Stuff I Watch in October: Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

Happy October and welcome! All 31 days this month, I will be reviewing all the films I watch in the month of October. They’re mostly a selection of horror or suspense films in my own library or films and shows that have been recommended to me.

Please enjoy and leave a comment!

And if you missed any of our past reflections, take a look:

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Psycho (1960)
The Haunting (1963)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
The Other (1972)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Halloween (1978)
Alien (1979)
The Shining (1980)
Halloween II (1981)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Halloween III – Season of the Witch (1982)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Teen Wolf (1985)
Aliens (1986)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Predator (1987)
The Monster Squad (1987)
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987)
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
They Live (1988)
Beetlejuice (1988)
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Predator 2 (1990)
The Addams Family (1991)
Alien 3 (1992)
Army of Darkness (1992)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Crow (1994)
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Scream (1996)
Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Scream 2 (1997)

Our next film is…

WATCHING: Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

halloween h20

DIRECTOR: Steve Miner, who started out directing the first two Friday the 13th sequels, the outstanding, underrated House, and went on to become a fairly successful TV producer and director. His other notable films are Lake Placid, Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, and Forever Young.

WHAT IS IT?: As Scream went, so did the Halloween franchise.

Remember the Jamie Lloyd saga?

Good. Dimension Films didn’t want you to either.

Halloween H20 is a direct sequel to Halloween II, meaning that anything happening between #3 and #6 never actually took place…I mean, we KNOW that #3 didn’t really matter anyhow…but, I digress.

THE PLOT: In this continuity (the second of the “Halloween Timelines”), Laurie Strode is still alive, living under the her assumed name, Keri Tate. Strode is the headmistress at a private high school where her son John goes to school and is haunted by nightmares of her brother hunting her down and killing her.

For some reason, the entire private school is allowed to (checks notes) “go to Yosemite for a weekend excursion where it is hoped that the students don’t drink, do drugs, or fuck”. Yeah. Plot device central. Anyhow, John and his girlfriend stay behind (along with their friends) so they can do all that ON campus (🙄) — and end up getting in the way of Michael Myers who has returned to finally complete the job he tried to do on his sister 20 years ago.

halloween h20

WHAT DID CRITICS THINK?: It got mixed reviews. Roger Ebert gave it just two stars out of four. The New York Times said that the film devolved into a formulaic routine after a decent set-up. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle enjoyed the film for what it was, remarking at how it was able to deliver a decent, compelling slasher film.

WHAT DID I THINK?: Listen, despite what I said earlier, this is a decent movie with a decent cast. It just suffers from a barely-workable script, passable production flaws (freakin’ John Ottman was supposed to compose the music and they weren’t pleased and brought in Marco Beltrami with his leftover Scream cues?), and the really weird need to wink and nod at its audience every single time the film makes a reference to the past or to another film.

It feels unfinished, like a half-baked Scream knock-off.

On the other hand, the film also feels like a return to form, with Jamie Lee Curtis in fine shape as Laurie Strode. She carries the entire picture, playing Laurie as a borderline alcoholic who does her best to get through each and every single day without falling apart.

Without her, this film would be another knock off.

The movie also takes its sweet ass time getting to the point, which is odd, considering just how thin both the script and the running time are.

Still, Halloween H20 is a MASSIVE improvement in the franchise.

(ALSO: Yay for Janet Leigh with her appearance here. Loved the Psycho reference with the car and musical cue.)

GRADE: B

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