This ‘Halloween’ sequel is actually good

Finally, Hollywood has made a good “Halloween” sequel. It took them only 40 years.

After John Carpenter’s original ushered in the modern slasher flick in 1978, eight awful follow-ups were pumped out. One starred Tyra Banks and Busta Rhymes, while another featured puss-filled Irish robots that wore business suits. Rob Zombie tried to reboot the franchise with two terrible movies in 2002, but it was too late. “Halloween” had become a parody of itself.

But the new movie, called — what else? — “Halloween,” is a return to form. It brings back Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode for the first time since 2002’s “Halloween: Resurrection.” And Nick Castle, the original Michael Myers, dons the serial killer’s mask for only his second film ever.

Most importantly, “Halloween” recovers its long-lost gravitas and self-respect. It makes us remember why we loved Carpenter’s original in the first place: It was artful, frightening and supremely well-acted — not “Scream 4.”

The first step toward improving the series’ self-worth? Pretend the last four decades didn’t happen. This film is a direct follow-up to the original. You can, and should, skip the other eight.

Step two: Kill off Laurie the Victim, and replace her with Laurie the Conquerer. Where once she was the plucky teen survivor, now Laurie is a formidable opponent to Michael Myers.

Forty years after offing five people during the Oct. 31 Babysitter Murders, Michael is about to be transferred to a nearby new prison. Laurie, meanwhile, is locked and loaded. She has spent every waking moment learning how to protect herself from her mouth-breather nemesis and eventually bring him down.

Laurie has an armory in her home deep in the woods, protected by impenetrable (hah!) steel bars. There’s even a panic room that would make the Montana Militia drool. Her obsessive paranoia drove away her daughter (Judy Greer) and granddaughter (Andi Matichak), so now she lives in seclusion — waiting.

So, Laurie is absolutely thrilled when Michael kills the bus guards during his prison transfer and goes on another Halloween killing spree though suburban Illinois. She can finally satisfy her bloodlust.

Has the little town of Haddonfield learned from its corpse-covered past? No way! The citizenry is dumber than ever, seeking refuge in the upstairs bedroom closet; running to the neighbor’s house instead of jumping in a car and speeding to O’Hare; and responding to every loud household thump with “Oh, it’s nothing.” Cause of death: stupidity.

Director David Gordon Green understands the ’Ween-o-verse and builds suspense well, earning his many scares. There’s a lot of gore, but it’s cleverly done. Green makes particularly cool use of the bright lights of cars and flashlights, and the shadowy corners of rooms.

One shot throwing back to an iconic moment from the 1978 film gets a deserved round of applause.

So should Curtis, who is more intense and badass than ever, and acts the hell out of this part. Performances in this genre don’t come any better.

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