In 1980, I joined Fangoria just as the horror genre was switching from the supernatural to the slasher. I had missed John Carpenter’s Halloween, the granddaddy of them all, only catching it later as I prepared to interview P.J. Soles, who was the topless babysitter to die early on. By the time the sequel gave way to a series, I was off the publication and found no desire to see them since they lacked Carpenter’s hands-on touch.
I was interested, though, in the fresh sequel that opened in the fall. Not only was Carpenter involved, but it would feature Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode (an interesting development since she never wanted to make the first sequel but felt forced into it).
What Carpenter brought to the first film was an off-kilter sensibility, letting the dark lighting prey on our minds, and offering us a shape with a knife, letting our minds do the work. His original score was also fresh, adding a layer to our anxiety.
Each successive director retread the same territory without adding anything new to it but they made money and the shape became synonymous with this genre, only to be mocked in the Scream series (which had the same fate).
It’s interesting then to see Carpenter overseeing a new story, building off his original work, with Director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) sitting behind the camera. Properly ignoring everything after the 1978 original, this story leaps 40 years ahead with Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle) incarcerated in a mental health facility. His doctor (Haluk Bilginer) is unhealthily obsessed with the case, which causes trouble.
No less free is Laurie, who is now a grandmother but still carrying the psychological scars of that evening. No one is safe enough, not her or her daughter (Judy Greer) or granddaughter (Andi Matichak). Most dismiss Laurie’s fears but, of course, she is proven right since Michael is the unstoppable force you learn about in physics. He’s older, never having uttered a word since capture, but still compelled to cause harm.
By watching a film called Halloween and featuring Laurie and Michael, you pretty much know they will cross paths again and there will be blood. There are few surprises, although there was an opportunity to turn things upside down, but Green ignored that option which is a shame. Visually, though, he honors Carpenter’s original and makes it interesting to watch, even as you know what’s coming.
Shot for a relatively cheap $10 million, the movie has gone on to gross $253,688,035 worldwide which means it was rather profitable and a validation for Carpenter. The movie is out this week on a variety of formats from Universal Home Entertainment. The 1080p Blu-ray transfer is perfectly fine, nicely capturing the shadows and blacks. You will appreciate many of the textual details. The DTS:X soundtrack is perfectly adequate for viewing at home.
The special features are also adequate and somewhat lackluster considering the pedigree of the film it honors. We start with eight Deleted/Extended Scenes (12:42); Back in Haddonfield: Making Halloween (6:05); The Original Scream Queen (2:32); The Sound of Fear (3:19); Journey of the Mask (2:33); and The Legacy of Halloween (4:25).