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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.

  • greatpumpkin

    Two things I really hated about this movie in addition to the mask difficulties: 1) The soundtrack. Halloween movies have to have a dark and urgent synthesizer, keyboard, computerized keyboard, or at least minimalist piano. Horns and strings do NOT cut it (pun intended). Next time you watch it, just compare this music to the first two. Orchestration = Bad, not for Psycho or F13, but for Halloween; and 2) No explanation regarding Michael’s 20 year disappearance. Not even a bad one. It was lazy.

  • jdash10

    I will always love this movie, it’s shot beautifully and Durand is an amazing Myers 🙂

  • GreatPumpkin, I agree in that I would have liked some explanation to where Michael was all those years. However after part 6 I think the producers realized the less explained about Michael the better. He works better as a boogie man. Once you start explaining things he becomes ordinary.

    I also think it was an interesting choice to make the film about Laurie and not michael, which frankly had been done before. When the rebooted franchise finally does answer the question of where Michael was (living in the french catacombs beneath his house of course) the answer was worse than not knowing at all. In my opinion, if you can’t give a good explanation, don’t give one at all.

  • I love H20! I liked that we finally got a film that took responsibility for its Survivor Girl. The Halloween Series had become too focused on Michael and his creative ways of killing people. He’d lost the one trait that truly made him frightening: He’s The Boogeyman. I don’t care about what Michael has been doing for 20 years, I shouldn’t have to. He’s a Force that rises with the October Winds and fades as quickly. What I do care about is a normal 17 year old girl who had to deal with the devastation that The Shape left in his wake. This movie had to be about Lauire and how she deals(or not deals)with the horror of her past and how that directly affects her life(Son,boyfriend,job)in the present. In my mind, H2O restores as much of the original movie’s intent as possible. It’s a movie about people going about their lives and suddenly having to deal with The Boogeyman.

  • Well said Michael

  • Thank you! 🙂

  • knowbody

    The film demystified Myers not by telling us about him, but by showing too much of him. For example, the opening scene with Myers stalking the nurse. Most of Michael’s movements are captured on camera, they even show him from the back when he’s walking and not doing anything of importance. It also shows Myers reacting to the cop sirens.

    Sure, we’ve been told a lot about Myers (e.g. H6), but when have we seen that much of him? The Myers in H20 had no mystique or mystery. Plus, his movements were punctuated with over-the-top, recycled Scream music. (GreatPumpkin already alluded to this).

    For a movie that showed so much of The Shape, they should’ve at least got the masks right.

  • theshapeoffear

    Jason, you almost had me…..Very well written points about the film, so i threw it in for another watch…i could see some promise and hope….and then…..
    I saw the scenes where LL Cool J was reading his book to his gilfriend and i just couldnt do it….LOL

  • bmwkid135

    There are a lot of mistakes made throughout this discussion. The biggest being said that Kevin Williamson wrote this film, which he did not. Story, as well as Screenplay, were written by Robert Zappia; and Matt Greenberg helped out with the Screenplay as well. Kevin Williamson was the co-executive Producer.

  • knowbody

    @bmwkid135
    Kevin Williamson’s script was the basis for the final shooting script. That’s why Williamson has an executive producer credit. What are the other mistakes made throughout the discussion. Enlighten us.

  • Kevin Williamson was asked to write the script but was busy writing the film he would eventually direct, Killing Mrs. Tingle (the film was retitled after Columbine massacre). He did however contribute a 12-15 page treatment for H20 that ended with Michael being beheaded by a helicopter blade (another early script had Michael impaled with a flagpole and trapped in a pool under a retractable cover).

    The basics of the final story were in Williamson’s script but obviously a lot of changes and characters were fleshed out by the, very competent, final scriptwriters.

    @Shape Could you have tolerated LL’s character more if you know he was going to die? A missed opportunity in my opinion. He seemed to be kept alive if only to rebuke the stereotype that African American characters always die in horror films. Also, he may have been spared because he was the FIRST african american character to ever appear in the Halloween series.

  • knowbody

    Thank you for the clarification regarding Williamson, Ramonesome. User bjkid123 seems to have simply read the back of the H20 DVD. There’s more to the story than that.

    bjkid123, i advise you to check out the books Legacy of Blood (2004) by Jim Harper and Fifty Filmmakers (2008) by Andrew Rausch. These books contain interviews with Williamson. The fact is, Williamson wrote the treatment for H20. His treatment was the basis for the movie. In effect, Williamson was a writer for H20, but not credited as such.

    Perhaps bjkid123 can consult said works and do some more mistake-sniffing. If you don’t have these books, sir, check out amazon (in your case i’d email them first. i don’t know if they ship to prisons).

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