The Halloween 2 Riddle Solved?

The Halloween 2 Riddle Solved?

I’ve just reviewed Snapshot that was cheekily renamed ‘The Day After Halloween’ to capitalise on the success of John Carpenter’s masterpiece.

I remember the first time I saw this was on a copy of the soundtrack that I saw whilst browsing for soundtracks in the mid 90’s when I had moved to London to study film. ‘Well, I’ll be damned!’ I thought as I saw the title of the film and the same font used as for the original film. I was also amazed to see Sigrid Thornton on the album’s sleeve art. I had known and admired Ms Thornton’s work in the TV series Prisoner Cell Block H.

Now rewind a few years. It’s the late 80’s. I’m in Leeds after taking the bus from York to visit a brilliant film memorabilia shop called Movie Boulevard.

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It’s here that I buy a quad poster for the film Halloween 2. I wondered why it said ‘All New’ on it.

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The UK quad poster for Halloween 2

When I posted my review of Snapshot in the Meathook Cinema Facebook group yesterday one of my regular contributors Phillip Lopez Jimenez said

”I remember when that came out, the ads eventually had a banner that said Not a Sequel to Halloween but it wasn’t in theaters for very long…”

So is this why the posters for Halloween 2 had the words ‘All New’ written on them? Had this small (but perfectly formed) film from Australia which had tried to market itself as a sequel to Halloween perplexed the makers of the real sequel to the film to such an extent that they had to tell audiences that this was the real deal, the real sequel? It would appear so.

This ‘All New’ addendum was added to both the American and British posters for the film (the British poster is earlier in this article)-

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The original US poster

This also extended to the British and American/Canadian newspaper ads for the film-

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Original London newspaper ad
ad newspaper Halloween II 1981 Canada
Canadian newspaper ad. What a great double-bill!

A mystery solved. Take a bow, Phillip.

Review- Snapshot (1979)

Review- Snapshot (1979)

I first learnt of this film as it was called The Day After Halloween and marketed as a sequel to John Carpenter’s classic. It isn’t. But it’s still a really interesting movie.

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I came across this soundtrack whilst browsing for vinyl in the mid 90’s in London. I didn’t know of a film that had cheekily billed itself as an unofficial sequel to Halloween.

Angela (played by Prisoner Cell Block H’s brilliant Sigrid Thornton) is persuaded to ditch her low paid hairdressing job and enter the world of modelling. Nude modelling.

This could have been a generic ‘nice girl gets led astray’ film but it isn’t. Theres too many genuinely unexpected twists and turns for it to be predictable. An example- Angela is stalked throughout the film by her creepy ex-boyfriend- who just so happens to drive a pink ice-cream van!

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There’s an air of unease and menace that runs through the whole film that gives it a truly unsettling feel.

Watch out for the ending- it’s very unsettling indeed.

4 out of 5

Review- Not Quite Hollywood (2008)

Review- Not Quite Hollywood (2008)

This is such a great documentary about Ozploitation films (exploitation films made in Australia).

All the great films and sub-genres are here- the bawdy Ocker comedies, the slasher movies, the films for petrolheads.

The main players are all interviewed and show that making these insane films was just as insane in real life.

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I’m so glad that so much attention was devoted to Brian Trenchard-Smith. I think Turkey Shoot is the greatest Aussie film ever (take that Picnic at Hanging Rock).

But it’s not just Aussies who are interviewed. Jamie Lee Curtis and others are interviewed as they starred in prominent Ozploitation movies. Quentin Tarantino features as he’s a massive fan of the genre.

This doc is great for beginners and the already initiated alike. Theres so many films named that I hadn’t heard of that I’ll now be hunting down. Job done.

4.5 out of 5

Review- Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

Review- Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

I loved Greek mythology as a kid and this film blew me away when I first saw it.

It still more than holds up when I watch it today. This really is a brilliant adventure that the audience is taken on as Jason sails in search of the Golden Fleece.

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This is the crowning glory of Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion action sequences. The skeleton fight scene is one of the most brilliant pieces of film I’ve ever seen but the Harpies and Talos are just as impressive. Betsy Palmer’s movements at the end of Friday the 13th reminds me of one of the skeletons from this sequence. I wonder if this was conscious on the part of Sean S Cunningham.

The scale of the film is suitably epic. It must have been mind-blowing to watch this film on the big screen back in the day. This film doesn’t feel dated in anyway through the brilliant crafting of the film. This must have been a labour of love for the filmmakers and cast alike.

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With any film in which theres scantily clad men within an all male cast theres also a sense of homoeroticism that underlies the whole film especially regarding the character of Hercules. If his toga had been any shorter this film would have earned an X certificate.

The Bernard Herrmann music score is similarly epic. In fact there are parts of this soundtrack that reminded me of his later score for Taxi Driver.

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This was actually an Anglo-American production and so we get the great contributions of Honor Blackman and Patrick Troughton in the cast which is always a great thing.

This film really does capture in abundance a childlike sense of adventure and awe that leaps from the screen. Brilliant.

4.5 out of 5

Review- The Slayer (1981)

Review- The Slayer (1981)

The infamous video nasty that was banned in the SS Thatcher days of 80’s Britain.

It’s a solid effort with great gore and decent suspense as two couples go to an island for a vacation.

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I loved the lead character who feels like she’s been having nightmares all her life about the place she’s just arrived at. She even feels like the creature who roams the place is of her own creation.

You’ll never look at a pitchfork in the same way again.

3 out of 5

Review- Vigilante Force (1976)

Review- Vigilante Force (1976)

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An army vet is employed as a police officer to bring down crime levels in a small town. But he quickly becomes the problem rather than the cure.

This really is a B movie and reminds me of the blander half of the double-bills you used to watch in cinemas back in the day.

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It’s interesting to see Charles Cyphers pre-Halloween and John Steadman pre-Hills Have Eyes though.

Other than that it’s a bit of a yawn.

1.5 out of 5

Review: Crystal Lake Memories (2013)

Review: Crystal Lake Memories (2013)

This is basically Never Sleep Again but for the Friday the 13th films. And that’s perfect. Each film gets talked about by cast and crew regarding how it was made, the ongoing battle with the MPAA that blighted the series later on and how well the films fared when released.

It’s always a joy to hear legends like Betsy Palmer and Tom Savini speak about their experiences. Corey Feldman (aka Tommy Jarvis) narrates and does a brilliant job.

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Kudos for including Friday the 13th: The Series.

A great documentary.

3.5 out of 5

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Review- ‘The Deer Hunter’ (1978)

Review- ‘The Deer Hunter’ (1978)

I was umm-ing and ahh-ing about going to see this at my local cinema. It was a one-off showing of the 4K Blu ray print and the chance of seeing this on the big screen was too much of a rare occurrence to knock back. The reason for my reticence was that when I had previously seen the film for the first time (in about 1993) I had loved it but the actual subject matter was so traumatising and shocking. It’s not often that I experience this when it comes to film and so I was erm, keen to see if this film was just as raw as it had been all of those years ago.

And the simple answer is yes. It still packs one hell of a punch with it’s unblinking view of how vile war really is.

But before the war scenes we are presented with the slowww build-up in the small town of Clairton, Pennsylvania. Some critics have said that there is too much emphasis on this section of the film but I think it’s necessary to get under the skin of the characters and fully experience their lives. This isn’t some romanticised vision of American life especially as we see Meryl Streep’s character Linda having to endure a physically abusive father. We also see that the group of guys who constitute the main characters within the film argue, bicker and fight as well as being part of a tight pack of friends and drinking buddies.

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The original newspaper ad for the Leeds screening

Contrast this section of the film with the all too sudden Vietnam sequences and you’ll see that whereas the Pennsylvania sequences feel like every minute detail is being recorded, the Viet Cong second act zips by very quickly indeed. One second we see the Vietnamese troops approaching the next we see the main characters in a bamboo cage. The pace of the film directly depicts the events being depicted- the slowness of small-town life as opposed to the surreal rush of the unfathomable events taking place in Vietnam.

The film also brilliantly depicts Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which had very rarely been tackled in a war film before this. Men had stereotypically been depicted in this genre as tough, unrealistically resilient and untouched by the atrocities of war. Witness Nick’s meltdown in the sanatorium and Michael’s emotional and overwhelming return to his hometown after the horror that he’s witnessed and been forced to participate in.

The film also perceptively depicts how destructive the mind can be when such trauma has been experienced. It’s no accident that Nick stumbles into a Russian Roulette gambling ring, just as it’s no accident that Michael is already in the audience there watching this ghoulish spectacle.

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The Deer Hunter proved to be very controversial when it was originally released. There were criticisms that the film was a distortion of the truth as it was felt by some to be so one-sided and so relentlessly pro-American. I don’t really have a problem with the film’s narrative as it doesn’t suggest that the American troops in this war weren’t committing atrocities of their own. A viewer would have to be pretty naive to think that all American soldiers were good and all Vietnamese bad.

There was also criticism regarding the Russian Roulette scenes with critics saying that this never actually happened during the Vietnam War (although director Cimino said that he had read accounts of this being utilised by the Vietnamese). It really doesn’t matter either way- these scenes act as a very powerful metaphor for the horrors of war.

I love the fact that Jane Fonda criticised the film and referred to the film’s protestors as ‘friends’ but then admitted that she hadn’t actually seen the film. Some things never change- protestors are going to criticise a film on what they’ve heard about it rather than seeing the film firsthand and then forming an opinion on the events depicted therein.

The scenes between Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep stand out in a film that contains uniformly brilliant performances. You get the idea that you’re privileged to be witnessing arguably the best actor and actress of their generation at the peak of their game and the results crackle with electricity.

 

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The scene in which the characters sing ‘God Bless America’ is masterful as it will be interpreted by the audience according to their political beliefs and if they thought the Vietnam War was justifiable or not. Is this scene ironic, sarcastic or totally sincere?

A tough watch but thats to be expected because of the subject matter. A must see film for any self-respecting fan of cinema.

5 out of 5

 

Review- ‘The Night Porter’ (1974)

Review- ‘The Night Porter’ (1974)

A former Nazi SS officer crosses paths again with a former concentration camp prisoner who he had an affair with. But a group of other former Nazis who are determined to eliminate any incriminating evidence or indeed people who might expose their past deeds know about this woman who they see as posing a real threat to them.

Obviously this was very controversial when it was released with many film critics calling it trash and exploitative. But it’s neither of these. It feels dignified, rich and not just made to be sensationalistic and play on 42nd Street’s Deuce.

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The photography is breathtaking with the locations almost becoming another character of the film. Both Dirk Bogarde and Charlotte Rampling as amazing in the lead roles and their interactions crackle with electricity. The film pulls no punches in the nature of their relationship with elements of sadomasochism being played out. This is certainly a brave film but all the more brilliant because of it.

Critics and audiences alike eventually came round to discovering the film’s genius premise and vision. I’m so glad this has been released by The Criterion Collection- the final validation for a film that was clearly ahead of it’s time.

4.5 out of 5