Anyone who has been following our countdown of the top 50 horror films of all time, will know that I have a special place in my heart for the slasher sub-genre, with the Halloween franchise being my slasher franchise of choice. Unfortunately, I couldn’t include -- to give its full, ridiculous title – Halloween H20: 20 Years Later on the list as the competition was too high. I still wanted to tell you about it, though, so I thought I’d write up a quick recommendation for it, as that way I get to have my cake and eat it too!
As with many slasher franchises, they start off exciting and original and then usually start to reproduce rubbish sequel after rubbish sequel until the series is little more than a cash milking machine (although there is still enjoyment to be had in these ‘so bad they’re good’ franchises). Halloween is no different. The first in the series was excellent and remains to this day one of the greatest horror movies of all time. The second one was also pretty good as it kept the original cast, but changed up the location, but following on directly (literally a few minutes after) the ending of the first one ... then things went a little southward. Number 3 wasn’t even in the same series, it just carried on the name and then entries 4, 5, and 6, were their own self-contained trilogy, as series super-star Jamie Leigh Curtis, didn’t return.
Then came along Halloween H20, or to give it it’s easier title: Halloween 7. This saw the return of Jamie Leigh Curtis and the continuation of the events of the original two films. Because of this, you can (or at least, I do) consider Halloween to be a trilogy, made up of the original, the second and the seventh entries … because the rest of the films are pretty awful (even if Rob Zombie’s couple of remakes were quite fun).
Right, I’ve given you enough backstory, let’s get to the plot. As the title suggests, the film is set 20 years after the events of the first and second entries, where *SPOILER* Mike Myers was supposedly burned to death by Jamie Lee Curtis’, Laurie Strode and Donald Pleasence’s, Dr Loomis. Curtis is now the headmistress of an elite boarding school in the middle of nowhere out in California where she lives with her son (the father is absent). The film starts with the approaching of the anniversary of October 31st 1978 and Curtis is having nightmares, even though her son tries to convince her that knife-wielding, Michael Myers, is long dead … he obviously isn’t as the film would be pretty boring otherwise. Myers obviously turns up at the school and lays waste to some teenagers and Curtis’ psyche as she valiantly attempts to take control of the fear that has been tormenting her for 20 years.
As well as Jamie Lee Curtis, the film boasts an excellent cast, even if – at the time – a lot of them were unknowns who would go on to become big Hollywood stars. Joseph Gordan-Levitt plays a hockey-playing teen in the opening prologue (and anyone who has seen a slasher prologue will know that most people don’t survive them); multiple Oscar-nominee, Michelle Williams plays the girlfriend of Curtis’ son, Josh Hartnett, and LL Cool J plays the comical, school security guard. There is also a lovely cameo from Jamie Leigh Curtis’ real-life mother, Janet Leigh, who of course found massive fame in Psycho as the ‘original’ scream-queen before Jamie took over the mantle.
You may be thinking that this sounds just like any other high-numbered sequel in a once artistically viable horror franchise (ala Saw, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, etc), but it isn’t. A lot of sequels simply rehash the originals with a new host of dim-witted teens who make you, quite frankly, relived when they get offed in increasingly gruesome ways, but Halloween H20 allows us time to get to know the main teenagers before Myers even appears to brandish his signature kitchen knife. The film is of course also massively helped by the return of Jamie Leigh Curtis, who since the first entry, has become iconic in the horror genre (which has been helped by her appearances in The Fog and Prom Night). She gives the sequel credibility and the whole project feels more professionally made than a lot of slasher sequels.
All in all, the film was an excellent slasher film in its own right, as well as being a delightful return to form for one of the best horror franchises in cinema history … just whatever you do, ignore its sequel Halloween: Resurrection, which is by far the worst in the franchise and even features Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks …