Rated R - Running time: 1:25 - Released 8/5/98

Jamie Lee Curtis made her film debut in John Carpenter's "classic" slasher film, Halloween (1978), and also appeared in the first sequel, Halloween II (1981). The second film took up right where the first one left off; in fact, it was just a continuation of that same Halloween night in '78. Curtis played Laurie Strode, a 17-year-old babysitter caught in the path of homicidal maniac Michael Myers, who had spent 15 years in an asylum after butchering his big sister. In Halloween II we found out that Laurie was actually his little sister, and he was planning to give her the same treatment. Talk about sibling rivalry.

The subsequent sequels, through Halloween 6 (1995) did not feature Curtis, and are generally thought of as being sub-par continuations of Michael's story. He would lumber around in his featureless mask, and since he always attacked on Halloween night, would usually go unnoticed by everyone but his victims. It should be noted that Michael has been killed over and over again in numerous ways, but he has an irritating habit of not staying dead.

So now we're up to the present. It's 20 years later, Laurie (Curtis) has faked her own death, changed her name to Keri Tate, married, had a son, divorced, and become headmistress of a private school in northern California. Her son John (Josh Hartnett), who is a student at the school, has recently celebrated his 17th birthday. The entire student body leaves on its annual fall trip to Yosemite, but John stays behind, preferring to spend Halloween making out with his girlfriend Molly (Michelle Williams). So there is almost no one at the school except John, Molly, Keri, her boyfriend Will (Adam Arkin), who is the school counselor, and Ronny (LL Cool J), the security guard. And that's when that pesky Michael shows up.

Slasher movies are definitely not what they used to be. Back when I was a teenager, they were almost like porno movies gone bad. Teenagers were usually having sex when they were attacked by the local psycho, and one almost always saw a perfect pair of 18-year-old breasts being split in twain by a well-placed butcher knife. But, alas, those days are over. In the politically correct '90s, the sex and gore are kept to a minimum. Boooooring.

To tell the truth, I never cared much for even the first two Halloween movies, and though this film certainly has better acting, it is still a bland story. The plot of this new incarnation, by Robert Zappia and Matt Greenberg, is just barely more interesting than Carpenter's story of 1978. Director Steve Miner, who has several TV series and a couple of Friday The 13th movies to his credit, stuck to the same old premise of a Frankenstein-like Michael (played wordlessly by stuntman Chris Durand) swaggering around, killing and not dying. But Curtis's character shows a little more depth, and certainly more wrinkles, having lived for 20 years with her terrible memories recurring every time pumpkin season arrives.

The use of "jump" music is way overdone in this film, with a powerful chord every time someone starts to open a door. People are always appearing out of nowhere, and Keri seems to have as much ability to rise from the dead as Michael. Maybe it runs in the family. Nevertheless, if you're a Halloween fan, you're probably over 30, and this film will suit you--you need your sleep. ***

Copyright 1998 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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