Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) Review

Posted in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers with tags , , , , , , on October 31, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS

*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- Ten Years Ago He Changed the Face of Halloween, Tonight He’s Back

Release Date- October 21st, 1988

Running Time- 88-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Alan McElroy

Director- Dwight H. Little

Starring- Donald Pleasence, Ellie Cornell, Danielle Harris, Sasha Jenson, Beau Starr, George P. Wilbur

Released in 1988 Halloween 4 was the first one I saw in cinemas as I saw the previous 3 on VHS. As a fan of the series I couldn’t have been more excited seeing this on the big screen and it didn’t disappoint. Halloween 4 was one of my favorites of the series and one of my favorite horror films, but over the years for some reason Halloween 4 hasn’t quite held up for me and while I still enjoy it, but nowhere near as much as I once did and I can find myself at times losing focus. If anything Halloween 4 has become one of those films I need to be in the right mood for. When it comes to slasher films of the 80s they were all made possible due to the success of John Carpenter’s Halloween. After Halloween II in 1981 the franchise went in a different direction with Halloween 3: Season of the Witch in 1982, which ended up being a failure. In the 6-years between Halloween 3 and Halloween 4 we saw the emergence of A Nightmare on Elm Street and while the Friday the 13th films weren’t pulling in as much money as the earlier parts they were still turning a profit and Jason like Freddy was now a pop culture icon so Halloween 4 goes back to basics and brings back the character that started it all. By the time the late 80s rolled around there was still some life left in the slasher film, but they weren’t pulling in the numbers they once did and while many would later become cult classics it was Elm Street and Friday the 13th making most of the impact. By this point these films were playing more up to the F/X and Halloween 4 is no different as of this time it was the most graphic, but Halloween 4 attempts at being a legit suspense filled film to go along with the F/X. That’s what I enjoy about the Halloween series is they always tried to keep the movies being legit horror films even if they did add more violence and even the more over the top kills never got cartoonish. Halloween 4 does retain a lot of what made the original film the classic it is and in someways Halloween 4 is more or less the kind of film the original would have been had it been made in 1988. However that’s also some of the problems as it can at times rehash the original and as well as it turned out there was just that little something missing and while I personally wouldn’t rate this as my favorite sequel it really isn’t difficult to understand why so many do.

It’s been 10-years since Michael Myers (Wilbur) went on a killing spree on Halloween in 1978. For the past 10-years Michael has been in a coma and is being transferred on all nights Halloween Eve, but of course you can’t keep a good villain down and Michael escapes and sets off to Haddonfield this time in search of his young nice Jamie Lloyd (Harris) while Dr. Loomis (Pleasence) returns as well in hopes to stop Michael once and for all.

The screenplay was written by Alan B. McElroy who also wrote the Brandon Lee film Rapid Fire, which was actually directed by Dwight H. Little and McElroy would also write Spawn and Wrong Turn. From a pure writing side of things Halloween 4 is perhaps the best written sequel of the series and actually I think the script is just a notch below the original. Apparently the script was written in 10-days to avoid the writers strike, but it really doesn’t feel rushed for the most part. McElroy crafts solid characters with some depth and even if they’re a bit cliched since again the slasher film was done to death by this point, but the characters are actually fairly strong and can to some degree carry the film. In terms of characters, Halloween 4 is one of the strongest if not the strongest of the series. Rather than write faceless victims simply there to be killed by Myers, but McElroy takes his time and develops them. The biggest strength of Halloween 4 is also its biggest weakness; instead of being your typical run of the mill slasher movie the McElroy (and the director Dwight Little) try and be more than that. The plotting is simple, but effective and while the script didn’t feel rushed perhaps with more time Alan McElroy could have fine tuned it a bit more. Despite being generally well written it does suffer from just having been done so many times it does take away from the film.

Halloween 4 was directed by Dwight H. Little who also directed the Stevan Segal action film Marked for Death and the already mentioned Brandon Lee film Rapid Fire. Dwight Little has also been involved with many TV shows having directed an episode of Freddy’s Nightmares and 2-episodes of 24. Dwight H. Little very early on sets up an eerie tone thanks in part to the excellent opening title sequence and Halloween 4 gets off to a great start with a strong feeling of eerie atmosphere and suspense, but as the film goes on pacing can be a little sluggish in spots and Little very much follows what John Carpenter did with the original only it isn’t quite as effective here. Dwight Little does stage some genuine suspense in spots and strong as the characters are the longer the film goes without any action the pace can begin to slowdown. Halloween 4 also boasts quite a large body count, but there are also a lot of off camera deaths, which can be a bit frustrating as the longer the gaps between on camera deaths that can also slow the pace down. I appreciate the fact both Alan McElroy and Dwight Little avoided making the standard slasher film of the era and created a film built on character and suspense and while I felt that was the films biggest strength, but also its biggest weakness. The first half of the film is the strongest, but its the 2nd half where some of my issues start to come in. There’s always a layer of suspense and looming danger and early on its at its most effective, but does run out of a little bit of steam later on. However with that said Dwight Little also crafts some of the more memorable scenes of the series of the series in the 2nd half. The scenes in the Meeker house during the power outage are very effective and eerie with a great buildup though it is a little overly long and could have used a bit of editing, but the payoff is worth it and of course the rooftop scene is among the best scenes of the series. I really can’t fully explain the issues I had since there’s far more good here.

Halloween 4 has a terrific cast led by Donald Pleasence and while he mostly rehashes dialogue from the original I couldn’t imagine the film without him. Danielle Harris was wise beyond her years and was excellent and one of the few child actors that wasn’t annoying and Ellie Cornell makes for an ideal final girl. This to me was one of the better acted installments.

Overall Halloween 4 is a good film, but after a great start it never in my opinion is fully able to get back on track and while there are many excellent scenes the middle sections can lag and despite the high body count Halloween 4 may have been better served with an extra death scene or 2 on camera. The ending of Halloween 4 was quite chilling so there are a lot of positives here, but like I said something just wasn’t fully working at times, which again stems from just being a little too cliched. As stated I fully get the appeal of Halloween 4 and it’ll always hold a special place for me as it was the first I saw in cinemas, but over the years even though I still enjoy Halloween 4 it just doesn’t quite hold up. Despite my issues with the film it does feature some of the most effective scenes in the series.

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Anyone having issues with WordPress???

Posted in Uncategorized on October 30, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

When using the app on my iPad it crashes at least once or twice, which is getting fucking annoying. I’ve also tried to comment on other pages and they don’t go through on my iPad or iPhone. If I use safari rather than the app I still can’t comment.

Has anyone gotten comments from me the past few days? Perhaps its just not showing for me? Due to all these issues there’s a good chance I shut down this page. Well I’ll leave it open, but I will barley post anything.

Trick ‘r Treat (2007) Review

Posted in Trick 'r Treat with tags on October 28, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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TRICK R TREAT

*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- Poison, Drowning, Claw or Knife. So Many Ways to Take a Life.

Release Date- October 6th, 2009

Running Time- 82-Minutes

Rating- R

Writer/Director- Michael Dougherty

Starring- Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin, Quinn Lord, Britt McKillip, Leslie Bibb and Brian Cox as Mr. Kreeg

Trick ‘r Treat had an original release date of October of 2007, but Warner Brothers decided to pull it and no real reason was given, but perhaps it had to do with the release of Saw IV, since at the time the Saw franchise had a strangle hold on October. After that Trick ‘r Treat sort of sat in limbo and just shelved and sort of forgotten about by WB. Finally after 2-years Trick ‘r Treat was finally released DTV (it did have showings at festivals prior to the DTV release). Trick ‘r Treat while in limbo sort of built up a cult following and the legend grew a little more after festival showings and the DTV release. Trick ‘r Treat was instantly praised as a classic of the genre. Every review I came across was almost always glowing and some people have even listed it as one of their 10 favorite horror films.Trick ‘r Treat is a good movie, but the fact the studio kind of jerked it around and the legend grew I cannot help but feel its been generally overhyped. I did find the movie to be entertaining, but I have to question anyone who lists this in a top 10; to hold this movie in as high regard as such classics like Halloween, Bride of Frankenstein and Night of the Living Dead is a bit much.

As I stated with the Saw franchise dominating October that could have been a reason for Trick ‘r Treat to be shelved, but another reason could be horror anthologies, which used to be very popular weren’t by this point. Even in the 80s the popularity was fading with really the main exceptions being the Creepshow movies. However with that said I’m not totally sure Trick ‘r Treat is an anthology. The basic structure of the plot is sort of a horror version of Pulp Fiction since it has multiple stories inter-cut between each other and they all in some way link into one another and the timeline sometimes jumps around to different times within the night. While the basic concept is something you’d see in an anthology it doesn’t really unfold like that with when one story ends another begins. I have no problems with this being listed as an anthology since I might put it within that style as well, but its debatable since if Pulp Fiction isn’t an anthology perhaps Trick ‘r Treat shouldn’t be listed as one either.

On Halloween night a principal moonlights as a serial killer and kids seek out an urban legend are among just a couple of the stories.

Trick ‘r Treat was written by Michael Dougherty who also co-wrote such films as X2 and Superman Returns. The script by Dougherty is highly entertaining and fun. The film is well plotted with some nice twists and the characters are all quite fun and while they aren’t deeply developed they all add to the story and seeing as no character really carries the film there isn’t any issues. While the horror genre isn’t always noted for its writing, Michael Dougherty delivers a very solid and well written script that at times plays up to the mythology of Halloween. Trick ‘r Treat marked the feature film directorial debut by Michael Dougherty and he delivers a well made and generally well paced film. Of all the films I’ve seen set on or around Halloween, Trick ‘r Treat is no doubt one of the very best in terms of capturing the essence of the day. John Carpenter’s Halloween is in my opinion one of the greats and it does capture the fall setting excellently, but to me it could have been set anytime in the fall. While Halloween 4 wasn’t nearly as good as the original, but I’d say that was the best in the series in regards to capturing the Halloween feel and not just the series, but any Halloween themed film and I’d rate Trick ‘r Treat a very close 2nd. From the start Dougherty captures a fun tone with a little something sinister lurking underneath. The pacing is generally strong, but in my opinion the pace can drag in spots during the 2nd half. Trick ‘r Treat is light on suspense with a couple of exceptions, but I’m not really sure the intentions were to make a film with suspense and tension. What Michael Dougherty does very well is simply craft a fun film and while I did feel to some degree the 2nd half wasn’t quite as strong its still effective and fun.

Trick ‘r Treat has a terrific cast, which in part help elevate the film and with a fun script and strong directing Trick ‘r Treat is essential viewing in October and along with Halloween 4 perhaps the best Halloween themed film (but neither are the best Halloween film). Quite honestly I wouldn’t rate this as highly as some do, but its an effective and fun film.

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Hellbent (2005) Review

Posted in Hellbent with tags , on October 16, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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HELLBENT

** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- When the Night Belongs to the Devil, the Party Goes to Hell

Release Date- September 16th, 2005

Running Time- 84-Minutes

Rating- R

Writer/Director- Paul Etheredge

Starring- Dylan Fergus, Bryan Kirkwood, Hank Harris, Andrew Levitas, Matt Phillips

Released on the festival scene in 04 and a limited release in 05, Hellbent is sort of the typical low budget slasher with a slight twist; we have a set of guys looking to hook up, but instead if chasing after women they’re chasing after other guys. Hellbent is a gay themed slasher and sadly that’s the only difference between this and most slashers. The characters are the typical kind in these films who just so happen to be gay. While this film is obviously aimed at a gay audience I don’t think it matters what your sexuality is unless you’re the hateful kind. At the end of the day Hellbent fails at doing anything different than any other slasher outside of the gay characters. Quite honestly I really can’t see the target audience really feeling any different at least those who are fans of the horror genre. While I’m sure the target audience will appreciate seeing characters they can identify with, but I think most will feel the film was a bit subpar.

The plot has 4 gay men going to a Halloween party in West Hollywood where they end up being stalked by a killer and that pretty much sums up the plot.

The script by Paul Etheredge is rather weak and never different than any other slasher film outside again being focused on gay men. As for the characters, we’ve seen them before in a million other slashers and being gay hardly adds anymore depth to them. However with that said I did like the characters and found them entertaining despite being cliched. On paper the idea sounds better than it came out. But at the end of the day regardless of sexuality everything here we’ve seen before and the gay twist can only take the film so far. If anything since I found the characters entertaining sort of salvages the script, but its still subpar stuff.

As director Paul Etheredge doesn’t fair much better as Hellbent is poorly paced and cheap looking. While I get the budget is low, but that doesn’t excuse the weak production values. There really isn’t much in the way of suspense and scares and it seems having a gay themed slasher allowed the director to be a bit lazy as he figured he would have a built in audience. Perhaps that’s true, but the film is still weak and forgettable. With sluggish pacing and lack of suspense, Hellbent can be quite boring at times and the final act lacks any excitement as rather than speed things up it just moves so slow and seems to take forever to get to the action, which wasn’t very good to begin with.

The problem with Hellbent outside of being sluggishly paced is it also lacks an identity. While the characters are fun, but everything else by the book. Perhaps Hellbent will get over more with the target audience, but I still think the target audience will be bored by it. While not terrible, Hellbent is quite forgettable.

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Halloween Night (2007) Review

Posted in Halloween Night with tags , , on October 15, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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HALLOWEEN NIGHT

** Out 5

Release Date- October 26th, 2006

Running Time- 85-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Michael Gingold

Director- Mark Atkins

Starring- Derek Osedach, Rebekah Kochan, Scot Nery

Halloween Night was released in 2006 is from Asylum Films, which often knockoff big budget popular films. Quite honestly I’ve never been a big fan of Asylum, but I get their appeal to horror fans though I did enjoy Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies more than Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (though the book trumps both). Halloween Night had potential to be a fun throwback to 80s slasher films and it started off that way, but as the film goes on my enjoyment level started to drop and drop. While the film does provide some fun moments, but for me it ended up being quite a chore to get through.

Halloween Night was written by Michael Gingold of Fangoria and writing articles on the horror genre is totally different than writing screenplays and that very much shows here. The basic plot deals with an escaped mental patient who returns home. I think its quite clear the basic idea of the plot stems from Halloween; however once our escaped mental patient is out he heads home and finds people in his old house throwing a Halloween party and this reminds me a bit of Halloween: Resurrection just replace reality show with a party. I doubt Gingold was inspired by Halloween: Resurrection since I can’t see anyone in their right mind being inspired by that film, but the truly terrifying thing is Resurrection is actually the better film! As a child Chris Vale saw his mother raped and killed and Vale ended up horribly burnt. It seems as if the father was involved, but the writing and editing are so sloppy nothing is clear. Now 10-years later Vale (Nery) as stated before makes his escape from the insane asylum and returns home.

After a fun start, Gingold’s script quickly becomes a poorly plotted mess of a script. The characters are dull and lifeless and better off dead. There’s no depth or anything it’s just boring characters that the sooner they die the better. If you wanna create a backstory for the killer fine, but really nothing is explained and it seems these pages were written simply to fill a required page count. Michael Gingold early on does deliver a fun script, which makes it more frustrating when things quickly go downhill. The concept even if hardly original was fun and Gingold had the right idea, but as it goes on the writing gets worse and Halloween Night is in my opinion quite poorly written and granted slasher films aren’t exactly known for writing, but this is poor even by slasher movie standards.

As director Mark Atkins fails at brining any suspense or excitement and the film is quite poorly paced. Halloween Night gets off to a fun start as mentioned, but quickly falls a part and can be quite a chore to sit through. Horror films can get away with a subpar script, but too weak and there is only so much the director can do, but Atkins just ends up making more of a mess out of the production.

Overall Halloween Night is a terrible film and while fans of Asylum make find something here worthwhile everyone else are better off passing.

Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998) Review

Posted in Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later with tags , , , on October 14, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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HALLOWEEN H20: TWENTY YEARS LATER

**** Out of 5

Tagline- 20-Years Ago He Changed the Face of Halloween, Tonight He’s Back

Release Date- August 5th, 1998

Running Time- 86-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Robert Zappia & Matt Greenberg

Director- Steve Miner

Starring- Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnett, LL Cool J, Michelle Williams, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Janet Leigh, Chris Durand and Adam Arkin

When it comes to horror franchises the Halloween series is one of the most iconic and the original Halloween kicked open the door for the wave of slasher films that dominated the market in the 1980s. H20 was released in 1998 and of course based on the title came 20-years after the original, but to me it was far more fitting it was released 10-years after Halloween 4 since both films go back to the basics. After Halloween 3 attempted to take the series in a new direction and was a sequel by name only, but it ended up brining the series to an end and was despised by fans of the series. While over the years Halloween 3 has gained a cult following its still largely dismissed. Halloween 4 brings back Michael Myers and resurrected the series and was actually the number 1 movie for 2-weeks straight. But by the time Halloween 5 was released in 1989 the tide was starting to turn on the slasher film and Halloween 5 became the lowest grossing of the series also released that year were Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan and A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child and Jason Takes Manhattan also became the lowest grossing and Elm Street 5 took in roughly half of what the 4th film brought in. As much as I personally enjoyed Halloween 5 and believe it or not its my favorite sequel of the original series, but it kind of backed the series into a corner and by the time the 6th film was released in 1995 the slasher film was dead and Halloween 6 like the 3rd film also tried to take the series in a new direction only this time with Michael Myers, but the 6th overly complicated a simple formula and was plagued by production troubles and while it turned a profit it wasn’t very successful and like Halloween 3 was mostly dismissed by fans. However in 1996 Scream, which was written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven was a massive success and brought back the slasher film. Originally before Jamie Lee Curtis was on board Halloween 7 was gonna be made DTV and continue the series, but not continue the thorn angle. Once Jamie Lee Curtis signed on the story was altered and made for a theatrical release and it would ignore the events of Halloween 4-6 (obviously 3 as well) and would continue from Halloween II.

I hate when a film comes out and ignores previous installments, but in the case of Halloween I really don’t think there was much of a choice. For starters the last two weren’t as successful in terms of box office business and general fan opinion and again the 6th film overly complicated the formula. With the return of Laurie Strode (Curtis) linking 4-6 would be too complicated. In Halloween 4 its stated Laurie died 11-months ago, which would place her death sometime in November of 1987. So that begs the question why would not only Laurie fake her death nearly a decade after, but why would she leave her daughter Jamie in Haddonfield? And why didn’t she return for her? Some people blame Halloween 4, but at the time nobody knew Jamie Lee would return and sure looking back there’s a number of directions Halloween 4 could have gone, but again who knew Curtis would return. In H20 Laurie has a son John Tate (Hartnett) who is 17-years old and yet in Halloween little Jamie having a brother was never mentioned. Trying to link 4-6 would just not only complicate the film, but slow it down too much and originally there was a passing mention, but was dropped in rewrites, but for the hardcore fan it would have too many questions and would take away from the film. Even all these years later it does bug me to some degree a whole bunch of films were wiped from the timeline, but its not difficult to see why.

20-years after the events of the first 2 Halloween films, Laurie Strode is now living in Northern California under the name Keri Tate and is headmistress of a private school. For the last 20-years she’s lived in fear her brother Michael Myers (Durand) would find her and with the 20th anniversary, Michael has returned to finish what he started.

Kevin Williamson wrote a treatment for the film, but apparently he was busy with other projects and was unable to write the screenplay, but there are drafts online for H20 with Williamson listed as the writer, but I can’t vouch for how legit they are. Robert Zappia was originally hired as the writer and even submitted a draft, which was liked, but once Jamie Lee Curtis signed on it needed a rewrite and Zappia was kept on and a couple of aspects of his script carried over into the final draft. The screenplay by Robert Zappia & Matt Greenberg is well written and for a 7th film it’s surprisingly excellent. I love the concept for the film and its great to see just what has become of Laurie 20-years later. I also like the change in her character from shy to a character with a bit more of an edge and take charge. The teen characters are also fairly strong, but no doubt the script is at its strongest when Laurie is the focus. Characters have some depth and the script unlike the past couple of films isn’t overly complicated and is back to the basics. H20 is very much a product of its time and the influence of Scream is quite obvious. Apparently Kevin Williamson did some uncredited writing and his style of writing is very much present.

Originally John Carpenter was in talks to direct, but when he ended up passing on it Steve Miner was brought on. Miner started off his career working on such films as Last House on the Left and Friday the 13th and made his directorial debut in 1981 with Friday the 13th Part 2, which of course was also Jason’s debut as the killer. Steve Miner than followed that up with Friday the 13th Part 3 so he’s no stranger to slasher films. Miner also directed such films as House, Soul Man and Warlock and made the underrated comedy My Father the Hero. Miner first worked with Jamie Lee Curtis on the film Forever Young, which also starred Mel Gibson and working with Jamie Lee on that film is what lead to him getting H20. Miner also directed various TV shows from the Wonder Years, the Practice, Chicago Hope, Dawson’s Creek and Psych to name a few. Steve Miner can be seen as a director for hire as he’s worked in various different genres and has more or less found success in them all, but its his work in the horror genre he’s most associated with. Whatever trend is popular at the time, Miner is a filmmaker that can deliver a film within the style of whatever trend is popular at that time. Many cite H20 as the one film in the series that captures the essence of the original, but I’d actually disagree with that. While there are clear homages to the original and Miner does take some cues from John Carpenter, but he crafts a more Scream like atmosphere. H20 is fun and well paced for most of the film, but the middle H20 does sort of hit a standstill. The one area that H20 follows the original is for a good bulk of the running time it’s a build up with Michael stalking his would be victims and while Steve Miner does create some strong suspense, but these scenes aren’t quite as strong as the original and the middle of the film does slightly lack and I think H20 could have possibly used maybe a death scene or two to keep the pace strong. However despite some slight pace issues, Miner still handles the middle sections well, but while entertaining it isn’t quite as strong as the opening and closing acts. Speaking of the closing Steve Miner very much gets the film back on track with quite an exciting final act. H20 only runs at 86-minutes and without credits it clocks in at under 80-minutes so the film moves on pretty fast and even if I felt there were some pace issues in the middle it’s never boring by any means and with the brief running time any lulls don’t last long. With H20 Miner directs one of the stronger sequels and one of my favorite horror films of the 90s. The following year after H20, Steve Miner would direct Lake Placid, which was written by the legendary TV writer/producer David E. Kelley and in my opinion was Miner’s best film, but H20 easily ranks as one of his best.

H20 marked the first film without Donald Pleasence in his iconic role of Dr. Loomis (not counting Halloween 3 of course). When I first saw H20 back when it was originally released it did feel a bit weird not seeing Pleasence and even over the years it still feels strange watching a Halloween film without Pleasence who passed away at the age of 75 in 1995, which impacted reshoots for Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. This was also the first Halloween film not set in Haddonfield (again not counting Halloween 3). While it makes perfect sense the setting has changed, but Haddonfield very much became a character in the series. For the most part H20 gets the passing grade from fans of the series and while this one is a lot more Hollywood stylized it also has stated takes the series back to the basics. For me this was the last of the original series and I don’t even acknowledge Halloween: Resurrection, which for me was by far the worst of the series. H20 had the perfect ending to the series, but was ruined with Resurrection, which would have been easier to accept if the film turned out well, which for me and many others it sure didn’t. Overall Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later was a nice return to form for the series and was great having Jamie Lee Curtis return and it also helped make up to some degree the loss of Donald Pleasence. It’s a little annoying that Halloween 4-6 were ignored, but as stated there was little choice due to the formula getting overly complicated and more importantly would just have far too many questions. H20 was an overall entertaining film that should please most fans of the series.

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The Invasion (2007) Review

Posted in Invasion with tags , , , on October 8, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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THE INVASION

** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- Do Not Trust Anyone. Do Not Show Emotion. Do Not Fall Asleep.

Release Date- August 17th, 2007

Running Time- 99-Minutes

Rating- PG-13

Screenplay- David Kajganich

Director- Oliver Hirschbiegel

Starring- Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Jeremy Northam, Jeffrey Wright with Roger Rees and Veronica Cartwright

Released in 2007 the Invasion is the 4th adaption of the classic novel the Body Snatchers written by Jack Finney back in 1955, which was later retitled to Invasion of the Body Snatchers to match the film. The original Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which was released in 1956 is one of the greatest sci-fi/horror films of all time and actually improves upon the terrific novel and I’d rate the film as one of my personal favorites as its simply a great chiller. The 1978 remake is one of the few remakes I’d rate higher than the original as it improves on an already great film and what the film added takes it to another level. To me the 1978 version is quite chilling with an incredible amount of paranoia as within the first couple of minutes the tension already starts building. The 3rd version titled Body Snatchers was a solid film with some eerie moments and even though I liked the film its far below the first two films, which brings us to the Invasion. The problem here is the film is quite pointless as another version really wasn’t needed. One could even say that about Body Snatchers and while that film added nothing new it was still a fair enough film. The Invasion attempts to bring a new twist on the concept, but it just didn’t work unlike the 78 version, which shares a few scenes in common with the original, but than adds its own twist on things, but still keeps true to the concept without rehashing it. Even Body Snatchers to some degree avoided being a rehash and while the Invasion more or less avoids that it does stray from the concept and just comes across as a cheap knockoff.

I love films about alien invasions with my favorite kind being films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers where just by looking you can’t tell the difference between a human and alien. I’d rate the first two in the series very highly with again the 78 version being my favorite and one of my very favorite films of all time. Even if I don’t rate Body Snatchers as highly its still an enjoyable film as I’m just a sucker for the concept and when I first saw the Invasion I quite enjoyed it and really didn’t get the dislike the film seemed to get. While it was for me far inferior to the first two films I’d rate it just a notch below Body Snatchers, but upon revisiting the film it just doesn’t quite hold up and I found it quite a chore to sit through. Like I said I just love alien invasion films in this style I also loved the Faculty and They Live, which puts a nice twist on the alien invasion film, but the Invasion was for the most part a failure with some decent, but poorly executed ideas. Based off my last viewing I’m not even sure why I liked the film in the first place and as the film went on I found myself losing interest, which was quite a departure from my first viewing. Perhaps with all the negative feedback and being such a fan of the first two I had lowered expectations? Whatever the reason is the 2nd time around I found the Invasion a mess. The film was plagued by production troubles as it went through massive rewrites and reshoots and upon my first viewing I didn’t really notice it, but seeing it again its quite clear and the flow of the film is quite sloppy.

After returning to earth a space shuttle explodes and brings an alien virus that takes over the human population.

The screenplay was written by David Kajganich and apparently Andy & Lana Wachowski were brought in for rewrites. The script as mentioned as a few decent ideas, but the script is quite sloppy and these ideas fail. I’d have to see Kajganich’s final draft to fairly say if the issues were his writing or rewrites, but unlike the past 3 versions the characters are all bland and at least for me I didn’t find myself really caring if anyone survived. As silly as it might sound my biggest gripe is the fact there aren’t any pods. I’ll give Kajganich credit for trying to bring something new to the series when the easier thing to do would be just follow the exact same formula as the past three films, but in the end the film just feels like a cheap knockoff. The one aspect of the script I did like was on how when everything is normal again our world is again plagued by violence and war and this had it been used more throughout the film could have added another dimension to the film.

The Invasion was directed Oliver Hirschbiegel a German filmmaker who with this film made his American debut and with all the production troubles Hirschbiegel was later replaced with James McTeigue for reshoots however only Hirschbiegel is credited and I have no idea, which filmmaker is responsible for what. While the Invasion attempts to build mystery and suspense from the start of the picture it never quite works. Despite the films best intentions it never quite has the paranoia of the other versions in particular the 78 version. The pacing can be quite sluggish in spots and as stated the film never becomes as eerie and suspenseful as it tries to be. The flow of the film is also a bit sloppy, which most likely has to do with two different filmmakers. Some of the other problems are some of the worst CGI I’ve seen in a Hollywood release and the only thing worse is the atrocious editing where the film jumps all over the place with no flow. I’d have to see the original cut by Oliver Hirschbiegel, but quite honestly I’m not sure how much better the Invasion would fair since the entire film has issues, but I do think rewrites and reshoots added to the problem.

Another issue was the casting. While Nicole Kidman is a very good actress I’m not sure she was the right choice and while she was failed by the writing, Kidman offers nothing interesting in the role of Carol Bennell. The one area this remains true is you can trick the aliens by showing no emotion and if one didn’t know any better you would think Kidman’s character was an alien the entire film as she shows zero emotion. Daniel Craig while onset learned he was cast as James Bond in Casino Royale and Craig has become my favorite Bond, but like Kidman he wasn’t right for this film and his performance suffers from the same issues. Its not that their acting was poor, but rather quite boring. The only real bright spot was Veronica Cartwright who appeared in the 1978 remake.

Overall the Invasion just simply a subpar film and I’m sure some of these issues are due to rewrites and reshoots, but I still think the film would have issues. As stated I enjoyed it upon my first viewing, but the 2nd time around I’d keep checking how much time was left. It was a nice idea to try and inject something new to the series, but again it just feels like a poor knockoff film.

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