Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
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20 Years Later
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Steve Miner|
|Produced by||Paul Freeman|
|Story by||Robert Zappia|
by Debra Hill
|Music by||John Ottman|
|Edited by||Patrick Lussier|
|Distributed by||Dimension Films|
|Box office||$85 million|
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later [a] is a 1998 American slasher film directed by Steve Miner, and starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Adam Arkin, Michelle Williams, and Josh Hartnett. It is the seventh installment in the Halloween film series, and is a direct sequel to Halloween and Halloween II. Its plot follows a post-traumatic Laurie Strode who has faked her own death so that she could go into hiding from Michael Myers, who finds her working as the headmistress of a boarding school in northern California. The film is set in a retconned timeline in which the events of the fourth, fifth, and sixth films in the Halloween series never occurred.
A sequel, Halloween: Resurrection, was released in 2002, with Curtis reprising her role as Strode.
On October 29, 1998, Dr. Sam Loomis' former colleague Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens) returns home to Langdon, Illinois, to find that her house had been burglarized. Her teenage neighbor James “Jimmy” Howell (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his friend Tony (Branden Williams) call the police. Howell decides to inspect the house, and finds that no one is inside. Marion discovers that the file on Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), Michael Myers' sister who is presumed dead in an automobile accident, is missing. She immediately rushes back over to Howell's house, where she finds him and Tony dead. Michael Myers (Chris Durand) suddenly appears and attacks Marion before slitting her throat, killing her. The police arrive just as Michael leaves the house with Laurie's file. Detectives Fitzsimonns (Beau Billingslea) and Sampson (Matt Winston) discuss what they know about Loomis' life. Having survived the explosion at Haddonfield Memorial Hospital in 1978, Loomis was under Marion's care at this house before dying, presumably from natural causes. However, even after nearly 20 years, Loomis refused to believe that Michael was dead, and devoted the rest of his life to studying all information about his former patient. The two investigators then enter his private study, completely untouched by Michael's burglary, and find that the walls are covered with photographs, sketches, and newspaper articles about Michael; from the murder of his sister Judith, to the stealing of her tombstone, to the murders in 1978, as well as articles on Laurie Strode.
Meanwhile, in California, Laurie is living a seemingly perfect life, having faked her death to avoid Michael, with her teenage son John (Josh Hartnett) and his girlfriend Molly Cartwell (Michelle Williams), and has a career as the headmistress of Hillcrest Academy under the name Keri Tate, a private boarding school where John attends; Laurie is also in a relationship with Hillcrest guidance counselor Will Brennan (Adam Arkin). However, Laurie is far from happy, as the tragic events from 1978 still haunt her and lives in fear that her brother may return. Laurie has tried to get her life together with the hope that Michael would never come after her again.
While a woman and her daughter are at a rest stop, the two narrowly avoid Michael, who steals the woman's car. At the academy campus, the students leave for an overnight field trip at the Yosemite National Park, leaving only Laurie, Brennan, security guard Ronny Jones (LL Cool J), and John and Molly and their friends Charlie Deveraux (Adam Hann-Byrd) and his girlfriend Sarah Wainthrope (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe), who are having a Halloween party in the school basement. Michael drives the car to the gates of Hillcrest and then abandons it; when Ronnie opens the gates to check on the car, Michael sneaks in. Michael briefly stalks Ronnie before going into the building. Charlie goes off into the kitchen and is killed by Michael. Sarah finds Charlie's body and tries to escape via the dumbwaiter, but Michael savagely crushes her leg before stabbing her to death, hanging her from a light. Laurie admits to Brennan her true identity, before realizing Michael has arrived at Hillcrest. Brennan and Laurie go in search of John and Molly, only for Brennan to shoot Ronnie, who had been patrolling the hallway, under the belief that he is Michael. Michael then appears and stabs Brennan, lifting him into the air. John and Molly go searching for their friends and are pursued by Michael through the school grounds. Laurie saves them as Michael corners them. Eventually, he and Laurie come face-to-face for the first time in two decades.
Laurie manages to get John and Molly to safety, before deciding to return to the school to face Michael once and for all. Laurie attacks Michael and stabs him numerous times before pushing him over a balcony. She prepares to stab him a second time, but a still alive Ronnie, who had only been grazed the bullet, convinces her to stop. The authorities arrive at the scene and Michael is loaded into an ambulance, Laurie steals the ambulance with his body. Michael re-animates and attacks Laurie, who swerves and the ambulance drives off the road. Michael tumbles out and is pinned between the ambulance and a fencepost. He reaches out to Laurie, wordlessly pleading for help, and Laurie approaches him warily. She seems to consider helping him, but looks into his eyes and abruptly reconsiders, and decapitates Michael with a fire axe, finally killing him. Police sirens are heard off in the distance as Laurie exhales in relief.
- Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode / Keri Tate
- Chris Durand as Michael Myers
- Michelle Williams as Molly Cartwell
- Josh Hartnett as John Tate
- Jodi Lyn O'Keefe as Sarah Wainthrope
- Adam Arkin as Will Brennan
- LL Cool J as Ronald "Ronny" Jones
- Adam Hann-Byrd as Charlie Deveraux
- Janet Leigh as Norma Watson
- Nancy Stephens as Marion Chambers-Whittington
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jimmy Howell
- Lisa Gay Hamilton as Shirley "Shirl" Jones
- Matt Winston as Matt Sampson
- Beau Billingslea as Detective Fitzsimmons
- Branden Williams as Tony Alegre
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The screenplay was based on a story by Kevin Williamson, and the story was situated as a sequel to the previous six films, thereby keeping the timeline's continuity. However, the screenplay was developed by Robert Zapia and Matt Greenberg to function as an alternate timeline, in which the previous three installments never happened and the Jamie Lloyd character, her daughter, never existed. When Williamson first outlined Halloween H20, he created the storyline in which Laurie Strode has faked her own death and taken on a new identity as a specific way of retconning the character's death in Halloween 4. In Williamson's original treatment, there are scenes in which a Hillcrest student does a report on Michael Myers' killing spree, mentioning the death of Jamie, complete with flashbacks to 4–6 mentioned in the text. "Keri"/Laurie responds to hearing the student's report on the death of her daughter by going into a restroom and throwing up.
In a controversial decision, director Steve Miner retconned the series with Halloween H20. This installment retained Laurie's faked death from Williamson's treatment, revealing that she did so in order to avoid detection by her relentless brother. Under a new identity, Laurie has fled to Summer Glen, California, along with her only son, John Tate (Josh Hartnett). However, to focus more on the Laurie Strode character, the events of parts 4, 5, and 6 are written out of the continuity, thus erasing the Jamie Lloyd character from the canon.
Loomis' legacy is explored in Halloween H20, where Myers attacks Loomis' retirement home and Marion Whittington, the nurse who cared for him in his final years. During the prologue credits, the voice of Dr. Loomis is heard giving the same speech that he gave to Sheriff Brackett (Charles Cyphers) when they were inside Michael's abandoned childhood home in the original film. Audio clips from Halloween were initially considered when playing his monologue. However, instead of the voice of Donald Pleasence himself, sound-alike voice actor Tom Kane provides this voice-over.
John Carpenter was originally in the running to be the director for this particular follow-up since Curtis wanted to reunite the cast and for the crew of the original to have active involvement in it. It was believed that Carpenter opted out because he wanted no active part in the sequel; however, this is not the case. Carpenter agreed to direct the film, but demanded a three-picture deal with Dimension Films. Carpenter’s bargain was denied by the Weinsteins, and therefore no deal took place.
Scream writer/producer Kevin Williamson was involved in various areas of production. Although not directly credited, he provided rewrites in character dialogue and helped make alterations and sketches of the script. He also came up with the paramedic storyline that explained how Michael survived the ending, which was partially filmed the day after principal photography ended and later utilized in the film’s sequel. The original working title for the film was Halloween 7: The Revenge of Laurie Strode.
The original music score was composed by John Ottman, but some music from Scream was added to the chase scenes later on during post-production. Ottman expressed some displeasure about this action in an interview featured on the Halloween: 25 Years of Terror DVD released in 2006. Ottman's score was supplemented with Marco Beltrami's scores from Scream, Scream 2, and Mimic by a team of music editors as well as new cues written by Beltrami during the final days of sound mixing on the film. Dimension Films chief Bob Weinstein demanded the musical changes after being dissatisfied with Ottman's score.
No official soundtrack was ever released for the film, but a compilation album by Ottman was released in the United States and Germany under the Varèse Sarabande label and includes the original score by Ottman and numerous other cuts.
Alternate television version
In February 2003, the FX network premiered an alternate version of the film, adding and extending footage not seen in the original release. It has yet to be released anywhere else, and the deleted scenes can be found on YouTube.
In terms of total gross, Halloween H20 is the highest-grossing film in the Halloween franchise. It was released on August 5, 1998 in the US and later in many other countries. H20 cost $17 million to produce and returned $55,041,738 in domestic box office sales with an opening weekend of $16,187,724, and $24,753,129 since its Wednesday debut. As for video/DVD rentals, the film grossed over $21 million.
Halloween H20 received an approval rating of 51% on the internet review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes based on 57 reviews; the site's general consensus is "Halloween: H20 is the best of the many sequels, yet still pales in comparison to the original Halloween." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B-" on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film two out of four stars, while Lawrence Van Gelder of The New York Times wrote that "the throwaway jokes are few and far between, and after a pre-title sequence reintroduces Michael and shows just how far up suspense and thrills can be ratcheted, Halloween H20 declines into the routine," adding: "Nobody is going to be surprised by who lives and who dies." Bob Graham of the San Francisco Chronicle praised the film's referentiality, as well as Curtis's performance, writing: "Slasher films often seem merely a joke, and with good reason, but in this case that's too bad. Curtis, with her plain, unglamorous appearance, rises to the occasion and delivers as compelling a performance as any this summer." Writing for the Austin Chronicle, Marc Savlov said of the film: "Miner strives to imbue the film with the requisite autumnal haze of the original but then gives up midway through and instead resorts to the standard stalk 'n' slash formulas. It's heartening to see a beloved character revived like this (at one point during the screening I attended, audience members actually stood up and cheered), but H20—for all its good, gory intentions—is barely a shadow of the original."
In the United States, Halloween H20 was released on VHS and laserdisc by Buena Vista Home Video. In the United Kingdom, the film was released on VHS in 1998, a re-release was made on September 1, 2000.
On DVD, the film was first released by Dimension Films on October 19, 1999 as part of the "Dimension Collector's Series" on DVD. It was released in the UK on October 22, 2001 and re-released on April 25, 2011. It was also released exclusively in the UK in 2004, as part of the complete collection, consisting of the first eight films, a set that is now out of print. It was re-released in the US by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment on April 26, 2011, although, it does not contain its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, it now features a new 1.66:1 widescreen transfer. Echo Bridge later re-released the film in a triple feature set with Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers and Halloween: Resurrection.
Halloween H20 was released in Canada for the first time ever on Blu-ray by Alliance released along with Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers and Halloween: Resurrection on January 12, 2010. On May 3, 2011 it was released by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment in the US but with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (not cropped from the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, but rather open-matte due to the film being shot in Super 35). It was also released along with Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers in one Blu-ray collection.
It was again released on September 23, 2014 (in its original theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio) in the Halloween: The Complete Collection Blu-ray box set from Anchor Bay Entertainment, with a disc produced by Scream Factory, featuring a new commentary with Jamie Lee Curtis and Steve Miner and extra features including behind the scenes footage and archival interviews not seen on any other release.
- Pronounced as H2o, not the number 20 for the former one.
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