Sure the big deal this year was Hocus Pocus 2, but what other family and family-unfriendly treats did the season have in store? I’m covering everything I’ve seen so far this October, with a few more are yet to be released, so I’ll add them to this list as they hit on the way to Halloween. And don’t forget to check out my complete list of Halloween horror movies on the holiday horror page.
CURSE OF CROM: THE LEGEND OF HALLOWEEN (2022)
If you just want to revel in the holiday spirit while watching a group of kids being terrorized by a demonic creature created with practical effects, this charmer is the movie for you. I really hope it gets a physical disc release so I can add it to my Halloween movie collection.
The opening street shots make it clear that the filmmakers wanted autumnal authenticity and waited until the actual season to film these crucial setup moments.
Our main girl works food delivery and has a very strange old man customer. Little does she know that his “family” issues are going to become her problem.
When a freaky creature begins appearing outside the windows of her and her friends at night (shrouded by plenty of eerie Halloween color lighting and fog machines), they must uncover the truth behind a curse placed on the old man’s family that is now going to terrorize their whole town unless they can put a stop to it.
And it involves doing a ritual on Halloween night to send the demon back to where it came from…
An instant Halloween fave for me. Doesn’t hurt that this cutie looks like a younger version of The Rock.
THEY SEE YOU (2022)
This one comes from the director of the gritty Halloween slasher The Wicked One. I almost did a blind buy of They See You on DVD, but I’m glad I rented it instead, because it’s really not a Halloween winner for me.
It attempts to capture the spirit of 80s horror flicks and Halloween horror flicks, but it’s incredibly dull for a majority of its running time. A major problem is that the main characters are simply not charismatic–they seem like a bunch of uninterested, bored kids living in a small town (which is what they are). As a result, every scene, every word of dialogue, and most interactions and reactions are just flat.
Three brothers are left alone on Halloween, and in a classic 80s moment, hop on their bicycles to the sounds of a synthesized score. They run into their bullies, and then decide to steal a mysterious magic board from a shop owned by two monster hunters. These two monster hunters are the highlight of the film and bring all the personality, but sadly they’re underutilized.
As you’d imagine, the brothers and their friends use the board. This unleashes some ghouls from another dimension…who are just guys in masks. Neon Maniacs this isn’t.
That brings us up to this problematic timeline, with little going on in between:
40 minutes in the ghouls show up at their house
57 minutes in the ghouls remove their masks and aren’t all that ghoulish underneath, so they’re even less frightening once they put the masks back on for the rest of the movie
77 minutes in there’s a gory kill–the first gory kill
With only about twenty minutes left, the only real highlight of this film proves to be a brief but awesome massacre when the ghouls crash a Halloween party. Bummer.
CURSED FRIENDS (2022)
If there’s one thing this movie does right, it’s tap into the nostalgia for crass comedies of the early 2000s. References to the era abound, fart and male genitalia jokes offer hit and miss funny moments, and the soundtrack offers up songs like “I Want You Back” by *NSYNC and “I Wanna Be Bad” by Willa Ford.
The film is also ripe with problems. The first is that so much of the humor doesn’t land. There is some funny stuff here, but not enough to keep up the pace and energy. As a result, the cast tries to overcompensate by being even more colorful and charismatic with their performances, which just comes across as loud and obnoxious at times because the material they’re delivering doesn’t back it up.
But the bigger issue is the inability of the film to stick with a plot. Our main girl comes home to try to land a job and reconnect with her friends. In a flashback we see that 20 years ago they scored a weird book that predicts the future from none other than Kathy Griffin as a witchy woman whose doorbell they rang while trick or treating .
In the present day, they find the book and suddenly things start going wrong for each of them. They begin to realize they are cursed and have to figure out a way to break the curse.
Sounds pretty straightforward, but the movie is all over the place. Scenes most often feel like a string of skits rather than a cohesive storyline with a trajectory. The cast moves from one location to another merely to give us nods to a variety of horror subgenres (slasher, possession, cult, etc.) with no real relevance.
It’s quite tedious, and not even the Halloween theme, some campy moments with special guest star Joey Fatone as himself (who reminds us every time he’s in a comedy that he should be cast in more comedies), and a few horror comedy elements can bring it together.
This is a Comedy Central original, and it most definitely feels like a messy TV movie. The diverse cast will most likely annoy the woke-whiners (Black girl, gay guy, etc.), but the fact is this type of casting has been a thing for at least two decades and has only become an issue since conservatives made woke a dirty word. If anything, the woke-whiners should be cheering on the fact that the minorities are presented with the traditional, tired stereotypes conservatives can appreciate.
I just find it tragic that the film sets up this whole scenario where the gay dude ends up in an occult ritual surrounded by naked men–and then seems to demonstrate that the scene was not written by a gay guy, because the raunchy comedy places it could have gone if it had been. However, it still lands this film on the does the gay guy die? page.
SPIRIT HALLOWEEN: THE MOVIE (2022)
Going into Spirit Halloween: The Movie, you need to realize that this isn’t an adult horror movie. This is a Disney/RL Stine style Halloween spook flick with a family friendly vibe, and as such it definitely succeeds. It could easily become an annual viewing selection along with the likes of When Good Ghouls Go Bad, Hocus Pocus, And Ernest Scared Stupid.
And of course, it’s also a treat for Spirit Store fandom. Surprisingly, it’s not much of an advertisement for the store’s products, mostly because the store has become heavily focused on movie licensed products in the past few years (It, Halloween, Hocus Pocus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Trick ‘r Treat, etc.). It would be promoting everything but its own brand if it fully stocked the store in the movie with its current inventory.
The premise is basic and perfect for this kind of flick. Christopher Lloyd was a greedy developer who intended to kick a woman off her land, so she worked some magic on him.
The film then does just what these throwbacks to the vibe of 80s kids movies do–shows a trio of boys riding their bicycles through a town drenched in fall foliage. Awesome. The boys are on the verge of relinquishing their grip on childhood, and trick or treating is for kids, so they decide to sneak into a Spirit Halloween store that pops up in a creepy lot and spend the night on October 31st.
The fun begins when they unleash Christopher Lloyd’s spirit and he begins to terrorize them by possessing one store display monster after another.
It’s definitely a blast watching Lloyd voice a bunch of animatronic ghouls, and the kids are all capable of carrying the film. Not to mention, the film delivers just the right amount of Halloween scares and suspense the whole family can appreciate.
Adding to the fun is Marla Gibbs as a creepy grandmother, and Rachel Leigh Cook, who doesn’t look like she’s all that much older than 20 years ago yet is playing the mother of a teenager. Weird.
THE CURSE OF BRIDGE HOLLOW (2022)
It’s like Netflix heard Spirit Halloween was going to make a movie in which all the figures in their store come to life and decided they would do one better by making a movie in which all the figures on people’s lawns came to life for Halloween.
The Curse of Bridge Hollow is the absolute best Halloween movie of 2022 for me. It does Spirit Halloween one better. It has all the holiday magic Hocus Pocus 2 lacks. It stars Marlon Wayans, who tones down his A Haunted House style of comedy just enough to not steal the show from everyone else, particularly the girl playing his daughter, who totally kicks monster butt.
Halloween spirit abounds as the family moves into a new house in a small town where everyone loves Halloween. The daughter soon learns of an urban legend that haunts the town…and accidentally unleashes it, which causes the decor on neighbors’ lawns to start coming to life.
Loads of humor, chase scenes, Halloween spirit, and monster battles keep the pace racing as father and daughter try to track down a spell that will put the curse they’ve unleashed to rest.
The variety of ghouls and creeps is fantastic, the soundtrack includes 80s tracks like “Somebody’s Watching Me”, “Freaks Come Out at Night”, and “Highway to Hell”, there are plenty of familiar comedy faces in supporting roles, Kelly Rowland gets a chase scene, there’s an awesome haunted maze chase scene, and there’s a perfect reminder that the zombie cry of “Brains!” never gets old.
I want this movie released on Blu-ray immediately. And I was also reminded that Marlon Wayans has become such a DILF I need to pull out my A Haunted House Blu-rays and watch his sweet ass bang Annabelle again.
TERROR TRAIN (2022)
Any remake these days has a conundrum. If it strays too far from the original plot, fans revolt. If it is a basic scene-for-scene remake, people say, “Why did they even bother?”
Terror Train essentially goes for a rubber stamp remake that just mixes things up a bit during the denouement so fans of the original won’t guess the killer.
The major changes? This is a Halloween party on a train instead of a New Year’s Eve party, landing this film in a different section of my holiday horror page. There are more people of color as compared to the mostly white cast of the original, and there’s a fleeting gay kiss just to piss off the anti-woke crowd…which also earns this film a spot on the does the gay guy die? page.
And instead of a Groucho Marx mask, which would mean nothing to a young modern audience, the killer opts for a menacing clown costume. Eh. They really couldn’t come up with something a bit more original?
Speaking of costumes, most of the standout costumes from the original film are represented in the remake.
Every major memorable scene from the original is recreated. And even the car in which Jamie Lee Curtis battles with the killer at the end of the original is replicated for the remake.
The suspense scenes and kills are pretty good, but if you’ve seen the original film they don’t quite have a major impact because you’ve get that “been there, done that” feeling. It’s the final chase and battle—the only time the film somewhat changes things up—that stood out to me, in large part because the killer gave a campy good psycho performance.
I even discovered a new now wave song for my Future Flashbacks show: “Neon Affair” by Splize.
10/31 PART III (2022)
I was a big fan of the first 10/31 anthology, and Part 2 had its moments, but there’s a noticeable downgrading in quality with each new installment. This third entry has little in the way of unique or intriguing tales, there are no quality scares or suspense, and there’s not much in the way of atmosphere or even Halloween fun.
The movie runs 85 minutes long, and the first 8 minutes are comprised of some fun faux horror movie trailers. Then the horror hostess form the previous two films introduces four new tails.
1st story – a guy setting up a Halloween haunted attraction in his house buys a mummy figure from a thrift shop, and it comes to life and goes on a murderous rampage.
2nd story – every time people move into a particular house, they are killed by a figure all in black.
3rd story – adult friends in costume decide to sneak into the home of a mean old man and terrorize him. Instead, they are killed off one by one by someone in a mask.
4th story – this is the only story that doesn’t simply line up a bunch of victims to be killed by a threatening figure. Okay, it does do that, but at least the plot is slightly more interesting than the others. A group of female friends gathers to kill something they’ve captured that we can’t see. It escapes. It’s the shortest tale, but it’s nice and gory.
Overall, the tales feel more cheaply produced than the previous films with little effort made to write anything that would stick with you.
HALLOWEEN ENDS (2022)
I don’t usually cover blockbuster horror flicks and franchise titles, but considering this controversial installment literally made me laugh out loud a few times despite taking itself very seriously, I figured I’d jump into the fray.
For starters, there will most assuredly be true lovers of this bizarre latest final chapter of the never-ending saga, there will be diehard Halloween and Michael Myers fans who will adore anything with those names attached to it, and there will be Jamie Lee Curtis fans who believe she can do no wrong so therefore Halloween Ends will be a perfect film by default. But there are also sure to be a bunch of outspoken, online voices with oh so edgy opinions that will be contrary just for the hell of it or to gain attention and hits on their social media platforms by praising this installment to high heaven, claiming it’s daring and innovative and not just another recycled Michael Myers plot.
It’s not innovative whatsoever. It essentially dumps Jamie Lee Curtis into a Rob Zombie white trash Halloween installment (there are even loads of inbred kids that look like the offspring of Rob and Sheri Moon Zombie running around Haddonfield) then mashes it up with Satan’s Little Helper. Indeed, Michael Myers, indiscriminate killer of anyone who gets in his path, takes pause this time around and decides, “This one who has invaded my lair is different. This one shall be my apprentice!” Meanwhile, when Freddy Krueger made a body/brain agreement with Jesse almost forty years ago, people shit all over it. Really, what hope is left for the world of horror when Michael Myers is like, “I’m getting too old for this shit. You do it”?
Halloween Ends also seems to give a lot of nods to Halloween 4, which has been escalated to the level of masterpiece thanks to this newest trilogy showing us how to really ruin a franchise. The house Laurie now lives in with her granddaughter Allyson is reminiscent of the house from Halloween 4. And considering Michael has been MIA for four years, perhaps the old blind man who snagged him from the river at the beginning of Halloween 5 is the one who tucked him away in a sewer pipe for all that time…yet no one is the wiser to his presence in Haddonfield…except for an old homeless man that reminded me of the old blind man from Halloween 5.
Anyway, Laurie is determined to let go of the past and not feed the evil–she’s so zen, even if everyone in town is like, “Bitch, this is all your fault!” Laurie seems to be really coping with all her Halloween tragedies of the past and not even concerned that Michael is still out there somewhere (neither is anyone else). Laurie is all smiles, totally in the Halloween spirit, has not a single booby trap in her Halloween 4 house, and even welcomes Lindsey Wallace into her home to carve pumpkins like it’s 1978 all over again. Sadly, the script was written before the creators discovered that Kyle Richards rox, so they gave her about five lines total in this whole movie, most of which are delivered while she’s at work in a loud bar.
A majority of the film is about a dude Allyson is dating who has a messed up past just like her (which serves as the opener and one of the only thrilling parts of the whole movie). We kind of get the message the residents of Haddonfield make people into monsters by clinging to anger, grief, and violence and passing it on. The filmmakers seriously decided to jump on the elevated horror bandwagon for the newest final installment of this long-running franchise (I guess being horror trendy has become a trend when you consider H20 followed in the footsteps of Scream back in 98). There’s a load of character study here as we see that no one can keep their shit together in this once quaint, quiet suburban town–the same exact chaos that plagued Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2. And believe me, as much as I thought the Zombie films were crap 15 years ago, I just rewatched them in both theatrical and director’s cuts back-to-back to give them yet another chance (twice the chance, actually), and none of that helped. They’re still mostly a disaster, so I can guarantee I will feel the same about this installment in another 15 years, despite the insistence online that this is going to be worshipped as a cult classic in years to come.
Perhaps Halloween Ends should have been called Haddonfield, not only because the town is once again the star, but also because the film has strayed so far from celebrating the holiday season while delivering its horror experience that it has completely lost its identity. There’s also a clear effort here to fully separate the franchise from Laurie Strode at last in hopes of making the horrors go on without her for years to come. It’s reminiscent of the way they tried to hand the responsibility off to Jamie Lloyd in Halloween 4, first making her the final girl then having her re-enact Michael’s childhood clown costume kill so she could be groomed to grow up to be Miss Myers, an idea they scrapped when it was time to write the script for Halloween 5.
But back to this trailer trash in a town tragedy. All the trauma porn eventually leads to a few kills that I rolled my eyes through because Michael had his apprentice trailing behind him. And when Laurie finally confronts Michael, you once again have to marvel at how many fucking stupid mistakes she makes for a final girl who has been planning for this moment for forty years.
Even so, their final battle really does kick ass. However, I lose all respect for Laurie’s sense of judgement when she makes some speech about Michael being just a mortal man, not the boogeyman. Bitch, this dude was left in a burning basement in 2018 and climbed out to slaughter a calendar worth of hunky firemen, got sliced and diced by the whole damn town in the middle of the street later that evening, got back up, killed them all, killed your daughter, and became a sewer rat for four years.
Remember when the creators of this trilogy insisted Myers wasn’t going to be some supernatural powerhouse in their franchise then barely made it through the first half hour of Halloween 2018 before proving that idea was an impossibility?
The finale bringing together the whole town once again (except Lindsey. WTF?) to finish Michael off for good is as logical as it is laughable, but I’m disappointed the creators didn’t just flip us one last bird and have the whole town chanting “Evil dies tonight!” as the screen faded to black for the final frame.
When it comes to horror movies, I inevitably judge them on whether or not I can go back for them again and again like the sweet saltiness of chocolate covered potato chips. Yummy. I’m talking about the kind of movie that sucks me in every time as scene after scene keeps me looking forward to what’s coming up next as the film progresses. Does Halloween Ends do that? Hell no! I waited over a damn hour for even a hint of horror thrills as I was forced to wade through the emotions of a bunch of miserable people who refused to just let it go like Laurie Strode.
You know what moment still sticks with me and packed more of a punch than anything that took place in this latest trilogy? That instant in H2O when Laurie comes face-to-face with Michael for the first time in 20 years with just a thin pane of glass between them. Still gives me chills every time. Not once did a scene in this trilogy grab me like that.
Picture it. Octobers future. I want to get in the holiday mood with a Michael Myers film. One thing I know for sure…it ain’t ever gonna be Halloween Ends.
And now…on to the bonus. A look at the novelization of the movie!
HALLOWEEN ENDS NOVELIZATION
When I was a tween in the early 80s, I adored the novelizations of Halloween and Halloween II because they added more scenes, more characterization, and more background story that you didn’t get from the movies.
The novelizations of Halloween 2018 and Halloween Kills had hints of that, but both felt mostly like simple prose adaptations of the film scripts.
Now we come to Halloween Ends. Even though I wasn’t a fan of this trilogy at all, and especially this final film (to be honest—I’d be fine if they never made another Halloween film again, yet I’ll totally keep watching if they do!), I couldn’t wait to read this novelization. I was really hoping it would fill in so many of the gaps I felt made Halloween Ends an absolute mess. I am thrilled to say it totally delivered. It also offers more focus on Michael and more kills by him than the movie does. Whether you loved the movie or hated it, I’d highly recommend reading this book. However, if you aren’t a reader and just want to know what you’re missing, I’m going to give you a basic breakdown of the additions to the plot. In other words, you need to have seen the movie to read on, because there are assumptions that you’ll understand the references I’m making in terms of how they apply to the film. Not to mention, they’re loaded with spoilers for the movie. So let’s get into it.
-the book begins at the end of Halloween Kills with a little more coverage of how Allyson’s night ended, and includes Michael murdering two sanitation workers the next morning so he can take their garbage truck to escape.
-there’s a bit more of Corey’s backstory to further demonstrate that he has a dysfunctional family and lives on the wrong side of the tracks compared to the couple for which he was babysitting. His mother also has more influence on him throughout the main plot.
-there’s more transitional information as to how Laurie went from mad Michael hunter to totally at peace.
-there are Michael Myers conspiracy theories spread by the DJ who later dies in the movie, and they are a total nod to the story of Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers.
-there’s a flashback to a mental patient that was used by crazy Dr. Sartain from Halloween 2018 to awaken Michael in Smith’s Grove…and how that mental patient escaped when Michael did on the night the bus crashed in 2018. That mental patient then becomes the man who discovers Michael in the sewer and cares for him. When Corey falls off the bridge, this mental patient (who just appears to be a homeless man in the movie) takes him to the sewer to sacrifice to Michael (we’ll get to that later).
-in her writings, Laurie recounts communications with Dr. Loomis, who worked with another young male patient inspired to kill by the film Roadgames (a Jamie Lee Curtis film from the tail end of her early slasher days—wink wink). He ended up in Smith’s Grove and Michael’s evil spread to him.
-in a flashback to the manhunt for Michael in 2018, he escapes to the woods and encounters a little girl being held captive by her abusive father. She is then inspired to kill her father using Michael’s knife. Michael then goes and hides in a meatpacking plant.
-flashback to Halloween 2019. The girl who tried to steal Allyson’s boyfriend on Halloween night 2018 at the party goes to the meatpacking plant with her new boyfriend to park and have sex in his Plymouth Fury. Believers in the conspiracy theory that Halloween Ends is a remake of Christine rejoice. And by the way, those people are so wrong. Halloween Ends is clearly a remake of Grease 2. Think about it. Anyway, the couple discovers a decaying body of one of the sanitation workers then Michael Myers appears and chases them into the meatpacking plant…a chase that ends in his sewer pipe lair. It is there that the escaped mental patient reconnects with him and begins feeding him victims like Seymour satisfying Audrey II’s needs. Obviously this is a remake of Little Shop of Horrors.
-the passing of the evil from Michael to Corey when they meet in the sewer is more descriptive and better defined so the idea that Corey has taken on a new “Shape” is more believable. The idea of “The Shape” and taking on a new “shape” is stressed repeatedly throughout the novel. However, this is the point where the idea that Michael wasn’t supposed to be supernatural in this trilogy’s story arc is proven to be bullshit. If Michael Myers feeds on the energy of his kills to stay alive and can pass his evil on to others…He’s. Fucking. Supernatural.
-Michael thinks of the first night he killed in 1963, and Laurie thinks of Ben Tramer fleetingly. We also learn one of the bully punks is related to Ben Tramer (remember, in this timeline Halloween II never happened, so Ben Tramer didn’t die).
-Lindsey has a few more interactions with both Laurie and Allyson, plus she gets a brief suspense scene, which she totally deserved in the movie after delivering one of the best scenes in Halloween Kills. Most importantly, she’s present for the grinder ending, whereas she was missing from it in the movie.
-flashback to 1982 when Frank, the cop Laurie likes, was in a competition with another cop to win her affections. The other guy took her home, but she only went along with him so she could ask him to kill Michael Myers at Smith’s Grove. He refused.
-there’s an unnecessary brief scene of kids holding a séance to resurrect Michael Myers at the site of his old house, but it does play into the idea that evil is attractive and infectious.
-it’s spelled out that Michael kills Corey in order to take back all the evil he gave him so that he’ll be better equipped to fight Laurie.
-Since it didn’t happen in the movie, I was hoping the book ending would change to have Laurie dive into the grinder. Instead, the book implies at the end that the evil transfers to Laurie and she will be the new Michael. Do they really think Jamie Lee Curtis would come back for another trilogy as the killer? Do we? Should we start a GoFundMe now?
And yet despite all the wonderful embellishments, added plot elements, and inner thoughts of characters that enrich this story, I still couldn’t buy it when that first kill came with Corey and Michael working as a team. Even more amplified in novel format is the fact that after they start killing together they just totally split up and go off and do their own things. It’s rather sad how quickly their relationship gets to the point where they don’t need each other anymore!