Tag Archives: Donald Pleasence

You Only Live Twice (1967) Review

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You Only Live Twice

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] 
Cast:
Sean Connery as James Bond
Akiko Wakabayashi as Aki
Mie Hama as Kissy Suzuki
Tetsurō Tamba as Tiger Tanaka
Teru Shimada as Mr. Osato
Karin Dor as Helga Brandt/No. 11
Donald Pleasence as Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Bernard Lee as M
Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny
Desmond Llewelyn as Q
Director: Lewis Gilbert

An American space capsule supposedly gets abducted by a Russian spaceship. However, as James Bond discovers that SPECTRE is responsible for it, he embarks on a mission to unearth the motive behind it.

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I didn’t know how they would hold up today, but I found myself pleasantly surprised with the Sean Connery era. However with the fourth movie Thunderball, I was rather disappointed and found it okay at best. I wasn’t sure about how the next movie You Only Live Twice would fare. Having seen it, I would not call it a good movie; it is really silly and I would not place it as the better half of James Bond, but I got a lot of enjoyment out of it.

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This script (co-written by Roald Dahl of all people) is undeniably silly. Goldfinger and Thunderball leaned into the silliness and camp, but YOLT takes it steps further. It is one of the goofier James Bond movies for sure, and was by far the goofiest at that point in the series. You can definitely tell the early signs of the series moving towards the Roger Moore era. YOLT is less of a political spy thriller and more of a silly action adventure; While this won’t work for everyone and might get too crazy for some in the second half, I found it entertaining in the wackiness and absurdity, even if it borders on self-parody. It helped that You Only Live Twice is self aware, it doesn’t play it straight faced by any means. The tone feels lighter, rather than having a serious spy plot with out of place humour. It also benefits from tight pacing and a lot of creative and ambitious moments within. Out of the Bond movies, the Austin Powers movies definitely took the most from You Only Live Twice, and it kind of makes sense when watching it.

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Although I thoroughly enjoyed You Only Live Twice, it is far from being problem free. Despite its enjoyable silliness, the story really is lacking, especially when compared to some of the previous Bond movies. There are certainly sequences and parts that are memorable, but I can’t say that the movie is memorable on the whole. Finally getting to it, You Only Live Twice is very problematic, in fact it’s probably one of the most problematic of the Bond movies and that’s saying something. There are some very weird undercurrents with its racial and gender policies. Despite being considerably less rapey here compared to Bond’s appearance in Thunderball, there really is an air of misogyny and sexism throughout that is prevalent. Then there’s the very weird racial politics. It’s pretty clear that the producers were fascinated with Japanese culture in this instalment, and wanted to make the most out of the setting, and with that came with all the stereotypes including ninjas, sumo wrestling, and Japanese-face. There’s no nice way of putting it, Bond does yellowface, which strangely makes him look more like a Vulcan than actually Asian. It is by far one of the most embarrassing moments of James Bond, and again that’s saying something.

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While Sean Connery is enjoyable to watch as James Bond as usual, compared to many of the previous films his work isn’t all that special here. He seemed a little bored and worn down, and it makes total sense that another actor played Bond after this movie. Still, he has his moments. Some of the returning Bond actors are good, like Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny, Desmond Llewelyn as Q, and Bernard Lee as M, and some of the other main supporting actors in the film are decent too. However the highlight for me is Ernst Stravo Blofeld, the main villain and the recurring antagonist for Bond as the head of SPECTRE. From his first appearance in From Russia with Love, the leader of the criminal organisation has had his face obscured, now we finally get to see the man, and the payoff was strong. Now I wouldn’t call Blofeld one of the all-time best villains by any means, I wouldn’t even say he’s the best Bond villain, however I do really like him. Part of it has to do with Donald Pleasence’s wonderful performance, who is riding a fine line. He is perfectly over the top and cartoonish (fitting for a character who has an evil lair in a volcano with a piranha pool death trap), yet still menacing. He is a memorable character, and you can definitely see why tat Dr Evil from Austin Powers was based specifically off this version of Blofeld. In some ways he is underutilised in the movie, you only see him in the final act. But I don’t think he would’ve been as effective otherwise.

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Lewis Gilbert directs You Only Live Twice, it is the first of three Bond movies he would make. It definitely loses the grounded aspects from the past movies to focus more on the action, and considering the absurd plot, it was worth it. The action set pieces are pretty good, there are some large scale sequences, including a mini helicopter chase and an elaborate set piece at Blofeld’s rocket base. The setting of Japan was a good change for a James Bond movie, on a visual level at least. There are some great locations and environments, and the film definitely takes advantage of them. It’s quite visually impressive, helped by the amazing set design. The look of the volcano lair in particular is immaculate and impressive, ranking among the best production designs for the Bond movies. The visual effects can be very uneven, but then again, it’s a 60s Bond movie, so that’s to be expected. Finally, John Barry’s musical score is typically great.

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You Only Live Twice is not exactly one of the most beloved of the James Bond movies. The plot isn’t the best, it’s a bit too silly for its own good at points, and it is undeniably problematic with its racial and gender politics. However, I still found it to be very entertaining. I enjoyed it more than Thunderball at least, especially with how over the top and absurd it is, and there are some enjoyable set pieces. I would probably place it as being mid-tier Bond, but nonetheless fun to watch.

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.

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.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) Review

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Halloween 5 The Revenge of Michael Myers

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis
Danielle Harris as Jamie Lloyd
Ellie Cornell as Rachel Carruthers
Beau Starr as Sheriff Ben Meeker
Wendy Kaplan as Tina Williams
Tamara Glynn as Samantha Thomas
Director: Dominique Othenin-Girard

After lying in a coma for a year, Michael Myers (Donald L. Shanks) awakens and stalks his way back to his small hometown in Illinois, intent on killing his niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris), who has been confined to a mental institution since Michael’s last attempt to slay her. Suspecting a psychic link between Michael and Jamie, psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) joins forces with Sheriff Ben Meeker (Beau Starr) and attempts to stop Michael’s latest rampage.

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I was continuing the Halloween movie series, and I arrived onto the 5th movie, with the hard to take seriously title of The Revenge of Michael Myers. Halloween 4 wasn’t that good, but the ending was solid and had a possibility for the where the next movie could spring off from Unfortunately the follow up doesn’t take advantage of that, and on top of that, the movie on the whole ends up being bad by itself.

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The most interesting aspect of Halloween 4 was the ending. Halloween 5 doesn’t forget that ending, but they followed on from it in quite possibly the worst way possible. First of all, the film opens with a retcon of part of 4’s climax. The opening shows the moment in the previous movie where Michael Myers supposedly dies (again) in the graveyard, and shows him escaping by floating down a stream and being taken in by a hermit with a parrot, then there’s a time jump and then Myers gets up and decides to kill again. So that’s strange enough, but that’s not all. 5 flat out retcons the very end of the last moments of 4. As a reminder, 4 had the ending of Jaime finally snapping, and killing her stepmother in the same way that a young Michael Myers killed his sister. It was a good point to end the movie on, but they changed story direction here. It is worth noting that Donald Pleasence was also disappointed with this change in direction, wanting the character of Jaime to be portrayed as “all evil”. That would’ve been an interesting and fresh direction to take the story, even if the idea of Jamie being Michael’s sidekick seems strange, it would’ve been much better than whatever they chose to go for. In the revised events, the stepmother didn’t die, and Jaime just attacked her, she didn’t try to kill her. Jaime is also now in a children’s hospital, not a mental institute and is in a bad state. Loomis also no longer wants to kill Jamie like he tried to at the end of the 4th film, but is instead her doctor and is convinced that the ‘attack’ happened because Michael Myers made her do it through a psychic connection. Yes, it’s bizarre and the worst part is that he ends up being right and there’s not explanation for how he figured it out. Right out the gate with this opening section it doesn’t bold well for the movie. So all the potential is pretty much gone.

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Retconning aside, 5 ends up being a worse version of 4, and is beyond a generic slasher film. Apparently the filmmakers didn’t have a finished script when they began filming and it really shows here. The atmosphere and tension is practically non existent. 4 had its issues and wasn’t good in those areas but in 5, most of the time all the attempts at horror fall flat. There’s really only one moment that’s actually really good but that’s it. The pacing is off, and the characters range from being dull to being annoying. In fact, there’s a big chunk of it focused on some annoying characters. Imagine some of the characters in a slasher movie that fake scare each other, and then eventually gets killed. Then imagine that they have twice the amount of screentime that they would normally have. That’s what happens here, and it can be really frustrating to sit through. There’s even a couple of dumb cop characters thrown in for some bad comic relief, and there’s even a little comical theme music that plays for them when they are on screen. Something worth noting is that 5 introduces ideas about what is happening with Michael Myers, and try to give some sort of an explanation for him and why he’s killing. Now I’m not opposed to the series trying new things, it’s just that these new things that they are attempting don’t work out at all. The movie also introduces hints of what would happen in the next movie and try to add something to the Myer’s Mythos, with a mystery man dressed in black with a thorn symbol tattoo. This mystery man appears every so often throughout the movie with no explanation and even by the end of the movie he’s not given any explanation. What’s worse is that the writers genuinely didn’t know who this person was, they just added him as a potential thing to follow up on the sequel. When it gets to its cliffhanger ending, you realise what Halloween 5 really was, not a sequel but rather a 90 minute long trailer for Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers.

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Danielle Harris and Donald Pleasence were among the better parts of the 4th movie, they are still good here but even they have some problems here. Danielle Harris returns as Jamie Lloyd, and in a large portion of the movie she’s basically been reduced to a mute that go into convulsions every so often when that psychic connection plays up again. Credit to Harris, she’s putting everything into her performance here, and she does especially well at seeming scared, especially in the third act. Donald Pleasence returns as Dr Loomis and he’s good as always, however the writing of his character is a bit weird to say the least. I get that by this point he would’ve lost his mind a bit, but some of his actions (especially in the third act) are out of character. Loomis is comically crazy like a raving madman for much of the movie, and I’m surprised that he didn’t end up as some surprise villain by the end of the movie. There’s nothing really to say about the rest of the cast and characters except that they are either forgettable or obnoxious.

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The direction by Dominique Othenin-Girard is not very good. In fairness some of the shots and the blocking is good, but most of the direction with regard to horror and scares falls flat. The kill scenes are just fine, but there’s nothing really memorable and as previously said the tension and atmosphere is practically non-existent. In all fairness to the movie, there actually is one sequence with Jamie in the third act which does actually work quite well, involving a laundry chute. That part stands out to me and was definitely a highlight. The Michael Myers mask in the 5th movie somehow looks worse than the one in Halloween 4. Instead of looking cheap it looks quite dumb, it is barely ever tucked in, and it looks constantly stretched so it barely fits the actor’s head. The movie already has problems with being tense or scary but Michael Myers looking quite silly with that mask doesn’t help matters. The score is just there, it just uses the typical iconic theme from the series at points but it doesn’t actually build any suspense. In fact there are some sequences where the score playing is bad and takes away from those scenes.

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Halloween 5: The Return of Michael Myers is likely one of the worst movies of the Halloween series. Despite some good performances from Harris and Pleasence as well as one good scene, it’s just not good. On top of squandering the potential that was practically gift wrapped to them, its just generally a worse version of the 4th movie. Despite some of my issues with 4, this is where the series is first taking a big sink for me, and it’s showing that this current storyline that started with 4 is not going to get any better.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) Review

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Halloween 4 The Return of Michael Myers

Time: 88 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis
Ellie Cornell as Rachel Carruthers
Danielle Harris as Jamie Lloyd
Michael Pataki as Dr. Hoffman
Director: Dwight H. Little

The apparently comatose Michael Myers (George P. Wilbur) is being transferred from one hospital to another, but he wakes up when the ambulance crew talk about his surviving niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris). After slaughtering his attendants, Myers sets out to find his one living relative who is, fortunately, being cared for by a kind and resourceful foster sister named Rachel (Ellie Cornell). Meanwhile, the ever-cautious Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) remains on the killer’s path.

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Halloween 3: Season of the Witch tried to steer the series in a different direction from the previous two movies, and aimed to be the start of an anthology series without Michael Myers. Given the negative response that the movie received however, it was pretty clear that audiences wanted the series to bring back Michael Myers, and the filmmakers gave them what they wanted. For the next movies, it followed on from Halloween 2 with its own direction. I heard some mixed things about just about all of the sequels. I watched 4 and generally it was pretty average as a movie, but it was overall alright.

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Laurie Strode from the original films is written off as being dead, which certainly was a questionable way of writing her out of the story. This time the main character who is being hunted down by Michael Myers is Laurie’s 7 year old daughter Jamie. This gives a very different dynamic between protagonist and Myers, as Jamie is way more vulnerable. The plot is a bit contrived, plodding and weak, with mostly boring characters that we are stuck with. Most of the plot doesn’t feel fresh at all, almost like it’s the most basic follow up one could think of for Halloween 2. The suspense and atmosphere from the previous 3 movies are practically non existence, even if the film tries to re-capture that. They reference the explosion at the end of Halloween 2 but don’t really explain how Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis managed to survive that. There were some potential with the new direction of the story, like it was somewhat different to see how the town reacts to Myers being back. There’s also some pretty silly parts to this movie, which at least made it somewhat entertaining. There is this hillbilly mob trying to hunt down Michael Myers, and the dialogue at many points are very goofy. I guess credit where credit is due, the police are slightly more competent, which was refreshing to seen in a Halloween movie. When Loomis comes to them when Myers escapes, they actually listen to what he says. So I guess that’s at least one aspect that the movie subverted. Most of the time thought the plot and scares are predictable. The third act for the most part is pretty underwhelming, especially with the climax. With that being said, the ending is great and one of the best parts of the movie, leaving the series open to take a different direction with the sequels from this point onwards.

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The character of Jamie Lloyd is played by Danielle Harris and she’s actually great on her part. She’s not Laurie from the original, but Harris is quite convincing, especially in the chase and intense scenes. Donald Pleasence returns as Dr. Sam Loomis, and like his past two film appearances is one of the best parts of the movie, I’m glad his character survived along with Myers. The movie (and the sequels he appears in I assume) would’ve been worse without him. It’s 10 years later, Loomis is battle scarred, a little unstable and just looks so done, especially when he finds that Michael Myers has escaped yet again. Ellie Cornell also plays Rachel, Jamie’s step-sister, and she was also pretty good in her part. One note about the physical acting of Michael Myers, he does have a bad mask however he also just doesn’t feel the same as the Myers from the from the first movie or even the second movie. From the smaller stature and awkward movements, he feels like someone wearing a Michael Myers costume rather than being him. He’s just not intimidating at all.

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The direction from Dwight H. Little is pretty bland, while I wouldn’t quite call it bad, it rather feels like it’s on autopilot. The opening credits actually work quite well, it doesn’t attempt to copy the opening credit sequences from the first two movies with the jack o lantern, and didn’t feature the opening theme. With its simple yet effective shots, it is effectively atmospheric and eerie. The cinematography is unremarkable, although the close up shots does make it stand out from the previous movies. The kills can be gloriously over the top and ludicrous (especially one instance involving a shotgun), but most of the time they are unfortunately rather bland. As previously said, the new mask on Michael Myers looks really bad, and the whole costume in fact looks really bad. What’s worse is that the costume he picked up in the original Halloween movie was just whatever he could find, for whatever reason in 4 he looks for that exact same costume. Early in the movie Myers is wearing bandages and I kind of wish that they stuck with that, even just for it being a different look for him. The chase sequences are rather bland and drawn out, and aren’t really suspenseful, though there was a scene on a rooftop that sort of works. Even the sound effects are pretty weak and cartoonish, particularly the sounds for the gunshots. The score contains similar themes from the original Halloween, although it doesn’t really add much to the suspense, almost like its an obligation or something.

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Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is really a mixed bag. It’s very bland from the story to the direction, and the tension and atmosphere doesn’t work. With that said, there are some moments which are decent, the performances from Harris and Pleasance are solid, and it’s got a great ending. It’s an average slasher flick but if you’re curious enough, check it out for yourself.

Halloween II (1981) Review

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Halloween 2 1981

Time: 92 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence
Cast:
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis
Director: Rick Rosenthal

After Doctor Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasence) shoots Michael Myers size times and falls off a balcony, Michael escapes and continues his massacre in Haddonfield. Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is also sent to the hospital and Dr Loomis gathers a group of police officers to hunt down Michael and put an end to his murderous rampage.

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I have watched some of the Halloween movies, I had seen the original, I had seen the recent follow up to it, and I had seen the reboot movies from Rob Zombie. However, I had never checked out Halloween 2 from the 80s, the original follow up to the original movie. Even though the current series continuity is going down a different direction (with Halloween 2018 onwards), I did want to check it out. It’s definitely not as good as the first movie and has a ton of problems, but it does have some decent moments.

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With Halloween 2, you really get the feeling that the sequel was made only because the original was successful. It does aim to be a second half to the first Halloween movie instead of a sequel, as it picks off right as the first movie ended. There are opportunities for Halloween 2 to show the effects of the last movie, as the town is shown to react in disorder and mayhem after the massacre. The hospital is also a classic horror and slasher setting, and works for this movie for some horror moments. On the whole though, it is a very by the numbers slasher. Also, it feels in many ways different to the first movie (despite trying to be a part 2 instead of a sequel), being over the top, less serious, and not as creepy or atmospheric. There are also some leaps in logic, whereas the first movie seemed somewhat grounded in comparison (invincible bogeyman aside). There is also a reveal added into the story that felt unnecessary, not to mention, it feels really forced. To the movie’s credit, Halloween 2 does try to actually end the storyline, with no hints at a sequel. Although of course it would continue with numerous sequels.

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Donald Pleasence is really good as Dr Loomis once again, especially as he’s under more stress and pressure after finding out that Michael Myers is still alive despite shooting him 6 times at the end of the last movie. Jamie Lee Curtis gives it her all as Laurie Strode but she doesn’t get much to do in this movie aside from be unconscious for half her screentime, and limp and run away for the remaining half. Everyone else just felt like bodies for Michael Myers to slaughter, you don’t care for any of them and some of their actions are rather dumb, it’s like they might as well be in a Friday the 13th movie.

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It isn’t Halloween 1 director John Carpenter directing this time, instead it is Rick Rosenthal. Still, Carpenter and Halloween 1 writer Debra Hill were closely involved as producers and writers. I found some of the direction to be a mixed bag. John Carpenter wanted to go insane with the over the top violence and bloody that was popular in the 80s (which explains the blood compared to the first movie). Rosenthal wanted to keep the film similar in tone to the first movie so it felt like a continuation. However his direction just wasn’t on that same level for it to work as well. It does utilise some of the familiar and successful aspects from the original, especially in terms of the overall look. Unfortunately, it doesn’t manage to create the same real tension, suspense and dread and instead goes more for gore. There are some memorable kills, though a lot of them were pretty silly. Halloween 2 does have one or two creepy moments, but overall isn’t very effective on the whole. With that said, it is a very well shot movie, with great tracking shots and POV sequences, and I also liked the use of colour and lighting. I also like the hospital setting, the empty rooms made it work, dimly lit rooms and the addition of Michael Myers really make it work. The mask of Michael Myers looks a bit off and worse than the first movie, it’s weird particularly seeing as it is a follow up to the original, which is right before the sequel. The score is also by John Carpenter, however it makes itself stand out by being more synth based.

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I wouldn’t say that Halloween 2 is bad, I’d say that it is relatively decent. It’s a by the numbers slasher that does have its moments, as well as aspects of the direction which work, but on the whole it is rather forgettable. However, if you liked any of the Halloween movies beyond the original and Halloween 2018, I’d say give it a look.

Halloween (1978) Review

Time: 91 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Nick Castle as Michael Myers/The Shape
P. J. Soles as Lynda Van Der Klok
Nancy Kyes as Annie Brackett
Director: John Carpenter

On a cold Halloween night in 1963, six year old Michael Myers brutally murdered his 17-year-old sister, Judith. He was sentenced and locked away for 15 years. But on October 30, 1978, while being transferred for a court date, a 21-year-old Michael Myers steals a car and escapes Smith’s Grove. He returns to his quiet hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, where he looks for his next victims.

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With the latest Halloween movie coming out less than a month away, I decided to have another look back at John Carpenter’s horror classic, Halloween. Halloween was revolutionary for film, especially for the horror genre. Even with a smaller budget and a simple premise, they really caught lighting in a bottle with this.

Getting some of the worse elements of the movie out of the way, some of the dialogue can be really bad, especially when it comes to the teenage characters, it’s like someone is badly trying to imitate teenagers from the 70s. With that said it’s a minor issue. The film does also set all of these characters up to be one dimensional bags of blood to be stabbed by the masked killer, something that other slasher movies following it would be doing as well. Since it was the first to do it I guess I don’t have too much to complain about. A lot of the clichés and tropes that would happen would be because of this movie, for better or for worse. No, Halloween wasn’t the first slasher film to be made. It was however one of the first slasher movies to introduce the idea of a killer coming to a familiar location instead of going to a place where the killer is (like Psycho or Texas Chainsaw Massacre). Halloween is about an hour and 30 minutes long and that was the right length, it doesn’t drag and even in the scenes where nothing much is happening, Michael Myer’s presence will usually be felt during it. Halloween is quite a simple movie, with a limited amount of locations, a simple premise, a straightforward killer, yet all of it works, it’s simplicity is the key to its success. The portrayal of Michael Myers is really effective. The only bit of backstory that we get about him is from Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) who describes him as being pretty much pure evil and you completely buy it. Making it even more intimidating is how Myers seems absolutely unstoppable. He doesn’t run when chasing after people and when he kills he’s not over the top with it, he walks slow, he kills silently, the only sounds from him are his deep breaths. From what I understand the sequels and the remakes try to make an explanation for him, however while they might be able to explain why he acts how he does (which does take away from him as a character), nothing can really explain his immortality. I much prefer the pure evil explanation for him.

Donald Pleasence is fantastic as Sam Loomis, the doctor who is the only person who truly knows how dangerous Michael Myers is. True there’s not much to the character but it’s by far the best performance in this movie. Jamie Lee Curtis makes her debut acting performance here as Laurie Strode and she does pretty okay in her role, nothing great but nothing bad either. It’s worth keeping in mind that she essentially became the first “last survivor” character in a slasher film, so a lot of the tropes with that sort of characters started with her character. She’s at least better than most of the other actors. Most of the actors are pretty bad, especially the teenage characters.

John Carpenter’s direction was one of the main reasons why Halloween works so well. Halloween has a budget of about $300,000, which even then in the 70s was pretty low and yet he did so much with that budget. Sometimes you can feel some of the restraints with the regard to things like the sound design is not always the greatest but most of it is fine. Something about how small scale it feels really adds to this movie, you feel much more confined to what is going on. The cinematography is absolutely masterful, the use of wideshots was really effective, especially for building tension and suspense. Carpenter made Michael Myers a real presence throughout the movie, even when he isn’t killing anyone. In fact, him just standing somewhere in the background is really effective, way more effective than just him killing people. The kills are actually pretty tame for a slasher film but they are pretty effective. They aren’t overly bloody or gory and are usually somewhat in the shadows, fitting in with the rest of the movie and not being a typical bloodfest (which the movies would eventually become). The cinematography is only made better with the use of John Carpenter’s score, which is absolutely excellent. I don’t think Halloween would have been as iconic or effective without the score. Every time that main theme comes on, you are just wondering what’s going on, whether Michael Myers is there or what’s happening next, and only continues to build tension and really sets the mood. The design of Michael Myers is simple but effective. A William Shatner mask and a jumpsuit is all there is to his physical appearance and yet it remains one of the most iconic horror costume designs ever 40 years later. As for the scares, most of them didn’t affect me but that’s just me, I’m difficult to be scared. It does have some jump scares but all of them are effective, it’s not cheap at all and even the fake out jump scares are pretty effective.

Halloween is still a horror classic to this day and it’s easy to see why looking back at it. John Carpenter’s direction of this simple premise was really effective and led to a huge change for the horror genre (for better and for worse). It’s actually the only movie in the long series that I’ve watched but I can’t imagine any of the sequels being even close to living up to the original. The sequel coming this year will be ignoring all other sequels and it looks like it will at least somewhat close to being at the level of the original, which is saying a lot considering how great the original is. 40 years on, John Carpenter’s Halloween still remains a classic.