It’s that time of year when I watch every movie in the HALLOWEEN franchise. The quality ranges from “heart-pounding work of stabby genius” to the cinematic equivalent of a piece of fruit thrown into your trick ‘r treat bag; happily all of the films are required by law to take place on Halloween and I can’t say no to that. I never watch the HALLOWEEN movies in chronological order, but there is a method to my Myers madness. First I get PART 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH out of the way, I don’t want its joyous insanity mixing with the rest of the group, just like I don’t want my gravy touching my peas. Then it’s on to “The Laurie Cycle” which includes Part 1, Part 2, H2O & the beginning of RESURRECTION. (The rest of RESURRECTION, I discard like a corn husk.) Then it’s time for “The Jamie Cycle” which starts great with Part 4, gets horrible with Part 5 and then gets who cares because PAUL RUDD is in it. The festivities are then completed with a drunken excursion into the ROB ZOMBIE zone.
Where I stand now is in the crossroads between cycles Laurie and Jamie. So while I’m here let’s talk a bit about our old pal Laurie, the greatest female horror character of all time (Sorry Ellen Ripley, I love you too but since you drive a spaceship to work and break bread with robots, you gotta play on team sci-fi.)
When we first meet Laurie (the one and only JAMIE LEE CURTIS) she is your typical American teenager except for the fact that she is responsible, respects her parents, shows signs of humility and reads books. In today’s world such a creature would be terrorized into committing suicide via an on line social network, but back in the seventies you could wear beige and sing corny songs (“I wish I had you all alone…”) in public without fear of retribution. In fact you might even end up hanging out with the two coolest girls in high school Lynda Van der Klok (P.J. SOLES) and Annie Bracket (NANCY LOOMIS)!
Folks can speculate all they want about Laurie’s (assumed) virginity saving her hide, but I think that discounts her girl scout ability to make weapons out of household objects (knitting needles, clothes hangers) and her obvious talent for finding the quickest route between point A and point B. For somebody who is labeled a goodie-two-shoes, she sure smokes a lot of weed and spends a lot of time thinking about Ben Tramer. Alls I’m saying is Laurie is not the one note character she is sometimes painted to be. Just because she’s not as slutty as Lynda, it doesn’t make her a prude.
Interesting note: Knowing that nobody would buy the antiquated idea of a scrupulous, moral being walking the planet, ROB ZOMBIE insisted that in his remake, the thoroughly modern Laurie Strode (SCOUT TAYLOR-COMPTON) should perform various sexual acts upon a non consensual bagel to the horror of E.T.’s mom (DEE WALLACE) while threatening to escalate the atrocity to include an elderly owner of a hardware store.
Directly after the incidents depicted in the first film, emergency workers tend to Laurie’s wounds, place an insane wig on her head and drive her to the nearest hospital. Sadly, in this installment, our gal is mostly a drugged out blank slate. She’s not so far gone as to not suddenly remember that she’s her assailant’s sister, but she certainly has lost some of her whip-smart edge. Laurie has not become a total dumb-dumb though, she props up pillows to create a decoy and has dead-on accuracy shooting a gun. She’s even intuitive enough to start putting the moves on the still breathing orderly Jimmy Lloyd (LANCE GUEST) somehow knowing that dream date Ben Tramer is now a mincemeat and car sandwich.
Interesting note: If the ambulance is rockin’ don’t come a knockin! In the television version of HALLOWEEN 2, Laurie and Jimmy share a romantic moment at film’s close and ride off presumably to go make little DANIELLE HARRIS’ and JOSH HARTNETS.
HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS
I know I said this movie is “Cycle Jamie” and not “Cycle Laurie,” but I should point out that Laurie does appear in this movie briefly in a photo. Turns out daughter Jamie (DANIELLE HARRIS) lovingly keeps a photo of her mother holding a pumpkin and waiting to be picked up by Annie on the Halloween night she was almost brutally murdered. Nobody knows who took this photo (The Shape?) or how it came to be in lil’ Jamie’s possession…
It’s twenty years later (hence the title) and Laurie has changed her name, dropped the wig and nabbed a sexy new boy toy (ALAN ARKIN, who I’ve come to refer to as “George Goonie.”) She has reinvented herself not only as the dean of a prestigious school, but also as a high functioning alcoholic; you go girl! Many claim that H20 is a direct sequel to Part 2 and pretends that HALLOWEENs 4-6 do not exist. I always just assume that Laurie had two kids and kept one and dumped the other for reasons unknown…hey, it happens!
H20 is a dream of a sequel and offers us the rare treat of seeing a characters progress decades on. It sports tons of fanboy references (great job getting NANCY STEPHENS back!) that never get in the way or take you out of the plot. I’m not so keen on the new version of Michael Myers who changes his mask from scene to scene, but I’ll live.
If they gave out Oscars for slasher flicks JAMIE LEE CURTIS would have earned one here. (I’m not talking about the scene where she grabs an axe and demands that Michael confront her. I’m talking about the scene where she grabs a waiter and demands a refill of chardonnay.) H20 may throw breadcrumbs to the SCREAM pigeons, but it also stands as an admirable tribute to a character that, when all is said and done, is just as much if not more important to the HALLOWEEN series than its masked killer. My only sadness comes from the fact that DONALD PLEASANCE did not live long enough to either participate or proudly observe from the sidelines.
HALLOWEEN RESURRECTION (Well, at least the first 20 minutes of it.)
Hey fence, this is my ass and it’s going to sit on you! I’m not sure how I feel about the way Laurie exits the series. On one hand, it’s a joy to see her all ragged and war torn in a mental hospital with semi believable long hair, but on the other she deserved the dignified end of the last chapter where she did not decapitate an innocent bystander, but her arch nemesis instead. I’m not sure I can accept this ending for Laurie; thankfully in horror there are no real endings. For all we know after Laurie got stabbed, made out with her psychopathic sibling and fell several stories into some trees that she landed in the bed of a truck passing by filled to the brim with soft, cushiony Silver Shamrock Halloween masks. A fanboy can dream can’t he? Goodbye Laurie! I wish I had you all alone, just the two of us!