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Halloween H20 Discussion

Thanks to the wonders of technology, fellow member Ramonesome recently joined me in rewatching 1998’s Halloween H20. After viewing this film again, we expressed our views and concerns. Here’s the discussion we had.

knowbody: This flick seems to get plenty of love, but I’m not a fan of it. I only liked a few scattered scenes and the ending. The story is too concerned with teenybopper matters, Laurie’s character development (which consisted of her becoming a pill-popping alcoholic over the years) and John Tate’s coming of age. This movie has no sense of menace or suspense. It seems to find some urgency when Laurie yells “Michaaeeel!!” and goes on the hunt for her brother inside the school. I enjoyed seeing Myers descend from the rafters.

Ramonesome: When I saw this in theaters back in ‘98 I felt like it was too slow, too Dawson Creek; Laurie’s story re-imagined by the Lifetime network. More attention was paid to the continuity of Josh Harnett’s hair than the mask. Why Hartnett, Michelle Williams or LL Cool J survive is a mystery to me.

But time has tempered my feelings for this “drama” and I now consider this film the definitive ending to the series, er uh, trilogy. It’s great to have Laurie back. The kills are few and far between but the dumb waiter scene almost makes up for it. I also love the nod to Halloween’s roots with Janet Leigh’s cameo and her car from Pyscho. I don’t mind the nepotism in this instance because it was Jamie’s relation to the star of Pyscho that got her the Halloween gig in the first place.

knowbody: H20 was all about Jamie Lee Curtis… not about Laurie or Michael Myers or Halloween. She even had her mom appear in it – I don’t think the majority of moviegoers (new horror fans brought in by the success of Scream) would’ve picked up on the Psycho references. It was all about Jamie Lee Curtis.

Ramonesome: True, it’s all about Jamie, but at this point who else could it be about? Carpenter’s gone, Pleasence is dead, nobody but the accountants are left. They were probably happy to have Jamie back and made allowances, story wise, to get her to return. She wasn’t going to come back and be a victim after 20 years (that was the next film). This is a story we haven’t seen before in the series and I think it’s a welcome change.

knowbody: The producers betrayed the series. Why did they omit the one scene where H4, H5 and H6 were acknowledged? It was one scene that could’ve made everyone, except Jamie Lee, happy. The story of H20 was a massive and unnecessary retcon. Curtis was the one who initiated this project. She lobbied to get Carpenter back. She also wanted (and got) a trendy screenwriter (Kevin Williamson of Scream).

Jamie Lee returned to the franchise for herself, not for the fans, and not for her character. How inspired and creative… Laurie is now a drunk who can’t get over her past and she has issues with her son. As long as Jamie Lee got all the face time (acting as a drunk, acting traumatized, acting as a mom, acting as a teacher, acting as a lover, acting as a courageous woman, etc.), who cares about anything or anyone else.

Ramonesome: In many ways, this film was a return to the formula of the original, Michael methodically stalking his prey, only a handful of kills with Laurie once again saving the children (her dialogue at the gate scene is nearly identical).

Curtis reportedly wanted a “Ripley” moment where she confronted Michael. After being bedridden and saddled with flashbacks for the majority of Halloween II, I found H20 to be a welcome use of her character. The selective, and barely mentioned, continuity freed this story up to establish its own inertia. Where Michael has been, or how he got through California’s agricultural inspection, are better left to the imagination. The specifics are rote, what matters here is Laurie’s story and whatever pacing problems the first half of the film has, it’s made up for by an exhilarating 20 minute finale.

knowbody: The failure of the next installment, Halloween Resurrection, proves that many people didn’t care about Laurie’s character or Jamie Lee Curtis as an actress. Moviegoers and fans were let down by H20 and its empty scares. Who watches a Halloween movie for a lame character study?

I also thought that Myers was mishandled as a character. His main mask looked dumb (it had eyeholes so big you could see his eyebrows). He reacted too fast and he wasn’t scary. Myers had too much angry emotion in his movements, a noticeable departure from previous performances (he’s supposed to be the same guy from Parts 1 and 2?). In the trivia section of IMDb, it says that Moustapha Akkad thought of Michael Myers in H20 as a copycat killer. Now that idea I can buy. If H20 Myers were a copycat, this movie would be easier to swallow for me.

Ramonesome: Akkad wasn’t going to leave a dime on the table, he’d do whatever it took to keep the Halloween machine going. I remember the copycat killer theory being floated as a way to explain him surviving. What they decided on in Resurrection was even worse. Resurrection is a very different movie than H20 and its failure may be its own. I did find Durand’s portrayal almost mime-like but it worked for me. And the Winston mask is a personal favorite, the KNB a real oddity (Full disclosure, I own one of the knives Laurie throws at Michael in the kitchen and stabs him with later).

Ultimately the film is missing something in the second act, the plot is a bit threadbare to support its running time. I do wonder what this film would have been like had Pleasence lived. As much as I loved the opening scene, it might have made more sense to start with Sheriff Brackett than the nurse.

And the teenagers should have been watching Austin Powers and not Scream. Scream takes place in a universe where Halloween is a film, Austin Powers takes place in world where people think Michael Myers is a promising comedian.

knowbody: disclosure on my part: The only H20 memorabilia I have is a Michelle Williams photo and the DVD for this movie.

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