Halloween H20: 20 Years Later – USA, 1998

Halloween H20 poster

‘This summer, terror won’t be taking a vacation.’

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later is a 1998 American slasher film and is the seventh instalment in the Halloween film series. It was directed by Steve Miner (Friday the 13th, Part II and III, Lake Placid) and stars Jamie Lee Curtis, LL Cool J, Josh Hartnett and Michelle Williams.

The film was released on August 5, 1998 to mark the 20th anniversary of the original Halloween.

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The screenplay, based on a story by Kevin Williamson (Scream) further developed by Robert Zapia, was written by Zapia and Matt Greenberg. It is a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s Halloween and Halloween II and set in an alternate timeline in which the events that transpired in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, and Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers never occurred.

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Laurie Strode, now the dean of a Northern California private school with an assumed name, must battle the Shape one last time. This time the life of her own son hangs in the balance…

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John Carpenter was initially in the running to be the director for this particular follow-up since Curtis wanted to reunite the cast and 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 movie, but his starting fee as director was $10 million.

Carpenter rationalized this by believing the hefty fee was compensation for revenue he never received from the original Halloween, a matter that was still a bit of contention between Carpenter and Akkad even after twenty years had passed. When Akkad balked at Carpenter’s fee, Carpenter walked away from the project.

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Scream writer/producer Kevin Williamson was involved in various areas of production on this particular sequel including coming up with the treatment that the film was based on. Although not directly credited, he provided rewrites in character dialogue, which is seen heavily throughout the teen moments. Miramax/Dimension Films felt his involvement as a co-executive producer merited being credited. The original working title for the film was Halloween 7: The Revenge of Laurie Strode.

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As explained in Halloween: 25 Years of Terror, some scenes for Halloween H20 were re-shot due to complaints about the Myers mask used in the film. Scenes that could not be re-shot had a CGI mask replace them frame by frame. Four masks were made for the film.

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Reviews:

“There are a lot of great moments to be had beyond the Myers/Strode battle, including a mother and daughter’s near rest-stop run-in with Myers, a fantastic elevator maiming, and an opening that’s an exquisite callback to the original movie. Sure, it’s a vanity piece, but it’s an entertaining, well-meaning vanity piece that’s hard to fault.” DVD Verdict

“The problem with H20 is that it’s boring, mostly relying on false scares rather than the blood and gore we’ve come to know and love from the Halloween films. It doesn’t help that Michael Myers is hardly around. The film seems content to focus on a Scream-esque group of teens while relegating Myers mostly to the third act.” Beyond Hollywood.com

halloween blu-ray box set artwork

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The final image of the axe-wielding, grim-faced Curtis would have made a marvellous conclusion to the series. Fortunately, the film avoids the self-conscious “post-modern” tropes of the Scream series, though there is a crudely shoe-horned clip from Scream 2 and a knowing cameo from Curtis’ mom Janet Leigh that provides an excuse for a bunch of Psycho jokes.” Steven West, Horror Screams Video Vault

Halloween H20

slasher movie book j.a. kerswell

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