Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, James Jude Courtney, Judy Greer, Will Patton
Directed by: David Gordon Green
Running time: 1 hour, 46 minutes
Rated: R (for horror violence and bloody images)
The Return of Harvey Wallbanger is not the real subtitle, of course, but if you see the movie, you’ll get the joke. In his umpteenth return, deranged serial killer Michael Myers bangs a serious head or ten against walls, bathroom stalls, dashboards and anything else he can find. Maybe it’s a little trick he developed while being locked away in mental asylums for so many years.
The movie doesn’t explain Mike’s new technique, or much of anything else for that matter, like, wasn’t he beheaded in one of the last incarnations of this movie franchise? Seems like that would take some fancy scriptwriting footwork to dance around.
But no, no explanation. It’s just Mike back in the loony bin, finding a way to escape as he and a bunch of his fellow crazies are being transported to a new holding facility right on Halloween day of all times.
You’d think that out of an abundance of caution, authorities would make sure that the maniac who killed his sister on Halloween when he was a boy and a few other people on Halloween when he escaped from the insane asylum 15 years later in the original film would be especially well-secured on October 31.
Especially when this is no ordinary trick-or-treat day, but the 40th anniversary of his first escape. But no, they just let him out into society on a prison bus and assume he’ll make it to his new destination with no problem.
But then we wouldn’t be able to have this movie, would we? And why do we have this movie in the first place, or the 10th place, since there have been that many directly related installments of this franchise that began in 1978?
The reason for a new Halloween movie obviously is to squeeze every last nickel out of this series and milk new money from the folks who weren’t born way back when the original came out. Hey, if Star Wars can resurrect itself with two or three meaningless episodes a year, why can’t there be a whole line of new Mike Myers’ flicks for millennials? Hell, put him on Netflix and let him come back to life every week to terrorize anew before being dispatched again.
As for this version of the movie, the 40th anniversary edition? Nothing new to see here folks, nothing to write home about. Not a lot of suspense, not much to make you jump, though the effective editing tries hard to get you to.
The storyline of Halloween is that Michael Myers was six when he slashed his older sister to death in their hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois. He was committed to an asylum from which he escaped when he was 21 and returned home to stalk and try to kill a teen named Laurie Strode and her friends as they babysat. Myers was pursued by his prison psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis, with hopes of recapturing him.
Every one of the movies since the original has been a variation of that scenario. Sometimes the characters are related to each other. Sometimes Laurie is killed, sometimes Dr. Loomis is. Michael is always killed or presumed dead and always comes back for the next installment.
In this 2018 version, director David Green basically said screw all of that and made what he considers the real sequel to the original movie. So here you have Laurie Strode waiting 40 years to the present day for Myers to escape again and try to finish her off after she escaped his killing spree in 1978.
In an effective turn, Laurie has been a basket case ever since that night, wracked with post traumatic stress disorder that has tinged all her relationships as she has prepared 100 percent for what she knows will eventually be a final confrontation with Michael Myers. And it happens, and that is what this movie is about.
In this version, Laurie Strode is played by Jamie Lee Curtis, who was Laurie in the original movie and four decades later, she’s still a statuesque, good-looking old broad with acting chops. Curtis lends a weightiness to the film while everything else around her has a sense of hey, let’s get this low-budget B-movie into the theaters in time to cash in on the Halloween bandwagon.
And that’s not a terrible thing – a little fun movie to match the vibe of the holiday. It might be fun for teens or someone who’s never seen a Halloween before – and there are some people who haven’t. But if you have or are a little older, it’s more of the same and much ado about nothing.
But what is a little sad is that behind Psycho in 1960, Halloween was the original slasher movie that spawned the genre of horror flicks that include the Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream and Saw franchises and the creepy characters of Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Ghostface and Jigsaw.
At the time it came out, Halloween’s murderous gore was unnerving. But after watching the killings in the slasher flicks carried out in so many gruesome ways over the past 40 years, as well as dealing with the real-life violence so common in society these days, we have become so desensitized that the carnage in this version of Halloween barely registers as disturbing at all.