Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

One from the re watch pile…
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

The Australian Umbrella release on Bluray


Film: Surely if eighties horror is going to be remembered for anything, it’s going to be sequels. Yep, just as the early 2000s had its remakes and the 90s had… what did the 90s have?

Mustn’t have been much, as all I can remember is Fangoria resorting to covers with Jurassic Park and Batman Returns on it! There was Scream and that Blair Witch rubbish I suppose… if that’s your thing.

Anyway, 

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers starts with a couple of revelations about the last film, and I must warn, massive spoiler alert for the previous film: when Michael (played in this episode by Don Shanks, but some of the footage is from the previous film so that would have been George P. Wilbur) was dropped down the well at the end he survived and was nursed back to health by a vagrant who lives by a creek the old mine emptied into. Also, Michael’s niece Jamie (Danielle Harris) didn’t kill her adoptive mother but instead only attacked her.

Ok, so we are up to speed!

Jamie (Danielle Harris) isn’t happy to see either her shrink OR her uncle.


Jamie is now in an institution and hasn’t spoken since that night, but is regularly visited by her adoptive sister, Rachel (Ellie Cornell) and her friend Tina (Wendy Foxworth) whom she adores. Unfortunately, Jamie has developed a psychic link to Michael, and when he starts to recover fully and regain his ability to hunt, maim and kill, she starts to have seizures where she seemingly can ‘see’ where Michael is and what he is doing.

Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance) is still around and recognises that Jamie is linked to Michael and uses her to again track him down as he begins his reign of psychotic terror, but what is the secret of the tattoo on Michael’s wrist, and who is the stranger in black who has come to town?

If you could distill all the stupid teenage dumbshittery into a single film; that is, if you could take every ignored warning, every ‘don’t go in there’, every stereotypical trope of the 80s into a single horror film: Halloween 5 does it, except for one: it’s totally boob free! 

It’s funny that this film should be a film from 1989 as it’s like it collects all the dumb crap from previous films and stitches it quite badly together with characters who are stereotypical but switch stereotypes from one moment to the next, and not in a way that makes them well rounded.

Pleasance plays his most well known role with the same sort of insanity he previously had, but now it’s turned up to 9.8 on the acting Richter scale, and is earthshatteringly over the top and a pleasure to witness.

Michael Myers (Don Shanks): The Dark Lord of the Scythe.


Don Shanks, even though he is effectively just playing ‘The Shape’ , actually give Michael’s character a bit of heart too for a brief moment or two.

As in the previously film, the highlight is a very young Danielle Harris’ performance as Jamie. Even though some of the direction she is given, such as when her character her is mute, seems a little dodgy, she nails her character and is one of the most mature young actors I have ever seen on film, especially in horror!

All in all, the best way to describe this film is that it’s is an example of the worst of what my favourite decade of horror has to offer. If you are an 80s or Halloween fan though, you’ll end up owning it!

Score: *1/2

The Australian Bluray menu screen


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian Bluray multi-region Bluray release, which is presented in a clear 1.85:1 image with a really nice Dolby TrueHd 5.1 audio.

Score: ****

Extras: There are only three extras on this disc:

Audio commentary with Dominique Othenin-Girard, Danielle Harris and Jeffrey Landman is quite entertaining and obviously takes place several years after the film being made (17 years in fact) as they child actors are now adults. Othenin-Girard is a thorough storyteller and his behind the scenes stuff is illuminating to all, even the cast he is doing the commentary with, though his complimentary attitude towards Danielle Harris becomes almost stalker-ish.
Halloween 5: On The Set isn’t really a making of, but instead has a few interviews with some of the cast and some pretty crappy footage of night shooting for the film.

… and a theatrical trailer, well, it’s a 30 second spot which is disappointing.

Thank god for the commentary because the rest of it is pretty vanilla.

Score: **

WISIA: Honestly I only watched this again for the benefit of this review, and probably won’t ever again.

Dr Loomis (Donald Pleasance) meets a mental health day, I think.

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Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

The cover of the Australian Bluray


Film: After veering away from the legend of Michael Myers with the wonderful Halloween III: Season of the Witch, the producers of the series dropped themselves right back into the tale of Michael Myers due to III’s poor reaction, which honestly I never understood as I thought III was cool.

The filmmakers abandoned the Halloween series for a few years before bringing back Haddonfield’s Number 1 son, 6 years from number 3, and a whole 7 years from number 2, which was the last time we saw Myers and there still must have been a market for it as it spawned an immediate sequels, 1989’s Halloween 5 (which continued the ‘Jamie’ storyline) which then led to 1995’s The Curse of Michael Myers, before then being relaunched AGAIN in 1998 with H20: 20 Years Later.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers was written by Alan B. McElroy who wrote the Spawn comic movie and Wrong Turn, a movie I love, and was directed by Dwight H. Little, who gave us 1989’s The Phantom of the Opera, starring Robert England and the Steven Seagal classic Marked for Death.

Jamie (Danielle Harris) dons a familiar Halloween costume.


The film starts ten years after the events of the first film with the transfer of Michael Myers (George P. Wilbur) from one mental health facility, under the care of Dr Loomis (Donald Pleasance) but without his knowledge, who, with a bit of cinematic conversational exposition, Michael finds out that he has a niece, and so his need to commit sororicide now extends to his sister’s daughter… 

He escapes the ambulance he is being transferred with, and proceeds to make his way back to Haddonfield, where his niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris), now resides with her adoptive family, including sister Rachel (Ellie Cornell).

Jamie isn’t settling into her new family very well as she keeps having visions of a shape threatening her, and very quickly those visions come true, as Michael threat become real, and not just Jamie and Rachel are in trouble, but anyone who crosses Michael’s path… lucky for them though, Loomis is in hot pursuit…

Immediately one must point out that this was the first film to star a very young Danielle Harris, who is now quite the horror icon due to her appearance in both this and it’s immediate sequel (she was replace by another actor in The Curse of Michael Myers), and things like Urban Legend (1998) and Blood Night (2009) and even returned to the Halloween series in Rob Zombie’s remakes playing the ‘new’ Annie Brackett. The reason she became so iconic was she plays her role like a real kid in this and not only isn’t annoying but also plays it with a great deal of depth and heart.

I’ll take you home again, Kathleen……..


Also, I have to say I like the fact that former crush of mine Kathleen Kinmont, known for She-wolves of the Wasteland and even better, Bride of Re-animator, appears in this and set my heart aflutter again even after all these years.

The 80s really were a time for some direly bad sequels, but this isn’t one of them. Is it as good as Halloween 1 or 2? Hell, no, but it is a decent example of 80s horror cinema, and is an entertaining watch.

Score: ***1/2

The Australian Bluray menu


Format: The reviewed copy of the film was the Umbrella Entertainment multiregion Blu-ray Disc, which runs for approximately 88 minutes and is presented in a not-to-sharp 1.85:1 visual with an excellent Dolby 5.1 audio.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: There is only three extras on this disc:

The first is a commentary by our female leads Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris and their reflections on the filming and their respective careers is interesting.

Next we have a discussion panel with the cats and crew of Halloweens 4 and 5 which is fun and interesting and a nice addition to the extras. Kathleen Kinmont is particularly entertaining.

Finally, a trailer for Halloween 4.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: To me the best thing this film ever really did was introduce the world to Danielle Harris: it IS entertaining, but the beginning of the end for the series, and a relaunch that probably didn’t need to happen.

Loomis (Donald Pleasance) looks upon Myers’ carnage.

Countdown to Halloween review #1: Halloween (1978)

One from the re watch pile… And day one of our ’13 Days of Halloween’ celebration…
Halloween (1978)


Film: One thing every serious horror fan must agree on is that Halloween is our Christmas. The further away it goes from what it actually stands for, the more it becomes the day that all horror fans come together as one and raise our machetes/ finger-knife gloves/ kitchen knives to the heavens and hail a holler to horror.

Now if the holiday Halloween is ‘ours’, surely the film Halloween by director John Carpenter must be ubiquitous in all our collections. It must be the beginning and end of every collection, whether it is a favourite or not.

As if I need to remind anyone, I’ll quickly run through the synopsis of Halloween.

The film opens with a young Haddonfield, Illinois resident, Michael Myers (Will Sandin), in a POV shot that in the 80s became synonymous with horror, wander through his house on Halloween, until he finds his sister, post coitus, and stabs her to death.
He is committed to a mental institution where his doctor, Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance) claims that he is the very epitome of evil and should never be released. 


Unfortunately, 15 years later, a now adult Michael (Nick Castle) manages to escape with the intent of returning to Haddonfield and seeking out his younger sister Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), and he has no remorse as to who gets in his way, including a bunch of her school friends… But will he catch her? Will he be able to complete whatever his mission seems to be?

Well, horror fans should know by now.

With this film, John Carpenter completely nailed down the formula of what became the slasher film. Borrowing liberally from the film Black Christmas, and with elements of Italian giallo films thrown in for good measure. I can clearly remember as a youngster my step-father telling me when he and my mother went and saw this at the local drive-in theatre that it was the scariest film he’d ever seen.

Whilst I think that may be not completely true now, it certainly took the horror world by storm. The story is fairly generic slasher by today’s standards but at the time it would have been pretty scary.


The fear level came from a couple of things. The first was the fact that the villain was a driving force that was seemingly unstoppable, almost super-human, and his tenacity for destruction is truly a trait inspired to cause shudders. The second was that the hero, in Dr Loomis, seems even MORE deranged in his unwavering need to stop Myers. His madness seems to increase and his sanity collapse over the course of the sequels, but the seeds of that future insanity are firmly planted in the soil of his mind in this film. Thirdly, John Carpenter’s score for the film is this slow building, tension drenched piece that is just so awesome… Well, it’s my ringtone on my iPhone…

Well, for everyone except my wife who has her own ringtone: the Imperial March from Star Wars. 

Don’t tell her.

This and Friday the 13th are the Beatles and the Rolling Stones of horror. You can like both, but you’ll only truly love one of them. For me, it’s Friday the 13th that’s my love, but Halloween is right up there… Riiiiiiiight up there. It’s an example, like Psycho and Alien, of a horror film that gets every beat perfect. If you don’t have it, get on to eBay, Amazon or your local DVD/ Bluray retailer and get it. NOW!

Score: ****

Format: The review copy of Halloween was the Australian Beyond Home Entertainment bluray, 30th Anniversary release. This region B disc runs for 93 min and is presented with a decent and fairly clean 16×9 widescreen with a great Dolby digital 5.1 soundtrack.

Score: ****

Extras


A Cut Above The Rest explores the creation of the film and the influence it’s had since with interviews with Executive Producer Irwin Yablans, writer/ director John Carpenter, co-writer/ producer Debra Hill, actors Jamie Lee Curtis, P.J. Soles and others involved.

Halloween 2000…. Though the title card of the documentary calls it Halloween Unmasked… Is more of the same as above, retelling the same stories.

Then there are several trailers, including the original trailer, the rerelease trailer, and some TV and Radio adverts.

There is also a still gallery. I hate stills galleries.

This disc also has an audio commentary with John Carpenter, Debra Hill and Jamie Lee Curtis, which is interesting, but does tell a few of the same stories as the two documentaries. 


Score: ****

WISIA: It’s Halloween: at the very least you should be watching it once a year, you know, at Halloween!

Countdown to Halloween Review #2: Halloween II (1981)

One from the re watch pile…
Halloween 2 (1981)


Film: I have a special love for Halloween 2. My days of being a voracious film collector started with two films that I grabbed in the days of VHS: Halloween 2 and Dawn of the Dead, so excuse me whilst I zip up my 80s pants, so you can’t see the size of my nostalgia.

I am not even quite sure if I had even seen the first Halloween when I first saw this, and realistically, I am not sure it mattered. All I do remember is being stunned by how awesome horror movies didn’t have to have either Godzilla or Abbott and Costello in them, which is what I had mostly been exposed to before that, either on a Saturday afternoon when they played those sorts of things on Channel 7, or something like Octaman on a late night creature feature.

I mean I knew other horrors existed as I had been getting Famous Monsters of Filmland for several years, but this was something else!

From what my young mind could tell, obviously something bad had happened before, then a whole pile of more bad stuff happened, then boobs… Pause…. Then more bad stuff happens and then the bad guy gets his come uppence.


… or to put it in a slightly different way…

Laurie Strode’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) Halloween night has so far been pretty terrible, as all her high school friends have been slaughtered by a madman named Michael Myers, who then pursued her, but she fought him off, and he was shot 6 times by Professor Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance) before falling out of a second story window… And disappearing!

Our story takes us to Laurie’s journey to the hospital, and how her night of being terrorised by Myers is not over. Her recovery is not without event, as Myers survived the fall, and has tracked her to the hospital, carving a bloody path all the way there, and through the hospital staff… But why is he so intent on Laurie’s death? The revelation that she is the younger sister of Myers, adopted by the Strode family, would perhaps suggest that he has a job to finish…


As I previously suggested, I believe this may have been the first slasher that I ever saw, and I’ve loved them, and by extension, giallo films as well. I’ve definitely rewatched this more than any other slasher, even my beloved Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (!), and I still enjoy it today… Even though it contains the two most ridiculously luckiest shots from a handgun by an amateur in the history of cinema!

Basically I just love this film, and I am well aware it’s not the greatest film in the world, but I love the cast, the look of the film, the soundtrack and it’s higher body count, and even though the revelation if Laurie’s relationship seems to come from left field, it does create the basis for the franchise that the film’s became… Whether that’s a good thing or not is a different story. Is it nostalgia that makes me so fond of this film? Maybe, but that’s not SO bad, is it?

Score: ****1/2


Format: The review copy was the Australian region B bluray, which goes for 93 minutes and is presented in anamorphic 2.35:1 image no a Dolby DTS-HD 5.1 both of which look just fine.

Score: ****

Extras: There is a few extras on this disc. The first is a series of deleted scenes which show more of the personalities of the hospital staff, and throw a few unnecessary story elements in. There is also an alternate ending which shows the survival of a character previously assumed to be dead. There is also a theatrical trailer.

Score: ***


WISIA: This is one of my favourite movies for story, body count, boobs and nostalgia, so it is a regular respinner at the To Watch Pile Cinema.

Countdown to Halloween Review #3: Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

One from the re watch pile…
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)


Film: Over the years, Halloween III: Season of the Witch copped a lot of crap. I can still remember a conversation I had with the receptionist at a company I worked for in 1988, Lisa (a fellow horror fan) where she said that when she saw it, the only part that excited her was the image of Michael Myers walking down the stairs on the TV Tom Atkins watches as the Buccaneer Lounge.

I disagreed with her. Irwin Yablans claims that removing Myers from the series was a misstep after having part one and two starring him, but as far as we were concerned, he was dead, and it was time to perhaps take the series in a new direction. The concept at the time was to release a ‘Halloween’ film every Halloween, but each film could potentially be the beginning of a brand new franchise, or a stand alone film.

I think that was a great idea, and let’s face it, Friday the 13th did not an entirely dissimilar thing with its horror subgenre gear changes from giallo to slasher to giallo to zombie to supernatural to science fiction switches throughout its first ten films.

Would this film have been a success if it didn’t have the ‘Halloween’ label on it? Perhaps, but it shouldn’t be punished for it either as I think it’s a pretty good horror film in its own right!


Halloween III: Season of the Witch tells of Dr. Daniel Challis (Tom Atkins) who teams up with the daughter of a deceased patient, Ellie Grimbridge (Stacy Nelkin) to travel to the town of Santa Mira, home of the Silver Shamrock, run by Conan Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy) in an attempt to find out what happened to her father, but what they find in the small berg is death and horror!

An evil plot is uncovered which may result in the death of hundreds of thousands of children, and does it have something to do with the missing piece of Stonehenge?

Of course it does!


Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a fun horror romp that is creepy and clever and well worth a watch, though the Silver Shamrock song is an insidious jingle, like the very best/ worst of advertising you’ll see at any time on your TV, and it will get stuck in your head for days.

It’s not a perfect film though, and the bad guy’s overall plan is a little murky in its intention, like the worst of James Bond baddies, and the combination of science and supernatural require a small leap of faith at times.

Essentially, the film is a decent watch that didn’t deserve the criticism it received at the time it came out.

Score: ***1/2


Format: The reviewed copy of this disc was the Australian region B bluray release. The film runs for approximately 99 minutes and it presented in a clear and decent 2.35:1 image and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 audio.

Score: ****

Extras: Not a bad amount of extras on this disc:

Stand Alone: The Making of Halloween III: Season of the Witch explores the reasons behind the dumping of Michael Myers from the franchise, and in general, the actual making of the film. There’s interviews with director Tommy Lee Wallace, producer Irwin Yablans, DoP Dean Cundey, actor Tom Atkins, stunt coordinator Dick Warlock and actress Stacy Nelkin.

Horror’s Hallowed Grounds revisits the various locations from Halloween III today. It’s cool to see what all those 80s locations look like now, and it’s pretty funny too.

Stills Gallery, I bloody hate stills galleries, and this is no exception.

There is also a series of TV spots and a trailer.

In addition to all that, there are 2 commentaries, one by Tom Atkins and one by Tommy Lee Wallace. Both are interesting in their own rights, and are thankfully led by interviewers to fill any quiet spots.

Score: ****

WISIA: Even though the Silver Shamrock song gets stuck in my head for weeks after, I can’t resist rewatching this film. I’ve always liked it and never understood the detractors from it.

Countdown to Halloween #6: Tales of Halloween (2015)

One from the re watch pile…
Tales of Halloween (2015)

The Australian Bluray of Tales of Halloween


Film: Anthology films are a staple of horror, and pretty much well every horror fan can name one in their favourite horror films, be it one of the Creepshows, or Tales of the Darkside, or Trick R Treat. There have even been great classic TV series anthologies like Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits and many horror anthology books, like the  H. P. Lovecraft collections, or hundreds of mixed author collections, like one of my favourites, edited by John Skipp and Craig Spector, The Book of the Dead.

This anthology has a total of ten directors giving us the thrills, including Saw II, III and IV’s Darren Lynn Bouseman, The Decent’s Neil Marshall, May’s Lucky McKee, The Halloween Kid’s Axelle Carolyn and Autopsy’s Adam Gierasch amongst others, and tells of all the horrors that take place on Halloween in one small town, with several of the characters from some stories popping up in others.

Tales of Halloween: Caroline Williams and Robert Rusler’s son has a Sweet Tooth


From its cartoony, pop up book styled beginning (hosted by Adrienne Barbeau playing the voice on the radio…again!), this film entertains with ten Halloween shorts, including a bunch of serial killers who get their just deserts, the legend of a candy loving killer, a woman who can’t fall pregnant who is possessed by a demon, a war between neighbours over their Halloween displays, a kidnapping gone horribly wrong and five more.

Heaps of tributes to classic horror films with many stars and directors showing up, including Lin Shaye (A Nightmare On Elm Street), Lisa Marie (Mars Attacks), Barbara Crampton (Re-animator), Caroline Williams (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2), Robert Rusler (A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge), Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp), Barry Bostick (Rocky Horror Picture Show), James Duval (Donnie Darko), Stuart Gordon (director of Re-animator), John Landis (An American Werewolf in London), Greg McLean (director of Wolf Creek), Mick Garris (writer of Critters 2), Drew Struzan (artist of more film posters than I care to list)… the list goes on and on! 

Tales of Halloween: Nick Principe as the killer in Friday the 31st


As one would expect, stories directed by a variety of writers and directors can be a little uneven, but all of them entertain. Some of them finish with a quick resolution which is occasionally unsatisfying, but as a complete package the film delivers. This film is a gory-as-Hell, roller coaster ride with a bunch of amusing horror shorts most of which have a fun twist to cap them off: some obvious, some not, but all entertaining.

The soundtrack is heaps of fun too, ranging from the metalest of metal, to 80s-inspired synth which suits each tale as it unfolds.

This is truly made for horror fans though, as you, like I, will spend most of your time laughing at genre references, or crying out ‘hey isn’t that (insert name here)?’

Score: *****

Tales of Halloween bluray menu screen. Not present; any extras.


Format: The reviewed copy of Tales of Halloween was the Australian region B bluray, which runs for approximately 97 minutes. The film is presented in a 2.35:1 video with a DTS-HD 5.1 audio and both are, as one would expect from a modern film, perfect.

Score: *****

Extras: A modern film with NO extras made by multiple directors with NO extras? Poo on you, sirs!

Score: 0

WISIA: Anthology films are ALWAYS a rewatch if just for how much there is to take in! With the quality and variety of directors in this one, it certainly includes it in that ideal!

Caveat: This ‘anthology’ suggestion of being perpetual rewatchers does not include the miserable Creepshow 3. Just sayin’!

Tales of Halloween: a traditional Halloween decoration from This Means War

Happy Halloween Week!!!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN WEEK!!
For those of us who love horror movies, Halloween isn’t one night. For some of us, it’s the whole month, for others: the entire year! I love it when Halloween decorations hit the store as it means I can decorate my house in the fashion that I wish it were decorated for the entire year: zombie decals in the window, grave stones in the front yard, a ‘Caution: Zombies’ sign on the gate and a carved pumpkin grinning it’s candle-illuminated grin on the front step.

It’s truly a wonderful time.

Usually in October, I would watch a horror movie a day and they would always be favourites and the closer to Halloween it got, the more ‘Halloween-y’ the viewing became. 

Almost always the franchises would get a look in, be it the Friday the 13ths, or the Nightmare on Elm Streets, the Saws; one of them would at the very least get a full series view, but always, without fail, I’d endeavour to make my way through all the Halloween movies… I mean the Michael Myers ones, obviously, though Halloween III: The Season of the Witch would make an out-of-order appearance!

This year though I didn’t get to do this as, quite simply, not only have I been working on content for this site, but my alter ego started a new job, which means my life has been in a strange, constantly fluctuating place, so instead, I have managed to make my way through 7 reviews, all which have a Halloween slant in it… or at the very least a suggestion that the film takes place around this wonderful time.

So I hope you all enjoy my week of Halloween tricks and treats, and come back every day for the next 7 days to see what movie is going to pop up next!

New Halloween Shirts from Fright Rags!


Do you have your Michael Myers shirt really for Halloween this year?

No?!? Well you better click THIS LINK to check out Fright Rags new Halloween collection!! Fright Rags are being quite secretive about it, but there is going to be heaps of Halloween stuff dropped on us this year, and October the 12th has the first lot… yep, FIRST!! Why am I excited? Well Halloween socks, obviously!!