Darke Reviews | Halloween (2018)

The most anticipated horror movie of the year, coming out two weeks prior to one of the most anticipated days of the year for a certain crowd. Halloween has a lot to live up to and a lot to make up for. A brief history for those who don’t fully understand where this movie is coming from; which considering the track record of the series makes sense.

Halloween was originally conceived back in the late 70’s to be a serial style movie with a different horror story each and every Halloween. When the original 1978 version made 144 times its budget back the studio insisted on a sequel and effectively dumped money in John Carpenters lap to do something he really didn’t want to; a sequel. Thus Halloween 2 in 1981 and why Michael and Loomis die at the end of it, with Carpenter having the vain hope of ending that story. In 1982, yeah, barely a year later, Halloween III: Season of the Witch came out. This was more akin to what Carpenter envisioned and tells an entirely different horror event on Halloween. It was too weird for audiences who were in slasher heaven and the title confused them expecting more Michael. So 6 years later as the horror and slasher craze grew with Jason, Freddy, and Pinhead, we get the Return of Michael Myers (1988). This is the start of the late Moustafa Akkad reign on the series, as a producer since the ’78 version he began to have more influence on the series along with other producers such as …the Weinsteins. This was the start of the story getting really convoluted and barely following its own continuity. Michael was back, Loomis was back. Now they introduced over the next three movies a cult that gave him supernatural resiliency and more. It’s so much worse than this, but trying to keep it simple here. After Halloween 5 (1989), and Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995), there is a slight break before Halloween H20. H20 was supposed to be a clean return to form on the 20th anniversary of the original. It returned to basics with Laurie and Michael, but just didn’t quite grab audiences as much as it probably should; even though it has possibly the second most satisfying ending in the series. The last of the original Myers series is Halloween: Resurrection and the less said about this the better. I will not discuss Rob Zombies Halloween movies – except to say I hate them. I’d rather watch the Cult of Thorn run (4,5,6) more than those.

With me so far?

So the writers were in a bind here. How do you tell a Halloween story respecting the lore, the history, and the icon that is Michael Myers but deal with the mess left by the sequels AND remakes? Simple solution reboot the series, but not from scratch. From the original. Ignore everything that has come since 1978 and go. Get Carpenter onboard for the first time in forever and see what you can do. I don’t envy the task Danny McBride (Pineapple Express, Alien: Covenant), his friend Jeff Fradley (writer for the HBO show Vice Principals), and David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, and the critical darling “Joe”) had on this one. Ignoring the content of the other movies is easy, but really remaining true to what the original film delivered character wise and bringing that back 40 years later – thats hard. They are putting themselves, Green especially as a director and writer here, up for target practice.

They need not have worried if they did at all. They did craft an honest sequel to 1978, which has several references that make the necessary callbacks without reminding us of a better movie. With few exceptions no one here in the script does anything dumb or illogical. The characters make sense. They feel like they would make these decisions based on everything you know and it propels the plot forward; if anything aside from Laurie the script lacks care for some of the fodder leaving you to not really care as much when they die which removes some of the tension that could have added to the film. The kills, which are important in this genre are well executed and tastefully done and yes brutal; rather than gore porn or splatterhouse style. The camera remains as still as Michael letting you savor what you both see and don’t see in frame. There are so many shots in this movie that are perfect for a wallpaper for your phone or computer because of how they were filmed; which means credit needs to go to cinematographer Michael Simmonds.

The acting is fantastic from the majority, with Jamie Lee Curtis giving us the same sort of transformed character that Linda Hamilton did between Terminator and Judgement Day. Laurie Strode is damaged, but focused, she is brave yet so afraid. Curtis more than capable of delivering the nuance; while the script and shooting let her as well. Andi Matichak gives a very human turn as Laurie’s grand daughter Allyson, and importantly she feels like she’s part of this family. I’d like to enjoy Judy Greer more as Karen Strode, the daughter to Laurie, but the script and character do her no favors, nor do they give Toby Huss much to work with. I was curious how Nick Castle would be returning to play The Shape once more as he did a majority of the motion and body work in the 78 version; while three other actors did other takes including the one face shot. He nailed it. He and the Mask are a presence and malevolent.


Cutting the meat a bit short here, but its coming up on 2:30 and I do need sleep and really I just think you should see the movie. With a lean runtime of 106 minutes, John Carpenter back on the score, and some of the best horror cinematography I’ve seen in awhile Halloween is the return to form we’ve been waiting 40 years for. It isn’t perfect and suffers from some character issues and isn’t as tense as it could be Halloween was well worth the sleep deprivation for me and definitely worth it for fans of the franchise.

Should I see it though?

Yes. XD would be lovely to hear the music in admittedly and I did miss that opportunity.

Would you see it again?


Buying it?

Yes. No doubts.

Are you overselling it at all? There’s a lot of hype on this one.

Manage your expectations. This movie isn’t the second coming of Michael, but it’s close.

It has some flaws and there is a kind of hollowness to it in some respects; yet I can’t blame those on the movie entirely.  The 1978 version is one of the first of it’s kind and without a doubt the most well known of its kind. John Carpenter and Debra Hill gave us something new and visceral then that Black Christmas (74), The Hills Have Eyes (77), The Town that Dreaded Sundown (76) and even Texas Chainsaw (74) just didn’t quite hit. Since then we have had 40 years of horror, with a majority of them being slasher flicks. There is next to nothing we haven’t seen before you can do in this genre and we all are a bit jaded here in 2018.

That didn’t stop McBride, Fradley, and Gordon Green from doing their best.

Personally, I think their best is good enough and this is the Halloween movie we need right now.


Edit: Because I included the original theme in the original review here is Carpenters take on it 40 years later

Darke Reviews | Halloween (1978)

So last night I had to buy the Halloween, no not the Rob Zombie one, the real one. The original one. These reviews are based on films that I own or have access to and I did not have this one. A sin in its own right for those that really enjoy horror. I do have the option through friends to do an old vs. new on this with Halloween vs. Halloween. I just can’t though. Much like how Doug Walker feels about the haunting. I feel about the Halloween series. The original wins. The Rob Zombie version sucks. I will probably reference this as I talk through the review of the original.

While Texas Chainsaw Massacre beats this by 4 years in release date, Halloween is probably the film most singularly responsible for the Teen Slasher style of horror that dominated the late 70’s and almost all of the 80s. This has everything to do with what the film does successfully that so many many others failed to understand (Zombie).

Let us start with discussing the screenplay that was written by Debra Hill and John Carpenter. Hill, who sadly most people aren’t aware of, was a frequent collaborator with Carpenter on much of his early works. She was a writer on this film, The Fog (excellent),  and Halloween 2. She was also a well known and popular female producer in Hollywood until her death in 2005. Carpenter himself, like Wes Craven, is one of the names most associated with Horror films to this day. It is nigh impossible to discuss the great horror films of all time without either of their names coming up.

Carpenter himself, was of course, also the director of the film. The man has an unusually strong grasp of atmosphere, sound, and darkness.  These elements, along with soundtracks usually designed by him, come through in so many of his other films. He was also the director of Dark Star , the indie film by the guys who wrote Alien. This would be his first wide release foray into horror.

I am going to point out something that is often overlooked, the movie has a budget to ratio of 144:1.  The film was made with a budget of $325,000 and made $47,000,000. By the numbers this makes it more successful than Clerks. It is also perfectly in line with the modern era of horror in which budgets are rather small with relatively successful box offices. Sadly, even the modern era still typically have budgets in the millions and only made 3 to 4 times the budget. Paranormal Activity and Blair Witch being key exceptions to those rules.

The story here involves as escaped mental patient returning to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois (Hill’s hometown is Haddonfield NJ); a stereotypical, near Rockwellian, midwestern town (it actually reminds me of my hometown a bit). His single minded focus is a young high school girl named Laurie Strode.  The patients doctor, Sam Loomis, rushes to Haddonfield to try to stop the patient from reaching his goal.

It is important to know, and this is what sets the movie apart from later reimagining garbage, is that Michael Myers as a character was never named as such. He simply was The Shape. He was a force of nature. He existed as a physical manifestation of evil. He didn’t need a backstory. He didn’t need a reason to be. He simply was. While later films in this particular arc would add  supernatural elements to his story and expand on it, the success here was none of it was needed. He scared people simply by BEING. This talks to Carpenters understanding of things as a director, the thing you cant see is more scary than the thing you can. What you don’t know scares you. Its why the ending of The Thing is so perfect and so iconic and why this film is the same. You never see The Shape fully until the end. You get glimpses. You get partials. Even the movie posters didn’t show a thing. This is brilliance and a brilliance we’ve lost as a film going society.

(ok technically you can put it together. He was called Michael as a child in the beginning and you are told its the Myers house shortly after during Strode’s introduction)

From an acting standpoint, so much rides on the shoulders of first time film actress, barely 20 at the release of the film, Jamie Lee Curtis. She was cast as much for her skill as her heritage, being the daughter of Pyscho’s famous shower scene victim Janet Leigh. Curtis would later be labeled the Scream Queen with future performances in The Fog, Prom Night, Terror Train, and of course Halloween II. She as much as anyone starts the tradition of the lone virginal female protagonist overcoming the antagonist of the film after going through a crucible of sorts and find their inner strength and power. Their own rage, their own will to survive.

The weight of veteran actor Donald Pleasence as Loomis adds to the emotion. He consistently through the movie is in a near fervored insanity as he futily attempts to warn people of the threat Myers presents.

From another technical standpoint the film uses its music perfectly. If I were to make a list of iconic themes this would be on it. Without the music or with different music it would lose something.



This is a classic. So many slasher films that follow after are but pale imitations of this. It is a must see film for any horror aficionado. I find that it even holds up watching today.

Because of all that was done right in this, all that works, I truly truly hate Rob Zombies version. For everything this does right, his does wrong.

If there is a Halloween film to watch. Watch the one that started it all.