" The Oriental doesn’t put the same high price on life as the Westerner. Life is plentiful. Life is cheap in the Orient. And as the philosophy of the orient expresses it, life is not important. "
— General William Westmoreland, Hearts and Minds

MRQE Top Critic

Operation Condor

Jackie Chan meets Indiana Jones —Andrea Birgers (review...)

Chan borrows from Raiders

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Halloween Kills is an absolute trainwreck of a movie, but it’s a trainwreck by design.

Evil Dies Tonight!

Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis)
Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis)

“It’s all cheap scares, the kind intended less to frighten and more to elicit screams — at the onscreen characters for being so remarkably stupid.” That sentence closed this writer’s review of the 2018 edition of Halloween.

Halloween Kills picks up right where that one left off, but it’s becoming clear there’s some sort of method to director David Gordon Green’s madness.

There’s plenty of gore. Lots of eyeballs gorged out, gallons of gushing blood. It’s hard to keep up with the body count, but a rough estimate pegs it north of 36. Even so, Halloween Kills doesn’t play out as a traditional horror movie hellbent to scare. This episode calls to mind the “classic” insurance company commercial in which a gang of teenagers — terrified — decide it’s better to hide behind a curtain of chainsaws rather than escape in an open-top convertible with the motor running.

Back in the day, it was the teenagers who were the agonizingly stupid prey of Michael Myers, the Boogeyman, The Shape. Now, it’s the adults.

The logic-defying action starts early. There are the firefighters. They attempt to defeat Michael using hatchets and buzz saws. Yeah. That doesn’t end well. And Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall, The Dark Knight) — as a kid, he was protected by Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, Knives Out) — inexplicably thinks a baseball bat (dubbed “Old Huckleberry”) is sufficient weaponry to bring down the psycho killer.

Midway through Halloween Kills, the chaos reaches a crescendo. The local hospital, overrun with patients and on-edge angry loved ones, is in lockdown while a lunatic runs through the hallways, misidentified as Michael. In hot pursuit, Tommy repeatedly shouts out the movie’s mantra, “Evil dies tonight!”

Amid all the over-the-top mayhem, the agenda crystalizes: this one’s not about horror, it’s about subversion.

Apex Predator

It takes a while to work through the frustration of seeing adults behaving so stupidly before it really sinks in. That’s part of the plan.

Witness Big John (Scott MacArthur, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie) and Little John (Michael McDonald, The Heat). They’re a couple living in possibly the most immaculately decorated house in all of Haddonfield, Ill. It’s Michael’s childhood home; the couple’s not the least bit shy about reminding people of that fact. When push comes to shove, they’re thoroughly prepared to take on the Boogeyman using paring knives. The outcome is inevitable. In one scene, an old, framed photo of the couple shows them in happier times. Michael latches on to that image and leaves their corpses posed in a similar fashion.

At that point, thoughts drift to the Darwin Awards. Surely this is that trophy’s Movie of the Year.

But, going back to the hospital, that lunatic running through the hallways is desperate to find help. Instead, he commits suicide in the face of the pitchfork and torch-brandishing masses.

Laurie and Tommy piece together Michael’s modus operandi. The Boogeyman has managed to bring the entire town down on its knees in fear and paranoia. He’s effectively turned every citizen in Haddonfield into a monster even as they attempt to defeat the monster.

Social commentary has always been an ingredient in the horror genre, whether it’s zombies, Michael, Jason or Freddy. Indeed, John Carpenter described They Live as a tear-down of the Republican party. Here the scales are tipped to being heavy on the commentary. As for the horror, while the gore is there, this one plays more as a comedy. It’s hard to feel the least bit scared while all the blood flows and the screams echo.

Defund The Shape

Michael (Nick Castle)
Michael (Nick Castle)

Green once again teams with Danny McBride on the screenplay, this time with Scott Teems (Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey) joining the fray. McBride and Green will return once again this time next year and complete their trilogy with Halloween Ends.

At this point, it’s a mix of anticipation and dread for part three. The anticipation stems from the enticing thoughts of where they’ll take the material after establishing Michael as an undefeatable death machine. An entire troop of Haddonfield’s finest citizens — waving crow bars, pitchforks, rifles, knives, hockey sticks — attempt to take down Michael, but they’re annihilated one by one.

Laurie formulates a theory in which she must die before Michael can die. It’s the ultimate in deranged symbiosis. It’s disappointing Laurie spends virtually all her time in a hospital bed, giving her plenty of time to concoct her wildly alarming thesis. In keeping with the movie’s over-the-top sensibilities, while marshaling herself to go out there and end it all, she jabs herself in her own buttocks with a needle full of painkillers.

It’s justice gone mad as the sheriff’s department is undermined by vigilantes. Sure, the department stumbled in the masked face of the unknown, but street justice quickly devolves into something resembling a zombie apocalypse.

And therein lies the dread. Halloween Ends needs to provide a payoff, a redemption for society as it comes out of its COVID-induced coma. Otherwise, it’ll just continue to perpetuate the madness.