The Fear: Halloween Night (1999)

AUGUST 16, 2011


If you recently read (or inexplicably memorized) my review of The Fear, you might panic at seeing a review for The Fear: Halloween Night (retitled from The Fear: Resurrection), as I said that I wouldn’t bother watching the sequel until I ran out of movies. This was just an empty (read: forgotten) threat, obviously, because here we are and I already have the rest of the week’s movies planned out. HMAD will continue, and thus I will keep seeing bland, forgettable movies like this.

Of course it’s a very fitting sequel to the original, as that movie was also bland and forgettable. I re-read my review twice trying to rejigger my memory of it, and came up with nothing (I can’t even remember the supposed incest storyline – if I can’t even remember THAT then you know the movie’s bad and/or my memory has really shit the bed). I think this one might be a minor improvement, because it wasn’t as confusing (and the DVD didn’t seem to be edited this time around) and the characters were somewhat likable, but I wouldn’t argue if you said otherwise.

The thing that bugs me about these movies is that they can’t just let Morty bust out and be a real villain. Once again he is kept on the sidelines for most of the movie as we deal with the endless subplot about our hero possibly being the killer himself, a storyline that can’t be satisfied either way. If he IS the killer, he’s not as cool as a wooden mannequin, and if he’s NOT, then you’re just wasting time that could be spent on the big guy lumbering around killing people. As it is, more people survive this than any other slasher I can recall (at least five characters get away, including the nerdy pal), and worse, it takes forever to get going. The first hour only offers us a single death (not counting the obligatory tragic prologue), and then his spree largely occurs off-screen so they can keep up the lame mystery.

When Morty IS rampaging around it’s kind of fun though. He has one-liners, all of which are terrible and clunky, which just entertains me. The best/weirdest is just a natural progression to what was a weird choice for a fear – instead of rats, the dark, etc, this guy is afraid of making decisions. And Morty is so strict when it comes to his MO, he doesn’t just kill him when he has the chance; instead he drags him over to a burning car and handcuffs him to the bumper, then hands him an axe and says “Decisions, decisions” (i.e. chop his arm off or stay and burn). It’s remarkably stupid, but you gotta appreciate that the screenwriter wrote himself into a hole and refused to break tradition. The rest of the fears are pretty normal, and gives him fun ways to kill folks, such as the girl who is afraid of red – he drags her to a sparkling clean white toilet and smashes her head onto it, then drowns her in the now red toilet water. Nice.

It also provides a good line, as our hero is demanding everyone dress up as their fear (so the girl who is afraid of red puts on a red dress and bright red lipstick, and the guy who is afraid of sharks dresses as a shark, etc). But he hasn’t said what he is dressing up as, so his ring-wanting girlfriend asks how he plans to dress as “fear of commitment”, in front of all their friends and his grandmother no less. Hahaha, two points. And again, they are largely likable folks for once, and I particularly liked that they all warmed to Currie’s grandmother (played by Betsy Palmer) instead of treating her like some old coot that was cramping their style.

But man, is it slow, and never bothers to explain certain things. For example, at one point Currie’s girlfriend is found hung, and clearly dead, yet later she reappears without any explanation. Two other character’s fates are determined by the fact that they DON’T reappear (“I guess they’re dead, they never came back” will be your thought process), and the final shot seems to be suggesting that Morty was built by Currie’s father, which I think contradicts information in the first film. Not that it matters much, I am baffled that the film even exists – the first must have done really well on VHS.

On that note, the only returning personnel from the first film are executive producer Greg Sims and makeup man John Beuchler; even the guy playing Morty is different. So to hell with any sort of continuity, Morty just lives with these folks now. The director’s name is Chris Angel, which I would change if I was him, and this was his first feature (he also helmed the last two Wishmaster movies). He lucked out with his DP though: Brian Pearson shot this, a decade before going on to work with some of the bigger 3D titles (My Bloody Valentine, Final Destination 5), and you can see that he’s a DP that deserves more than DTV junk – even in the lame pan & scan transfer it’s a pretty good looking film. And you can also enjoy an early performance by Emmanuelle Vaugier, wearing glasses (she must be the smart one) and harboring a fear of closed spaces, so she dresses up like a box (?). Sadly she’s the first of the “fear group” to die, and off-screen to boot, so it’s hardly a memorable turn, they barely ever even give her a closeup.

And while it’s sad that two crew members died before the film was released (the stunt coordinator died on another project, not sure on the other), I had to laugh that they couldn’t even get one of their names right. Right at the top of the end credits they dedicate it to costume designer Pearl Bellesen, and then they spell her name wrong for her regular credit (“Belleson”). What a wonderful tribute, ya goons.

Now, this was 12 years ago, so I think Morty is gone for good. It’s a shame, I think he could have been a cool/memorable movie killer, but he got stuck in two underwhelming movies. Still, he got a second chance, unlike Dr Giggles, Shocker, Harry Warden, etc... I bet he totally holds that over those guys down in Horror Hero Hell.

What say you?

1 comment:

  1. I bought this SOOOOOOO long ago in a pound store. Never watched it because I never saw the first and didn't want to until there were no more movies left on Earth. And then I saw BUTCHERED and realised I could go off films for life.


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