It’s not a secret that I absolutely love Halloween 3. Yes I’m aware that it has nothing to do with Michael Myers and that’s precisely why it’s such a cinematic oddity. Now Shout Factory has released Halloween 3 on a lovingly re-mastered Blu-ray with lots of extras so it seemed like a great opportunity to revisit this misunderstood film.
After the success of Halloween parts 1 and 2 John Carpenter and Debra Hill Decided they had told the story of Michael Myers and it was time to try something new. Their concept was that they would keep the Halloween name alive and release new films that took place around the holiday. They brought in Nigel Neale who wrote the Quatermass films of the 50’s and 60’s to create a more psychological story about a Irish mask maker who wants to punish the world for not taking Halloween seriously. Interesting side note, The Quatermass films heavily inspired the X-Files so much so that they’re are striking similarities between Fight The Future and one of the Quatermass films. (more…)
Anyone who knows me knows that I have been a fan of John Carpenter since I was a child. I knew at a pretty early age who this man was and what movies he made and they were my favorite films. From the classic Halloween in 1978 all the way up to Prince of Darkness in 87′ Carpenter had a pretty great run of movies. Even his silly films like Big Trouble in Little Tokyo and They Live are great and well worth checking out! In the 90’s however Carpenter had more misses than hits though I still defend Vampires and I love In the Mouth of Madness. Then after the terrible Ghost of Mars in 2001, Carpenter pretty much dropped off the Radar for nearly a decade, returning only to film 2 episodes of the showtime tv series, Masters of Horror.
But now the man is back and doing a film that feels and looks like a Carpenter movie. The Ward isn’t the triumphant return to Horror I would have liked to see but it is definetly a nice warm up. The film follows a girl named Kristen (Amber Heard) who we meet at the beginning of the film burning down a house. She’s taken kicking and screaming to a mental institute where 4 other young girls are locked up in the same ward. Soon Kristen is told about the ghost that haunts the ward and the girls are getting picked off one by one.
Visually The Ward looks pretty amazing! It feels more like a classic Carpenter film with its slow low tracking shots down hallways, strong production design and cinematography that is on par with that of the great Dean Cundey. Carpenter feels like he’s back on his game here and smart for choosing a small and quiet horror story like the Ward. The film feels very polished and Carpenter uses the Anamorphic widescreen like only he can and it makes the film feel bigger than it is. The performances in this film are strong, Horror favorite Amber Heard isn’t my favorite actress but she does very well here. Jared Harris, who plays the seemingly cold and oblivious Doctor, is terrific as always. I will say for a movie that features an almost entirely female cast the girls are all fairly likable. One of my biggest irritations in modern horror films are characters that have all this attitude that makes them all seem like a bunch of bitches. Hollywood has a real issue with making strong female characters. They seem to always interpret “strong” to mean “bitch” and that’s very unfortunate. The characters in The Ward feel appropriate and tied to the period that this movie takes place and there’s something to be said for that these days.
The ending however is where people will polarize on this film. It has a twist ending and if I compare it with the movie its most similar to then I’ll immediately give it away so I won’t be doing that. For me coming from a background in Psychology, I really liked the ending and the film overall.
I hope this is the beginning of a great comeback for the director, but as of yet there is no definite word on his next film project so we’re left wondering for now what’s next for the director. The Ward isn’t a perfect film but it feels like the director is finding his style again and I really hope this rekindles his passion and he makes us a few more horror films before calling it quits again.
Over the weekend Brian & Trisha from Beyond the Grave Productions came to town and with the help of my Sister and her fiancee we shot this funny little video featuring the more mundane elements of Michael Myers life, going to therapy. We think its pretty funny but let me know what you think in the comments to this post or on my Youtube Page.
Janet: “Julie saw him you know.”
Janet: “Michael Myers. I swear yesterday when she was coming to work. At the shop n bag out by the mall. She stopped at the light and saw him walk in that field behind the Lost River Drive in. Julie said he was so creepy.”
Big hat tip to Pumpkinrot, whose movie posts I’m liberally borrowing from for this post. With November now 5 days deep I bid a bitter sweet farewell to Halloween 2010 with a photo from my yard haunt. Now the planning begins for 2011! The Yard Haunt video is in production and I’m going tot try to have it finished by next week.
After the success of 2 Halloween films starring Michael Myers John Carpenter grew tired of retreading the same story. So He and producer Debra Hill decided to continue the Halloween series in name only by making more films that centered around the holiday in some way. It was a noble idea and so the hired Nigel Neale who wrote the Quatermass films to pen a screenplay. However the studio thought it too cerebral and wanted more horror and scares so Tommy Lee Wallace was eventually brought in to rewrite the screenplay and was tapped to direct as well. The story about a mask company called Silver Shamrock that has a sinister plan for the children who buy their masks was far removed from that of the slashing Myers and not surprisingly audiences rejected it outright.
The Trailer above certainly gives a bit of a false impression that its a slasher movie which couldn’t be further from the truth. My first introduction to the film was the mid 1980’s on VHS and I had much the same reaction as everyone else. However about 3 years ago I went back and revisited the film and was very surprised by how much I liked it. Its a silly story about a crazy mask maker named Conal Cochran that wants to punish kids for stealing Halloween away from its Celtic roots by murdering them with evil masks. The film opens with a man being perused by 2 others. He manages to escape and collapses in a gas station clutching a pumpkin Halloween mask. The attendant brings the man to the hospital where the Great Tom Atkins, playing drunk doctor named Challis, stabilizes the man. Soon after one of the man’s pursuers arrives at the hospital sneaks into his room and crushes the mans skull. Challis gives chase but the stranger exits the hospital, gets in a car, douses himself in Gasoline and lights a match resulting in a huge explosion. The next day the man’s daughter Ellie enlists Challis to help her make sense of why her father was running and what the Halloween Masks had to do with them setting them on the trail of Silver Shamrock.
The films storyline is pretty thin and the actors all seem to be trying to compete with each other over who can chew the most scenery. Mr Rafferty the owner of the only motel in Santa Mira where the Silver Shamrock company operates, is bigger than life with his Irish accent. Tom Atkins proves to be quite the ladies man when Ellie coyly asks him where he’d like to sleep he responds with the smoothest of lines “That’s a stupid question Ms. Grimbridge”. Leading to a night of passionate sex. That’s why he’s the silver fox.
What sets the film apart from so many other 80’s horror films is the direction. Tommy Lee Wallace, an art director on the first Halloween makes his directorial debut here. He’s very inspired by Carpenter and with Dean Cundey as the Cinematographer you have a film that looks and feels very much like a Carpenter film. The shots are wide and take advantage of the anamorphic widescreen giving the film a bigger feel than its meager budget would suggest. The lighting is very reminiscent of the Halloween films and of Carpenter films in general. The music, composed by Carpenter and Alan Howarth is the best of the series after the original film. The dissonant rumblings and electronic noises matched with the more typical timings of Carpenters music makes for a great spooky soundtrack that manages to find its way into my playlist this time of the year.
The movie fails only because it promises Halloween and delivers a creepy little tale about a insane Halloween Mask company instead. Had the film been released on its own without the Halloween banner I think it would be much more fondly remembered today as a stand out 80’s horror flick. If you can go into Season of the Witch on its own merits and forget about the Halloween series then you’re in for a good time. So give it a shot if you get the chance this Halloween, I don’t think you’ll regret it.
I am quite the fan of John Carpenter’s Halloween, however probably not as much as some. This past summer I got a sneak peak at something Brian from Beyond the Grave Productions was working on and I knew immediately I had to have it! He sent me some early photos of his New Myers mask called “Rage” and I saw the closest I’ve seen any mask come to looking like the movie poster for Halloween 4! So we arranged to have a full body pose-able prop made of Michael Myers to haunt my home. This week I was able to finally go and pick Michael up and all I have to say Brian has made another masterpiece!
Its hard to get a sense of the full scale of this prop but it stands about 6′ 4″ and carries a big knife! To say that its a bit creepy to have sitting in you’re TV room is an understatement. The mask is very expressive and sometimes I swear it changes expression! LOL! Beyond the Grave has proven to me once again that they’re on the cutting edge of great Halloween props for collectors and attractions alike! I recommend highly these Full body props and urge you to visit Beyond the Grave Productions to get one of your own!
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