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Waffleween - Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

Directed by: Steve Miner
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnett, Adam Arkin, Michelle Williams, LL Cool J, Adam Hann-Byrd, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Janet Leigh, Nancy Stephens, Chris Durand

Twenty years after his original attempt to kill her, Michael Myers has finally tracked down his sister (Curtis).
There may have been a mere three year gap between "Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers" and this film's release but in that short time the landscape of the horror genre had changed immensely. The success of Wes Craven's "Scream" meant Hollywood was suddenly taking a serious interest in a genre it had avoided since the early eighties. What this meant for the "Halloween" franchise was a budget the producers had previously only dreamed of and a widespread theatrical release. Most importantly, with horror now respectable again, it meant a willingness on the part of Curtis to return to the role that made her career.
After the unmitigated disasters of the fifth and sixth installments, the decision was made to take the series back to its roots. By trying to create a new back-story in the previous two films, the producers had lost credibility with a disgruntled fan base. In attempting to flesh out the mythology of why Myers kills, they had compromised the character. As Dr. Loomis reminded us so often, Michael is simply evil, we don't need or want to know any more. Thankfully no such world-building is attempted here, in fact the movie cancels out the events of parts four through six. Laurie Strode (Curtis), is now the principal of a private school in California, having faked her death at some point in the past. We learn that Myer's body was never found after the hospital explosion which ended "Halloween 2" but our favorite stalker has kept himself out of the news for the last two decades, somehow managing to keep that mask and boiler suit combo clean through the years. Now, thanks to a raid on the house of nurse Chambers (Stephens) he learns his sister's whereabouts and sets off to finish what he started all those years ago.
At the time of its original release, my opinion on this film was luke-warm, feeling they had "Screamed" it up too much but I've grown to really admire it over the years. It actually stands out as the best of the nineties cycle of post-"Scream" slashers, though admittedly that's not much of an accolade. Apart from some annoying racial stereotyping there's nothing to irritate fans of the series. There are minor details such as a return to the original style of mask and "Mr. Sandman" playing over the opening that go a long way towards sating us "Halloween" nuts. The teen characters never get too irritating and are swept aside for the movie's final twenty minutes, setting up a thrilling game of  cat and mouse between Myers and his long-suffering sister. Miner does a solid job directing these sequences and gives us one of the best visual motifs of the entire series when Curtis slams a door in front of Myers and the two stare at each other through a port-hole shaped window. Durand's portrayal of the shape is second only to Nick Castle's in the original, playing the killer with the anger and impatience of someone who just wants to swat the fly that won't leave his kitchen.
"Halloween H20" is a must watch for anyone who loves good old fashioned stalkin' and slashin'. With the series now back on track would more thrilling installments await us? Err...
8/10 

Eric Hillis

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