Archive for Jamie Lee Curtis

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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Halloween II (1981) Review

Posted in Halloween II (1981) with tags , , , , , on October 30, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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HALLOWEEN II

**** Out of 5

Tagline- More of the Night He Came Home

Release Date- October 30th, 1981

Running Time- 92-Mintues

Rating- R

Screenplay- John Carpenter & Debra Hill

Director- Rick Rosenthal

Starring- Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lance Guest, Charles Cyphers, Leo Rossi, Hunter von Leer, Dick Warlock

Released in 1981 Halloween II picks up right where the original film left off and making a sequel to a classic film is never an easy task as it’s often a sitting duck for critics and fans, but on the flipside you have an audience before the film is released. Halloween II is one of the rare sequels held in high regard with some hailing as the best horror sequel and with some even rating higher than the original. I disagree on both accounts and while Halloween II is a solid film with enough jolts to get a passing grade it’s also in my opinion far inferior to the original. As far as 80s slasher goes I would rate Halloween II highly as its better than the bulk of these films and I would label it a classic slasher film, but as a horror film while a case can be made for it I would label just under classic status.

The plot for Halloween II is quite simple and actually there really isn’t much of a plot it’s just simply a continuation from the original film. John Carpenter & Debra Hill return to write the sequel and it’s quite clear based on the script they really didn’t have a whole lot of ideas on where to take the movie. Michael Myers (Warlock) pursues Laurie Strode (Curtis) at Haddonfield Memorial Hospital as Dr. Loomis (Pleasence) continues to search for Michael.

Also at this time the slasher flick was highly popular and Carpenter & Hill are content on following the format of the typical slasher flick of the time, which is ironic since all those films were following the format of the original Halloween. The characters are the typical type that dominated the slasher flick at this point; Halloween II is filled with faceless victims that are only here to add to the body count and none of them really make much of an impact on the movie. The plot of the movie relies far too much on the original and while this might work well through the early parts of the movie the middle sections however is when the plot runs out of steam and Carpenter has admitted he wasn’t sure where to take the movie and that’s how the brother/sister plot came about. It really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and it’s clear it was a spur of the moment idea, and while it doesn’t really make sense if you don’t linger on it one can accept it.

For the majority of the running time Laurie is reduced to being in a hospital bed and there really isn’t anything Laurie adds to the movie and it seems she’s here for the sake of it. Laurie was one of the few characters in a slasher flick that actually had some depth and it’s a shame she doesn’t have a whole lot to do in Halloween II. Dr. Loomis has a little bit more going on than Laurie, but for the most part the script has Loomis repeating what he said in the first film only worded differently. As I stated the characters were one dimensional and were only there to add to the death toll of the movie; the characters have little personality and sadly unlike the original, the characters in Halloween II are the typical faceless victims. Despite the shortcomings of the script, Halloween II isn’t poorly written. Carpenter & Hill make the most out of it and while it’s disappointing the characters aren’t stronger I suppose they serve their purpose and Carpenter & Hill deliver an entertaining script and even with the flaws it’s still better written than the majority of the 80s slasher flicks.

Rick Rosenthal makes his directorial debut and delivers an entertaining, but uneven movie. From the start of the film, Rosenthal does set up an eerie tone and is able to deliver a movie that has some strong suspense and scares and this is one of the better made slasher flicks of the 80s. The pacing can at times lag, but the script can be partly to blame, but horror flicks can still be scary and suspenseful regardless of the script. I’d go as far to say the original Halloween became the classic movie it has due to Carpenter’s direction and music the script was good, but really nothing special. The hospital makes for an eerie setting and while Rosenthal does handle it mostly well, it does however get tiresome seeing Michael walk around the hospital in search of Laurie and most people will put the blame on the script and rightfully so, but again a horror film can succeed despite the script.

Michael is a lot slower in this one than the previous part and at times it’s a little frustrating since if he just moved at the speed he did in the original he would have caught Laurie with rather ease I suppose if one really wanted to they can explain it as Michael being a little bit weaker from being shot at the end of the original. There are times Michael moves at the same pace as he did in the original, but when chasing after Laurie in the final act he moves way too slow and John Carpenter did do some reshoots so perhaps it could be due to having two different filmmakers. For the most part Rick Rosenthal is content on following what John Carpenter did with the original and never really injects his own style to the film. And while if you’re gonna knockoff any filmmaker, Carpenter is a great choice and while this doesn’t hurt the movie it does however make Halloween II feel like a rehash without an identity. However with that said Rick Rosenthal still delivers a well made chiller with some genuine suspense and scares to go along with an eerie atmosphere.

The performances were quite strong for a 80s slasher and while the characters may be one dimensional the acting is a step above the majority of the slasher flicks made in the 80s. Jamie Lee Curtis delivers a good performance, but as I stated she really isn’t given much to work with, which is a shame since an excellent actress gets sort of wasted. Donald Pleasence is a little more over the top this time around and what I love about Pleasence is he could play a role straight like he did in the original Halloween, but he wasn’t afraid to ham things up either. Pleasence walks the line of straight and camp in Halloween II, but delivers an excellent performance and while the character doesn’t add a whole lot at times like always Pleasence is a joy to watch.

When all is said and done Halloween II, while in my opinion not on par with the original it still gets it the job done by being a fairly suspenseful and scary movie and while I think this part lacks what made the original such a groundbreaking masterpiece, Rosenthal still delivers an excellent chiller that’s only really bogged down by being like every other 80s slasher flick, which is a disappointment since the original was a cut above everything that followed, but overall I’d still rate this as one of the better slasher flicks of the 80s and one of the better sequels.

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Top 15 Scream Queens

Posted in Top 15 Scream Queens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

What exactly makes a Scream Queen? Is it someone who has appeared in many horror films? What about an actress that made 1 horror film that she gave a great performance to go along with a great film? Many people will say you need a few horror films to be a Scream Queen and that’s fair enough, but what about if most of those films are terrible? So with this list I decided that it doesn’t matter if you have 1 credit or 100. All that matters is quality of the film and performance.

I know some will disagree with me including actresses that aren’t really known for horror, but again it’s about quality more than anything else. There were several actresses left out that I really wanted to include such as Daniela Doria, Zora Kerova, Lorraine De Selle and they almost made the cut, but in the end decided against it.

(For some reason I am having trouble with uploads so if any pictures don’t show sorry about that.

15. Hayden Panettiere

Notable films- Scream 4

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I know many will disagree with my placing of Hayden at number 15 and I could have placed several other actresses here, but I went with Hayden because Kirby in Scream 4 is just awesome! A hot chick who loves horror. As much as I liked Scream 4 without Hayden it might have been a little less.

14. Franca Stoppi

Notable Films- Beyond the Darkness, The Other Hell

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Her character Iris was downright creepy in Beyond the Darkness and while that may be her most notable credit (she has done other horror flicks) Iris is one of the more memorable characters and Stoppi more than deserving.

13. Marilyn Burns

Notable films- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

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Like the above she has a couple more credits, but TCM is all she needs. I easily could have rated her higher. Besides a great performance the hell that she went through while filming alone gets her on this list. As Sally, Marilyn Burns was great and sure I could fill this up with other actresses with tons of credits, but none of those actresses gave as strong a performance or were in as good a film.

12. Lisa Wilcox

Notable films- A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 & 5

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I always preferred Alice over Nancy. That’s just me, but for certain purposes I couldn’t rate Lisa Wilcox higher. I just love how Alice starts and what she becomes. From shy nerd to kick ass chick ready to kick Freddy’s ass

11. Corteney Cox

Notable films- Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3, Scream 4

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Nobody can play the bitch like Corteney and rather than wanna see her meet a grisly end you root for her to survive. Her performances are hysterical and she always brings the fun factor to the Scream movies.

10. Cristina Galbo

Notable films- What Have You Done to Solange, The Killer Must Kill Again, Living Dead at Manchester Morgue

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One of the most stunning women to grace the screen, in all her films, Cristina not only brings beauty, but something innocent and naive to her performances.

9. Jennifer Love Hewitt

Notable films- I Know What You Did Last Summer, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer

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I know some will disagree with J. Love on the list and perhaps as high as she rates. What guy wasn’t totally crushing on Jennifer back in the 90s? With her stunning looks, beautiful smile, J. Love brought the super hot girl next door quality to her films.

8. Catriona MacColl

Notable films- City of the Living Dead, The Beyond, House by the Cemetery

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Her work with Fulci was great and MacColl brought a lot of class and charm in her work with Lucio Fulci.

7. Heather Langenkamp

Notable films- A Nightmare on Elm Street, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, New Nightmare

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I can hear the groans now over the ranking. Nancy is one of the greats for sure and the original Elm Street a masterpiece. Nancy wasn’t like most characters in horror films as she was not only smart, but didn’t need help in taking down Freddy. I’ve always loved the character and how she changed in the series.

6. Edwige Fenech

Notable films- The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, The Case of the Bloody Iris, Strip Nude for Your Killer, Hostel: Part II

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Is there any woman more stunning? I think not. Her Giallo work was truly excellent and it didn’t hurt she was always willing to shed her clothes. Edwige is one of my all-time favorites and wanted to rate her even higher.

5. Daria Nicolodi

Notable Films- Deep Red, Inferno, Tenebre, Phenomena, Opera

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Her work with Argento is brilliant and at times European horror isn’t always know for strong female characters, but with Deep Red she broke that. Through the years her work with Argento made her a staple in the horror genre and Daria who sadly sometimes gets looked over is a terrific actress.

4. Danielle Harris

Notable Films- Halloween 4, Halloween 5, Halloween, Halloween II, Hatchet II

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Danielle is probably the only child actor in a horror film that didn’t get on my nerves. As young Jamie Lloyd in Halloween 4 & 5, Danielle gave performances far beyond her years and her work with Rob Zombie in his Halloween films were great. Halloween II she really got to show off her acting range. But she will always be remembered as Jamie Lloyd and dare I say I liked her more than Laurie?

3. Sheila Keith

Notable Films- The House of Whipcord, Frightmare, The Comeback

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Sadly an actress that time has forgotten. Her work with Pete Walker is truly amazing. She was downright creepy in House of Whipcord and the Comeback, but Frightmare she was just chilling! Its sad many horror fans don’t mention her as she was a terrific actress and if she doesn’t seriously creep you out something must be wrong with you.

2. Jamie Lee Curtis

Notable Films- Halloween, The Fog, Prom Night, Terror Train, Halloween II, Halloween H20

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What can I say about Jamie that hasn’t already been stated before? Her title of the scream queen is more than fitting and deserving as her work in the genre is iconic for a reason. As Laurie Strode she set the bar on the woman in danger role. I often alternate on my top 2 picks since both are more than deserving.

1. Neve Campbell

Notable Films- Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3, Scream 4, The Craft

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This might be a surprise to some, but as Sydney, Neve Campbell set the bar for the modern scream queen. She was vulnerable, but not weak as she fights back at every turn. Neve brought this sweet tough innocence to Syd, but when push comes to shove she’ll kick your ass!

10 More Movies to Watch for Halloween

Posted in 10 More Movie to Watch for Halloween with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

Like the first list, this is in no order or an all-time favorite list.

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10 Movies to watch for Halloween Night

Posted in 10 Movies to Watch for Halloween Night with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

This isn’t a top 10 all-time favorite list. It’s only a list for films I feel would make great Halloween night viewing. Also this isn’t in order either.

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Halloween II Lobby Cards

Posted in Halloween II Lobby Cards with tags , , , , , on October 9, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

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Halloween Posters and Lobby Cards (sequels and remake)

Posted in Halloween Posters and Lobby Cards Vol. 3 with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

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