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Friday the 13th (1980)

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

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Well it is the month of October again and that means it is time to review another horror series. Every few days I will release a review of each of the Friday the 13th movies just like I did last year with the Halloween franchise. It feels to me like Friday the 13th is the appropriate followup to Halloween and next year it will be the A Nightmare on Elm Street series that I review. Michael Myers, Jason, and Freddy sort of form The Big Three when it comes to slasher icons and so I chose this arrangement accordingly. What series I will do in 2019 remains to be determined.

As for Friday the 13th, the original 1980 version, it may come as a surprise to a newcomer or a casual horror fan that Jason is not the killer in this one. For the casual fan, newcomer, and young woman being stalked by Ghostface whose life I am now saving, it should be noted that it is not Jason; but his mother Pamela Voorhees who is the killer. Although, unlike in the other films in the series, the perp is not apparent.

Throughout Friday the 13th the Camp Crystal Lake counselors are being stalked and murdered by an unknown and unseen assailant whose motives are unknown and whose MO is both varied and vicious. We never see her face until the very end and she remains hidden by the power of POV shots for the majority of the movie.

The film opens in the 1950’s with a crowd of campers and counselors singing around a campfire singing hymns. Two of these devout worshippers decide to take a break and go to a cabin attic to have sex. If I was a bit more naive I would object to this depiction of two Christian teens having sex, but I have been around enough kids in Church youth groups to know that this is really not that uncommon.
The twain kiss for a bit, but they are interpreted by the killer who listens to the guy sort of sheepishly says “we weren’t doing anything” before she suddenly stabs him in the stomach just before turning to the girl and does her in as well.
Thus begins the most common trend in the Friday the 13th series: getting cockblocked by sudden violent death!

30 years later the Camp is getting reopened again and new counselors are preparing by rebuilding and/or renovating the cabins, fixing the plumbing, and landscaping. One of the counselors is named Annie, but she is late to arrive and she starts hitchhiking to get to her destination. And like every hitchhiker in a slasher movie she gets picked up by the killer and killed.

While the other counselors worry about Annie not showing up they work hard getting the place up and running. They do such important tasks as nail boards to the cabin roofs, sweep the rooms, kill snakes and other pests, jump around mimicking Indian yells, swimming in the lake, faking drowning so they can kiss the girl giving them CPR, having sex, and making fun of police men doing their jobs. I am starting to think if Pamela didn’t kill these assholes the Camp would still have been overdue and unfinished by time the children arrived.

After two of the counselors (one of them played by Kevin Bacon in his debut role) have sex in a bunk the girl heads to the bathrooms to clean up. Kevin Bacon remains lying in bed when suddenly from under the bed an arrow is thrust up through the mattress and through Kevin Bacon’s throat. The scene is very effective and the effects are impressive even to this day. The prosthetic work done to make the arrow look like it went through the real Kevin Bacon’s throat is the masterful invention of Tom Savini who also did the makeup work in Dawn of the Dead. Nowadays Savini’s career consists mostly of teaching the trade of prosthetic effects and making cameo appearances in horror movies (and The Perks of Being a Wallflower for some reason). But back in the 70’s and 80’s he was the go-to man for gore effects. He was a genius and this film is as good a resume as any.

Meanwhile the luckless Kevin Bacon’s girlfriend meets a dismal end herself in the bathroom. After pissing in the toilet, putting her underwear back on, and doing a terrible Kathryn Hepburn impression in front of the mirror she is suddenly struck in the face with a hatchet.
I kinda sympathise with the killer on this one. Kathryn Hepburn was a national treasure and her legacy deserves more respect. Cate Blanchett this woman was not and she should have kept her mimicry to that of valley girls and bimbos.

In another cabin some of the counselors start playing a unique version of Monopoly called Strip Monopoly in which landing on properties owned by people other than yourself costs you an article of clothing. How they came up with this game I have no idea, but I think they should invent Strip Uno next. It would make the game less apt to leaving all the players pissed at each other by time all the draw 4’s were used up.
However, the game doesn’t get far enough to show anything interesting as one of the counselors leaves to check the breaker. She hears what sounds like a child crying in the woods and when she reaches the archery range to investigate the lights suddenly flash on and she killed off screen.

Alice, our heroine who survives to the end, and Bill, the gentlemen who does not, wonder where their friends went so they go out to investigate. Bill goes to check the generator and is likewise killed off screen. For a raunchy, exploitative slasher flick this movie has a lot of off screen deaths. Two other characters similarly die off camera.

Alice later finds Bill’s body pinned to the door of the garage with a bunch of arrows. She does what any sensible person would do in such a situation and screams her head off and runs. She nearly bumps into an middle-aged woman driving up in a truck who says she is Mrs. Voorhees and that she is a friend of the people who own the camp.
Alice shows Pamela Voorhees the body and Pamela begins to pontificate that she had told the owners not to reopen the camp. She tells Alice that years ago her son Jason had drowned in the lake when the camp counselors were not watching him because they were too busy making love. Is that all these Crystal Lake counselors seem capable of doing?
As Pamela becomes increasingly irate as she recounts the story she suddenly turns on Alice and tries to stab her. The two fight and Alice tries to flee but the crazy woman chases her. Pamela starts talking to herself constantly as she chases the surviving counselor because she believes that her dead son is speaking to her and telling her to kill the counselors as if they were all responsible for his death. Even though most of these kids were not even born when he died.

To go into detail on the entire fight would be pointless and tedious, but suffice it say that after 10 minutes of hair pulling, kicking, slapping, biting, and rolling in the dirt Alice finally gets the upper hand and decapitates Pamela Voorhees with a machete.
Alice then crawls into a canoe and falls asleep over the lake, but when morning arrives she starts to wake up when suddenly she is grabbed and pulled under by a boy whose body resembles that of a decomposing corpse. She wakes almost immediately in the hospital and refuses to believe the incident with the boy was a dream.

I am not sure how to properly review a film like this as it never was intended nor marketed to be a good movie. It is exactly to the last degree what it sought to be. It is a cheap, sleazy, exploitative knock-off of Halloween in an attempt to capitalise on that film’s success. The violence is gruesome and lacking in style or any aesthetic merit, the plot is weak, stupid, and illogical; and it is peppered with marketable gimmicks such as nudity and sex to cater to its largely male audience. It’s the same sort of trash cinema that predominated the drive-in culture of the 70’s and 80’s. The only reason this film has become worthy of special note is thanks to its inordinate popularity that spawned its many sequels with the iconic figure, Jason Voorhees. By itself, this film is virtually indistinguishable from films like The Burning, The Mutilator, or Torso which only horror buffs even remember or care about. It’s such a sleaze-fest and I am hesitant to fault the film for being this since it aimed for nothing higher. To expect more would be silly.
To a horror junkie like myself who can, when in the mood, enjoy slashers, drive-in flicks, exploitation films, zombie movies, giallos, and even trashy mondo flicks a horror movie like Friday the 13th is hardly something I will stick my nose up at and snub. I am as much a film snob as any and I will always prefer movies like The Godfather or Citizen Kane, but I accept that different movies deserve different means of reviewing. I do not demand my sleaze to be as good as my critically acclaimed Oscar winners or Criterion DVD releases.
For what it is Friday the 13th is entertaining. It does not get boring by any means and it is not overlong. It works on the levels it is supposed to work. It is not supposed to make me think. Hell, it is not even supposed to scare me. It’s job is to excite. To cater to the lowest common denominator looking for a cheap fix of gore and boobs. And it achieves that end passingly enough that I can think well of it for reaching its aim.

The story doesn’t make much sense, but that doesn’t worry me. It doesn’t bother me that a middle-aged woman who is only about 5 feet tall managed to pin a full grown man to a door with arrows. I didn’t come to see a man pinned to a door with arrows by a plausible criminal with a legitimate motive. I just came to see a man pinned to a door with arrows. If I cared about the sense of it I would watch NCIS or a Coen Brothers film. And I will happily watch those too. But right now I am watching Friday the 13th and I embrace its stupidity and shameless depictions of sex and violence with the open arms of someone who appreciates the genre to which it belongs.

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Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers Review

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

5

If Halloween 4 was a step in the right direction then Halloween 5 is a step away from it. This film acts a connecting piece between Halloween 4 and Halloween 6 which automatically causes a whole set of problems. For one thing, Halloween 6 is not a good movie which I will get into in my next review. And for another, this movie is chock full of strange, confusing, and unexplained plot threads that acted as a setup for a sequel which took six years to come out.

The story opens where we left Michael in the last film: gunned down by a posse of hicks and falling to the bottom of a mine shaft. Michael is still alive, of course, and is crawling through the mine seriously wounded. He happens upon an old hermit living in a shack and collapses at his doorstep. The kindly hermit takes Michael in not bothering to ponder what a man in a mask, riddled with bullets, carrying a butcher knife might have been doing prior to collapsing at his door. I would have been a bit more curious myself, but I guess if everyone in horror movies were smart then there would be a lot less people for slasher icons to kill.
The hermit tends to Myers’s wounds and places the mask on a peg near a mirror. Still unconscious Michael is laid on a bed to rest and we get a brief glimpse of a strange tattoo on his wrist which we have never seen before. It’s a symbol that looks just like this:

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This is the Runic letter, Thorn and if it happens to look like something out of The Lord of the Rings that is only because Tolkien was well learned in Runes himself and used them in his stories. Although the creator of Middle-earth did not to my knowledge ever conceive of them as tattoos for slasher icons.

Now while not being either a wizard or an Elf, Michael does seem to have some magic abilities since his niece, Jamie Lloyd, can sense that he is alive through a psychic connection between the two of them. I am not sure why this is the case since Laurie never had any such connection to him and I would imagine the implications here are that Jamie and Michael are psychically linked by blood. To add to the strange mysteries of this situation there is a man in black wearing steel-toed boots who is seen wandering about Haddonfield throughout the film with no explanation given to who he is and what he wants, but seems to have some coinciding relation with what is going on between Jamie and Michael Myers.
Jamie begins to have these psychic premonitions a year after the events of Halloween 4 when Michael Myers who had hitherto been in a comatose state in the hermit’s hut, begins to awake. To show his gratitude for saving his life, feeding him, and changing his soiled underwear (you know it happened) Michael kills the hermit and takes back his mask and butcher knife.

Elsewhere, Jamie is sensing all of this in her bed at a Children’s Hospital where she has been staying since her attack upon her foster mother last year. She is in an extremely traumatised state and has lost her ability to speak since the incident.
The attack on her foster mother is apparently a result of her psychic link with her uncle who compelled her to attack the woman a year ago and it is that same psychic link that is leading her to sense Michael’s resurrection now.
In my opinion the main point to take away from all of this is that the writers of the film changed their minds about making Jamie the killer in the sequel and created a bizarre explanation for her behaviour to keep Michael Myers as the central antagonist in part 5.

Rachel and Dr. Loomis are still regularly visiting Jamie at the hospital and the combination of their visits and the attention of a kindly nurse keeps Jamie from despairing completely. Jamie has become a bit of a pariah in Haddonfield now that her relationship to Michael is known and the fact that she attacked her foster parent with a pair of scissors is now public knowledge. Jamie has very much grown dependent on the friends she has and the visits from them are an important part of her emotional well-being. Occasionally Rachel brings her ditsy friend Tina along and even sneaks in the family dog, Max, in through her bedroom window. Dogs aren’t allowed in the hospital, but the doctors and nurses look the other way. It seems when your uncle is a notorious mass murderer and you yourself have shown psychotic tendencies you get special privileges. I can’t think of any other reason for why Jamie is so special in deserving this exception to hospital policy. If I attacked my mother with a pair of scissors I don’t think they would even let me see a picture of my pet let alone visit it.

During one of these visits a stone is thrown suddenly through Jamie’s window with a letter taped to it which says “The evil child must die.” The strange thing about this is how the vandal knew which window of the hospital to throw the rock. But, that plot hole aside, the idea of Jamie being a pariah is referenced very little in this movie despite this episode. We get the scene with the rock and a bit of dialogue between Rachel and Loomis about how scared the townsfolk are of Jamie, but it culminates to nothing more than that. The whole pariah concept eventually goes no where and it seems like a waste of time to bring it up at all. While we are supposed to believe Haddonfield is afraid of Jamie it seems most of the people in the town who interact with her don’t mind her presence at all. These angry stone-throwers seem like a small minority to me and are no reflection on the sentiments of the entire town.

While all of this is going on Dr. Loomis, always attuned to Michael Myers and his evilness, becomes aware of the psychic connection between Jamie and her uncle. He begins to suspect that Michael is still alive and despite Jamie’s refusal to communicate with him on the issue he tries to convince Sheriff Meeker to be cautious. Meeker doesn’t take the doctor seriously and in this scene we get one of my favourite Loomis lines ever. He tells the sheriff, “I prayed that he would burn in Hell, but in my heart I knew that Hell would not have him.” It’s so delightfully cheesy and it is a perfect line for a character like Loomis. He’s the Halloween equivalent to Van Helsing and his keen understanding of the enemy the town is fighting makes this bit of dialogue remind me all the more of Helsing and characters like him.

Later on, Jamie has another one of her premonitions and she senses Michael Myers’ presence in her family’s house. Dr. Loomis calls the home and Rachel answers wearing a bath towel because she was just taking a shower. As any horror buff will tell you she has committed already two of the biggest no-no’s in slasher flick culture. 1. Never survive a horror film and then appear in the sequel. 2. Don’t be naked in any scene.
Having committed both of these heinous crimes her fate is sealed.
In response to Loomis’s phonce call she, out of fear for her safety, calls the police and they search the area and find nothing. Here we meet two police officers who are supposed to be the comic relief of the movie. They search her house and then come out to tell her the coast is clear. As they leave the house and make their appearance we are treated to some very stereotypical clown music that I guess is supposed to let us know that the too cops are morons. The music, however, is a big turn off and when I first saw this movie I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It seems from Dukes of Hazzard to The Last House on the Left the tradition of bumbling cops is alive in well Halloween 5 too.
Rachel, feeling stupid for wasting the Haddonfield police’s time, goes back into the house where she is then attacked by Michael Myers and killed. This leaves us with Jamie, Dr. Loomis, and Tina as the film’s main protagonists. I don’t mind Jamie and Loomis, but Tina is annoying. She is a ditsy airhead whose favourite topics of conversation never ascend beyond the asinine and acts like a cheerleader in the most inappropriate moments. This woman is a very poor replacement for Rachel.
She is dating a douche-bag named Mike who is in love with his car and gives it fresh waxings with all the tenderness of a man making love to a woman. This strange, antisocial jerk becomes extremely angry if anyone even touches his car and it soon becomes apparent that only an idiot would see anything worth dating in him. So naturally he is going out with Tina. Their relationship ends abruptly when later at a car garage Mike is sitting in his vehicle when he sees through the car’s mirror a hand holding a rake scraping the paint off his car. Mike completely incredulous that someone would dare do such a thing to his beloved vehicle gets out of it and threatens the vandal who, unfortunately for him, turns out to be Myers who decides scraping Mike’s face with the rake is more fun than doing it to his car. It’s evident that in Haddonfield there is simply not enough room for two assholes named Michael and someone had to go.

Becoming increasingly concerned for Tina’s safety Loomis urges the two bumbling cops to keep on an eye on her so they follow her to a Halloween party where she and some friends decide to sneak off to a barn. Tina’s two friends, Spitz and Sam, decide to have sex on a pile of hay and this ends poorly when Michael kills them with a pitchfork and a scythe. He then proceeds to go outside and kill the two police officers as well.
Jamie senses that Tina is in danger and begins talking again and decides to go warn her. A boy her own age named Billy who has a crush on her agrees to go with her. They sneak out of the children’s hospital looking for her and meet up with her just around the time that Tina has discovered the bodies. Trying to escape Michael who is stalking them Jamie, Tina, and Billy flee into the woods and when Myers catches up with them Tina sacrifices herself to give the two children time to get away. The kids are rescued by Sheriff Meeker and Dr. Loomis and the Doctor convinces Jamie to help him lure Michael into a trap at his old house. The set-up is botched when the cop guarding Jamie is killed and she is forced to flee up a laundry chute. She encounters Michael in the attic and she attempts to reach out to him by calling him ,”Uncle.” He takes his mask off briefly and seems receptive to Jamie until she touches his face. This sends him into a rage and he puts the mask back on and goes back to trying to kill her. Thankfully Loomis makes it to the attic in time to trap Michael in a chain net and beat him unconscious with a wooden plank. Dr. Loomis suffers a stroke during the attack, but Michael is nonetheless subdued and taken to the Haddonfield jail.

Outside of the jail Jamie hears an explosion and several gunshots. She runs back in to see the entire police station painted red with blood and dead policemen everywhere. The man in black whom we had been seeing throughout Halloween 5 has busted Michael Myers out of jail leaving the shocked and perplexed Jamie sobbing, “No!”

The film ends here leaving the identity of the Man in Black and the fate of Jamie and Michael unknown.
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers is a dark turn from the more lighthearted Halloween 4. It is filled with depictions of Jamie’s emotional state and personal demons affecting her relationships, losing all of the friends she cares about, and it gives us an ending that evokes a complete sense of hopelessness in the fight against Myers. It’s a very depressing movie compared to Halloween 4. Also the story is peppered with unexplained mysticism, psychic phenomenon, and strange eerie figures whose actions and motivations perplex and confuse the viewers. A lot of this is explained in Halloween 6, but in 1989 I must imagine this film was not well liked by the fans. In the horror medium it needs to be understand that in certain sub-genres confusion and unexplained events are done well and in others they are not. The slasher genre is one of the latter. Michael Myers is not a Lovecraftian creation. His character is supposed to be obvious, one-dimensional, and without deep secrets. Movies like Suspiria and Silent Hill can get away with being as confusing as they want because they are visually-oriented films. They don’t depend on a straight-forward and easily understood narrative. And it seems to me with Halloween 5 and 6 the writers were trying to make a more sophisticated horror story that simply didn’t work with the slasher genre. Horror films of this type shouldn’t have entries that depend on future sequels to be understood. All the setup for Halloween 6 here is unappreciated by most fans (myself included) even 21 years after that sequel came out. Heavy-handed setup for sequels might work for the Saw franchise, but not Halloween. Halloween 5 would have been a much more enjoyable movie if it was not so busy being Halloween 6’s harbinger.

In the end Halloween 5 is a weak entry in the series that tied into a sequel that ended up being one of the worst in the series. The payoff in 1995 must have left fans feeling more disappointed than the kids in Halloween III were with the Silver Shamrock Special. Sometimes hype is better than the result.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch Review

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

3

With Dr. Loomis and Michael Myers apparently dead it was decided to continue the Halloween franchise as an anthology series in which each film was a separate Halloween-themed story instead of a continuation of the events from Halloween II. Halloween III was to be the first of the all new Halloween movies and it left fans extremely disappointed. After only two films Michael Myers had already become a horror icon and fans expected more of him in the sequels to follow. In the horror genre no one cares if you killed off a villain. There are ways to bring them back. I mean just look at the Saw films. There the main villain exists solely through flashbacks from the fourth movie onward.
To put it simply there was no demand for an anthology series and fans wanted more Michael. In the end Halloween III was an unwelcome addition that put the franchise on hiatus for five years.

Per se, the idea of an anthology horror series isn’t a bad one. American Horror Story, Creepshow, and Tales from the Crypt have all done fairly well after all. I think one of the reasons it didn’t work for Halloween was because the first sequel was a continuation of the original. At that point it was too late to turn the franchise into an anthology because that would be inconsistent. Also Halloween and Halloween II were three years apart which gave the first movie plenty of time to become iconic. By 1982 Michael Myers was irrevocably connected to the Halloween series and removing him could only be a mistake.

That being said I acknowledge that it is a trifle unfair to criticise a film for what it is not and, yet, fail to talk about what it is. So Halloween III, Michael or no Michael, does have a story worthy of review.

The film opens with a man running in the dark clutching a pumpkin mask. He eludes the men chasing him and is found by a gas station employee who takes him to the hospital. The man keeps raving that someone is coming to “kill us all” before he is sedated. While the doctor, whose name is Dan, is filling out paperwork a mysterious man in a business suit with black gloves walks into the patient’s room and kills him by gripping his face and crushing his skull to pieces. The nurse discovers the patient dead just as his murderer walks out of the hospital. Doctor Dan tries to catch up with the killer; but before he can do so the man gets into his car, pours gasoline over himself, and sets himself alight with complete serenity and emotionlessness.

Dan is at a bar later contemplating the bizarre events at his hospital. He is understandably stressed since strange men murdering his patients is not his only problem. He has two kids and an ex-wife who hates him enough to take sadistic pleasure in seeing his children disappointed in him. He bought them some cheap Halloween masks which they rejected since their mother already bought them some better made ones from a company called Silver Shamrock. This novelty company specialises in a lot of toys and gags like fake puke, gum that tastes like dirt, and other things kids buy to stress their parents and neighbours out. His kids prefer the Silver Shamrock masks which come in three varieties: Skeleton, Pumpkin, and Witch. It was one of these masks that the victim in the hospital was holding before he was killed. As a marketing gimmick Silver Shamrock has been airing a series of commercials with an irritating jingle that sticks in your head for hours reminding children to wear the masks on Halloween when the company will air a special Halloween program sponsored by the company. All the kids across the country are pumped about this upcoming special while exasperated parents are draining their wallets purchasing these masks for them. The annoying song seems to only add insult to injury for the adults and so Dan is obviously irate when the television at the bar in which he is drinking his sorrows away begins playing one of those infernal commercials. I cannot say the commercial is quite as bad as those Head-On ads, but it is still annoying and I don’t blame his indignation at having to hear it. Strangely enough the Silver Shamrock company is also sponsoring a TV airing of the original Halloween movie, but before we have time to ponder this fourth wall-breaking Dan is thankfully distracted by a young woman named Ellie who reveals herself to be the daughter of the man killed in his hospital.
She informs Dan that her father was a former employee of Silver Shamrock and that she suspects the company of taking part in a conspiracy connected to her father’s murder. So despite the fact that he has to take his kids out for trick-or-treating on Saturday, had no personal relationship with the victim, and is a simple doctor not trained in espionage or crime investigation Dan decides to aid her on her quest. Why Ellie approached the man who only just prescribed the man meds is a mystery to me. That would be like asking the school janitor for help with math homework.

The Silver Shamrock Novelties factory is located in a predominantly Irish town called Santa Mira and so it is there that Ellie and Dan take themselves. They pose as a newly married couple and stay at a local motel run by a manager who tells them that much of the town’s prosperity is thanks to one Conal Cochran who owns the Silver Shamrock company. Ellie makes a comment about the strangeness of Irish Halloween masks and Dr. Dan agrees with her. This is pretty dumb when you consider the Celtic roots of the holiday, but apparently we can’t expect a well educated doctor and the daughter of a company insider to know that.
Two other rooms at the motel are occupied. One by a saleswoman who just recently bought a Silver Shamrock mask for her son and the other by a family consisting of a man, his wife, and their son. The father’s name is Buddy Kupfer and he is here on business with Cochran.

In their motel room Dan and Ellie suddenly get intimate for what seems to be no reason at all. They were hitherto only posing as a couple, but since they are sharing the same room they apparently decide “hey, why not.” This feels like the plot to a porn movie and it happens with no real explanation or depiction of their relationship developing in any believable way. In The Terminator Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor at least got to know each other before having sex in a motel room and it helped move the plot along. Here it just seems like they added a sex scene to help an already tedious movie reach its 90 minute run time.
Meanwhile, while they are getting it on the saleslady is taking a look at the mask she bought for her kid and she begins to examine a Silver Shamrock logo that fell off. On the back of the logo is a computer chip which seems to serve no purpose since the mask is not an electronic product. She starts poking at the chip with a hairpin which causes the logo to suddenly discharge a laser beam which kills her instantly. Why she was poking at the chip in the first place is beyond me. She was a saleswoman, not an electronics technician. What was she even trying to do? Is scraping at microchips with a hairpin her version of popping bubble wrap? If so she should have found a less fatal stress reliever.

Anyway, the next morning Dan, Ellie, and the Kupfer family go on a tour of the Silver Shamrock Novelties factory guided by Mr. Cochran himself. During the tour Dan notices that many of the employees bear an eerie resemblance to the man who murdered Ellie’s father and are even wearing the same business suits. While touring the grounds Ellie notices her father’s car parked in a warehouse and she rushes up for a closer look. Two of Cochran’s workers block her way and Mr. Cochran laughs it off for the benefit of the Kupfer family as his employees just zealously protecting trade secrets.

Back at the motel Dan and Ellie are packing to leave town when they are attacked by the men in suits. Dan escapes but Ellie is kidnapped and taken to the factory. With the town’s phone network down Dan is unable to contact the police so he takes it upon himself to rescue her. He sneaks into the factory, but is caught by some of employees. He manages to overpower one of them and discovers during the struggle that the men in business suits are all robots manufactured by Cochran to do his bidding. This, of course, begs the question why these men are wearing gloves when they kill people. It’s not like their fingerprints would trace back to real people. But, such plot holes aside, Dan is eventually captured and taken before Cochran who reveals his sinister plan. Turns out that Cochran is fed up with the Western commercialisation of Halloween and wants to revitalise the holiday by bringing it back to its darker, more pagan roots. Annoyed by harmless trick-or-treating, lawn decorations, and Peanuts specials he wants to celebrate Halloween retro style. Blood sacrifices, Celtic rituals, and heathen cultism are more up to Conal Cochran’s speed and he wants America to celebrate Halloween his way. If you ask how he is planning to do all this you will hate yourself for asking. Like most things in this movie his plan is quite stupid.
Conal Cochran stole one of the pillars from Stonehenge, captured its magical essence, and concentrated it into the microchips planted in the logos attached to the Halloween masks. The Silver Shamrock Halloween special that is going to air on the 31st will somehow trigger the mechanism which will melt a wearer of one of the mask’s head into a pile of snakes and insects. And, naturally, the robots he built helped him accomplish all of this.
I simply cannot see how Mr. Cochran supposed to get away with doing such a thing so I am forced to assume he never intended to. Whatever music he was to face afterward was evidently worth all this to him.
Conal goes on to demonstrate his plan by having the Kupfer family’s son test the mask and watch the Halloween special. It goes even better than Conal planned and the boy’s head is successfully converted to a pile of snakes and bugs while his horrified parents are killed offscreen. Most horror movies don’t stoop to killing children and it always takes a lot of balls when they do. The only other film I can think of that does this in an effective manner is the 1931 Universal Frankenstein. However, killing off a child is not this film’s worst fault. Being a stupid movie is.

To make an already long story short Dan manages to escape, rescues Ellie, dumps a ton of the microchips into the factory’s computer lab just before turning the commercial on the monitors’ screens. This kills Cochran and much of his employees, but I imagine the snake and insect population in Santa Mira was tripled that day.
In Dan’s car on the way to a payphone to warn TV stations not to air the commercial Ellie suddenly turns on Dan and tries to kill him. It soon comes out that the real Ellie was killed in the factory and replaced by one of Mr. Cochran’s robots. Dan manages to destroy the robot and gets away to a gas station where he calls up all the TV networks and demands they pull the TV special. Most of them comply, but one does not and continues to air the special despite the angry doctor’s pleas. The film ends here and we are left to assume that thousands of kids across the country have snakes where their faces used to be.

This movie has left Halloween fans divided into two very distinct positions. And honestly I think they are both wrong. Many of the Halloween fans who hate this movie hate it because Michael Myers is not in it. Unfortunately, this is not the most viable criticism to lay at the film’s feet since it never purposed to have Michael in it in the first place. Consequentially it thus did not fail in its aims at all. As I said earlier an anthology series is not a terrible idea. It was just too late to start one for this franchise.
The second position is the fans who like the film and defend it as a good horror film in its own right. They claim it might have been better received if Halloween was not in the title. However, I completely disagree. If you removed the Halloween III and just called it Season of the Witch it would still have been a stupid movie. The plot makes no sense, the characters act in ways that no normal person would act, and the villain is given a very weak motivation and even weaker exposition on how he proposed to do everything he does. How did he manage to steal a pillar from Stonehenge? When and where did he learn how to build robots? How did he know he could capture the power of Stonehenge in a microchip? I am not well-read in Pagan literature, witchcraft, and ancient grimoires bound in human flesh like some people, but I am fairly certain they are devoid of info on how to program black magic into a computer chip! Mr. Cochran was awfully confident in a plan that was so unconventional.
This is a really stupid horror movie and its being a part of the Halloween series is only an insult added to injury, not the injury itself.

Twenty five years after, I still remember one of the coolest nights ever.

     It seems odd to remember the exhilaration I felt being a Batman fan and realizing I would be seeing the first new live action Batman, in a generation.  Most people saw it on opening night, June twenty third nineteen eighty nine.  At the time big films had a premier showing with premier ticket prices.  I saved my money and saw it on June twenty second.

     I obviously couldn’t drive myself, but my sister was in town.  She was on break from college, MIT.  The day I bought advanced tickets, I was wearing a Batman tee shirt, my oversized glasses and the happiest look a kid could have.  There was a huge concrete staircase leading to the parking lot.  After purchasing my tickets, I gleefully leapt off the top of the steps to go to my grandfather’s car.  Unfortunately, I was no Batman and I busted my knee in the process.  People laughed and I was bleeding, but I didn’t care.  I was going to see Batman.

     I remember telling my sister how much I thought this move was going to horrible.  I told her that if there was no Robin, then Batman wouldn’t be the same.  I asked her if I should watch my VHS tape of Adam West’s 1966 adventure first.  She told me just go into it as a fan and take from it what you will.

     I had to loan her one of my many Batman tee shirts.  Hey, it was a big deal, to me.  I remember us taking our seats and laughing about how we hoped Keaton wouldn’t go all Mr. Mom and Nicholson wouldn’t just be well Nicholson.  By the way, the latter was true.  I also remember distinctly, everyone in the theater wearing Batman paraphernalia.  Why I remember that so clearly, is because of this one bubble head, who was likely dragged there by her boyfriend, asking “Where’d these people get all of that Batman stuff?”  I could hear the laughter at the question, throughout the rows.  This was 1989.  There was Batman cereal, for goodness sakes!

     The film was more than I hoped for.  It’s still a classic, to me.  However, the best part of watching that film is remembering a fun night with my older sister.  I was so lucky.  She could have been spending time with her high school friends or any number of wanna be boyfriends.  She took that time to spend with her dorky kid brother, because of that, I will always love that movie.

Contributor: Brian Holder

The Possession of Michael King

Reviewed by Anthony Lucas

As usual I’m whiling the time away at work (nightshift, insanely boring!!!) so i trawl through the endless movie streaming sites looking for something to help end the monotony. I stumbled across The Possession of Michael King and, and first, thought Meh! Another do-it-yourself home movie demon invasion flick. However the synopsis of a Godless mans decision to make a documentary proving that the supernatural exists after his wife dies was too good to ignore.

Firstly, compared to the other POV movies “documenting” the existence of the supernatural this is by far my favourite. Yes, there was plenty of night vision green tinged footage but not enough to be annoying like some previous attempts.

Secondly, there was no “night one, 3am”, which has always niggled me but i cant honestly say why.

And finally, it was brilliantly shot. There are a few scenes that will make you jump a little but the overall creep factor is what, well, creeps up on you. The progression of Michaels quest to prove/disprove if demons exist was slow to begin with but accelerates at a good pace towards the end. There is quite a bit of blood thrown around but not an abundance that many horror movies are going for these days. This movie is simply quality over quantity. The effects are outstanding, I don’t know what the budget was for this film but whatever it was, it was put to good use. Michaels transformation is expertly done and any CGI that is used is seamless. The characters were great especially Michael, whose struggle was portrayed brilliantly by Shane Johnson.

In conclusion, I find it refreshing to watch a film where the story and direction are enough to make the viewer feel creeped out as opposed to lame actors throwing buckets of blood around and having things pop up as a camera pans round just to make you jump. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and if you like the supernatural you will too.

A send off to a timeless legend

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Written by Arthur Milano, contributing writer to Rebel Consciousness

The tragic and sudden death earlier this week of the entertainment legend and ubber-talented comedy genius Robin Williams shock us down to our collective core. We all have our favorite performances of a comic career that lasted almost five (5) decades. My own experiences with Williams’ brand of comedy is as colorful as the characters he portrayed.

Robin’s fast-paced, kooky and hyper intelligent stand kept audiences at least a half-step behind as his career went full tilt Hollywood. From the live-action screen adaptation of Popeye to stellar performance in The World According To Garp (1982) to his unbeatable animated voiceover work in Disney’s Aladdin (1992), Robots (2004) and Happy Feet (2006, 2011).

While I think trying to encapsulate such a monumental career is an exercise in futility. I would like t share 10 special moments of personal favorites from some of my most cherished Robin Williams’ moments:

10. Mork & Mindy I was first introduced  to Williams’ unique brand of humor in the late 1970’s when I was a young boy watching the ABC sci-fi comedy Mork & Mindy (originally spun off of Happy Days). The show was a huge satirical hit. Mork from (the planet) Ork was net to observe us silly earthlings and at the end of every episode reported back to his superiors on the state of human affairs via observations of human behavior through his surrogate Earth partner, Mindy (Pam Dawber). Brilliant.

9. Popeye  A little over-the-top (like we haven’t said THAT about a Robin Williams flick before), but the portrayal of America’s favorite spinach-eating sailor some of Williams’ best characterizations. Down to the mumbling with the corn-cob pipe, Popeye’s efforts to win-over love interest Olive Oyl (Shelley Duvall). Its a bit creepy mostly because it is full character satire in the days before CGI.

8. Moscow on the Hudson What do you put [Soviet] Russian musician Vladimir Ivanof of the Moscow Circus to defect to America and gets a gig at… Bloomingdales? Eye-opening, laugh-out-loud comedy! Funnier comedy than ANYTHING out today! When Vladimir chooses to live in America he dives headlong into the American melting pot by staying with a Black Family, consulting with his Cuban lawyer and spending time with his Italian girlfriend. This forgotten gem about heating up the cold war is as entertaining as it is thoughtful.

7. Hook When Steven Spielberg gets together with Robin Williams, it is indeed magical. When Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) kidnaps the children of the adult Peter Pan (now Peter Banning), Peter must return to Neverland to regain his youth-like powers and take Hook down. No better example of Williams’ eternal child-like exuberance.

6. Aladdin You have to be someone special to make me laugh when I can’t see you. It is said that the animators of Aladdin had to rework their original vision of the Genie (played by Williams) to keep the energy onscreen on pace with the voice work Williams was projecting. This film is so filled with puns, quips, alliterations and wit, it boggles the mind. This film would just not work without Robin’s masterful musings.

5. Mrs Doubtfire While I have long-held the belief that this movie is remembered for being better than it was, one cannot deny the social significance of the plight of the newly divorced Dad who would do anything to be around his kids more–including dress in drag as an irish house maid. Funny, profound and a hair disturbing, this movie does not disappoint.

4. Jumanji In some of the earliest instances of computer-driven CGI the oddly entertaining story of a mystical board game that affects the future like a wiji board and brings game elements–like random jungle animals–to life is awesome. Releasing a man trapped inside for decades (Williams) the movie is imaginative and engaging. The most mystifying and entreating part is William’s role. A true spectacle and film that launched a board game craze.

3. Night at the Museum (series) His recurring role as a re-animated Teddy Roosevelt–from a museum wax recreation–is one of the few charming (and memorable) elements from the mediocre NatM series of films. Williams role is admiringly memorable in an otherwise forgettable film. Further proof of William’s depth of characterization skills.

2. Flubber Robin William’s physically demonstrative comedy is complimented by a delightfully life-like gelatinous substance. Professor Brainard’s discovery leads to some interesting hijinks that becomes fun and scientific introspection great for every member of the family. A silly, light-hearted adventure in the vein of the Nutty Professor & Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. Williams at his best.

1. Good Will Hunting Hands down my favorite Williams role. Based in my beloved hometown of Boston, MA, Will Hunting must come to terms with his genius IQ and completely immature way of dealing with it. A life of amazing promise and opportunity will befall Will (Matt Damon) if he can confront and overcome his own demons with the help of counselor Sean Macquire. Its a role completely 180º away from his comedic legacy–and it’s epic.

Mr Williams you are loved, you are cherished you are and always will be a one-of-a-kind entertainer. You set the bar for outlandishness and no one will be able to have the kind of impact you’ve had on the world. We all were impacted by your greatness and I hope you have at least found peace from the troubled demons you were combating. From all your fans and friends here on Earth, this is Earth signing off. Na-Nu Na-Nu.

Rest in peace brother, you certainly have earned it from a life–and career–well met.

Arthur “Arth Vader” Milano is a blogger, social media specialist, designer and marketing copywriter. He’s also co-founder of the Boxed Office, a sci-fi movie review blog and co-hosts the weekly podcast for Controller Issues, dedicated to the lives of parents who are gamers.

Top 5 Films of 2010

Here are my five picks for the best films of 2010:

5. Morning Glory

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Morning Glory is a remarkably well-thought-out comedy that explores the lives of journalists and talk show hosts.

Harrison Ford plays Mike Pomeroy, a veteran journalist who is assigned, to his chagrin, to a position as a host on a struggling morning news program called DayBreak. Pomeroy, remembering his years as a serious journalist, resists conforming to the expectations of morning talk show hosts by refusing to banter with the other hosts and any assignment that he regards as beneath him (such as cooking specials).
The film poignantly and amusingly portrays Pomeroy’s transformation from an angry, arrogant, washed-up journalist to a more open-minded man who learns that he can have fun and keep his sense of self-respect at the same time.

4. Toy Story 3

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Although I will give Despicable Me an honourable mention, Toy Story 3 is by far the best animated film to come out in 2010.

Back in 1995 my Dad took me to my first movie at the cinema, Toy Story. My 3-year old mind barely understood the movie and continually misheard the pronunciation of Light Year’s name. I kept thinking Woody was calling him Fuzz for some reason. A few years later the sequel came out and I understood that one much better.

Throughout my childhood I grew up with Pixar movies and never missed one when they were released. I developed a great deal of appreciation for the two Toy Story movies and when I heard of the third one I was honestly sceptical. Aside from Up and Wall-E I thought Pixar was going a bit downhill in recent years. I was not impressed with Cars or Ratatouille and I was suspicious that Toy Story 3 would be little more than an over-killed cash-grab. That is until I saw it of course.

Toy Story 3 was a terrific end to a story that began when I was 3 years old. Andy was now in college and so was I at the time. The film spoke to me as a newcomer to the grown-up scene as Andy was in the same predicament. Andy was a child when I was child and he grew up when I did Like Andy’s mom, my mother had also grown older and more sentimental by time I moved out. My childhood was also stuffed away in boxes and bags. It impressed me how Toy Story 3 spoke not so much to a newer younger generation of Pixar fans as it did to the now grown-up children who saw the original Toy Story back in 1995.

The ending was sweet, dramatic, and moving. Any scepticism I might have had was gone by time the credits rolled.

3. Let Me In

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Let Me In is by far the best horror film of 2010 and the best vampire story in recent years. I have not seen the Swedish film, Let the Right One In, so I cannot vouch for this film’s comparison to it or it’s faithfulness to the original novel; but going from what I know this is a masterpiece of horror cinema.

When this movie came out I foolishly went to see My Soul To Take instead which is a much inferior film. I regrettably did not see Let Me In until its DVD release.

Let Me In could be described as a vampire love story but before the Stephanie Meyer critics storm away from this blog, I should mention that this movie is nothing like Twilight. It’s dark, violent, and disturbing on the deepest levels.

In the film a young boy named Owen is bullied daily at school. He befriends a 12 year old girl who moves in next door named Abby (played by Chloe Grace Moretz of Kick-Ass fame). She is cold and distant to him at first but eventually decides to risk friendship with Owen despite her fears for his safety since she is a vampire.

I will not spoil how far their relationship goes in the end and how the story plays out, but I will say it has a violent, dark; albeit bittersweet climax that leaves the viewer in the position to interpret what the future lies for Abby and the Owen.

2. Black Swan

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I do not regard this as one of Darren Aronofsky’s best films. But, I believe it is still one of the better films of 2010.

In a visually twisted and bizarre series of events we see a rivalry between two ballerinas played by Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis develop as they prepare for a performance of Swan Lake. As their hatred and competition grows more and more unstable Portman loses her grip on reality and her obsession with her job and her conflicted feelings toward Kunis all lead to a breakdown that leaves the audience puzzled but fascinated.

Like all Aronofsky films Black Swan is visually arresting and artistic in flavour while telling a gripping story of rivalry, revenge, and growing madness. For those who enjoy art cinema I recommend this film highly since it is a perfect example of a film that can be mainstream and arty at the same time.

1. Inception

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I am gonna go on record and say that I love the works of Christopher Nolan. Even his lesser films such as The Dark Knight Rises or The Prestige allow the viewer to think and not shut down cognitive processes for the sake of pop-corn entertainment. Inception is definitely no exception.

In this brilliant film Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb an expert at Extraction which is the theft of valuable information from important figures by entering their dreams.

Cobb is hired by a businessman (Ken Watanabe) to use his skills to take down a rival corporation which threatens his profits. The plan is to instead of stealing info (extraction) Cobb would rather in a reverse process plant an idea (inception) into the heir (Cillian Murphy) of the rival company’s dying owner that he should abandon the company allowing it to dissolve in favour of pursuing Murphy’s personal interests.

I won’t spoil the climax but the Inception has an ending that left me gratified to know that some filmmakers still know how to make movies that don’t need to spoon-feed everything to their audience. Here we have a movie that allows its audience to make their own decisions about the meaning of the ending instead of being benefited with needless exposition. Sometimes questions are more important than answers.

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey