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Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

John Carpenter’s classic 1978 chiller gets a 1990s makeover, although in the hands of director Steve Miner the emphasis here is still firmly on frights rather than in-jokes.

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has changed her name to Keri Tate and is now a divorced recovering alcoholic and headteacher at the Hillcrest Academy, an exclusive private boarding school in California. The problem is, her murderous and seemingly indestructible brother, Michael Myers, is keen to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his original massacre.

Laurie’s rebellious 17-year-old son John (Josh Hartnett), his girlfriend Molly (Michelle Williams) and the kindly school security guard, Ronny (LL Cool J) will become Michael’s newest victims unless Laurie can conquer her greatest fears and put evil in its place once and for all.

The older and wiser Curtis steals the show from the teenage TV pin-ups (Third Rock from the Sun star Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the now-obligatory “big name” killed off before the opening credits), but the most notable cameo is Curtis’ real-life mother, Janet Leigh, as Keri’s admin assistant, Norma – who informs Keri that “the drains in the girls’ shower room are clogged again”, a cheeky reference to her role as Marion Crane in Psycho (1960).

Miner recreates the low-budget look of Carpenter’s original Halloween film – despite the original being made for $300,000 and Miner spending over $15 million – although his direction is merely efficient and lacks Carpenter’s assured touch.

Laurie Strode/Keri Tate
Jamie Lee Curtis
Michelle Williams
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Josh Hartnett
Will Brennan
Adam Arkin
LL Cool J
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe
Adam Hann-Byrd
Janet Leigh
Michael Myers
Chris Durand

Steve Miner