- The Washington Times - Friday, January 28, 2022

One of pop culture’s most famed serial-killing horror icons took yet another blockbusting stab at live-action cinema and now gives ultra-high definition home entertainment fans an extra dose of his murderous ways in Halloween Kills: Extended Cut (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 109 minutes, $49.98).

In the 12th film of the franchise, viewers first get a nostalgia trip back to 1978 and the aftermath and subsequent capture of the eerily masked Michael Myers (aka The Shape) after his initial killing spree in Haddonfield, Illinois.

Flash to 2018, and in the same quiet town, the story picks up after the 11th film that had Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen Nelson (Judy Greer) and Karen’s daughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) leaving Michael for dead in a burning house.

Of course, the premiere boogie man escapes, quickly slaughtering a team of firefighters and having fun jamming a broken fluorescent bulb into the throat of an old woman and stabbing her husband before he starts another murderous rampage.

Enter all grown-up survivor Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), who Laurie babysat in that fateful 1978 Halloween night. He is determined to assemble a team of townsfolk to once and for all rid the world of Michael with the battle cry, “Evil dies tonight.”

Chaos ensues and the body count adds up as the Strode family affair again enters the fray now fueled by a mob mentality.

The film first offers another case study on the stupidity of humans in avoiding a lumbering killer, the wrong ways to hunt an apex predator and the head-shaking inability of victims to shoot a gun straight.

A missed opportunity is also found in the gratuitous story.

The emotional weight of a town living in the past and now controlled by a mob hunting the methodical and calm killer comes through clearly but often plays to the gore fanatics rather than allowing for better character development and plot nuances.

The multiple tips of the knife to the past are also admirable but another wasted effort. The director brings back the assistant of Dr. Loomis, Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens) who survived an encounter with Michael when he first escaped the insane asylum.

Her presence is at best a gimmick as she offers nothing to evolve the “Halloween” mythos and simply acts as knife cushion for Michael.

As much as I can appreciate the slasher genre film, especially loaded with spurting blood and guts, the geniuses in charge of preserving the myths should have transcended the cheap gore and given us some level of an intelligent story.

Viewers also get two cuts of the film — the theatrical version and this reviewed extended version that only adds four minutes to the mayhem.

The major difference is an alternate ending that clearly sets up, hopefully, a final confrontation between Laurie and her favorite monster. Stay tuned for the sequel later this year.

4K in action: Although this film would have benefitted in a black-and-white grungy print, twisted viewers will appreciate the crisp and colorful plunge into Michael’s bloodbath. The red palette runs the gamut of shades associated with fresh and dried blood, and splattered brains. Yup, nothing like watching a man getting his eyes gouged from their sockets in UHD.

Best extras: Viewers get a giddy optional commentary track starring Miss Curtis, Miss Greer and director David Gordon Green, who even gets a few words in from time to time acting like a father figure as the actresses revel and cower in the action.

Between the fun and gushing, listeners learn just how much Miss Curtis hates horror film and gory violence (jokingly questioning “what is wrong with you”); that the hospital sets were leftovers from “The Swamp Thing” television series; and that a photo of Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”) appears in the film.

Next, viewers get five production featurettes (roughly 30 minutes) covering recreating 1978 Haddonfield; the cast, characters and motivations; the practical visual effects; the Strode family; and the story theme of mob mentality and vigilantism driven by fear.

Tidbits plucked from the segments include a look at an eerie recreation of Michael‘s psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis (portrayed by a crew member with just a touch of make-up who happened to be a nearly spitting image of actor Donald Pleasance); the actual recreation of multiple Haddonfield houses on a sound stage (including the one where Michael grew up in); and duplicating, down to fine hairs, the mask Michael originally wore in 1978.

The least necessary featurette is a less-than-a-minute roundup of all 31 kills in the movie.

• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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