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Slasher Summer: Halloween's Top 10 Finest Moments

The Halloween series is at its best when it's harrowing and dark. Other slasher franchises do better with a lighter tone, but the few times Halloween tries it, it feels more forced than entertaining. There is thematic depth to this franchise, and it achieves poignancy when the audience forgets it's watching popcorn entertainment. This is still primarily a slasher franchise--with all that entails--but every so often, these guilty pleasure movies bounce on the surface of meaningful cinema and provide moments worthy of note and appreciation.


#10.
AMERICA DON'T LIKE REALITY
Halloween: Resurrection
Halloween: Resurrection
#10.
AMERICA DON'T LIKE REALITY
Halloween: Resurrection
Halloween: Resurrection

There is a brief moment where showman producer Freddie Harris (played by an appropriately hammy Busta Rhymes) lets two masks drop and reveals his true colors to the frightened teens exploring Michael Myers' childhood home. In a brilliantly written snippet of venomous cynicism and slicing social commentary, Freddie mocks the teens for thinking any of their experience is real, proclaiming that "America don't like reality" because "they think the shit is boring." He might as well be talking to the audience, criticizing fans who are entertained by the exploitative violence and hollow dreck on the screen. It's a rare meta moment for the series, and one of the only good things about the trainwreck that is Halloween: Resurrection.


#9.
THE LAUNDRY CHUTE
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
Halloween 5
#9.
THE LAUNDRY CHUTE
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
Halloween 5

Despite his size, superhuman strength, and apparent immortality, Michael Myers isn't always very intimidating. He tends to plod rather than pursue, and thus anyone capable of a brisk walk can get away from him out in the open. He is at his most terrifying, then, when he corners his prey. Such is the case in Revenge of Michael Myers, when Michael's young niece, Jamie, tries to hide in a laundry chute, only to slip and get trapped at the bottom (which Dr. Loomis carefully locked earlier in the movie). Myers makes his way to the basement and begins stabbing into the chute, with little Jamie helplessly flailing within. It's one of the most intense moments in the whole series--mostly because the victim is a little girl played with utmost sympathy by child acting prodigy Danielle Harris--and Jamie's eventual escape is brilliant, because despite Michael getting a few good stabs in, she uses the knife blade as a temporary foothold to help propel herself back up to safety.


#8.
THE FINAL CONFRONTATION
Halloween II (1981)
Halloween II (1981)
#8.
THE FINAL CONFRONTATION
Halloween II (1981)
Halloween II (1981)

Similarly, after two movies of stalking her, Michael Myers manages to corner his sister, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), in a hospital operating room at the climax of Halloween II, with series hero Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) hot on his heels. Laurie is badly wounded, partially drugged, and pretty defenseless as Myers slowly comes at her. In desperation, she grabs Loomis' revolver and shoots the Shape twice--once in each eye--which only serves to blind him and slow him down momentarily. Laurie and Loomis then play cat and mouse with the flailing Myers as they carefully open the valves on several oxygen tanks around the room. Loomis sacrifices himself (apparently) to let Laurie escape, and he then ignites the operating room into a violent conflagration with him and Michael in it. With Laurie slumped against the wall in the hallway outside, Michael stumbles out of the fiery room, completely engulfed in flames, before falling over and dying (apparently) at long last. It's one of the best action beats of the franchise, and one of the best conclusions (one that was written to be final).


#7.
THE STRODE'S LAST HAPPY MOMENT
Halloween (2007)
Halloween (2007)
#7.
THE STRODE'S LAST HAPPY MOMENT
Halloween (2007)
Halloween (2007)

The 2007 remake of the original Halloween is a problematic film, but it still has moments of true inspiration. One such moment happens near the halfway mark, after Michael has escaped captivity and has begun to hunt for his little sister. While Laurie and her adoptive parents aren't the most sympathetic characters, they feel real, and they share one brief and seemingly mundane moment of familial happiness on the front steps of their home just as the Halloween trick-or-treaters start to emerge in the night. Framed by decorative gravestones, they joke, laugh, and show genuine affection for each other, just before Laurie leaves to go babysitting. Her mother goes inside, and her father lingers just long enough to take one last drag of his cigarette. And then, with absolutely no warning or telltale horror film cues, Michael Myers jumps out of the darkness, throttles the man, and quickly pushes his soon-to-be-dead body into the happy home. It's a throwaway scene that would probably be put on the cutting room floor by a lesser director, but it serves to demonstrate what Zombie excells at with his entries in the franchise: showing the unexpectedness of violent trauma and how it perverts normalcy.


#6.
JAMIE'S TURN
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Halloween 4
#6.
JAMIE'S TURN
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Halloween 4

Probably my favorite entry in the whole series, The Return of Michael Myers feels like a predictable sequel (albeit a very well-made one) throughout most of the runtime. However, the final scene reveals that, far from being a pointless retread of the first film, this sequel has been carefully laying the groundwork for a masterful narrative twist. The film centers on Laurie's daughter, Jamie, as she is hunted by her surprisingly competent and merciless uncle, Michael Myers. After Myers is killed (apparently) in the final moments of the film, the characters around Jamie all relax and prepare to resume their lives. Once they get Jamie home, though, she goes upstairs, puts on her Halloween mask, and stabs her foster mother to death (apparently) with a pair of scissors, revealing that whatever drove Michael to become the Shape has been passed on to her. We see how violence has transformed this innocent little girl into a monster in a wonderful call-back to the opening sequence of the first film, and we even find ourselves sympathizing with Dr. Loomis who, screaming in terror, points his gun at seven-year-old Jamie at the top of the stairs, drenched in her mother's blood. Even though he ultimately fails to pull the trigger, you can see in his wide eyes that he knows: if he doesn't kill her, the horror will never end. (Alas, thanks to the magic of cowardly retconning, he is wrong.)

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-e. magill 6/1/2017

THE UNAPOLOGETIC GEEK'S
SLASHER SUMMER:
  • The Halloween Reviews
  • Michael Myers' Top 10 Best Kills
  • Halloween's Top 10 Finest Moments
  • The Nightmare on Elm Street Reviews
  • Freddy's Top 10 Best Nightmares
  • The Friday the 13th Reviews
  • Jason's Top 10 Best Kills
  • Video Game Review: Friday the 13th: The Game
  • The Texas Chainsaw Reviews
  • Leatherface's Top 10 Most Intense Moments
  • The Child's Play Reviews
  • Chucky's Top 10 Best Kills
  • The Hellraiser Reviews
  • How to Make a Slasher Flick



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