[Blu-ray Review] The 'Halloween Kills' Extended Cut is Bigger, Badder and Bloodier
Evil cries tonight!...
…Where were you during the great Halloween Kills war? Someday we’ll be telling our kids about the absolute bloodbath that took place on social media during the release of David Gordon Green’s second Halloween film, one that had fans acting more cutthroat than Michael Myers. Pumpkins were smashed. Twitter accounts were murdered. And none of us walked away winners. Thankfully, we’re a few months past those dreadful days now. The dust has settled, and Universal is just in time for a reevaluation of the film with Halloween Kills just released on 4K UHD/Blu-ray.
Not just any cut though. An extended cut. I’ll tell you right now: The Halloween Kills Extended Cut is the only cut of this film I ever want to watch again. Contain your excitement. I’ll get to why in a moment.
Written by Green, Danny McBride and Scott Teems, Halloween Kills takes its cue from the 1981 Halloween II, picking up directly after Halloween (2018). All three Strode women return, with Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and her daughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) arriving at Haddonfield Memorial, believing Michael is nothing more than a burnt marshmallow. Little do they know though, Michael has survived, and is once again rampaging through town. With the Strode women sidelined (for the most part), legacy characters Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall in a wild performance), Lindsey (Kyle Richards), Marion (Nancy Stephens), Lonnie Elam (Robert Longstreet) and others take it upon themselves to enact vigilante justice on Michael.
They think evil dies tonight. But they are so very, very wrong.
Other than Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007), Halloween Kills is arguably the most divisive Halloween film in the franchise, and it’s easy to see why. For every element that the film presents like a perfectly carved Jack-O-Lantern, there are others that are rotten to the core.
The positive that stands out right away is Green and crew’s passion for the project. Kills opens with a bang (er, slashing?), taking the audience back to 1978 and the night he came home. “It shows the depth of the dive into the lore…this is a deep dive,” says Curtis in the feature “1978 Transformations”, a fascinating exploration of how Green and team resurrected the 1978 film. Kills is indeed a plunge into those dark Devil eyes of Michael’s. Everything from John Carpenter’s original film is painstakingly recreated, right down to the look of the trees outside the Myers’ house. Green and his team achieved this by building a controlled set inside a stage, and the result is atmospheric perfection. Even Michael’s 1978 mask looks better than any recreation through the decades (not saying much, I know. Looking at you, Halloween 4). And don’t even get me started on Tom Jones Jr. stepping into the role of Dr. Loomis in makeup that looks so like Donald Pleasance it’s scary. The movie magic in Halloween Kills is strong.
The 1978 footage, which gives us a new ending to Carpenter’s original, is some of the most exciting stuff to ever cut its way into the series. It sets the tone for a Halloween film that is on another level. Green isn’t content with just making another sequel. For better or worse (depending on who you ask), Kills goes for the jugular, intent on delivering the biggest, baddest, bloodiest Halloween film ever made. “I didn’t anticipate how intense it would be,” says Greer in the feature “The Power of Fear”, which drops viewers into the chaos of shooting with a mob. Intense might be an under-exaggeration. Halloween Kills is non-stop adrenaline.
The utter madness of Kills is that factor that leaves you either loving or hating this movie. In Kills, Curtis once again finds herself on the bench (the main complaint of Halloween II), with Green essentially taking the mob from Halloween 4 and making Kills all about them. This is Haddonfield’s story, not the Strodes. In the eye-opening feature “Haddonfield’s Open Wounds”, cast/crew discuss at length the charge at the stressed heart of the movie, providing greater depth into the trauma of the town. “It’s a community ready to boil,” says Green. You can say that again! The residents of Haddonfield are mad as hell and they’re not gonna take it anymore! Kills wobbles back and forth between sincere terror and extreme camp, from exhilarating, claustrophobic showdowns with Michael inside the confines of a car to scenes of hundreds of people losing their goddamn minds and shouting “Evil dies tonight” over, and over, and over again. You’ve all heard it by now. How could you not? Characters scream these words so often it becomes the mantra of the movie. Politicians use similar tactics. Did Kills brainwash us all? Will I ever stop shouting “Evil Dies Tonight” at random people on the street?
No. Don’t try to change me.
Kills has all the energy of Dr. Loomis screaming in Jamie Lloyd’s face in Halloween 5. Is the town a little too upset over a few murders that happened forty years ago? Most definitely. Between that and cringe dialogue ranging from exposition to forced lines about evil dying and such, Kills is, well, a lot. Much too much for some fans seeking the quieter, creepier experience of the originals. But that’s the point, the chaos which Michael creates, and the thing we all have to understand is that this is not Carpenter’s Michael Myers. Not exactly.
Halloween Kills is a film that lives up to its name and then some. Michael Myers doesn’t just kill in this movie. He straight up slaughters victims. James Jude Courtney already made a killer impression as The Shape in the last Halloween, and in Kills, he’s more vicious than ever. Curtis couldn’t have put it better when she calls the film “a maelstrom of violence and fear” in the feature “The Kill Team”, which guides fans through splatter-iffic behind the scenes looks at the gore and mayhem of the movie. I doubt there’s a single Halloween fan out there that didn’t walk away from Kills giddy over the gallons of gore. Green is at his best when it comes to shooting the violence, because as a fan himself, he knows exactly what we want, delivering the goods while also keeping things fun and entertaining. Skulls are smashed. Eyes are gouged out (one of the more gruesome pieces of additional gore). Yet no matter how brutal it gets (and it gets pretty damn brutal), Kills is never so purely mean as the sort of savagery in Zombie’s films.
This is why the Extended Cut is the definitive cut of this movie. The extra footage gives us an extended scene with young Lonnie (Tristian Eggerling), some small, sympathetic tidbits with the Strode women and a few other brief moments, but where the Extended Cut really gleams like the blood-soaked butcher’s knife it is, is in the additional gore footage, all of it gloriously glistening in 4K resolution. Kills is all about the madness and terror which Michael brings down like a hammer on the town. Green’s intention is to take Michael back to the days where he was just “The Shape”, an embodiment of evil, a whirlwind of rage, and in that Kills succeeds in blood-red spades, with the Extended Cut showing off some of the gorier effects that were cut from the theatrical release, as well as an even more vicious ending than the theatrical cut. Gorehounds, eat your hearts out.
The Extended Cut isn’t the only reason that Universal’s disc is a cut above the rest. The Halloween Kills Extended Cut is a trick-r-treat bag of red goo-filled sweets, containing about an hour’s worth of extras that take fans deep into the violence of Michael and the open wounds he has left in Haddonfield. A hilarious gag reel gives the sense that Kills was a blast on set, including a clip of the three Strodes signing “Evil Dies Tonight.” But the crème de la crème is the feature commentary between Green, Curtis and Greer. This may be one of my new favorite commentaries, not just because Green provides a whole lot of backstory and some interesting hints at what’s to come in Halloween Ends, but because Curtis and Greer are so goofy that it’s as if Green is juggling balls of yarn and the two of them are cats lazily swatting at them. Time and again, Curtis and Greer derail whatever conversation Green is desperately trying to keep going with bursts of excitement at what’s on screen, and it’s delightful. There’s nothing quite like hearing Curtis and Greer freak out at the sight of Michael or refer to Green as a “sick person”. You don’t have to be a film nerd to enjoy this commentary. It’s a riot even without all of the background knowledge we crave.
If you’re a fan of Halloween Kills, I promise the Extended Cut is the only cut you’ll ever want to slice into again. And for those who didn’t enjoy the theatrical version, give this cut a shot. You never know, it might even make you more of a fan. It did for me.
Well, that and a little more time to digest the pure insanity that is Kills.
But more important than anything, the next time such a divisive horror film threatens to tear us all limb from limb, let’s remember one thing:
It’s only a movie.
It’s only a movie.
It’s only a movie.
Halloween Kills: The Extended Cut is now available on 4k UHD and Blu-ray from Universal. Check out the full list of special features below!
By Matt Konopka
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