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Mr. Halloween

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Andrew Wolf
Bill Loomis
Shannon Eastman
Josh Wolf
Cody Wolf
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Clearly, the ultra micro-budget "Mr Halloween" has been written and made by two very committed young fans of the slasher genre: a couple of their protagonists have been given the names Jason and Michael, the gurning, mustachioed maniac at the centre of all the chaos has been christened Bill Loomis (which, confusingly, is also the player's real name, so how could they pass up an opportunity like that!) and the father of one of the film's victims is called Mr Romero (okay, so not strictly a reference to a slasher director as such, but you get the idea). It's mostly a family affair; young budding filmmakers, Andrew and Cody Wolf, have given roles to their parents and various siblings -- in front of and behind the camera -- and the whole film apparently came about in the first place because their friend's dad asked them to write a role for him! The dad plays the psycho slashing villain of the title, and his real-life son gets to be one of his victims, and dies after being repeatedly smacked in the head with a pick axe!
Although I'm sure everyone involved must have had a marvellous time making this little film, it doesn't change the painful fact that this exercise in familial bonding has to be one of the most embarrassingly inept attempts at film-making since back when me and a few mates from school attempted to make our own horror film when I was about fourteen. At least, after a morning's work, we were sensible enough to realise that we were all wasting our time, and promptly gave up. This lot of youngsters have somehow managed to get their hopeless efforts distributed on DVD ... and now I'm actually having to watch and comment on it!
Don't get me wrong. For a first-time, homemade attempt it's quite impressive; there is some relatively competent camera work on display and a few nice angles here and there; the grown-up actors in the film essay some amusing, deliberately over the top performances, while the discordant electronic music score could have been effective if it wasn't so overused and mixed so high on the soundtrack that it gives you tinnitus. But the amateurish nature of this project is too intrusive in the end for it to be in any way a satisfactory experience for the viewer on any level. Leaving aside the fact that the whole debacle lingers on for almost two hours!
Let's start with the story. It's totally absurd. Maybe if this were meant to be a comedy skit or a grotesque parody in the vein popularised by the "League of Gentlemen", it might just have worked as a concept. But there's no sign that the Wolf Brothers are being anything less than serious in their attempt to pass off this ludicrous idea as a proper slasher scenario. It's set in a small American town where teenagers have been disappearing regularly, and at an alarming rate, for years. No one seems too bothered by this, least of all the bad tempered sheriff (Jack Bell) who hates all teenagers anyway ("you kids with your cell phones and your low, tight-ass jeans!") and who ignores the wall-full of MISSING posters at the station but gets hugely riled by a broken traffic light. You'd think, since the TV news is running reports on the subject of the town's missing teenager epidemic, that someone would have passed comment on the complete negligence of the law enforcement in the area, which consists solely of this permanently angry Sheriff Conrad and his gormless sidekick, Deputy Dale (Bryan Briggs), but no. The film starts with two more kids getting dragged off by a wild-eyed, boiler suit-wearing nutter who looks like cheesy eighties British comedian and born again Christian, Bobby Ball , and then goes on to introduce a quartet of goofy-looking teenage protagonists who are to be the main players of this woeful piece.   
Now, I don't mean to be cruel. But these are the weirdest bunch of teenagers you will ever see. One of them looks to be at least forty, sports a Hitler-esque moustache (there are an awful lot of moustaches in this film), and seems to be already thinning out on top at the tender age of seventeen. Two of these four 'teenagers' go to check out a local attraction known as The Haunted House. The other two, named, believe it or not, Jack and Jill (Justin Loomis and Shannon Eastmann) quite sensibly decline, since the place is run by a creepy middle-aged bloke who shouts and scowls at visitors while wearing a rubber Halloween mask. This should be enough to put anyone off, surely? Remember, this is a town with the highest rate of teen disappearances in the country. The "Haunted House" attraction, in fact, turns out to be merely the weird boiler-suited fella's ordinary domestic home!
So let's just look at this situation again, shall we: we have a small town which has literally dozens of teenagers disappearing without a trace every Halloween. Then we have a mad-looking local bloke who calls himself (note the small clue here)  Mr. Halloween, but who looks like he should be on medication and simply dribbles and clenches his shaking fists if anyone so much as looks at him; a man who invariably dresses in a Michael Myers boiler suit, invites groups of kids into his home, which he has tarted up as a sort of carnival-esque dungeon complete with crap rubber models outside and a tape-recorded message blaring "do you want to come into my haunted house?" at all hours -- and it never occurs to anyone that there might be a 'situation' worth investigating here? Anyway, the two teenagers who aren't put off by any of this, Jason (Cody Wolf) and Michael (Josh Wolf), turn up at Mr Halloween's house, straight away peer through a living room window and witness him hacking up a dead teenager on his table!

 It turns out, of course, that Mr Halloween's props aren't really made out of rubber at all, and the bodies being decapitated on a guillotine in his back room, for the pleasure of visitors to this makeshift Haunted House, are liable to be one of the stash of kids he's previously kidnapped, kept chained up in his basement for months until he needs them, injected with a paralysing agent, and then displayed in front of unsuspecting customers! Jason and Michael make an annoyingly inept and half-hearted attempt at escaping that involves Michael breaking his ankle while running through a graveyard, and after Jason becomes the latest victim of the guillotine (Michael is lucky to escape on this occasion because the mechanism jams) the action then cuts to a whole year later!  The witless Jack and Jill are still wearing the same clothes and still puzzling over the mysterious disappearance of their two friends ... even though they know exactly where they were most-likely going on the night they originally went missing!
They happen to be strolling past Mr Halloween's house one day while Jill is discussing the situation and wondering if the goggle-eyed nut case might have something to do with the disappearances (after a year, she finally stumbles upon this unlikely scenario!). Unfortunately, said goggle-eyed nut case overhears her, follows her home and snatches her in broad daylight by smashing through her front window and spiriting her away through it. He takes her back to his dank basement and keeps her chained up there, where she then discovers Michael. Still alive, he's been chained to a wall for a whole year, waiting for Halloween to come around again so he can become another victim of the guillotine routine!
What makes this a particularly grueling experience for the viewer (apart from the stupid plot), is the utterly lifeless set of performances from everyone involved. They mumble their clunky lines in drab monotone voices, and the fact that the wind blowing on the microphone obscures most of the dialogue doesn't help much either. The only saving grace is the dad who started it all -- Bill Loomis -- who plays Mr. Halloween, and who gives a fantastically overwrought comic performance completely at odds with everyone else's (who, after all, aren't really giving any type of performance). The final thirty minutes in which Jill and Michael make various bumbling attempts to escape are so annoyingly elongated that one just wants them slain as quickly as possible to get the whole thing over and done with. Needless to say, most of the special effects don't amount to much more than someone squeezing a ketchup bottle full of fake blood from off-screen. After nearly two hours of amateur non-acting and poorly thought-out plot points that are never adequately explained even at the end, most bored viewers will be frothing at the mouth -- much like Mr. Halloween himself.

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