Wednesday, October 22, 2014

uncle. boogeyman

Allow me to quote myself from like three days ago:

...If I just rented or bought Halloween [5], you really don’t need to tell me all about the original Halloween before I watch it. Unless I just don’t understand Arabic Numerals, I’m guessing you realize this is a sequel and you got into this one—part 4—on purpose, so you don’t need an ad for the original.

At least they didn’t include a trailer for 6.

Anyway, on to Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. The opening for this film is odd. I get that Michael survived all those bullets—there’s obviously something super- or inhuman about him at this point. But, then he finds some old dude and... CUT TO one year later? Now, if they had planned ahead for the whole thorn cult thing already—I mean, they do have the tattoo, so I guess it was being setup already. If I had more than one day for this movie, I’d look into some behind-the-scenes stuff that I probably knew once upon a time, but I’ve just got today. Let’s assume the thorn thing is planned in detail. The old guy does have weird symbols on the table so it seems like there’s something going on, but the guy didn’t seem to recognize Michael when he arrived. Plus, how would Michael know to head for that particular shack along that particular river? And, even if he did know about said shack, what are the chances that the lynch mob truck would get to that particular vicinity before Michael gets thrown clear then gunned down? No thorn setup, or at least no one-year jump, and then the luck of being gunned down right on top of that mineshaft is not so bad. Random old guy nurses Michael back to health is a reasonable plot point if there is not something more going on. With something more going on, the year is confusing at best.

The goofy cops with the even goofier musical cue—yeah, this film could have done without them.

Killing off Rachel in the first act—now, that’s just wrong. Plus, the girl who a year ago took one look at Michael Myers in an alley (without really knowing that was who she was seeing) would not ignore Max’s barking, and wouldn’t not go toward the room he’s barking at.

But, let’s backtrack to that pre-movie bit again for a moment. The little recap voiceover said it was ten years ago that Michael was responsible for the largest mass murder ever. a) it was only ten years before the first scene of this film, so the one-year jump is problematic again, because it makes is seem like he’s just wrong. b) the announcer guy says it was 16 murders. I’m fairly sure is was actually only 14 or 15...

Thing is, even if it were 16, there were at least two bigger mass murders in the United States prior to this announcer’s spiel, and one of those prior to Michael’s killings in the first two Halloween films. July 18, 1984, James Huberty killed 21 at a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, California. August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman killed 18 at the University of Texas in Austin.

Lazy scripting alert: Loomis explores the Myers house just so he can set up Chekhov’s laundry chute. Oh, and so silver-tipped boots guy with tattoo that matches Michael’s can... well, do nothing but just kinda be there. If he really wanted to help Michael out, maybe he should have killed Loomis right then instead of killing a bunch of cops later. Someone wasn’t thinking this through.

Michael—Tina’s boyfriend, not Myers—is even more “trigger happy” than Loomis. Michael scrapes the guy’s car and he goes straight to readying to hit Michael—Myers, not Tina’s boyfriend—with a crowbar. He and Loomis should have teamed up to solve crimes or something.

Tina comments on how cold it is outside, and it occurs to me, this movie didn’t make much effort to portray fall like 4 did. After I watched 4 I watched one of the extras—Final Cut, I think it was called—and the director (or maybe the producer... one of the guys interviewed) talked about wanting it to look like fall, but they didn’t film during fall so they had to bring in all the leaves to put everywhere on the ground.

(Why is Haddonfield suddenly a big city?)

Sometimes this month, I have wished for more days. The seven days per movie thing—or the 365 day Groundhog Day thing—that would allow so much more in-depth coverage of these movies... well, not all of them. I would never want to watch, say, Prom Night or Halloween III over and over again. But, the costume choices in this movie alone would provide a good entry, something on my old standby topic of gender. I mean, Tina’s got the jerk boyfriend and is presumably sexually active, and she dresses like a “naughty” maid for Halloween, but she’s also the one girl here who seems alert to danger—a sign that she’s supposed to be the Final Girl for this film—and she never actually gets to have sex since her boyfriend is killed. Meanwhile, her friend Sam is dressed like the devil, and she has sex in this film, and gets killed soon thereafter. Her boyfriend, Spitz, is dressed like a cowboy, the quintessential American man. Backtrack a little to Michael’s (the boyfriend, not the killer) death scene—Michael (killer) challenges his masculinity—as represented/compensated for by his car—by scraping that car. Michael (boyfriend) gets all testosterone-filled and goes for the violence (as already noted) and died for it. His “costume” by the way—a barbaric male mask (it was originally supposed to be a Ronald Reagan mask, by the way, but that was decided to be too political) Tina got him, and that Michael (killer) dons later to pick up Tina for... well, reasons.

Meanwhile, cowboy and devil just died. And, it is worth noting that even devil girl Sam was smart enough to try to fight back against Michael with the pitchfork he’d just used on Spitz. The whole Final Girl thing—this movie is not quite handling it... I was going to say it wasn’t handling it right, but really, is it right to frame the slasher film in gender roles and stereotypes? It may be common, but that doesn’t make it right.

Jamie is already an anomaly as far as the Final Girl thing goes, but kill off Rachel in the first 20 minutes and then have her apparently very sexually active—she just went into the barn to invite Sam and Spitz to go skinny dipping which, in the context of slasher films, is practically asking for death (see: Friday the 13th Part 2, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Friday the 13th Part VII, for example)—friend be quite proactive against Michael, give us just enough of her to think she‘s the Final Girl, then kill her, too. I wonder, actually, if Tina’s role in the story wasn’t supposed to be filled by Rachel originally, since it’s the same motherly protective role Rachel filled in 4.

Then, heading into the latter half of act three, the movie becomes something different. Leave behind the slasher thing, and set a trap for Michael. Change things up for a cliffhanger ending that perplexed a big part of the audience.

(Just noticed there’s a thorn mark on the wall in the Myers house. Nice detail.)

This month, in looking at the slasher film after slasher film, it’s interesting to track the progression of the genre. With Jason Takes Manhattan, this film, Freddy’s Dead (which I’ll be watching in a couple days) and Jason Goes to Hell, the slasher film was coming to an end of sorts. Things would linger, but New Nightmare (no matter how awesome I think it is), The Curse of Michael Myers and the Next Generation Chain Saw movie were more like death throes or last legs than anything else. Still, the slasher genre couldn’t be kept down anymore than Jason or Michael or Freddy or Leatherface could. A few more sequels and reboots and remakes would come. It would be a while—the Friday the 13th remake maybe—before the slasher genre really died off. And, maybe the timing with the “torture porn” horror films helped it go down. The spectacle of the gore took precedence over the story, the stalking. Sure, the Saw series and the Hostel films had something to say, but the message got a bit muddled in all that blood and pain. And, the slasher film got left behind. Now it’s all supernatural horror, found footage stuff, demon possession...

But, I will stick with the genre a bit longer, see what it’s got left. Michael, Jason, and to a lesser extent Freddy, and a much lesser extent Leatherface—they’re like old friends, and it has been nice hanging out with them again after all these years.

(One final note on this film: Loomis was pretty cold in the previous film, I pointed out. Here he is like senior citizen badass, walking right up to Michael and having a conversation (albeit one-sided) with the guy.)

(Oh, and the double meaning when Jamie says “uncle” is nice.)

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