Category Archives: Horror

Noroi: The Curse (2005) Review

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Noroi The Curse

Time: 115 Minutes
Cast:
Jin Muraki as Masafumi Kobayashi
Marika Matsumoto as Herself
Satoru Jitsunashi as Mitsuo Hori
Rio Kanno as Kana Yano
Tomono Kuga as Junko Ishii
Director: Kōji Shiraishi

A prominent paranormal journalist named Kobayashi (Jim Muraki) goes missing shortly after completing a documentary. What begins as an investigation into strange noises soon evolves into the chilling mystery of a demonic entity named Kagutaba.

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I had heard of Noroi: The Curse as an underrated horror movie. All I knew about it was that it was a found footage horror movie from Japan, and apparently it was quite scary. I had been meaning to watch it for a while, and having finally seen it I can say that while it has some issues it was quite good, and definitely should receive more attention.

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Interestingly, Noroi: The Curse aims to be both a found footage movie and a documentary style movie. Though some of the way it is edited doesn’t quite make sense in the context of the story, I went along with it. I’ll admit that for the first hour I wasn’t quite into the story. It does try to approach the story as a documentary which I understand, but I just wasn’t quite as invested as I’d like to be. The first hour is dense with a lot of information to keep track of, with elements introduced like psychic variety shows, many characters introduced, rituals, backstory, there’s a lot happening. It’s a lot but I admire the commitment to it. It is also a slow paced movie for sure, but even at its slowest I was still paying attention to the plot. It’s in the second half where it picked up for me. That’s when the footage moves beyond being used for a documentary and moves more into the people recording encountering spooky things themselves. There were some effective and creepy moments, some of them were effective, especially in the latter sections of the movie. While I won’t go into too much depth with the plot, what I can say is that the payoff at the end is worth it for sure.

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The acting is all around pretty good, it’s not the main focus of the movie but the performances are sincere. Whenever characters are reacting to creepy situations or information, their reactions feel genuine.

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It’s directed by Koji Shiraishi, and for the most part I think he did a good job. One of the strengths of found footage horror is that it often feels very real. That is definitely the case in this movie, especially in the second half and the last third of the movie. As previously mentioned, it does try to seem like a documentary with the way its edited, however some of the attempts don’t always work out so well. The most annoying parts were the subtitles and title cards at the start of some scenes, which give information of what’s happening, particularly because it doesn’t always commit to having a voice over, nor does it make an attempt to explain what’s happening within the video footage presented. As for the scares, sometimes it worked, and at other times it didn’t work so well. There’s one moment when the camera freaks out during an intense moment, glitches happen and we can see a creepy image through the glitches. After this moment however, the cameraman shows the footage to Kobayashi (the paranormal researcher in the movie), and we also get to see that glitched footage in slow motion, and that felt kind of pointless since we already saw that and it’s not going to make it any scarier. There are also some moments where some visual effects were added into the movie, and they are pretty bad and silly, and can take away from some of the moments. Thankfully they weren’t in the movie a lot.

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Noroi: The Curse does have some problems, some of it is to do with the direction and its approach as a mockumentary style film, and I wasn’t fully on board until roughly the second half of the movie. However I still think it’s worth watching, and it’s definitely an underrated movie. It is a found footage movie, but if you at least like any of the movies in that genre, find a way to seek it out, because it deserves much more attention.

Prince of Darkness (1987) Review

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Prince of Darkness

Time: 101 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1]
Cast:
Donald Pleasence as Priest
Victor Wong as Professor Howard Birack
Jameson Parker as Brian Marsh
Lisa Blount as Catherine Danforth
Director: John Carpenter

While cleaning the basement in his church, a priest (Donald Pleasence) comes across a canister filled with a volatile green substance. With help from Professor Birack (Victor Wong), he realises that the liquid is Satan’s spirit.

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I had heard about Prince of Darkness, I knew that it was a John Carpenter movie and some people said that it was one of his most underrated. I didn’t know much about it except it was supposedly involving the potential end of the world and had Donald Pleasence playing a priest. It turned out to be quite great, way better than I thought it would be.

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The script is quite clever and engaging, with an intriguing supernatural narrative. The scope is bigger than anything I’ve seen from Carpenter before, with this really being a big fight with the world at stake. Right away, it sets up this otherworldly tone and properly maintains that from beginning to end, with this unearthly atmosphere that still feels very much classic Carpenter. At the same time, despite the stakes of the movie, much of the movie is very contained. It generally takes place on one location over a day, a church, and it succeeds with this. It touches upon some quasi-philosophical topics while not getting heavy handed about it, and it still knows what it is. Sure, some of the science and religion talks don’t always gel and is a bit clunky, but that almost adds to the charm in a classic 80s horror way. It does contain some horror slasher conventions like how many of the characters are being killed one by one over the course of the film. It may be slow for some viewers, it definitely takes its time especially when compared to Carpenter’s other movies. However the payoff is great, and the movie concludes with a fantastic climax. Looking at all the elements, this could easily be Carpenter’s most ambitious and unusual film.

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Really the biggest weak link of the movie are the performances and the characters. The cast are a bit too big for the movie, probably so that there’s enough people who can be killed in this movie. As a result though, it’s hard to get attached to most of them. You do somewhat care about the main cast though, mainly Donald Pleasence, Victor Wong and Dennis Dun. The performances are a bit mixed, with the acting ranging from passable to hammy, to occasionally bad.

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John Carpenter directs this film, and as usual his work is good. It has this intense apocalyptic and unnerving atmosphere, with a sense of dread throughout. From the point that the movie starts, you get this feeling that something is wrong and off, and that feeling only escalates as the movie progresses. It’s filmed incredibly well and there are some memorable scenes, especially towards the climax. The setting of the abandoned church is just great to watch the characters run around in. The movie is gruesome, and the practical effects and the makeup are amazing, they have aged surprisingly well considering this movie is from the late 80s. Every John Carpenter score has a way of sticking with you, and Prince of Darkness is no exception. The music from him and Howarth is very synth heavy as usual, making the film’s atmosphere feel even more eerie and chilling.

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Prince of Darkness is an atmospheric, slow burn and thrilling horror movie. If you like Carpenter’s other horror movies like The Thing and Halloween or even just likes 80s horror movies in general, it is worth a look. Currently among Carpenter’s best movies that I’ve seen and one of his most underrated.

Videodrome (1983) Review

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Videodrome

Time:  84 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] contains content that may offend
Cast:
James Woods as Max Renn
Debbie Harry as Nicki Brand
Sonja Smits as Bianca O’Blivion
Peter Dvorsky as Harlan
Leslie Carlson as Barry Convex
Jack Creley as Dr. Brian O’Blivion
Lynne Gorman as Masha
Director: David Cronenberg

As the president of a trashy TV channel, Max Renn (James Woods) is desperate for new programming to attract viewers. When he happens upon “Videodrome,” a TV show dedicated to gratuitous torture and punishment, Max sees a potential hit and broadcasts the show on his channel. However, after his girlfriend (Deborah Harry) auditions for the show and never returns, Max investigates the truth behind Videodrome and discovers that the graphic violence may not be as fake as he thought.

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I’ve heard of Videodrome as a horror film directed by David Cronenberg and starring James Woods, it was meant to be something of a cult classic, but I had no idea what to expect from it going in. It turned out to be among the strangest movie watching experiences I’ve had, and I actually ended up loving it quite a lot.

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Videodrome was very much ahead of its time, in fact I can see it being inaccessible to some people. It’s really one of those movies that you will need to watch for yourself and determine what it is. This is especially considering that the lead character is a bit of an unreliable narrator and you can’t tell for sure whether what he (and by extension us) is seeing is real or not, which I guess was very much intentional. From what I can tell, Videodrome is a commentary about our desensitization to sex and violence through the media, as well as the power of media on the whole, especially with the rise of television at that time. Now the movie is very much set in a VHS era (in the 80s) but if you substituted television with the internet today, the message would still remain the same, and remain just as relevant if not more so. As a movie, it was a uniquely disturbing and fascinating experience for sure. I will say that I wasn’t certain about what was happening 100% of the time (again probably intentional), but I was going along with whatever was happening. As that, it really is best if you go into this movie and experience the strangeness for yourself without knowing too much beforehand. Cronenberg created such an uneasy and tense atmosphere that only grows the more you watch. The movie is 90 minutes long and for every minute you are invested in what is happening.

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James Woods does very well in the lead role of Max Renn. Despite his character being rather morally dubious, he does have a human aspect that evokes enough sympathy in the audience to make him watchable enough. Additionally, other actors in the cast like Debbie Harry and Sonja Smits also do well on their parts.

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David Cronenberg really shows off the best of his talents with Videodrome. Much of the uneasy feeling throughout the movie is due to his direction, there’s just a feeling of wrongness throughout, even when there’s not currently something weird or disturbing happening on screen. It’s very surreal, and claustrophobic at times, and helps to build up this uneasy atmosphere. The editing also contributes to this. Cronenberg has done lots of body horror in the past, and he does it again here with Videodrome to some great effect. There are some truly impressive and gruesome body effects which still hold up over 3 decades later. However it’s not just the body effects, there’s some effects that are meant to represent hallucinations and they do very well in making you question whether what’s happening on screen is real or not. Howard Shore’s score also fit perfectly with the movie, giving it even more eerie and uneasy vibe.

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Videodrome is a very weird movie for sure but it’s great, it’s directed incredibly, I was invested throughout, and it was such a uneasy and incredible experience. I actually want to get around to rewatching it sometime, because I feel like I’d get even more out of it on repeat viewings. While there’s many more of his movies that I have left to see, at the moment I’d say that this is one of David Cronenberg’s best, if not the best I’ve seen from him so far.

The Thing (1982) Review

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The Thing

Time:  109 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Kurt Russell as R.J. MacReady
A. Wilford Brimley as Blair
T. K. Carter as Nauls
David Clennon as Palmer
Keith David as Childs
Director: John Carpenter

In remote Antarctica, a group of American research scientists are disturbed at their base camp by a helicopter shooting at a sled dog. When they take in the dog, it brutally attacks both human beings and canines in the camp and they discover that the beast can assume the shape of its victims. A resourceful helicopter pilot (Kurt Russell) and the camp doctor (Richard Dysart) lead the camp crew in a desperate, gory battle against the vicious creature before it picks them all off, one by one.

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John Carpenter’s The Thing was underappreciated on its release back in 1982, in fact it opened to very negative responses from audiences and critics alike (not helped that it came out around the same time as E.T.). However it found an audience when it released on home video and television, and today it is considered a horror classic, and for very good reason. It remains an incredibly effective and influential horror movie that holds up decades later.

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The Thing is a great mix of sci-fi, mystery and horror. It is gripping from beginning to end and I appreciate and notice new details every time I watch. Essentially it is an intriguing whodunnit mystery, that just happens to have a lot of thrills and gore in it. It has a feeling of claustrophobia and isolation throughout, which is on point and well tuned with John Carpenter’s classic minimalist aesthetics and atmosphere that are present in some of his other movies. It does so well at selling us on how hopeless it is trying to escape from this alien, you feel that sense of chilling paranoia around every corner, much like the characters do. Carpenter’s deliberate pacing and emphasis on the lack of escape also steadily increases the tension. Something which also increases the suspense is the lack of knowledge of who The Thing is at any given time, not to mention the lack of knowledge of what it even is. We also only see it react when its actually being threatened or exposed, and we don’t see the alien and becoming the person. This movie might be known for its effects, but there’s a lot of suspenseful sequences, one involving a blood test especially is a great example of suspense and shock. The ending is also haunting and fitting for the overall movie.

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There are some top-notch performances from the cast. The lead character is that of MacReady, who is brilliantly played by Kurt Russell, one of his best performances and roles. He is believable as a hardened but normal guy finding himself up against an all too real alien threat. The same goes for the rest of the cast, for what they lack in development, they still feel like real human beings stuck in a dangerous situation. Every character feels so lived in and shine with what they are given, really playing into the paranoia considerably well throughout. The script doesn’t delve into everyone’s backgrounds, but it does give each of these people their deserving moment.

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John Carpenter directs this movie, and this is some of his finest work. He is great with atmosphere in his movies, and The Thing is no exception. His use of the cold arctic landscape in this setting further emphasises the crew’s helplessness and isolation from the outside world. All the cinematography and production design are immaculate. There aren’t many jumpscares, but the ones that are here are done well. The Thing contains some of the most mindblowing and gruesome practical effects and makeup in a horror movie, and they hold up after nearly 40 years. The sound design is great, really putting you in the moments. The scores of John Carpenter’s movies are usually done by himself, this time it’s composed by Ennio Morricone. Despite this, it sounds exactly the way he would’ve score it, with simple synthesised tracks that help enhance the sinister mood of the movie. Incredibly simple yet effective.

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The Thing is fantastic and an absolute horror classic for so many reasons. Its script is finely tuned to near perfection, the characters are simple but given enough believability and are performed well, and John Carpenter’s direction is fantastic, making the film effectively suspenseful and unnerving from beginning to end. It is John Carpenter’s best film to date, and it has aged very well over the years. If you are a horror fan, definitely check out The Thing as soon as you can.

Scanners (1981) Review

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Scanners

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Horror scenes and violence
Cast:
Stephen Lack as Cameron Vale
Jennifer O’Neill as Kim Obrist
Patrick McGoohan as Dr. Paul Ruth
Lawrence Dane as Braedon Keller
Michael Ironside as Darryl Revok
Director: David Cronenberg

Dr Paul Ruth (Patrick McGoohan) finds Vale (Stephen Lack), a powerful scanner, and uses him to stop Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside), another powerful scanner who wants to form an alliance with others of his kind and dominate the world.

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I only knew a little bit about Scanners going in, just that it was another horror movie from David Cronenberg, and is the source of a certain famous head explosion scene. Honestly, I was quite surprised by the movie. It for sure has its problems but it was very entertaining.

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Cronenberg takes the time to establish this universe about Scanners, which are basically powerful telepaths. At its core, it is a corporate espionage film that happens to involve telepaths at the centre of it. It’s more of a sci-fi film than a horror movie, though I think it has enough horror elements that it can still be classified as such. It is entertaining and I was pretty interested throughout, although there were some moments across its 100 minute runtime that did lose me and I wasn’t as invested. The script doesn’t feel quite polished, it also feels very run of the mill, especially considering Cronenberg’s standards. This concept and blending of story elements was ahead of its time for sure, but I feel like it could’ve been better and explored further (not that I’m asking for a remake or anything). Now there is an exposition dump right at the end of the movie, while I usually don’t like exposition dumps in movies, I was alright with it here, although there was also some reveal in that act which I found rather pointless. On the whole though, I thought that the movie really shined in the climax.

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The weakest part of the movie was the characters and the actors. Stephen Lack plays the lead character and he was the weakest link in the cast. At times he gets away with it with such an intense stare when it comes to doing ‘scanning’, he seemed to have been deliberately chosen for this role for this reason. However he seems to suffer outside of those moments which don’t utilise that, especially when it comes to delivering lots of lines, his performance is quite bland and forgettable to say the least. Jennifer O’Neill gets the highest billing of the cast. She is introduced in the second act, her performance is alright but nothing special, she really doesn’t do much. Patrick McGoohan plays a doctor, essentially he is just there to give a lot of exposition throughout but he still works well even in that role. Michael Ironside is the standout in the cast and the movie as the villain. He really rides the line of being campy and over the top but still works out quite well, and was a very entertaining presence.

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David Cronenberg directs this well as to be expected. The body horror is there (Cronenberg also did that with The Fly and The Brood), though I was hoping for a little more horror than what was in the final film. The use of practical effects were great and creative, especially with the way that Cronenberg decided to portray telepathy in this movie. The aforementioned head explosion scene is still impressive to this day (if very over the top), though unfortunately there’s only one head that explodes in the movie. However thankfully it isn’t where the movie peaks with the impressive effects, there’s still a lot of other outstanding moments later in the movie. Howard Shore’s score is great and really works for this movie.

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Despite some issues, such as the so-so characters and acting (aside from Michael Ironside), Scanners is quite good. Cronenberg’s direction definitely elevated it, the script had me interested enough in what was happening, it’s well made and it was quite entertaining. Check it out, especially if you are a Cronenberg fan who hasn’t gotten around to this movie yet.

The Brood (1979) Review

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The Brood

Time: 92 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Oliver Reed as Dr. Hal Raglan
Samantha Eggar as Nola Carveth
Art Hindle as Frank Carveth
Director: David Cronenberg

A mad doctor (Oliver Reed) tries psychoplasmic therapy on a raging woman (Samantha Eggar) soon to be a mother.

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I really knew nothing about The Brood going in except that it was another horror movie from David Cronenberg and it was meant to be quite good. It is great as to be expected, very well made, and was one of the more unsettling horror movies from Cronenberg, while also managing to be quite surprising.

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The Brood is at its core is a movie about divorce, it’s basically David Cronenberg’s response to Kramer vs Kramer. It’s also worth noting that Cronenberg was writing the movie while undergoing a messy custody battle, and let’s just say that it really shows in this movie. Knowing that when watching The Brood does make it feel more personal and honest. Trauma and abuse are also prominent themes involved with this movie. There are some readings of the movie that does see the movie as being a bit misogynistic (especially with regard to the character of the wife), and while I might see where those people coming from, especially when looking at the movie on the surface level, I think it’s a little deeper than that, though I can’t fully explain why in this review. The tone of the movie is quite serious, some of what happens in the movie could’ve easily fallen into being camp, but Cronenberg keeps it pretty serious. It is definitely more focused on character drama than horror. The Brood pretty short at just over 90 minutes long, and with regard to the plot, I guess you could call it a slow burn. The first two thirds are actually fairly slow and uneventful, playing more like a family drama than a full on horror movie (a horror movie made by David Cronenberg no less). However, I was pretty interested in the story, and the movie flew by for me because of how frantic it feels at times. Without revealing too much, the finale is pretty insane, almost serving as a reminder that this movie was made by Cronenberg. Also in terms of notable scenes in this movie, there’s also a particular scene just before the third act which was effectively freaky and disturbing.

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The cast all play their parts well. Art Hindle plays the main character of Hal. He’s decent enough on his part but does feel like a blank slate more than an actual character. He feels a little out of place, but maybe it’s because it’s really the other two main performances that stood out in the movie. Samantha Eggar is great in her role as Nola, the ex-wife of Hal. Her performance could’ve been over the top but she and Cronenberg managed to create the right performance for this complicated character. Oliver Reed is fittingly subtle and understated, yet effectively creepy in his scenes as a therapist who is treating Nola using ‘unconventional’ methods.

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David Cronenberg directs The Brood very well. It’s greatly shot, with some very memorable images that really stick with you. It does have some body horror (not a big shock, this is a Cronenberg horror movie after all), and those parts were very well handled, with some great effects, especially in the crazy final act. The monsters in the movie (not explaining the context beyond that) are fittingly unsettling when on screen. The practical effects are good, though it’s not quite as spectacular as some of Cronenberg’s other body horror work like The Fly or Videodrome. Howard Shore composed the score and it was great and fit the tone well. It’s also worth noting that this is the first movie score he worked on, and it’s quite impressive. It really helped convey the amount of atmospheric dread as well as the urgency. Like with the story, the direction is relatively restrained and doesn’t go all out (until the third act at least).

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The Brood is a greatly written and directed horror movie. While the body horror was quite good, it was the story, characters and themes that had me so invested in everything that was happening. I wouldn’t personally recommend it as a first film from Cronenberg, but it is worth watching for sure, especially if you like horror.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) Review

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Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Duane Jones as Ben
Judith O’Dea as Barbra
Karl Hardman as Harry Cooper
Marilyn Eastman as Helen Cooper
Keith Wayne as Tom
Director: George A. Romero

The radiation from a fallen satellite causes the recently deceased to rise from the grave and seek the living to use as food.

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Night of the Living Dead is known as a horror classic, and for basically creating the zombie genre. With that said, I remember feeling rather indifferent when I watched it for the first time some years ago. I rewatched it again years later hoping to like it more, but my opinion stayed pretty much the same. There’s no denying that its influence remains strong as ever. It was definitely an important milestone for film, and was very groundbreaking for its time. However, I can’t say that it aged rather well even though I can respect much of the movie for what it is.

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I should preface this with the fact that I know that this is a low budget horror movie from 1968, so I wasn’t expecting it to be timeless or anything. To get it out of the way, Night of the Living Dead is undoubtedly influential. It sets the groundwork for the zombie movie, and it was admirably constructed and subversive for when it was released in the late 60s. Having watched a lot of more recent zombie movies, much of the plot feels very familiar, but Night of the Living Dead really was the first movie that did this, it basically created the formula that countless zombie flicks use. Additionally, it was a bold movie that made bold choices. Despite being a horror movie in the 60s, it created a politically sharp narrative with social commentary, especially on racism. It also had a very bleak and memorable ending. With all that being said, I’d be lying if I said I was invested with the story. The plot is pretty simplistic: it amounts to a group of people trapped in one location while zombies are outside trying to get in. It is a slow burn, and I really found much of the movie pretty boring, especially the first 30 minutes. I don’t mind a horror movie having a slow pace, but I wasn’t interested in what was happening with the story and characters. So it was a bit of a painful drag, at least it was a relatively short movie. A lot of the movie focuses on dialogue, as again it was taking place in one location with its characters trapped inside. That’s fine, the problem is that nothing the characters say is actually interesting, and it’s quite repetitive. Onto the horror, I get that in 1968, this must’ve been the scariest movie ever made. Maybe its more radical elements for the time just land less effectively now, but it really didn’t land for me. With that said, I don’t hold that too much against the film, and it’s not even among my biggest issues with the movie.

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The characters alone played a large part in me not being invested in the movie. The character work is weak, the characters themselves are rather annoying and one note. They just keep arguing again and again over the same things and it gets tiresome. Additionally, a lot of the acting is quite bad. With that said Duane Jones’s Ben really was the star of the movie, he was actually good and by far the best character in the film. The casting of Jones, a black man, as the lead in a 60s horror movie was way ahead of its time and was a revolutionary move. It also helps that his performance was quite strong.

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This is director George Romero’s debut film, and I’d say that this is quite an impressive debut despite my issues with the movie. It is definitely low budget at $114,000, so you can appreciate why some of the technical aspects aren’t exactly polished. With that said, it is impressive how much they were able to achieve with that budget. The filmmaking is so minimalistic which as a result helps the living dead seem more grounded. The cinematography and lighting can look gorgeous in the darker scenes, and makes effective use of black and white photography. It also does have a sense of claustrophobia once the film arrives upon the primary setting of the film. I really was not scared at all in the movie, not by the zombies or the scary moments, but again I wasn’t expecting to be. It definitely does have dated elements.

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Night of the Living Dead is a movie that I appreciate, and respect more than I actually like. It’s impressive how much George Romero was able to achieve despite the limitations, it is definitely an important movie for the zombie genre and the horror genre on the whole. I think it is worth watching, especially if you are a fan of horror. However, I’m just not a big fan of it overall, and it’s not one that I’m particularly inclined to watch a lot. I don’t think it holds up, but I wouldn’t quite call it bad either.

Halloween: Resurrection (2002) Review

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Halloween Resurrection

Time: 94 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] 
Cast:
Busta Rhymes as Freddie Harris
Bianca Kajlich as Sara Moyer
Thomas Ian Nicholas as Bill Woodlake
Ryan Merriman as Myles “Deckard” Barton
Sean Patrick Thomas as Rudy Grimes
Tyra Banks as Nora Winston
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Director: Rick Rosenthal

Six teenagers, who are eager to experience thrills, spend the night in the childhood home of serial killer Michael Myers. But he returns to brutalise them.

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Halloween H20: 20 Years Later was the film that brought back the long running horror series by starting over and not continuing on from the previous movies, it had its fair share of issues, but had some good parts to it. One of these was the ending, which seemed to try to end things for good, at least with regards to Michael Myers. However with the movie being successful it was inevitable that it would get a sequel, and that meant yet again bringing back Myers. Almost everyone who has seen the entire series has called this the worst movie in the series, and it is for good reason. The ironically named Halloween: Resurrection killed the franchise for a while. So much of the movie just felt like they gave up, it’s actually quite astounding at times. I didn’t dislike the movie and even had fun with it at points but it’s very much not good.

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First of all, what should be talked about is the infamous opening scene. The ending of H20 was easily one of the best moments in the series, with Laurie Strode decapitating Michael Myers, killing him for good. That signalled a conclusive ending but as it turns out they retconned all that. Now, the person that Laurie Strode killed was some paramedic guy that Michael swapped outfits with (and crushing his larynx so he couldn’t speak), so at the ending, Laurie killed that paramedic. Then at the beginning of Resurrection has Laurie at a mental institute (the worst run mental institute I’ve ever seen in a movie I might add). Somehow, it’s an even lazier retcon than what they did in the opening of Halloween 5 to counteract what happened at the end of 4. All of this is delivered with one big exposition dump between random nurses who are there to tell the audience what happened, accompanied by some laughable flashbacks. On top of it just making no sense and making even less sense the more you think about it, it undermines everything that made H20’s ending thrilling and was executed in the worst way. I’d say that this is a spoiler but it’s very early in the movie: in the opening 15 minutes Michael Myers goes to the mental institute and kills Laurie. Then she’s just gone from the rest of the movie. It’s the most disrespectful treatment of a character in the series, and that’s even considering Jamie Lloyd from Halloween 6 (either version of that movie). What makes it worse is that her death has no real impact on the story, it’s not even mentioned in news footage. I guess the filmmakers had to justify Michael Myers having enough time to kill obnoxious teenagers who are in his house, so that’s why they had Laurie killed. Already the movie is off to a bad start and it doesn’t really get better. I could potentially give the beginning a pass if the rest of the movie and its different direction was in itself creative and/or good. It’s not.

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The rest of the movie is some random 70 minute reality TV/found footage movie, and the plot of the movie really feels more like a parody than an actual Halloween movie. Basically, it focuses on a reality show called Dangertainment run by Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks, who set their Halloween night episode inside of the actual Myers house and sends in a cast of college students for the night. If that sounds ridiculously horrible and quite possibly the worst direction to take the movie in, you’d be right, and it’s even worse than that. Plotwise on every level, it’s bad. Looking at the execution, it is made even worse. It is definitely aiming for teen audiences of 2002, and in that it has aged the worst of all the movies. H20 might’ve had a lot of references and was clearly influenced by the 90s, but at least the whole plot didn’t have a pop culture reference a key part of the narrative. There are lots of cameras set up inside the house, as well as cameras on each of the teenagers. It’s worth noting that Resurrection came after the boom of found footage horror like The Blair Witch Project, so that makes sense. The actual concept of found footage being brought into the Halloween series is not necessarily terrible and is at least trying to be something different, it just has to be handled very well. Unfortunately it really doesn’t really handle that potential well at all. Much of the movie’s premise defies logic altogether, in fact that can be said for the whole plot. The fact that people are being killed by Myers in the house and somehow people are remaining oblivious (both in the house and the people with cameras) is just ridiculous. Even though it seems to be aiming more for a creeping atmosphere than H20, with the characters, the dialogue, the bad humour, it doesn’t quite work out. Also, with the last bit of relatability of characters gone with Laurie in the opening scene, it requires some other characters to care about. All the other characters in this movie are bad, this is the first Halloween movie where you actually end up rooting for Michael Myers. With no Laurie Strode, Sam Loomis or Jamie Lloyd, you’ve either got Myers or the new characters, and there’s no way I was going to root for these new people.

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There are some ridiculous moments, including the finale with Busta Rhymes using kung fu to fight Michael. I had heard some widely disliked scenes involving those two. In fact there are at least three scenes involving Busta Rhymes and Michael Myers in which they treat the latter like a joke, and that’s the point where you know that they’ve given up. With that being said, I’m actually glad those moments are there because I found them hilarious. I was already very much not on board with the movie with the opening scene, and from everything after that I could tell I wasn’t going to like this movie, so those moments were just funny to me. I’d almost say the film is worth watching for the scene where Busta Rhymes in a Michael Myers costume telling off a very confused Michael Myers and telling him to get out the house. That and the way that Busta actually deals with Myers at the end of the movie. There are for sure plenty of hilariously bad moments in this movie that I enjoyed watching. Unfortunately, I can’t really call Resurrection so bad it’s good or anything like that, as those moments are sprinkled into effectively a bad and dull early 2000s slasher film. If you really want to get the most out of these moments, you’d be better off watching individual scenes online. Much of the movie is a bore, and the entire premise treats the plot like a joke. The film even ends with sequel bait, which was puzzling because I don’t know how they could’ve taken a look at what they had created and thought that they would be able to salvage a sequel out of it.  

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Then there’s the cast. First the (only) good performance, with Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode. She has been vocal about not being pleased with the film or her role in it, that she was basically forced into taking part in the sequence due to contractual obligations in H20. Jamie Lee Curtis plays it like a pro, way better than the other performances in the movie, despite her small screentime. There are many characters introduced, with Busta Rhymes, Sean Patrick Thomas, Katee Sackhoff, Tyra Banks, Thomas Ian Nicholas. The characters are obnoxious and underdeveloped, most of the performances are wooden, and none of them are good. I will say that Busta Rhymes does manage to be at least entertaining in his scenes.

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Funnily enough, Resurrection director Rick Rosenthal made Halloween 2, which was a decent Halloween movie. I have no idea how 20 years later he managed to end up making this. The direction has problems to say the least, but the weird thing is that there are actually aspects that are decent, though it’s not enough to save the movie. I will say it does seem to get closer to being a horror movie than H20 did. In fact, the production design with the main house as well as some of the look is nicely gritty. I also like some of the way it is shot, especially with the shadows. There are even some attempts at being suspenseful. However, it doesn’t really deliver on any of the scares. The jumpscares are obnoxious, most of the scares in the first half are just pranks from other characters. Michael Myers only sometimes appears in the first half, but I will say that all things considering, his performance and the physicality are good. The mask isn’t that great and is a little too expressive, it really only looks good in darkly lit scenes. Something that you do notice is that some scenes that feature Michael Myers are slowed down, and I think it was done in an attempt to make him look more intimidating but it’s out of place if anything. As previously said, the movie does utilise found (or in this case live) footage, and every so often jumps to those cameras. When the movie cuts to video cameras however, it looks awful. Editing is bad, and some of it makes the scenes look incomprehensible. The score by Danny Lux is actually really effective, one of the better scores for the movie from the past 4 movies at least.

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Halloween Resurrection is easily the worst movie in the long running Halloween series. It starts off with a borderline insulting opening and doesn’t get better from there with tired horror, bland and annoying characters, and some poor writing. Really, I can only recommend this movie to completionists and people who want to see if the movie really is as bad as everyone has been saying it is. I don’t hate it, and there are actually a couple things here that I liked (in addition to the hilarious moments especially towards the end), but the fact that the filmmakers clearly gave up and the series had ran out of steam just cemented it as the worst.

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) Review

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Halloween H20

Time: 86 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Adam Arkin as Will Brennan
Michelle Williams as Molly Cartwell
Adam Hann-Byrd as Charlie Deveraux
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe as Sarah Wainthrope
Janet Leigh as Norma Watson
Josh Hartnett as John Tate
LL Cool J as Ronald “Ronny” Jones
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jimmy Howell
Director: Steve Miner

After escaping serial killer Michael Myers’ attacks, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) relocates to California and adopts a new identity. However, years later, Michael returns to finish what he started.

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Despite how the original Halloween movie from 1978 is widely regarded as a classic, the reception of the sequels have generally ranged from mixed to negative. With that said, I heard that H20: 20 Years Later is one of the better movies in the series (despite having the worst title of the whole series, and that’s considering that the next entry being called Resurrection). After seeing the 6th Halloween movie, I was definitely interested to see what direction they would take it next. I can say that at the very least, they took it in a different direction, some of it works, some of it really doesn’t.

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Something to note is that H20 basically erases Halloween 4-6 and instead follows on from Halloween 2. That means no Cult of Thorn business, so that’s already a plus. Not only that, but they are also bringing back Halloween lead character Laurie Strode, along with actress Jamie Lee Curtis to reprise her role. Both changes are very welcome in this movie. We see how despite 20 years later, the events of the first two movies have still had a long lasting effect on Laurie. H20 explores Laurie’s PTSD from her encounter, and storywise it was probably the strongest aspect of the movie. The movie does open relatively well, reintroducing audiences to Laurie with her new life (she has a son named John), and her trauma. However you notice that the pacing is really slow, especially with the second act. It takes too long to kick off, you’re basically just watching Laurie and other characters interact. The first act is one thing as it is setting the scene for the whole movie, but the second act just focuses on John and his group of friends who have decide to sneak away from a field trip to have a double date at the school. It’s not interesting like the Laurie-centric narratives are, and feels really out of place. In fact, the movie does feels a little loose with its plot, and it really could’ve been much tighter. I actually checked the time, and it’s around an hour into the movie before things actually start getting real and Michael Myers begins doing a lot of killing. Keep in mind that the movie is less than 90 minutes long. With that said, the third act and the overall climax is really the star of the whole movie. It’s very satisfying, and without getting into the ending, would’ve been a great and fitting way to end the series (and then they made another follow up for some reason).

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Storywise, H20 does feel like fan service more than an eager or ambitious follow-up, but I guess that’s not a terrible thing. One new change was that it’s the first Halloween movie (at least of the ones featuring Michael Myers) that doesn’t take place in Haddonfield, instead being set in California. Not only does it make sense from a plot perspective (Laurie would logically move out of Haddonfield after what happened), but it also gave the movie a distinct look and feel. The setting for much of the movie is a school campus, and while it does set you at this location well, it’s not really creepy at all. Something to note is that the movie is clearly influenced by Scream, which came out in the mid 90s. Kevin Williamson wrote Scream, and then Miramax had him do a treatment for what would become the H20 script. He only has a producer’s credit, but his fingerprints are all over this. It doesn’t feel like a Halloween movie at all. With that said, considering the last 3 movies felt like they were on repeat, maybe a change in style and approach is what it needed. The end result is a mixed bag, however. It does feel painfully 90s, dating the movie painfully. H20 even feels older than Carpenter’s original film, which was pretty much timeless. There’s humour in it, some of it hits, some of it misses. There are references to the original (they flat out quote the original sometimes), and references to popular horror movies at the time, including Scream. While it does make itself distinct from the other movies, it just doesn’t work all that well. The tension and atmosphere just isn’t there, and even Halloweens 4-6 felt more creepy, even if they were worse movies.

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Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode, it’s so great to see her come back in the role that really started off her career. She does some amazing work here, and considering how underserviced and passive the character was in her previous appearance on screen with Halloween 2, it’s nice to see her have such an active role in the third act. She covers a lot of ground as Laurie goes from being an in-hiding over protective mom, to a full blown badass at the end. She really adds a lot of credibility and is easily one of the best parts of the movie. I wouldn’t say the other characters are great, but having more experienced actors on board definitely makes a difference especially when compared to some of the other Halloween sequels, and they had more chemistry together. Josh Hartnett is solid as Laurie’s son John, but is saddled with some bad material throughout most of the movie. With that said, he really works well in his scenes with Jamie Lee Curtis, their dynamic feels real and believable. If they focused more on those two in the movie, I think it would’ve worked better but they have probably 10 minutes of screentime together and John is forgotten for much of the rest of the second half of the film. Michelle Williams is also here in an early role for her, Janet Leigh also makes an appearance, even if it seems to be mainly to be meta with her being Jamie Lee Curtis’s mother, and to make some Psycho references. There’s also an early appearance from a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the opening sequence.

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H20 is directed by Steve Milner, and you can definitely that he was influenced by Scream on a visual level. The 90s influence also clearly carried over to this movie. On a visual level, it just looked a bit wrong to me. Now I’ve only had glimpses of Dawson’s Creek, but for much of the movie, H20 looks like a horror themed episode of Dawson’s Creek, from the look of the movie to the production design. The movie does well at setting you in this location of a school, especially with the long takes. However, it’s nonetheless just a school, it doesn’t feel creepy, claustrophobic or anything like that. I mentioned earlier that there isn’t much of a tense atmosphere, and again H20 is one of the least scary movies of the entire series. There isn’t much atmosphere at all honestly, with not much tension even in the third act. Michael Myers doesn’t feel very scary, and much of that has to do with the mask, or masks to be precise. There are 4 masks used over the whole filming of the movie (largely with reshoots), including one shot where they used CGI because the real mask wasn’t ready in time for the scene. The only version of the mask I liked in the movie was in the opening sequence where they used the mask from Halloween 6, but it wasn’t used much more because some people thought that audiences would be confused with that mask being from a different Halloween movie. Most of the kills are pretty forgettable except for one in the third act. Speaking of the third act, I did like how much of it was filmed, even if it wasn’t very scary. The score does have some moments but a lot of the time it doesn’t sound anything like a Halloween movie. This time they got John Ottoman to compose. He steered away from the synth heavy aesthetic that Carpenter and Howarth used in the early days of the franchise, and instead went for a fully orchestrated symphonic score that sounded more like Danny Elfman than John Carpenter. It feels very out of place and is among my least favourite scores in the series. It only really works when it actually plays the classic Halloween theme. Also, this movie has a Creed song playing over the end credits. I don’t know why.

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Halloween H20: 20 Years Later is a mixed bag of a movie, I think I would’ve liked it more if I saw it in the 90s. It is a movie that should have been way better than it actually is. The script has some missteps, and its new directions aren’t fully fleshed out, some of its influences holds the film back, and other aspects like the score and the mask have issues. With that said, there’s some good in here too. Jamie Lee Curtis is great, I liked the direction they took Laurie, Miner has some solid direction at times, and the third act, especially the ending, was satisfying. If you like any of the Halloween movies, I do think H20 is worth checking out, despite its many issues.

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) Review

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Halloween 6 The Curse of Michael Myers

Time:
88 minutes
(theatrical cut)
96 minutes
(producer’s cut)
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis
Paul Rudd as Tommy Doyle
Marianne Hagan as Kara Strode
Mitch Ryan as Dr. Terence Wynn
Director: Joe Chappelle

Michael Myers (George P. Wilson), the notorious masked murderer, returns to haunt Tommy Doyle (Paul Rudd), a young man who has a history with the killer and the Strode family.

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I heard some pretty negative things about Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers going into it, from what I can tell it’s one of the most negatively rated of the Halloween movies. After watching Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to what the next movie had to offer. Having seen the 6th movie, surprisingly I do like it more than The Revenge of Michael Myers but not by a whole lot, it’s still quite a mess.

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Halloween 6 had some big problems with filming, with plenty of reshoots, rewriting and many changes during production. It seems that no one from the director to the producers were on the same page and thus there was no cohesive vision. As a result, there are two versions of the movie, the theatrical cut, and the producer’s cut which emerged later. With the first viewing, I watched the Producer’s Cut which is meant to be quite different and my knowledge of the theatrical cut is just from what other people have said about it and some of the brief clips I’ve seen of it. In 5, there were little things introduced involving this thorn symbol and this mystery man in black, and the filmmakers of that movie didn’t know at the time what it was supposed to be, it was just to give something the filmmakers of the 6th movie something to work with. Now there’s the culmination of all that with The Curse of Michael Myers. The movie largely involves this cult called the Cult of Thorn, and it’s really nonsensical. The plot actually starts out interesting enough but by the end it’s just a mess. There are exposition dumps, and the more you think about it and the more characters talk about it, the more you recognise it doesn’t make sense and is very silly, and not even in the entertaining way. It even introduces aspects like runes and telepathy. It is a very weird movie with weird ideas and I’m not sure how I feel about most of them, and I’m saying that as one of the few people who does like Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2.

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If you don’t like the idea of Michael Myers being anyone other than his own person, this version is definitely going to not work with you. I heard that the Theatrical Cut might be a little more for you and it gives Myers more agency, but I also heard it has its own issues. Cult aside, I really liked the portrayal of Michael Myers otherwise. He’s quite menacing in his scenes and really feels like a threat unlike in most of the past couple of movies. With that said, without going into it, the way it ends for Michael Myers at the end is just bizarre and hilariously anticlimactic (at least in the Producer’s Cut). For fans of the Halloween series, there’s going be stuff that you’re not going to like. The portrayal of Michael Myers when it comes to the cult especially will be a problem for many. The cult storyline has an attempt to explain what Michael Myers is and why he does what he does, and for most people any attempt at doing this is quite unpopular. Another example is the treatment of the character of Jamie Lloyd, who was really the protagonist of the past two movies. She’s in a small role in this movie and this time she’s played by J.C. Brandy instead of Danielle Harris because she refused to reprise the role after being offered some rather poor pay for it. After looking at the handling of the character, I don’t really blame her. In both versions, Jamie isn’t treated well at all, even the offscreen death of Laurie Strode in Halloween 4 was more respectful. The ending does try to set up a sequel, but as we know the next movie Halloween H20 would be a sequel from Halloween 2, Halloween 6 didn’t get a follow up on its storyline and I’m glad. Halloween 5 indicated that there wasn’t much room left for potential with this storyline and the 6th movie proved it.

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Donald Pleasence returns as Dr Loomis for the last time, he actually died during production, which makes his last performance bittersweet to watch. He’s really good here, he looks a little more worn down and tired, but it is very fitting given his character at this point. He’s also a much better version compared to the raving and crazy version of Loomis in the last Halloween movie. Paul Rudd is also in here in a bizarre early performance from him, playing Tommy Doyle who was a kid character from the first Halloween. If he was meant to be a bit creepy, Rudd kind of pulls it off but there’s something about him that’s feels hilariously off. I can’t tell whether the issue was him or if it was how he was directed but the best thing I can say about Paul Rudd here is that he delivered much better performances later in his career. The other major main character other than Myers is played by Marianne Hagan who is alright but nothing memorable. Nothing else to say about the other actors or characters really. The performance of Michael Myers is good, he’s menacing and it’s the best he’s been since Halloween 2.

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Joe Chapelle directs this, and some of the aspects are a bit of a mixed bag. Michael Myers does actually look good compared to the past couple of movies especially with the mask. The movie really makes him to be a force of nature and really intimidating. Some of the kills worked really well and Myers again is more violent and ruthless. The theatrical cut from what I heard does have even more bloody kills. For example there’s a scene where Michael Myers kills someone by shocking them, in the Theatrical Cut though it ends with the guy’s head suddenly exploding. The actual special effects are good. I found some of the music in the past two Halloween movies to be a bit underwhelming but I found the score here to be effective and worked well in their scenes.

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Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers is often known as one of the worst movies in the series, and while I’m not quite sure that I dislike it, I completely understand why. At least with its Producer’s Cut, the changes it tries to make to the Halloween mythos are silly and don’t make sense, the plot itself is nonsensical, and it’s weird in the worst ways possible. Maybe it’s just because I watched Halloween 5 right beforehand, but I still like 6 more. I liked Donald Pleasence, some aspects of the direction, and ignoring the cult aspect, the portrayal of Michael Myers. The only reason I’d recommend watching The Curse of Michael Myers given that you’ve watched the 5th movie is that you made it to this point, so you might as well reach the end of it. As for which version to watch, neither of the two versions seem to be good, so that’s something you’ll have to figure out for yourself.