interesting journey through one of the most confounding horror franchises of our time.
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John and the Hole (2021)
Written by Nicolás Giacobone
Directed by Pascual Sisto
There’s been a trend in independent cinema for the last decade and a half to focus on cold neutral aesthetics. For some films, that can work given a well-written script with strongly developed characters. While these movies often lure me in with moody slick trailers, I find myself utterly bored while watching them. This isn’t to say there’s something wrong with slow, atmospheric films, but you need to be a very skilled filmmaker to make this particular aesthetic pop. John and the Hole failed to do that and was a true slog to watch.
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Written by Prano Bailey-Bond & Anthony Fletcher
Directed by Prano Bailey-Bond
As the home video market grew in the late 1970s and into the 1980s/90s, the United Kingdom clamped down on horror and pornography films they deemed harmful to society. This came as a result of significant film distributors keeping away from that market out of privacy fears. The gap was filled by an avalanche of low-budget content. The British Board of Film Censors employed people to watch these movies and determine a rating, and also, if they were so beyond the pale, they should have prosecution brought against them. These films would garner the nickname “video nasties.” It’s against this moral panic over movies that the film Censor takes place.
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Something is Killing the Children Volumes 1-3 (2020-2021)
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Werther Dell’Edera
When it was first published, Something is Killing the Children was a five-issue limited series. However, the reader response was so overwhelmingly positive that instead of doing a series of mini-series, writer James Tynion IV was allowed to make it an ongoing by Image Comics. Like many series at Image Comics, especially since The Walking Dead became a show, this one feels like an extended pitch for the first season of a television program. It’s a rather contained setting with a limited number of recurring characters and lots of seeds for potential mysteries and subplots along the way. But is it any good?
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The Howling (1981)
Written by John Sayles and Terence H. Winkless
Directed by Joe Dante
1981 might have been the year of the werewolf between this film and An American Werewolf in London and lesser-known Wolfen. Special effects, both makeup and puppets, had improved to the point that movies could showcase spectacular transformation scenes, something older werewolf movies had always made a highlight of their runtime. Seeing the werewolf transform falls into that same category as Bruce Banner switching to the Hulk. There’s something oddly cathartic about watching a person’s body transform into an agent of chaos. Those werewolf transformations are on full display here, with the film reveling in their visceral detail. It’s also a fun, campy horror flick, just the type of thing Joe Dante has always been a master at making.
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Written & Directed by Damian McCarthy
Lynchian is a term that gets thrown around a little too liberally. It’s meant to denote that something is reminiscent of the work of filmmaker David Lynch, but it is often applied to either tv shows set in strange small towns or for media that is esoteric & quirky. The Lynch aesthetic is much more specific from my perspective, a way of telling stories in abstracted settings brimming with emotion & passion. People often behave in strange ways, and stories have elements of melodrama that take bleak turns. Not much I’ve seen has genuinely reminded me of that, but Caveat is actually a movie that lives up to the term. I won’t say Caveat is as masterfully delivered as Lynch’s films, but it is a decent horror movie that builds a unique atmosphere.
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