Halloween Kills–Second act of new trilogy is an epic celebration of slasher horror and John Carpenter and Debra Hill’s modern Frankenstein


Review by C.J. Bunce

Director David Gordon Green’s 2018 movie Halloween was great fun (reviewed here), a welcome callback to the low-budget filmmaking style of the 1970s, a sequel/reboot of the original horror film that set off a new era of scream queens and slasher horror films.  But it was only the first act in a three-act opus that continues in Halloween Kills and will wrap next year in Halloween EndsWith this month’s premiere of Halloween Kills on streaming platform Peacock Premium, fans will realize Gordon knows the franchise, the genre, and all that retro nostalgia that has audiences clamoring for shows like Stranger Things and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.  Complete with obscure characters from the corners of Haddonfield, Illinois, returning 40 years later, Halloween Kills is not just good horror but great–complete with all the non-apologetic, operatic gore and scares that have been the backbone of the modern monster movie mega-franchises first resurrected by John Carpenter and Debra Hill back in 1978.  Since then we’ve seen the likes of Michael, Jason, and Freddy stepping in for Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, The Mummy, and the Phantom of the Opera.


Director David Gordon Green is the real deal.  His set-up of the current era of Haddonfield in Act One brought together Jamie Lee Curtis’s heroine-victim of the franchise Laurie Strode with Will Patton’s Officer Hawkins and Green’s Doctor Frankenstein, Haluk Bilginer’s twisted Dr. Sartain.  It was an exciting local pursuit of a criminal in a small town very much in the vein of Stephen King’s Silver Bullet.  Keep in mind the entire trilogy takes place on October 31, 2018.  Both Curtis and Patton take a backseat in the second act, Halloween Kills–both are recovering in the hospital from the wounds suffered at the hands of Michael Myers aka The Shape.  From out of nowhere Anthony Michael Hall steps into the lead role as grown-up little boy Tommy Doyle, haunted by the memories of Myers, and he reunites at a bar on Halloween with several other survivors from Myer’s 1978 murder spree, including Robert Longstreet as Lonnie Elam, Nancy Stephens as Marion, victim Annie Brackett’s father Leigh (Charles Ciphers), and Kyle Richards (The Watcher in the Woods) as Lindsay.  A mix of actual actors from the past and new actors stepping into the shoes of others, it’s a good mix of nostalgia and over-acting by this folksy local mob, all led by Hall in a worthy callback to the lighting of the torches of the townspeople to track down Frankenstein’s monster.  Monster movies come full circle.


Director Green intercuts frames from the past, giving new meaning to scenes with the late Carpenter theater player Donald Pleasance as Myers’ original doctor.  The best is the creation/pseudo re-creation of the team of deputies tracking Myers in 1978, focused on a young Officer Hawkins, played believably by Thomas Mann (The Highwaymen).  It will have you going back to the original movie to see who was in that film and which in Halloween Kills only looks like they were in the original.  Green masterfully stitches it all together.  And October 31, 2018, doesn’t even end until next year’s Halloween Ends.


Yes, Strode’s daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichek) are still here, fighting to protect Laurie from Michael, and they are shuffled into the various mob contingents as Hall’s Tommy Doyle leads them forward to kill Myers.  Hall’s character is the embodiment of the title: Kill, kill, kill.  His mob meets the fate of many a monster movie mob, but it’s not really about sending the audience some educational warning message so much as celebrating what makes a monster a monster.  Dracula sucks blood.  Frankenstein’s monster stumbles and rampages.  Godzilla levels cities.  The Phantom stalks and terrorizes.  The Wolfman leaves carnage.  And Michael Myers slices, impales, and creates bloody messes of people with blades, axes, and other pokey things.  It’s a variant of the classic monster movie that creates the sub-genre: slasher movie.  If the 1978 film lacked in blood work for the makeup team, Halloween Kills more than makes up for it with the (again, appropriate for the genre) excessive violence and gore.

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The music by John Carpenter with his son Cody is an extraordinary upgrade and expansion of John’s original music.  The vibe is completely surreal, vintage 1970s supporting a 2018 space and setting.

If you like a great horror movie and 1970s movie nostalgia, don’t miss Halloween Kills–now streaming on Peacock Premium.

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