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Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Halloween

“Goosebumps 2” is also new to Blu-Ray this week.

LAURIE: It was the boogey man.

LOOMIS: As a matter of fact, it was.

So goes the exchange between terrorized babysitter Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and psychiatrist turned vigilante Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) at the end of director John Carpenter’s 1978 seminal slasher masterpiece “Halloween.” These happen to be some of my all-time personal favorite closing lines in all of movies, and coupled with shots of the empty streets and dark, quiet back yards in the Haddonfield, Illinois neighborhood where one Halloween evening turned into a bloodbath, it reiterates the theme of the movie: The boogeyman is real, he is out there, and he cannot be stopped.

Here we are forty years later, with 2018’s “Halloween,” directed by David Gordon Green, and the boogey man still haunts Laurie Strode. So much so that she has secluded herself to a house in the woods, built a shelter in the basement, and stocked up on enough weapons and ammo to make a local militia blush. So traumatized was Laurie by the events of Halloween 1978 that she raised her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) with the skills to shoot and survive, should the boogey man ever return.

Karen, who we learn was taken away from Laurie when she was twelve, resents her mother for the fear instilled in her during childhood and keeps Laurie at arm’s length. She is also deeply concerned about the connection between her daughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) and Laurie. They’re a bit too close for Karen’s comfort. Seems like the old joke has some truth to it: Why do grandparents and grandchildren get along so well? Because they have a common enemy.

Dr. Loomis has long since passed. In his place we have a former pupil and mentee of Loomis’s named Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer). He fills out the Loomis role nicely, being roughly the same age and stature as Donald Pleasence in the 1978 original. He also has a very similar, soothing tone of voice as Loomis, with a similar cadence. The very first time Sartain spoke, I swear that if I closed my eyes I could think it was Loomis.

Halloween2

Perhaps this was intentional by Green. He does a good job with providing fan service without going too overboard: a group of students walk to school together on a sidewalk with dead leaves spread everywhere; Allyson looks out the same classroom window Laurie looked out forty years before and sees someone across the street peering into the window at her; we visit the grave of Judith Myers, whose murder kicked off the deadly series of events decades ago; and the first murder Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney) commits on Halloween night 2018 is eerily similar to the one he started things off with forty years prior. He has to get that iconic knife from somewhere.

What I really like about this “Halloween”--above all of the other sequels, reboots, and remakes--is that it is respectful to the source material while at the same time advancing the characters and creating a fresh narrative around the typical “killer on the loose” scenario. By the time the movie reached its climax, I was left wondering who is more of a knife wielding maniac—Michael or Laurie? Or Allyson? The last shots of the movie are as eerie and as ominous as they were in the original. Once again, the theme is reinforced: The boogey man is real. He is out there. And he can’t be stopped. Buy it.

Fun Fact: Nick Castle, the original actor to play Michael Myers (aka The Shape) has a cameo appearance in this movie. It’s when Laurie first spots Michael through a window and he does his iconic head tilt. The breathing you hear during the movie (and at the end of the credits) is also Castle.

Also New This Week

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

The spookiest night of the year is the theme for this week’s releases. In addition to the above mentioned “Halloween,” we also have the more family-friendly “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween.” The movie is loosely related to the first “Goosebumps” movie from 2015 in that it’s based on the work of author R.L. Stine and Slappy the Puppet is back.

Slappy is the most grown up thing about the movie. For one, as voiced by Mick Wingert, he sounds an awful lot like the Crypt Keeper from the 1990s HBO television series “Tales from the Crypt.” Additionally, his master plan—to create a world of permanent Halloween everywhere—is the type of scheme a James Bond villain would concoct.

As usual for a kids movie, the adults are either wacky, like the over-decorating next door neighbor Mr. Chu (Ken Jeong), or they’re too down to earth and skeptical for their own good, like Kathy (Wendi McLendon-Covey), the overworked mother of teenagers Sarah (Madison Iseman) and Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor). Of course, only Sarah, Sonny, and their pal Sam (Caleel Harris) are on to Slappy’s plan to use a Tesla tower to spread perma-Halloween worldwide. It’s up to them to stop him.

“Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” is pitched just right. The teens in the movie actually look like teens and not like twenty-somethings pretending to be ten years younger than they are. The scares, such as they are, are appropriate for adolescents and shouldn’t cause too much trauma or give nightmares to anyone over the age of eight. Though, kids who love gummy bears might want to steer clear if they plan to continue loving the classic fruit flavored treats. While there isn’t much here for adults to latch on to, the little ones should be entertained. Rent it.

More New Releases: “Once Upon a Deadpool,” a re-edited PG-13 holiday-themed version of “Deadpool 2” featuring new footage with Ryan Reynolds and Fred Savage; “The Old Man and the Gun,” half-baked, slow-moving slog of a movie with the only decent thing about it being the performance of Robert Redford in the titular role; and “The Basement,” about a serial killer in L.A. who forces his victims to switch roles with him so that he can enact his own capture, torture and murder. 

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.

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