Posts Tagged ‘Danielle Harris’

31. Halloween 4 (1988)

Director: Dwight H. Little

Starring: Donald Pleasence, Ellie Cornell, Danielle Harris

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once tried to kill off Sherlock Holmes, but his readers wouldn’t have it. So,  Doyle had to come up with an explanation as to why it had only appeared that Holmes and his nemesis, Professor Moriarty, had apparently died together from a fall off a cliff. After the abysmal failure of “Halloween III: Season of the Witch,” the late Moustapha Akkad was left with a similar task to Doyle’s. The final scene of “Halloween II” saw both the psychotic, knife-wielding killer Michael Myers and his ‘Holmes,’ Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence), apparently burning to death in a gas fire explosion at  Haddonfield Memorial Hospital. Although Jamie Lee Curtis had given him an out by declining to return, Akkad was still left with the unenviable task of finding a way of explaining how his series’ other two main characters could have survived.

At the film’s beginning (which was originally to have included an introduction explaining what REALLY happened at the end of Film #2), we learn that neither Dr. Loomis nor Michael Myers had perished in the fire at the hospital. It is now ten years after that brutal night, and Michael is in heavy bandages and lies in a coma at Ridgemont Federal Sanitarium, from where he is being prepped for transfer to Smith’s Grove. The ambulance crew make the mistake of mentioning the existence of his niece, Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris), and Michael suddenly awakens and kills everyone in the ambulance.

Learning of the incident, a heavily scarred Dr. Loomis is quickly on the scene, where he and others find the ambulance lying on its side in a creek, twisted and blood-stained. Although the severity of the wreck makes it impossible to tell who’s who among the casualties, Dr. Loomis knows Michael is not among them. Despite the sheer implausibility of anyone suddenly waking from a decade-long coma with muscles that haven’t atrophied, this does make for a visually exciting beginning. Loomis knows Michael will be heading back to Haddonfield to hunt down his niece, and races to warn Sheriff Meeker (Beau Starr) to be ready for Myers’ impending arrival.

After locating Jamie and her older stepsister, Rachel (Ellie Cornell), Loomis and Meeker are horrified to discover that Michael has annihilated everyone inside the police station. It is at this time that a band of vigilantes from the local bar arrive on the scene and take it upon themselves to track down and kill Michael. This prompts the Sheriff to call for official police reinforcements, blockading Rachel, Jamie, Brady (Sasha Jenson) and Kelly (Kathleen Kinmont) inside the Meeker home. It isn’t long before Michael shows up at the house, killing a deputy, Kelly (pinning her to a wall by shoving a shotgun through her!) and then Brady, and chasing Rachel and Jamie up onto the roof in one of the film’s more memorable scenes.

Both of the girls eventually fall to the ground below, and Dr. Loomis escorts Jamie to the schoolhouse, trying unsuccessfully to subdue Michael. This leads to perhaps the most preposterous scene in the whole movie (and yes, that includes Michael awakening from his coma with full strength and the aforementioned shotgun impalement). The group of vigilantes arrive in their truck to take the girls out of town, and thus out of danger. But Michael has other ideas, hitching a ride on the truck unbeknownst to everyone. From there, he somehow manages to individually dispose of every single one of the vigilantes without the rest of them ever hearing a sound. Never mind that he makes a ton of noise accomplishing this feat. He eventually kills the driver, too, (and in the movie’s bloodiest scene of all) by ripping the man’s neck wide open. Eww.

Rachel takes control of the truck and rams right into Michael, knocking him senseless several feet away. Although she is told to stay in the truck, Jamie gets out anyway and touches hands with her uncle. Sheriff Meeker then arrives with the squad of deputies, who raise their guns just in time to keep Michael from stabbing his niece from behind, sending him crashing into an old mine shaft. No way he’s getting out of there, right? Hey, if he can survive getting freaking burned alive in a gas fire…!

Back at the Carruthers home, all seems quiet. Even Dr. Loomis, although injured from the battle at the schoolhouse, appears to be all right. Jamie’s stepmom decides to draw her a bath. Jamie is still wearing her Halloween costume, which looks strikingly similar to the one worn by her uncle the night he killed his older sister Judith in 1963. Sure enough, Jamie puts on her mask, grabs a pair of scissors from the next room, enters the bathroom and stabs her stepmom. The shrieking alarms Dr. Loomis, who races to find Jamie at the top of the stairs, covered in her stepmom’s blood, and still wielding the scissors. Mortified by the scene in front of him, Dr. Loomis instinctively pulls out his gun, intending to kill Jamie. Sheriff Meeker wrestles the gun from Loomis’s hand and spins around to look up at Jamie. Rachel and Jamie’s stepfather arrive just afterwards. Everyone is in shock. Loomis in particular is both horrified and saddened, crumpling to the floor and able only to utter the word “No!” over and over. It appears that Evil has been passed (rather than destroyed) from uncle to niece and that Innocence has been corrupted once again.

What would have otherwise been an okay, yet totally unnecessary sequel is made ten times better by its conclusion. No matter how many times I have personally seen it, that final image of 11 year-old Danielle Harris wearing the bloody Halloween clown costume and holding up the pair of scissors in striking position is hard to erase from my mind. I just wish the producers would have had the guts to run full steam with this ending into the next (inevitable) sequel, because I think then that “Halloween 5” could have had the potential to become the most terrifying film in the franchise, or at least the best of the sequels.

“Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers” could have benefited from a little MORE restraint in the gore department, methinks. A couple of the deaths in this film are just plain ridiculous (in particular the previously mentioned Kelly Meeker). It’s Zombie Jason of the latter “Friday the 13th” sequels ridiculous. I also wish they could’ve gotten a more imposing mask for George Wilbur to wear in this film. Danielle Harris’s clown mask was scarier than that silly thing… even before the final shot! Still, a very decent entry in one of the greatest of all horror film series.

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23. Hatchet II (2010)

Director: Adam Green

Starring: Danielle Harris, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder, Parry Shen, Tom Holland, R.A. Mihailoff, A.J. Bowen, Alexis Peters, Ed Ackerman, David Foy, Colton Dunn, Rick McCallum

No mistake, “Hatchet” was a visual treat for all horror fans. But that abrupt ending still sticks in the mind. There needed to be more story! Fortunately, that’s where “Hatchet II” comes in handy. Besides continuing the plot, “Hatchet II” would also have to deal with the need to recast its returning lead character. Considering that the cast of the first film was filled with genre actors, it made perfect sense to add another one to the mix. So… back to it!

Picking up immediately where “Hatchet” left off, Marybeth Dunston (now played by Danielle Harris) narrowly escapes an attack from Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) and seeks refuge in a cabin occupied by Jack Cracker (John Carl Beuchler), the ‘prophet of doom’ from the first film. She is soon chased out of the cabin at gunpoint after divulging her surname. Jack tells her to seek out Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd). Soon after she leaves, Victor Crowley kills Jack Cracker by pulling out his intestines, using them to strangle him with such force that Jack is decapitated (all for comic effect, of course)!

When Marybeth goes to see Reverend Zombie, he tells her the tour boat she boarded was one of his. After learning her last name, Zombie also tells Marybeth that her father was one of the teenagers who accidentally set fire to the Crowley house, the incident which led to Victor’s accidental death (as detailed in the first film). It is also revealed that Victor was the product of an affair between his father, Thomas (Kane Hodder), and a nurse who was caring for Thomas’s dying wife.

Marybeth insists upon returning to the swamp to retrieve the bodies of her dead father and brother. Reverend Zombie agrees to take her, on one very specific condition: Marybeth must bring along a family member. It takes some doing, but Marybeth manages to persuade her uncle Bob (noted horror actor/writer/director Tom Holland) to accompany her. Reverend Zombie forms a posse with the promise of payment. He also lies to Justin (Parry Shen) about the fate of his twin brother Shawn.

Once in the swamp, the tour boat is located, and the group splits up to search for both Victor Crowley and the bodies of Marybeth’s family. Reverend Zombie tells Justin the identities of the three kids who started the fire that killed Victor Crowley: In addition to Marybeth’s father, Sampson, there also was his brother and Trent Graves (R.A. Mihailoff), the latter of whom is part of the posse which Zombie has brought to the swamp. The Reverend believes that Crowley’s soul can finally rest once he’s avenged himself upon each of his three former tormentors.

As the search for the bodies of Sampson and Ainsley Dunston carries on, Victor Crowley systematically kills off each member of the hunting party one-by-one in increasingly absurd ways. At this point, the only survivors left are Marybeth, Bob, Trent, Justin, and Revernd Zombie. Barricading themselves inside the Crowley cabin, they do not remain safe for long. Justin is killed first. In a futile attempt to save him, Bob accidentally lets Victor inside the cabin. Victor kills Trent first, and then tunrs his attention to Bob. Reverend Zombie grabs Marybeth and leaves, but not before locking Bob inside. Victor kills Bob rather easily. Marybeth is distraught, but Reverend Zombie stands victorious. The Reverend’s bubble is quickly burst when Marybeth tells him that her uncle died years ago, and that Bob is merely her father’s best friend.

A very much alive Victor Crowley emerges from the cabin and kills Reverend Zombie. Marybeth has seen enough. Using Victor’s own hatchet against him, Marybeth sinks it right into Victor’s forehead. Unsatisfied after he has fallen to the ground, Marybeth hits Victor over and over again with the hatchet until very little resembling a skull remains. She then walks off-screen as Victor’s body continues to twitch, returning with Reverend Zombie’s shotgun which she unloads into Victor’s exposed brains. As she does this, the movie abruptly ends.

In many ways, I find “Hatchet II” to be a sequel that surpasses the original. Once again, it’s the collection of horror icons as well as the copious amounts of blood and gore that make it all work. Although I miss Tamara Feldman as Marybeth, I’m a huge Danielle Harris fan, so having her on board for “Hatchet II” was a major selling point for me. I can’t imagine this movie without Danielle. There is, of course, a “Hatchet III,” but I’ve not seen that one yet and don’t currently have access to a copy, so a review of that film will have to wait for another time. As for “Hatchet II,” if you liked the first one (and I can’t see any reason why you shouldn’t), then Part II will give you everything you’re looking for.