Non Canon Review: Halloween: H20: Twenty Years Later (1998)

AUGUST 7, 2007

GENRE: SLASHER
SOURCE: DVD (OWN COLLECTION)

This isn’t really a canon review, I certainly haven’t somehow missed the 6th sequel to my all time favorite movie for the past 9 years (exactly 9 years in fact, it opened this very week in 1998! Trivia to impress your socks!). But the funny thing with H20 is, I walk away from it with a different opinion almost every single time I watch it.

The first time I saw it, I thought it was OK, nothing special. Then I saw it again 2 days later and thought it was great. Then again in October, but this time I spent the whole movie laughing, because the film was projected at 1.33:1 when it was supposed to be matted at 2.35:1. Not only did we see the boom mike a lot, we actually saw the boom OPERATOR a few times. Amazing.

Then it came on DVD. For some “Wow, DVD has come a long way” trivia, this DVD retailed at 39.99. It is non-anamorphic, has only 1 extra feature (a surprisingly decent 20 minute featurette), and is missing another feature promised on the back (a commentary track). How they justified that cost is beyond me, but back then, I considered it a ‘great deal’ when I found a site that sold it for 23.99. Christ. My budget pack gave me 50 movies for 20 bucks and I thought getting one movie for 24 was a steal.

Since then, I’ve continued to go back and forth on the film, disliking it one time, liking it the next, etc. This time, I liked it again. It’s almost like I just saw a really really fucking terrible Halloween movie that made this one better by proxy.

The reason for my ever changing views on the film is because the film itself is conflicted. Every good thing about it has something bad that cancels itself out:

  • Michael is kept in the shadows, but when you see him he looks fucking ridiculous.
  • Laurie is supposedly still tormented by what happened to her, but yet she’s like a tough bitch to her son, her coworkers, etc.
  • John and Molly are well written, their two friends are among the most awkward and pointless in slasher history.
  • Michael’s ability to drive from Illinois to California is explained (he steals a 2nd car). but the scene takes place in CA instead of some sort of logical halfway mark like Colorado.
  • The body count is kept admirably down, but they go overboard by having a character survive being shot in the head.

The most troublesome is, of course, the arrogant dismissal of parts 4-6. Revenge (5) and Curse (6) I can take or leave, but damned if anyone is going to tell me that Return (4) never happened. Even without all those aforementioned flaws, Halloween Water is still not as good as 4, and it’s a damn shame that they chose this route. Originally, there was a scene where 4-6 would be acknowledged before moving on, and that would have been fine. I would have liked some resolution to the Thorn storyline, but I would be OK with at least mentioning it before discarding it. It was all the more annoying because compared to some of the other franchises (Hellraiser and Friday the 13th in particular), continuity in the Halloween series was generally pretty strong. With those other series, it was almost always a new set of characters, with little reason to “watch them in order” or whatever. But Halloween 1-6 (not counting 3 of course) were pretty linear, with minor characters from the first film returning in the 6th. H20 tossed that all away, bringing the series down to the same sort of “No one behind the scenes cares” feeling that the other franchises had. Jerks.

There’s also the Scream factor. H20 was more or less given life due to the success of Scream, and its influence is obvious. There’s the celebrity star being killed in the first scene, the “witty” remarks and references to other horror movies (particularly Psycho), etc. In the most confusing example, two characters watch Scream 2 on TV. Scream 2 is, of course, a film that takes place in the world where Halloween is a movie. MIND: BLOWN.

I’d like to go back to the mask. Why every film uses a different mask is something I’ll never understand, but how they managed to make one THIS BAD is some sort of cosmic fuckup that even NASA would probably puzzle over. It seriously looks like a kid dressing up as Michael (maybe this is another clever joke? Have the killer from Halloween look like he’s merely ‘dressed up’ as the Halloween killer? If so, it’s not very funny). Michael shows some occasional menace and signs of his old self (love the bit by the gate), but the effect is totally ruined by the fact that he looks so goddamn goofy. It doesn’t help that there’s like 5 different masks in the movie because they knew they fucked up and tried fixing it (they actually got one right – in the scene where he chases John and Molly out of the dorm and toward the locked door, the mask looks pretty good). Plus they show clips from the first film, making the change even more noticeable.

So what the hell do I make of this movie? Pacing wise, I love the film. I think it’s great that they more or less copied the structure of the original, emphasizing suspense and character development. And the climax is fucking brilliant (by the way, I’m just going to pretend 8 never happened from now on). But those other flaws bring it down to “just another sequel” level, and that’s just a damn shame.

Also, when dedicating your film to the beloved star of the series who sadly passed away after realizing how incoherent Curse was, maybe you want to double check and make sure you spell his name correctly. Douchebags.

What say you?

11 comments:

  1. MIND: BLOWN

    =


    GENIUS: WORDSMITHING

    ReplyDelete
  2. My wife, who likes horror movies only in a take-it-or-leave-it way, just HATES this series, and mainly b/c of this one and Resurrection. She watched 1 and 2 and thought they were very scary (as do I), but her thing is that she hated seeing Laurie Strode go through all this terrible stuff, fight it and survive for so many years, only to finally end up getting killed anyway.

    Not a big fan of downer endings, my wife.

    Anyway, my love for the Halloween series pretty much ends with #2. I watched 4-6 way back in the day, and remember almost nothing about them. Maybe I should revisit them, once I finish my budget pack and the 50 Drive-In movies sitting on my shelf.

    And #3, imo, even if it hadn't been saddled with the Halloween name and its accompanying unattainable expectations, still would have been a shitty movie. But apparently I'm in the minority in horror geeks on that one.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You need to revisit III... it's amazing no matter what the title is. Any movie that focuses on killing all America's children by putting on masks that turn their heads into bugs and snakes is automatically great.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'll give you that, but come on: CLOCKWORK AUTOMATONS?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Exactly! Amazing!!!!

    Hahaha.

    My response is and always will be, to the folks who complain about the lack of Myers:

    "Myers was too busy being a druid and getting 'schooled' and kung fu'd by Busta Rhymes to appear in this film"

    ReplyDelete
  6. brian.. you're so clever :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Well, I guess I'll have to revist H20 now. I saw it once in the theater and once on DVD and both times I was like...eh. Not the worst but not the best either.

    I will TOTALLY agree that part 3 is a fantastic, sick little film. Total title having not an Fing think to do with the series aside, that theme and the goo-men, snake and bug masks on children...those things just left a mark on me as a kid. More so than some of the other "sequels" in the series.

    Except of course for part 4...:)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Like I said, I'm in the minority among horror geeks on H3. No accounting for tastes, as they say, and mine for some reason don't cotton to the clockwork automatons.

    But then again I enjoyed the Bill Rebane flicks...

    :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. How I never saw "Water" with you back in the day... well, I don't know? Why didn't I see that? If it matches the pacing of 1, I'll check it out.

    3 would be better if they continued to make the series as different horror movies under the Halloween banner.

    4 is the best sequel. Go to hell if you don't agree.

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  10. I thought you went with us... it was Me Jay Eric and... someone.

    ReplyDelete

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