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|
|Based on||characters created|
by Debra Hill
|Music by||John Ottman|
|Edited by||Patrick Lussier|
|Distributed by||Dimension Films|
|Box office||$55 million |
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later is a 1998 American slasher film directed by Steve Miner, and starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Adam Arkin, Michelle Williams, and Josh Hartnett. The seventh installment in the Halloween franchise, it is a direct sequel to Halloween and Halloween II, dismissing the events that take place in the sequels Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers and Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. The plot follows a post-traumatic Laurie Strode who has faked her own death so that she can go into hiding from Michael Myers, who finds her working as the headmistress of a boarding school in northern California.
A sequel, Halloween: Resurrection, was released in 2002.
On October 29, 1998, in Langdon, Illinois, Dr. Loomis' former colleague, Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens) discovers that her house has been burglarized. Her teenage neighbor Jimmy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his friend Tony (Branden Williams) search the house and call the police. Marion discovers that the file on Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), Michael Myers' sister, is missing. She rushes over to warn Jimmy and Tony only to find them both dead. Michael Myers (Chris Durand), who had been presumed dead for the past twenty years, appears and attacks Marion before slitting her throat, killing her. The police arrive as Michael leaves the house with Laurie's file.
Meanwhile, Laurie Strode is living in California under an assumed name. Laurie has a successful career as the headmistress of Hillcrest Academy, a private boarding school where her son John (Josh Hartnett) is a student; she 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. She faked her death in a car accident and lives in fear that Michael may return. While a woman and her daughter are at a rest stop, Michael steals their car. At the academy campus, the students leave to attend a school trip to Yosemite, leaving only Laurie, Will, security guard Ronny Jones (LL Cool J), Laurie's son, John, (Josh Hartnett) and his girlfriend Molly Cartwell (Michelle Williams) 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.
Later that night, Laurie reveals her true identity to Will, when Michael arrives at Hillcrest and kills Charlie and Sarah. John and Molly are chased by Michael through the school grounds. Will and Laurie save John and Molly from Michael, and he and Laurie come face-to-face for the first time in twenty years. Will accidentally shoots Ronny, who had been patrolling the hallway. Michael appears and stabs Will in the back, killing him.
Laurie manages to get John and Molly to safety, before she engages in a showdown with Michael. Laurie stabs Michael numerous times and pushes him over a balcony. She prepares to stab him again, but Ronny, who survived the shooting, convinces her to stop. The authorities arrive at the scene and as Michael is loaded into a coroner’s van, Laurie steals the van with his body. Michael awakens and attacks Laurie, who stops short, causing Michael to fly through the windshield. Laurie drives the van into Michael, and she proceeds to drive off the road, down a steep hill. Laurie tumbles out, and Michael is pinned between the van and a fencepost. Laurie decapitates Michael with a fire axe, finally killing him. Laurie exhales in relief as the police arrive.
- Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode / Keri Tate
- Adam Arkin as Will Brennan
- Michelle Williams as Molly Cartwell
- Adam Hann-Byrd as Charlie Deveraux
- Jodi Lyn O'Keefe as Sarah Wainthrope
- Janet Leigh as Norma Watson
- Josh Hartnett as John Tate
- LL Cool J as Ronald "Ronny" Jones
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jimmy Howell
- Chris Durand as Michael Myers
- Nancy Stephens as Marion Chambers-Whittington
- 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, who was initially hired to write a script, and the story was situated as a sequel to the previous six films, thereby keeping the timeline's continuity. 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. The story was conceived as a sequel to the sixth film, thereby keeping the timeline's continuity, but producers ultimately decided to go with a retcon and ignore the previous three films.
The original working title for the film was Halloween 7: The Revenge of Laurie Strode.
In the film, the voice of Dr. Loomis is heard giving the same speech that he gave to Sheriff Brackett 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 writers of Halloween H20 were left with a dilemma when Curtis wanted to end the series, but Moustapha Akkad had a clause that legally wouldn't allow the writers to kill Michael Myers off. According to the Blu-ray released by Scream Factory, Curtis almost left the project just weeks before filming, until Kevin Williamson came up with the paramedic storyline and presented it to Akkad. Curtis finally agreed to be a part of the film under the condition that no footage hinting toward a sequel would be presented by the film, and that the audience would believe that Michael was dead until the inevitable sequel was announced. Halloween: Resurrection's first shot of Michael in the paramedic uniform was filmed the day after H20's principal photography ended, according to H20's editor, Patrick Lussier.
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 musical changes after being dissatisfied with Ottman's score, instating the song "What's This Life For" by Christian music group Creed, which is featured in the film during a party sequence and also during the end credits.
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.
Until the release of the 2007 film Halloween, Halloween H20 was 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 holds an approval rating of 52% on the internet review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes based on 60 reviews; the site's critical consensus reads "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."
The film was first released on DVD by Dimension Films on October 19, 1999 as part of the "Dimension Collector's Series". It was released in the UK on October 22, 2001 and re-released on April 25, 2011. It was also released 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, but rather a 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 on Blu-ray by Alliance 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 open matte 16:9 transfer, rather than the theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Its sound was downmixed to stereo, rather than the 5.1 theatrical mix. The Blu-ray received negative reviews, with Blu-ray.com calling it "a mess on every level". It was also released along with Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers in one Blu-ray collection.
It was released again on Blu-ray on September 23, 2014 in its original theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio and with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio in the Halloween: The Complete Collection 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.
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