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(1998) (Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnett) (R)

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Horror: Twenty years to the day after surviving the murder spree of a homicidal maniac, a woman must deal with the killer once again.
Twenty years ago Laurie Strode (JAMIE LEE CURTIS) survived a Halloween night murder spree at the hands of her deranged brother, Michael Myers, and even today continues to be traumatized by visions of the knife wielding, masked murderer. Now living under the alias of Keri Tate with her seventeen-year-old son, John (JOSH HARTNETT), she works as the headmistress of a gated, private school.

While the school's security guard, Ronnie (LL COOL J), keeps watch over the grounds like a prison warden and Will Brennan (ADAM ARKIN), the guidance counselor and Laurie's secret sweetheart, tries to ease her worries, she can't manage to let down her guard. Thus, she over protectively smothers John and won't let him go on a camping trip with his girlfriend, Molly (MICHELLE WILLIAMS), and their friends, Charlie (ADAM HANN-BYRD) and Sarah (JODI LYN O'KEEFE).

When she eventually concedes and agrees to allow him to go, it's too late for two reasons. First, John and his three friends have decided to stay at the now empty school and have a romantic Halloween night party. Then there's the fact that Michael Myers (CHRIS DURAND) is coming after Laurie and is leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. Once the killer gets to the school, Laurie, Will, John and the others do what they can to survive the homicidal attacks from the seemingly unstoppable killer.

If they like horror films, they probably will.
For terror violence/gore and language.
  • JAMIE LEE CURTIS plays an overprotective mother who's still traumatized twenty years after surviving a homicidal attack at the hands of her brother. Under stress she curses some and resorts to violence to defend herself.
  • JOSH HARTNETT plays her 17-year-old son who finds his social life being smothered and thus decides to break his mom's rules and have a good time with his girlfriend and another couple.
  • ADAM HANN-BYRD plays John's friend who likewise wants to have a good time and shoplifts some liquor from a store for their party.


    OUR TAKE: 2 out of 10
    Back in 1978, a little film called "Halloween" scared the heck out of audiences everywhere, made a lot of money, and subsequently spawned dozens of imitator films -- some good, but most awful -- including its own extended series of sequels (six, including this one). With each progressively getting worse while simultaneously getting less and less scary, the series finally seemed deceased -- or at least brain dead -- after the release of 1995's "Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers."

    Then in 1996 scribe Kevin Williamson sought to reinvigorate the genre -- tongue in cheek style -- with his film, "Scream." Not only did that Wes Craven directed film pay deep homage to John Carpenter's original "Halloween" (including the well-known, goose bump raising piano chords), but it also made tons of money and singlehandedly reestablished the genre.

    That's a good thing since I personally enjoy such films (when they're done right) and because the genre has been around since nearly the dawn of celluloid, thus deserving more decent films. It's also a bad thing because it's going to inspire (and already has) many insipid follow up films, and the Dimension Films Studio (that did "Scream") is guilty as charged with this release.

    Trying to resurrect the "Halloween" franchise from its cinematic tomb in hopes of drawing some blood -- or in this case, money -- from the box office, Dimension obviously didn't learn the lesson from the original "Frankenstein" monster that this picture briefly mentions. Sometimes it's best to leave things buried and dead.

    The second horror film in a month to run mercifully less than eighty-five minutes (including credits -- the other being "Disturbing Behavior"), this one is nearly as bad and considerably pales in comparison to its slasher film ancestor. Director Steve Miner -- who helmed the second and third installments in the "Friday the 13th" series and later the Mel Gibson/Jamie Lee Curtis film, "Forever Young" -- smartly reintroduces those spine tingling ivory chords from the original. Those sounds, however, are about the only effectively spooky device deployed during the film.

    Sure, there are the standard scenes designed to make you jump (people turn and suddenly run into others who weren't there a moment ago, etc...), but we've seen such scenes so many times in the intervening twenty years that we can see them coming from out in the theater parking lot (I know, I've used that phrase before, but hey, if they can use the same scare techniques, I can repeat myself).

    Beyond that there's the standard hunt and kills sequences where a bunch of teens (who are certainly not as cleverly developed as in the "Scream" movies) try to scramble away from the masked, knife wielding killer. Such scenes are effective, but only at the most basic, subconscious and primeval level. And while they may scare younger viewers or those with low tolerance levels for such material, the scenes only prove to be predictably violent, bloody and -- happening rather quickly -- exceedingly mundane.

    While the original "Halloween" had somewhat of a spooky aura permeating the proceedings (beyond the hunt and hide tactics), little of that can be found here. Everything is cut and dry (or in this case, cut and bloody wet) and, as in many horror films, often laughably bad.

    When the film intentionally tries to be funny or clever like the new horror film benchmark, "Scream," its efforts are rather lame. It copies those films by killing off a celebrity in the opening scene ("3rd Rock From the Sun's" Joseph Gordon-Levitt) that's neither clever nor scary, and in another includes some footage from the first "Scream" movie on TV (obviously returning the favor that film paid to the original "Halloween"). The scenes with the most potential, however -- involving actress Janet Leigh -- fall short. She, of course, was the victim of the famous shower scene in "Psycho" and is the real life mother of Jamie Lee Curtis, but Steve Miner misses the opportunity for some clever "fun" by not having them interact more than they do.

    While she does mention that the shower drains in the girls' showers are clogged and that she's had her share of bad things happen to her (I'd say!), Miner could have done so much more with this material. I kept waiting for either of them to be checking out the clogged shower drains when the other suddenly whips open the shower curtain, or something similar in that "vein."

    Of course the rest of the film doesn't show much imagination, so my desire for such witty moments was obviously a mute point. As in many horror films, the characters appear in reside in "Stupidville" and do things -- like the little horror lemmings they are -- that everyone knows they shouldn't. And for those wondering about the title and what it's got to do with water (the H20 part), it simply stands for "Halloween Twenty" (for the twentieth anniversary of the first film).

    Returning to the role that turned her into a scream star (and later one of the regular Hollywood variety with films such as "Trading Places" and "A Fish Called Wanda"), Jamie Lee Curtis does the best with what she's been given, but unfortunately that's not very much. The film works very hard at establishing her as still being traumatized from those earlier events (as should be expected), but not much comes from this other then us witnessing her seeing visions of Myers.

    Beyond Leigh in her mostly cameo appearances, the rest of the cast is simply fodder for the meat grinder to come. Adam Arkin (TV's "Chicago Hope") is wasted in his small role, while Miner tries to give rap artist, turned actor, LL Cool J some funny material, but it's pretty lame. The quartet of teens who stick around on Halloween night are about as bland as they come and easily could have been lifted from any number of other slasher films, although newcomer Josh Hartnett tries to get more out of his character than he's been given.

    Regarding Michael Myers, he's like the Energizer bunny that just keeps going and going no matter what you do to him. That, and the fact that he's a faceless, emotionless "monster" makes him extremely two-dimensional and consequently, not as scary as he should be. He's the boogeyman who's lost his "boogie."

    In fact, that pretty much sums up the film. For such a short movie, it burns up an awful lot of time providing exposition when -- this being the 7th installment -- we're quite certain about what's going to happen. A bunch of people are going to be chased and killed. Big deal. Been there, done that.

    Even going back to John Carpenter's early horror work, I always thought "The Fog" was much more frightening than even the original "Halloween" because it added a heavy layer of supernatural qualities to the work. A deranged killer on the loose can be exciting ("Silence of the Lambs"), but if there's nothing behind the mask other than a short-circuited brain, one quickly tires of the hunt, chase and slay scenes.

    Not particularly frightening -- unless you're very young or have a low threshold for horror -- and certainly not very imaginative -- unless you consider some bizarre and unexplained character motivation at the end -- the only thing scary about this film is that it ever got released in the theaters. Looking to make a quick buck without much effort, "Halloween: H20" is a big disappointment. We give it a 2 out of 10.

    If you've seen any of the "Halloween" or other slasher-type films, you pretty much know what to expect. A killer slays many people, quite often with very bloody results. Those moments and other scenes may prove scary to some viewers, especially younger kids and those with low tolerance levels for such material.

    Profanity is also extreme with more than 10 "f" words and an assortment of others being uttered during the film. Some drinking occurs, and a few sexual comments are made, but surprisingly (for a film like this), there's no nudity or post-copulation murders. With the recent renewed popularity of horror films, however, many kids may want to see this one. Thus, you may want to take a closer look at the content if you're concerned about it.

  • A teenager checking out a neighbor's house for an intruder swipes some beers from her fridge.
  • Laurie tells her students (about their upcoming field trip), "No musical sleeping bags, no booze, no drugs."
  • Laurie has wine in a restaurant, and guzzles down her glass after ordering a refill.
  • Charlie shoplifts a bottle of liquor from a store.
  • Laurie pulls a bottle of vodka from the freezer, pours herself a large "shot" and drinks it. Later, she drinks straight from the bottle.
  • We see a person with an ice skate impaled into their face (resulting in a lot of blood).
  • Myers slits a person's throat with a knife and the blood pours out.
  • We see some photos that show somewhat bloody victims and weapons.
  • We see another dead and very bloody victim.
  • Sarah's leg is bloody after Myers cuts her.
  • John and Molly find and follow a large blood trail on the floor and then find a bloody victim.
  • We see a small pool of blood around a person who's just been shot, and Laurie picks up her hand from touching it and it's covered with blood.
  • A person who's been stabbed and lifted from the floor is bloody and has blood spill from their mouth.
  • We see blood dripping from a door knob.
  • Laurie and Myers are bloody toward the end of the movie.
  • Another man shows up who's quite bloody.
  • We see a freshly decapitated head.
  • Obviously Myers has both for killing everyone (he also steals a woman's old truck).
  • Laurie has a little for smothering and over protecting her 17-year-old son, who in turn doesn't go on the field trip and instead secretly stays at the school with his friends and girlfriend.
  • A teenager checking out a neighbor's house for an intruder swipes some beers from her fridge.
  • Charlie shoplifts a bottle of liquor from a store.
  • For experienced horror film fans, the following won't be that suspenseful, but it probably will be for younger kids or those with low tolerance levels for such material.
  • A nurse returns home and finds that someone has broken into her house. Going next door, she also hears some weird noises, but then returns to her home with some teenage neighbors. One of them then goes inside and tentatively walks around and is surprised when an in-wall ironing board suddenly falls from the wall. He then leaves, and the woman goes inside where she discovers that the power is out. We then see the killer back behind her, but she runs next door to discover that several people are dead. The killer then comes after her with a knife and slits her throat.
  • A mother and her young daughter sit in separate and closed stalls in a public rest stop restroom. Suddenly the mother hears the door close, someone grabs her purse and she partially sees Myers lurking about through the door hinge crack. When she thinks he's left, she slowly opens her stall door.
  • Laurie occasionally sees visions of Myers in the reflections in windows.
  • From the moment Myers finally gets onto the school grounds, the tension pretty much builds nonstop from that point on (especially as night falls).
  • Sarah goes looking for Charlie who's disappeared.
  • Charlie drops a corkscrew down into a sink's garbage disposal and reaches down to get it while Myers comes up behind him.
  • Sarah finds a dead student and must get inside a dumb waiter as Myers comes after her and eventually catches her.
  • John and Molly find and follow a large blood trail on the floor, leading to a grisly discovery. Myers then chases them into a scene where they drop some keys after locking a gate and Myers ends up just feet from them, wildly swinging a knife.
  • From that point on, Myers chases after Laurie and company until the end, including several close calls between Myers and Laurie.
  • Knives: Used by Myers to kill his victims.
  • Handgun: Carried by Laurie and accidentally used by Will to shoot someone believed to be Myers.
  • Handgun: Laurie grabs an officer's gun and takes an official van.
  • Phrases: "F*ck me" (nonsexual), "Sucky" and "Shut up."
  • Charlie shoplifts a bottle of liquor from a store.
  • A woman turns and suddenly runs into a teenager.
  • Ronnie turns and is surprised by some students.
  • Some kids startle Laurie on the street, and later some accidentally bang against a restaurant window with the same results.
  • John suddenly grabs Molly while she's walking through the school's basement.
  • Another scene involves a person turning and unexpectedly running into another person.
  • A person opens a door to reveal another person standing there.
  • As in most other horror films, this one's filled with an extreme amount of suspenseful and/or scary music.
  • None.
  • At least 11 "f" words, 21 "s" words, 1 slang term for male genitals ("d*ck"), 3 hells, 2 asses, 1 crap, 1 damn, and 3 uses each of "Oh my God" and "Oh God," 2 uses each of "Jesus" and "God" and 1 use each of "G-damn" and "Christ" as exclamations.
  • Charlie mentions that their foursome could have an orgy if they don't go on the field trip, and late he responds to the query of "What's the plan?" by saying "animal sex."
  • Laurie tells her students (about their upcoming field trip), "No musical sleeping bags, no booze, no drugs."
  • Ronnie reads his wife some passages of his soft core erotic novel over the phone (suggestive stuff, not explicit -- "She took off her clothes revealing her femininity...I want to invade every part of your being...." ).
  • Will kisses Laurie on her chest (she's still clothed).
  • Searching for Charlie, Laurie says, "No sex games until I've eaten."
  • A minor character smokes a few times and Laurie smokes once.
  • John briefly mentions his absent (and presumably divorced) father.
  • Laurie and John have a few tense moments where he accuses her of smothering him.
  • Stalkers and serial killers (Myers falls into both categories).
  • Accepting and getting over traumatic experiences in one's past.
  • Myers kills three people, one with an ice skate jammed into the face, another with a knife in the back, and the third by slitting the person's throat (after that person repeatedly hit him with a fireplace poker).
  • We see that Myers has killed another kid (we only see the bloody results), and he slices a knife at Sarah, cutting her leg.
  • Myers pins a person's head to the floor and then repeatedly stabs them (we hear, but don't see, the impact). Later, we see this person hanging in another room.
  • Myers grabs Molly, and John repeatedly punches him until Myers stabs him in the leg. Molly then picks up a rock and hits Myers with it.
  • Will grabs Laurie's gun and repeatedly shoots a person coming around the corner (whom he thought was Myers).
  • Myers stabs a knife into a person and lifts them from the ground with it.
  • Myers breaks through a door and Laurie clocks him with a fire extinguisher.
  • Laurie smashes the security gate control.
  • Laurie hits Myers with an ax and he slices her with a knife, and she then gets him with a flagpole.
  • She then throws kitchen knives at him before stabbing him several times.
  • A person flies through the windshield of a van, and is then hit by the van that moments later careens down a cliff smashing that person against a tree.
  • A person is decapitated.

  • Reviewed July 27, 1998

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