Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Halloween: 25 Years of Terror (2006)

Everything you ever wanted to know about the classic horror franchise, but were afraid to ask? errmm...well kinda. Back in 1978 a young John Carpenter directed and scored a horror slasher named after a yearly Christian celebration. This movie would star a young Jamie Lee Curtis in her movie debut and the British stalwart Donald Pleasence. As I'm sure everyone knows, the basis of the simple story surrounded the bogeyman named Michael Myers who comes back to his hometown of Haddonfield (after 15 years in a psychiatric hospital) to stalk and kill Laurie Strode. Thus began the massive horror slasher franchise of Halloween, or maybe as it should be known as, the franchise of Michael Myers.

This documentary goes back and delves into every movie of the franchise from 1978 up to 2002 with 'Halloween: Resurrection'. The two reboots directed by Rob Zombie are not covered here simply because they came along in 2007 and 2009, after this doc was made. The whole thing is narrated by franchise actress P.J. Soles, but unfortunately she tries way too hard with this simple task trying to make it come across like some kind of real crime/cop programme. Not really sure if she was trying to be scary or not but its kinda lame.

Anyway as you would expect each movie is looked into one by one with the original classic getting much more attention than the others, this simply being its the best of the bunch. Naturally this entails interviews with important people like John Carpenter and Debra Hill, both of whom offer the usual tit bits you've probably read about or seen before elsewhere. Nothing wrong with that of course but even for me not being a Halloween fanboy, none of it really amazed me. What I did find more interesting were the interview and convention snippets featuring Moustapha Akkad, a Syrian producer who virtually came outta nowhere to help with the original movie. To me this was all new information, I had never heard of the man before (not being a fanboy), and he is quite frank and honest about mistakes being made with the series. But still, most of what you get is cut from other older interviews, panel discussions or conventions, there is nothing fresh here.

What is cool are the numerous interview snippets/convention snippets/behind the scenes snippets from almost all the cast, from the first film right through to 'Halloween Resurrection'. This includes all the actors who have played Myers which is neat. You also have all the other main stars plus all the smaller roles, people who died early on, the slasher fodder, the cameos, the extras, people who are generally unimportant, but hey its great to see them. Funny how they all see themselves as big stars when really...they're not, had to chuckle. There are also various pop up bits from the die hard fans at conventions, of no real importance but there you go. Strangely enough, or unsurprisingly, this documentary obviously wasn't big enough for Jamie Lee Curtis to bother with as she doesn't really crop up much. Of course being an iconic horror franchise there are also small contributions from other big names such as Clive Barker (sounding rather ill or is that normal for him?), Rob Zombie, Edgar Wright etc...But again I must reiterate, much of what you get here are cut from other interviews, there is very little in this doc that appears to have been specially made.

Everyone of course knows that after the first movie the franchise went down hill, no one ever intended there to be sequels. Thusly most of the content for those sequels isn't overly thrilling. Its like, yeah we know 'Halloween III' wasn't a hit, they tried something new and it flopped, but had it been a stand alone movie without the Halloween brand name, it might have been a different story. The actual horror tale in the movie was quite good. Then six years later Myers was brought back in to spark the franchises resurgence in 'Halloween 4'. Blood and gore levels went up due to the 80's factor, the rushed out 'Halloween 5', the loyalty of Donald Pleasence, the return of Curtis and the eventual drop into modern cyber based shite with people like Busta Rhymes.

The things that grabbed me were, the problems of Myers mask in 'Halloween: H20' which was pretty amusing. But even this I think I recall hearing about when the movie came out, so again nothing new. The fact the mask they used was basically crap and had to CGI a mask into the movie because they couldn't reshoot, and boy was it obvious. The massive reshoots and alternate cuts for 'Halloween 6' was new to me, that got me interested in seeing the film again. The original 'Halloween' house in California is still standing and is now a landmark, as is the surrounding area where tours are conducted showing off certain locations where the original was shot. The mention of a Myers vs Pinhead movie is brought up which peaked my interest plus the odd stories of crew members not getting on, how they shot nude scenes for 'Halloween II' and the way Myers and Loomis are compared to Moby-Dick and Captain Ahab or Dracula and Van Helsing, or Frankenstein and his monstrous creation. I never thought of it that way yet it makes perfect sense.

The run time is just short of a regular movie so this did feel slightly underwhelming truth be told. As said, much of this isn't new material, I'm not entirely sure which bits, if any, are actually new for the doc so don't get too over excited. I get the impression that if you're a fanboy of the franchise then most of this (if not all) will possibly be old hat. Certainly reasonably interesting for me, but not stunned by it, I've seen better docs I think, and better constructed ones too, this felt lowkey. I think a 'reboot' with more content on the originals (after the 78 original), including the newer Rob Zombie versions should be done.