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  Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later Back From The Dead
Year: 1998
Director: Steve Miner
Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnett, Adam Arkin, Michelle Williams, LL Cool J, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, Adam Hann-Byrd, Janet Leigh, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nancy Stephens, Branden Williams, Beau Billingslea, Larisa Miller, Emmalee Thompson, David Blanchard
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: It's nearing Halloween and nurse Marion Chambers Whittington (Nancy Stephens) is returning to her small town Illinois home, but as she walks up the steps to the front door she notices the light has been broken, and someone has left the door ajar. Immediately suspicious, she rushes over to her next door neighbour's where she encounters teenage Jimmy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his best friend who wonder what is wrong. After Marion explains, Jimmy volunteers to scout around inside her house to check if there is anyone still in there, and after an investigation, and liberation of a couple of beer bottles from the fridge, he ascertains the place is empty. But the office has been ransacked - and the file on Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has been emptied...

Curtis, of course, made her name in slasher movies, the first Halloween having gone down in history as a classic, but she had eschewed the genre for quite some time before returning to it in this tribute to John Carpenter's original, perhaps more because of the offers she was getting than out of any overwhelming affection. However, rumour had it that the whole two decades later theme was her idea, as she had much to be grateful for in the genre, and during the few years after 1978 she became the iconic scream queen for a mini-golden age of American horror movies, so many fans felt a lot of goodwill towards her and were pleased to see her back, being chased by the series' unstoppable villain Michael Myers once more.

The sequels from part four to part six were ignored here - part three not having much to do with the others - but Halloween II was considered as part of the story, probably because Curtis had returned in it. Therefore nobody in the film has heard of Myers for about twenty years (hence the title), and now Laurie has an assumed identity as Miss Tate, headmistress of a private Californian school. The script, by Robert Zappia and Matt Greenberg, gives her a damaged quality: now she's a borderline alcoholic and overprotective about her teenage son John (Josh Hartnett), both understandable. Single mother Laurie has love interest in the person of a fellow teacher, Will Brennan (the always amusing Adam Arkin), and is now perhaps the jumpiest character in the history of horror movies, honestly, not three minutes goes by without someone giving her a fright.

There's a lot of plot setting up in Halloween H20, which might seem unnecessary if you're familiar with the series, making you wonder if this film was produced for the fans or the newcomers who might not be well versed in the history. Certainly there are plenty of echoes of the previous movies, and even a reference to the grandfather of all slashers, Psycho, in the casting of Curtis's mother Janet Leigh as a school secretary. But once Myers has found his way into the school, conveniently almost empty thanks to a camping trip, the thrills pick up with surprising effectiveness. John was supposed to have been on that trip, but elects to stay behind in secret to be with his girlfriend Molly (Michelle Williams), giving Laurie all the excuses she needs to allow her maternal instincts to kick in with a vengeance. She manages to prove herself a mother not to be messed with and save the day, and if this Halloween movie was a response to the renewed interest in the slasher genre of the late nineties, it was still better than most. Somewhat hilariously, in spite of the injury Myers receives right at the end of this, he was back for yet another sequel four years afterwards. Music (some of it) by John Ottman.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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