Halloween Kills

Halloween Kills ★★★★½

Following his sadistically measured double-murder of the elderly couple, Michael exits stage left slowly and with swagger to the smattering of applause. A brilliant audio cross fade to Mick's bar where the audience was actually applauding a ventriloquist and his dummy at the talent show. It's the kind of gag that was far more commonplace in the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm St. movies. Halloween was always a tad more serious, so I like that Danny McBride and David Gordon Green have found room for levity without compromising the grim atmosphere.

There is a lot of atmosphere, even though I do think the digital photography and the lack of a night breeze and blowing leaves are noticeable differences from the Dean Cundey movies. It's not a bad change, though. Things are just a bit warmer this time. Mick's bar is lit with as much style and craft as the town itself. Black levels are outstanding and contrast with brilliant primary colors so vivid from the via myriad light sources in an an eye popping example of candy cinema. Haddonfield has never looked more inviting. If they're this festive on Halloween, I'd like to see the place during Christmas. Maybe change it up a bit for future flicks?

The somewhat maligned hospital mob sequence captures the frenzy and chaos of mass hysteria and panic nearly as effectively as Spielberg's Fourth of July sequence in Jaws or the opening television station breakdown from Romero's Dawn of the Dead. While most films in the Halloween series are concentrated on the more sterile and eerie quietness of the suburban streets, here we are suddenly tossed into a flurry of fearful unrest. It's also the opposite of the nearly deserted and still ominousness of the hospital in Halloween II. Interestingly, Laurie is mostly bedridden and sidelined in both sequels. The intercutting of the hospital frenzy with Michael's surprise party crash at Big John's and Little John's is a bit jarring, but the contrast emphasizes Michael's tendency to avoid crowds and chaos. He likes to stay lurking in the shadown. Some of the darker fixtures in the "fabulous" new décor are perfect when Michael wants to play hide and seek.

The standout sequence for me is Michael's attack at the playground parking lot. Carpenter's score goes wild as The Shape gets some sweetly maniacal close-ups. HIs eyes are slightly visible as he turns his head toward each pathetic attempt to stop him. Strangling with a stethoscope? Nope. That's not going to happen. The gore here is on par with some of Tom Savini's most sickeningly painful. It's that good. The original sequel is probably my personal favorite of the bunch, and I love Rob Zombie's grungy vision, but this is moving up fast in my ever evolving ranking. 9/10

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