Halloween II (1981)

directed by rick rosenthal
dino de laurentiis corporation

One of those movies where I recognize certain scenes but don’t remember much else besides, this once-and-future sequel – for now, it’s been written out of the canon – is mainly notable for introducing Michael M. to the cinematic world of the bored spree killer who begins to get creative in his methods of destruction, along with its clumsy attempt to hang some sort of meaningful framework onto a story better left unexplained. And no, I don’t mean the “Laurie’s his sister” angle, I mean that “Samhain” silliness, a direction which of course reached its apogee in “Season of the Witch.” It’s good enough, I guess – but strictly as a sequel, as its formulaic nature probably wouldn’t have sustained it as a standalone. Not that thousands of its ilk haven’t been churned out anyway, of course. I will give it some credit for taking place immediately following the events of the first feature, as a continuation of the same story; that’s pretty crafty.

why did i watch this movie?

A) it’s the last week of October
B) see the first sentence of the lede

Should you watch this movie?

Dude, it’s not canon. You’re waiting breathlessly for Halloween Kills, correct?

highlight and low point

Though it’s something of a staple in this genre, Mike’s experimentation with different approaches to killing becomes sublimely absurd. Messing with the thermostat? Man, in my house growing up, that’d GET a guy killed, not prove lethal to others. One of his means of dispatch doesn’t even seem as though it’d work! An empty syringe to the temple, quickly in and out? Pshaw. Not to mention, subtleties of slaughter and the aforementioned nod to the rites of sacrificial hoo-haw kinda undermine the big guy’s mythos.

rating from outer space: C

Haunted aka The Haunted (1977)

written and directed by michael de gaetano
northaire communications, inc.

Wow, I might owe an apology to a few of the other terrible movies I’ve lambasted, because compared to this abysmal folly, some of them look much better. While nothing could make films like Home Sweet Home and Monster look “good,” compared to this debacle, a relative respectability may be easier to obtain. It’s hard for me to precisely describe this fiasco, because the script is a disaster, the acting atrocious, the concept absurd, and the pacing and editing undisciplined and unstructured. You probably couldn’t write dialogue this poorly if you tried, and its recital is akin to unlettered folks reading cue cards with missing words and disorderly syntax. It’s astonishing. Unbelievably, the filmmaker claimed that budgetary constraints robbed his flick of its brilliant philosophical insights, but with what’s in evidence, that very idea strikes one as utterly asinine.

why did i watch this movie?

This intro doesn’t mention a “phone booth,” but the poster does. Details below!

should you watch this movie?

The fact that is even a possibility says too much about this modern world.

highlight and low point

A “phone booth” was a “box-like kiosk containing a public payphone.” A “public payphone” was – I am not making this up – a coin-operated telephone that stood alone in public spaces, so people could use them to make calls.

In this movie, a “phone booth” is erected in a cemetery for some damn fool reason, and it is claimed that this device allows Abanaki’s Indian spirit to inhabit a terrible English actress, but she never uses the structure until far too late for this to have occurred.

Any claim that reincarnation is involved in this picture is spurious at best.

rating from outer space: F

Don’t Go in the House (1979)

directed by joseph ellison
turbine films

Well now, THIS is an unpleasant little flick. I mean, nothing in this picture is going to make a viewer feel very good, unless that viewer has got some serious issues. A few things may make the viewer laugh, sure, but this is a movie that is based around psychological problems brought about by severe child abuse, which it is suggested is itself a manifestation of psychological and/or emotional disability, and which itself is manifested in cruel, ugly, sadistic, misogynistic murder. (If you doubt that description, it involves a special room clad in stainless steel.) Oh, and extreme social dysfunction is added in just for kicks. On the upside, it’s got a disco theme underlying everything, and hallucinated ambulant corpses. Effectively dismal, better than I expected, and a reminder of how much I generally seem to enjoy films from this hopeless and beaten-down time period.

why did i watch this movie?

As a viewer with some serious issues, this is my kind of picture.

should you watch this movie?

If you’re any kind of fan of exploitation flicks, grindhouse features, movies from the late seventies, or psychological problems, absolutely. This is one of the sorts of cinematic spectacles being aped stylistically by contemporary productions such as The House of the Devil or, I dunno, We Are Still Here, maybe.

highlight and low point

Personally, I enjoyed the mostly fruitless efforts co-worker Bobby makes to try to befriend the murderous lunatic, as I thought Donny the murderous lunatic’s social awkwardness was portrayed brilliantly. In fact, I generally enjoyed Bobby’s presence throughout the proceedings, though I remain baffled by the fact that when he believes Donny is in danger, he fetches local parson Father Gerrity and not, you know, the police.

rating from outer space: a−

Bonus track: “Boogie Lightning.”