Halloween IV: Watering Down the Franchise (H20 and Resurrection under the knife)

Halloween H2O Michael Myers

He always comes back. One year on from Jokerside’s retrospective of the first six instalments of the Halloween franchise, we turn to the short-lived 20th anniversary revival. Very short-lived, although the start wasn’t as wet as it sounds…

H20 WAS RELEASED A MERE TWO YEARS AFTER THE SIXTH INSTALMENT, THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS. BUT IT PROVED THAT IT WASN’T SO MUCH THE TIME AS THE OCCASION THAT MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE TO A SUCCESSFUL HALLOWEEN FRANCHISE. AND IT TOOK THE RETURN OF LAURIE STRODE, NOW A HEADMISTRESS, TO SPELL THAT OUT.

Or more specifically Jamie Lee Curtis. In the wake of arguably her greatest box-office triumph True Lies (1994), the actress’ thoughts had returned to her big movie break. And in the event, she even brought her mother along for the ride. Janet Leigh’s sneaky cameo as Norma, put the influence of Psycho front and centre once again in a film that succeeds in capturing the roots of the franchise while taking on the changing face of the slasher pic over the past 20 years, picking up the 1960s influences just as the 1978 original had nodded to the gothic horror it had been sent to stake.

Janet Leigh’s Norma can’t be missed as she walks back to 1957 Ford Fairlane 500, the same model her character Marion had in Hitchcock’s 1960 classic. And the score serves up a musical refrain to that film, as she wishes Laurie Strode a happy Halloween. When Laurie first bumps into her it’s perhaps the film’s most effective jump.

However, this mild-reboot, that wiped out three sequels and made an excellent stab at regaining some of its purity as a result, was short-lived. A delayed sequel not only failed to live up to the previous film’s promise, but fell straight back into the trap of prolonged sequels and a severe case of postmodernism, that other horror franchises were languishing in. It’s as though the savage cull of H20, itself a deliberate response to post-modern slashers, had never happened.

How does it go? It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

Halloween H20: 20 Year’s later

The anniversary feature was shot in a 2.35:1 ratio just like the original, and that wasn’t the only attempt to recapture the masked magic of 1978. Curtis had wanted to reunite as much of the first film’s crew as possible for the 20th anniversary. An intention that almost brought John Carpenter back to the director’s chair, supposedly only falling through due to the financial disputes with the series regular producers that had rolled on since the original. Instead, the directing job fell to Steve Miner, drafted across from helming the second and third parts of the Friday the 13th franchise.

Twenty years on from the definitive Halloween, the slasher horror genre had come on streets and bounds, but by far the greater influence came from something far more recent than the stomping grounds of Norman Bates or Jason Vorhees.

The chaotic sixth Halloween film had emerged a year after Wes Craven’s format breaking New Nightmare. That slice of celluloid brilliance had somehow managed to take just $4 million less at the box office. But it’s now clear that New Nightmare was a stepping stone. It was the genre-changing blow that Craven delivered a year after its release that would provide the lifeblood of Michael Myers’ return. Scream burst onto screens in 1996, obliterating and ridiculing what multiple slasher sequels had become as much as it and its sequels applauded and built on them. Scream lay at Miramax, in the hands of the Weinstein Brothers who had nabbed the rights to the Halloween franchise before the sixth entry, so there was little obstruction to a healthy cross-pollination behind the lens. And that certainly worked in Halloween’s favour.

While John Carpenter is thought to have fallen back from potential director to an uncredited producer role, the blazing writer behind Scream, Kevin Williamson, came aboard as a co-executive producer. H20 had all the cards stacked up in crafting its own post-modern future: while recalling the definitive power of the original it could pull in the strengths of the new ghost-face of horror. There was a willing unusual in horror. Aside from Lee Curtis’ enthusiasm, Halloween was Kevin Williamson’s self-proclaimed “favourite film”. Which would explain why Halloween is name-checked in the first few minutes of that other franchise.

Excusing the follow-up’s poor execution, H20 stands as the franchise’s greatest act of appropriation and homage, from classic horror through Psycho to Scream itself. When Alan Arkin’s Will checks in on the girls who didn’t join the camping trip to Yellowstone before Myers arrival, they’re intriguingly watching Sarah Michelle Geller in Scream 2, a film only released in December 1997.

The passion, new direction and meta-awareness was necessary, even in the wake of the disastrous, fumbled, production of the sixth instalment. As debutant Josh Hartnett neatly put it when he received the script for the seventh entry: It was “Either straight to video or straight to Hell”.

Slicing the canon

After a sixth instalment that stretched credulity by enslaving Myers to an ancient curse, H20’s idea was simple. Wipe the slate, cut the baggage, get back to the roots. Not that Season of the Witch could possibly exist in the same universe thanks to its fourth wall acknowledgement of Myers as fictional, as well as its bleak ending. But as clean as the approach seemed; it wasn’t the initial intention. Laurie’s daughter Jamie Lloyd had provided a highpoint in the middle of the franchise, and before H20’s script was streamlined, she was referenced in early drafts of the seventh. The car crash and faked death of Laurie Strode were plot elements retained and shifted across to her mother in the shortened plot as Jamie was eliminated from the canon. The clock was rewound to 31 October 1978, with the diversifying franchise allowing the missing 20 years between Halloween II and H20 to be filled by a comic book account Halloween: Sam.

Dramatically, there was a desire to provide a satisfying end to the second film, where Laurie Strode had realised she was Michael Myers’ sister shortly before the final confrontation. The first two films related a very busy day. In the new film, roles would be flipped, and John Carpenter was apparently impressed with H20’s attempt to bring resolution to the relationship between Laurie Strode and her brother. There are some moments in their various interactions that sizzle, and a fine side-effect of providing Jamie Lee Curtis’s with her Sigourney Weaver. As the actress said, H20 was when the character who gave provided her big break stopped running. And there’s the sense of a reciprocal relationship between the fictional Strode and Lee Curtis’ later career. It wasn’t to be the last of either, in the franchise or the wider realms of horror. The emphasis on Strode claiming her destiny is great: At the risk of spoiling the ending, the film’s working title was The Revenge of Laurie Strode.

Back to Illinois

Reassuringly, H20 starts with the familiar refrain of Mr Sandman, famously introduced to the franchise in the second film. That met a mixed reception from critics at the time; some saw it as inappropriate, others found it a satisfyingly unsettling fit. Either way, or somewhere in the middle, it became synonymous with Laurie Strode’s waking nightmare; and its return signals that H20 is not afraid to use and challenge the series’ history. The opening is packed with familiar elements. There’s the carving knife savagely meeting pumpkin, and a strangely familiar car coasting along a street that could be in any Halloween film. But things aren’t quite right. It’s 29th October 1998, but we’re not in Haddonfield but Landon, Illinois. The home of a returning face has been broken into, but it’s not Laurie Strode. The film’s first before they were famous cameo leads a cocky Joseph Gordon-Levitt in to investigate the house with a hockey stick. Within minute he takes the prize for first death, an ice skate impaling his face – an intriguing return kill to begin with).

The home’s owner is in fact Marion Chambers, the nurse first seen 20 years before during Michael Myers first escape and car-jacking. Her name Marion – one of Carpenter’s references to the original slasher Psycho – adds a lovely bit of continuity, even though things end badly for her. And while H20 is packed with references, one of the neatest, as carried through the credits with cuttings and Tom Kane’s impersonation of Donald Pleasence’s Loomis in soundbite recalls of the original film. That house was the final residence of the late Dr Sam Loomis, and the first port of call for the returning Myers. Even in death the good Doctor is once again wholly responsible for much of Myers’ success, as his archived notes provide the location and identity of his sister. Despite playing no part in the murderer’s first escape, every subsequent instalment had shown the fallible Loomis’ endless mistakes aid his former patient. The obsession that dogged him to his last day in a town near Haddonfield doesn’t let this film down, and is one of its finest homages. As his ambiguous screeching fate in the sixth episode has been obliterated, his death gives Myers everything he needs to track down his sister after 20 years.

Seasonal changes

“Michael Myers. Yeah, right…”

The Shape first appears at the end of a dark corridor as Chambers searches her house, one of a number of tricksy references to previous films. But it doesn’t take long for Myers to retreat from the Prairie State to take the franchise in a bold new direction. While it’s unclear how Myers arrived in Illinois, or if he left, in the context of the film, his departure is wholly consistent. As the police explore the Chambers’ house, her car pulls slowly away, the familiar tinkle of the theme taking us into familiar territory in unfamiliar parts. It’s the nurse present at his first carjacking who inadvertently gives him wheels as Myers heads off to a family reunion in Northern California where Laurie Strode and her 17-year-old son live under assumed names. It’s a geographic shift to more clement weather that leaves behind the evocative rustle of autumn leaves that had come to define the films. Fortunately, that huge shift it doesn’t leave behind the lush orchestral music of John Ottman, a leap from the familiar Carpenter-penned theme that’s used sparingly, or the music of the sequels that had progressed under Alan Howarth to the percussive rock of the sixth film.

Journeys

“The blackest eyes, the devil’s eyes”

There’s one transition between Illinois and California that on the face of it seems an irritating diversion. Stopping off at a deserted toilet block, a mom and her daughter’s stop becomes all the more desperate when they are interrupted by Myers. Apparently just hanging arund the block for someone to turn up. However, this effective scene serves several purposes. There’s the neat juxtaposition of scared mum and oblivious child in next cubicle, complete with red herrings. Particularly the killer moment the mom sees Myers’s partially turned face. The pair’s survival reconfirms Myers as a singular figure of intent. He takes the mother’s bag, but only to upgrade his vehicle. It’s 20 years’ on: and these unlucky-but-could-be-unluckier two facilitate his change from the classic 1971 Buick Skylark to a Harvester Travellall. Not a modern upgrade, but a menacing dark vehicle that was discontinued in 1957, the year Michael Myers was born. In the real-time progression of the series he is now 41.

California

“Mom, we’re through with that, we really are”

Laurie Strode may have survived, but she has been wrecked by the events of 20 years before. Suffering nightmares, her son well aware of her considerable regimen of medicines, all taken to deal with the past. The trick here is not John Tate’s discovering who his uncle is, but that 20 years on it’s time for mother and son to move on. We arrive at Hillcrest Academy on October 31st when most of the school are headed to Yosemite, leaving the precious few school alone. Rather than the canvas of a small town, Hillcrest provides the Die Hard-style confine for this edition of the story, much like the hospital of the second instalment. While the town outside offers a death trap of memories and Halloween costumes for Laurie Strode at that time of year. There’s a broader palette in California, from the small town to the rocky climb to the secluded private school. Director Miner doesn’t portray it better than when the buses depart for Yosemite in the falling dusk, and past the Travelall whose lights flick on as it departs in the opposite direction.

Post-trauma

“Is it possible that something so tragic can happen that you never recover from?”

Laurie’s post-traumatic stress has left her with alcoholism, a distinct fear of Halloween, a distinct over-protectiveness, robbed her of her identity and the tendency to see the brother she last saw on fire in reflections. It sounds blunt and shallow, but it works in Lee Curtis’ hands. And it’s legitimate: The root of her fear comes from the fire, and that they never found her brother’s body. Fortunately, none of these debilitating issues have stopped her rising to the rather prestigious position of headmistress of this exclusive Academy. And a far cry from her teenage struggles, she has the amorous attentions of the Academy’s Guidance Counsellor. For all the ways she’s turned into her own Sarah Connor, she’s not given up her life for the unstoppable threat on her and her son’slife.

Adam Arkin’s Will is as much a red herring as a crucial part of Strode’s characterisation. Twice Laurie mistakes him for her brother, even before she knows the murderer’s returned. His light and comic interjections border on mean, his death is inevitable, but his presence reflects on the main characters. Several characters assume the mantle of Loomis; particular the capacity to make terrible errors under the chaotic pressure of the Shape’s stalking presence. Amateur-poet security guard Ronny is one of the clearest indications of Williamson’s involvement. His savage death at Will’s hands is one of the film’s most harrowing scenes. In spite of his improbable survival (“yeah, I’m fine, the bullets just grazed me” – preposterous), its possibly the most notable ‘death’ since Loomis’ error leads to the savage murder of an innocent in the second film. While Loomis paid through his obsession for that and many other errors, but Will’s punishment is total and immediate. He takes the classic position, impaled and hoisted off the ground by Myers’ superhuman need to kill. A gruesome comedy as Myers reaches full strength.

Stroding back

“He’s dead. Michael Myers is dead”

The role left by Loomis is also taken up by the older Laurie. We find her before the night’s events kick in trapped and uncomfortable in an albeit brighter town, a Buick, a different Buick, coincidentally unsettlingly parked nearby. On the street she encounters her son, pushing him too far. As John correctly, but harshly puts it – his script is particularly savage in showing those 17 years of repression – she’s “handcuffed to your dead brother”. But as that domestic on the streets ends, Laurie having both caught her truant son and exposed her issues in one fell swoop, we’re left in no doubt that Laurie’s right. As her car pulls away, the Travelall follows them, and Laurie leads the wolf straight to the hen house. It’s an interesting mid-point designed: to brittle Laurie’s character while setting the pieces in the endgame. The script can’t quite keep up however, dropping from standards set by Scream. As they approach the gates, berated security guard Ronny, rather unfairly, mutters “Psycho” after her.

Splitting heirs

“It just occurred to me today, I’ve never celebrated Halloween before”

With the parties are clearly placed before Myers’ inevitable pronouncement of his presence, Laurie’s character destruction is the penultimate act, precipitating the bloodshed. Her disclosure to the confidante who’s managed to earn her trust (John’s father is dismissed by the script early on), explains Myer’s emergence after 20 years as well as uncover the patterns that call Myers family reunions.

Slasher horror is no stranger to opening doors for the stars of the future. But moving on from Joseph Gordon-Levitt early demise, the cast really is quite extraordinary. It introduced Josh Hartnett to the role of Myers’ nephew and Michelle Williams as his girlfriend. That’s a fine and inadvertent link to the fine heritage of ‘80s slasher films. In hindsight, it offers such rich pickings of a cast to see who bites it first.

Myers walks into a legitimately split group of victims. That’s great progress from the friends and casuals who run into his hands in his single-pursuit of Laurie Strode in the first two films. Here there are two family members, heading two units. While the debutantes form one side of the equation, John and his friend having engineered a ruse that will let them hide out at the school instead of the Yosemite trip, Laurie and Will are the update on the classic amorous teenage encounters that had previously defined the Halloween films. Narratively, Ronny’s untimely ‘death’ takes care of the figure that connects the two camps, just after Myers’ appearance. The shot of the interloping boys, caught climbing into the window may be H20’s real nod to that heritage of immoral sex. But Myers is involved – the additional interloper behind them.

Coincidence and cycles

“I got away, but he killed a lot of my friends”

The school setting allows for some great references to the original film, including a specific classroom riff where John’s girlfriend takes the place of his mother 20 years’ before. In 1978, Laurie Strode first saw Myers through a classroom window as her teacher droned on about “Samuel”, “Collins” and “fate”. That was an effective if rather missed opportunity, and one H20 has great fun expanding. The role’s reversed, Laurie is now the teacher, asking to a distracted Molly, her son’s girlfriend, what Victor Frankenstein could have done to save Elizabeth in a more obvious allusion. Molly takes Laurie’s earlier place exactly, first seeing Myers then effortlessly answering the question with that added timely note on redemption.

As ever, Halloween remains a premise that requires coincidence, cycles, and occasion. Laurie chooses this one Halloween as the night to trust her son (a misdirection: she allows him to go to Yosemite – which would have foiled Myers or made for an intriguing two-parter). Also, to as bring her partner into confidence. And this is what reminds her that her sister was 17 when Myers killed her, as she was 17 when he came after her. And this is the Halloween that coincidently finds her son at 17.

This film has a different fabric. Laurie may have spent most of her life under a second false name, but the story of boogeyman Michael Myers is known everywhere. As her brother arrives in her new life, the script refers to her years of trickery and sacrifice, waiting for her brother to come a’treating. It’s on the revelation that the old trope of phonelines being cut is revealed: As things escalate, all Laurie can say is “fuck”. It’s a fast-paced resolution taking up the last third of the film.

“This is a sick joke”

Aside from Ronny’s odd and reversed dispatch, Myers is happy to reference old ‘pursuits’ (well, those now written from the timeline) among new and time-wasting strategies. It all starts off with the misdirection of a waste disposal unit – barely watchable, before legs are stabbed, dumb waiters are employed. It’s no surprise that the youngsters provide blade fodder for the psychopath. But the nature of their dispatch is intriguing. Charlie takes the early, standard boyfriend kill, slain off camera, although his reflection in Myers’ eyes highlights the importance of the whites behind the white mask. Shots of his eyes will prove crucial, and while it’s not the first time they’ve been this prominent in the franchise, it’s a far cry from the pits of the first film. Although impassive, still, and reflective, they add an animalistic element to the killer. An unerring sense that there’ a fixed, primitive and obsessed intelligence; perhaps slightly less than human, and more dangerous as a result.

Charlie’s body is left for his girlfriend Sarah to find, her subsequent her escape through a dumbwaiter recalls Jamie’s laundry chute escape in the fourth film. Only she’s not so lucky. It’s an extended scene considering it end with her unable to walk, pleading on the floor as Myers stamps on her face and repeatedly stabs her. Dishing up the novelty of a first death, the ice skate to the face, H20 is happy to bring Myers MO back to regular, blunt horror.

There are few slayings blunter than that in the whole series.

Family affair

“Hoping and praying every year”

H20 really benefits in the family department, worth remembering when comparing the sequel. Making contact with his nephew for the first time, Myers cocks his head like an animal; a reminder that is either far more or far less than a man. It’s a thrilling first encounter, as John lamps Myers like few before. In the wake of Scream’s Ghostface, Myers’ ability to take a pasting, collapsing to the floor, before slowly rising are pronounced. Myers knife has a particular aural swoosh in H20, notable in his final confrontation with his sister but also the airlock scene where John and girlfriend are trapped between a locked door and shut gate. A reference to the door ruse that appeared in the both of the first two films, here it’s just a set up for the main shot: Laurie face-to-face with her brother through a round window for the first time in 20 years.

In the classic siege section that follows there are many reference to the early films. Myers’ single-minded intent as the breaking of the characters’ nerve. Fooled buy Laurie when bursting through a wooden door, a fire extinguisher knocks him out before we see him rise in the background as she tears down a corridor. This could be the famous bedroom scene from 1978. But that’s the breaking point, the siege not as important as the film’s punch-line.

The Revenge of Laurie Strode

“Michael! Michael!”

Buying time to ensure the escape of John and Molly, Laurie Strode’s Ellen Ripley has her hunt down her brother with an axe, through corridors she’d dreamt about for years, before he’s impaled and killed by a fall – echoing the first film. We all know what to expect, but it doesn’t unravel quite as we expect.

The coda is quite extraordinary, and must have caught audiences off-guard as it condenses a tonne of budget and second film into a short sibling melt-down.

Thrown, run-over and crushed by a flaming van – his survival, let alone the impassive eyes make it clear that this is Myers. It’s broaching on Naked Gun territory, but that’s been there since the first film. There is something very emotive in Myers’ silent reach to his sister, that makes the beheading stick – how else can you kill a grand old monster? It’s a real wow moment as we see the dead eyes, now black in the mask. Unlike the horrible failure of the sixth film, H20’s built backwards from this moment and that ensures a lean, reverential instalment. stretched like last. Mixing the dramatic and occasionally bland, most of all it enacts a greatest hits and homage package to the series while rooting it in the horror scene of the late 1990s.

Not bad in continuing a franchise that could thank its dread and melancholy on a lack of budget, and familial ties on a lack of ideas how to pull in a sequel. A situation the creators could now empathise with…

“What do we do?” “We try to live”

Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

“I knew you’d come for me sooner or later. What took you so long?”

The revenge of Laurie strode was not to be. Back to basics with a black title card, orange stroke credits and that music.

“You’ve heard of the tunnel, the one we all go through sooner or later” – that’s Laurie Strode, herself there. You can tell by the ‘sooner’ and the ‘later’. And now she’s an inmate at a psychiatric facility. The clown on the bed, her hair long. A visual lead taken from 1978’s Halloween, a line taken directly from H20, via a strong dose of Terminator 2. As if the shadow of that film wasn’t prominent enough in H20. The start of this preposterous and squandered film is preposterous, but there’s the glimmer of an interest in it – afforded by Jamie Lee Curtis’ obligation to be in 30 seconds of any sequel to H20.

The weak link is supposing that there was a switch at the end of the first film that permitted Myers to survive decapitation. Not that the idea is un-reverential in the scheme of the franchise. it’s just the crushed larynx of a paramedic doesn’t explain his supreme survival schemes or impassive eyes. More interesting is the three years of mute, extreme dissociative disorder, that has reduced Laurie to a mirror of her brother. Preparing for the horrible and unlikely set of events that permit her to escape and finally finish off her brother in one last, inevitable confrontation. The relevance of the three years it took him to turn up is never explained.

It’s a chopped and edited start, most redolent of the sixth film thanks to its facility setting. Laurie’s final words to her brother are, “I’ll see you in hell” as her need to check it really is him this time prove her undoing. She’s dispensed within 15 minutes, by knife and gravity. A rather nice touch is the inmate, and serial killer obsessive, who can reel off facts about Myers as he rather unchillingly saunters down a corridor. Born 1957. We’re still very much in the same timeline, but with the killer’s lineage finally obliterated after 24 years. Job done. And so, the film’s challenge is finding somewhere to take the Shape now.

Post-modern-squared

“One day he picked up a knife and he never put it down again”

In some ways what follows is the ultimate sequel, and falls into the same problem seen elsewhere in Dimension Films’ horror portfolio. Three years later, the eighth Hellraiser film would bolt the cenobites onto a videogame-cum-reality TV show. Halloween Resurrection stole a march on that, setting it in a reality show, live-streamed from the original Myers’ house. We’ve left temperate California to return to Haddonfield.

The inhabitants are students, filling the piece with as many gratuitous stereotypes as pop culture zingers and dire set-pieces. Oh, and the dialogue (“You know Donna, you got great legs. What time do they open?”). It may be a physical upgrade from the high school students of the previous film, but reducing the family dynamic to the walls of the house alone, is a huge back-step.

Background issues

“The six of you will enter the birthplace of horror in its purest form”

Halloween Resurrection isn’t as stylish nor reverential under the stewardship of Rick Rosenthal, returning after helming the franchise’s second instalment when original choice Whitney Ransick left just before shooting. But any chance to run parallel with Halloween II are lost until the end. Resurrection is an oddity. A sequel never intended to happen, it rose from the favourable response to H20. Michael Myers was never expected to appear, except for the protestations of long-term producer Moustapha Akkad, still burned by the failed experiment of Halloween III: Season of the Witch. What emerged split into two: Another version of the film, with the working title Halloween Homecoming is reputedly vastly different from the theatrical release.

After the absurd opening 15 minutes, the wrench to school brings a too-obvious palette of six victims for the taking, and from the opening interview shots, a rather unhelpful line of comedy. Sara’s glass-shattering glass (dubbed as Bianca Kajlich’s on-set scream wasn’t sufficient) sets a horribly and unappreciated tone.

LL Cool J’s cameo in H20 is upgraded int he celebrity stakes by the rather horrific double-act of Tyra Banks and Busta Rhymes,the heads of the high-concept Dangertainment. Rhymes even repeats Ronny the security guard’s preposterous resurrection. On screen, A little too casted, six victims head into the original house. With the perceptive, “can’t you see, I’m not like the others,” characterisaion, Sara is set out as our new Laurie Strode (or Jamie Lloyd) from the start. She even sees ‘the bogeyman’ in the mirror in her own version of preternatural awareness. A ready built, same-but-different victim, a new ingénue. But she’s not helped by the resilient one dimensionality of those she’s trapped in the house with.

A different kind of web

“Hey Mikey, happy Halloween”

There is a sense in the use of streaming cameras. A decade and a half on, it’s believable that poor-quality footage and interruptions can conceal Myers’ actual presence, adding more ambiguity to the kills than the film allows us. But a problem wposed by Resurrection‘s conceit is that the constant flitting between various parties (as they’re whittled down – they’re handily paired off) breaks the tension rather than confirming it.

The outside is represented by the comedy of another party, where Sara’s guardian angel (intriguingly, an imposter of sorts himself and, surely not an obtuse Blade Runner reference, Deckard), watches with a growing crowd. But that doesn’t half restrict the horror of the claustrophobic, original vicinity, as do trips to the control room that frames the finale. The house is apparently authentic in its layout and disrepair (“Looks like it hasn’t been touched in years”), if huge. At one-point Sara even makes it out to the roof in a mid-franchise-pleasing riff.

In fact, the remote support only becomes compelling when Deckard can provide remote warnings – and that’s the opposite of the Halloween conceit. The tension should be weighted to the time preceding the Shape’s murderous rampage, not its peak. Resurrection flips that on its head, and loses some of the franchise’s unique ‘charm’ as a result.

Resurrection has many issues, as if that wasn’t enough. Incredibly, one is that the whole story is predilected on Myers showing up. Otherwise, what’s the point? When a fake Myers (Rhymes’ Freddie) meets the real killer there is a spark, but it’s far removed from the concept of the original classic. But this post-modern, sub-Scream retreat from the freshness of H20 is intent on wringing a change, intentionally or not. Recalling the zombie enslavement of the sixth instalment, Myers is being directed by external events. Returning to his home having fulfilled his mission, like a vampire returning to its disrupted grave, the sense of an inexplicable drive is lost. It was more compelling when he was driven by maths, and that’s saying a lot. Losing the drive of Halloween‘s central character is unforgivable.

Deep breaths

“I’m only trying to give America a good show”

If there’s one plus point, it’s the return of the Shape’s breathing. During the standard impaling and lift, hapless Rudy is pinned to a kitchen door which the Shape then nonchalantly walks through. It’s during the final knife, that the breathing proper returns. How we’ve missed it. And after all, Myers is getting on a bit.

Reference are probably no stronger than in the firey ending; Myers defeated by the electrical fire he starts himself. It’s a clear link to the second film, his first substantial death. While Sara’s foiled in her attempts to attack him with the horror staple chainsaw, there’s a delicious irony in the killer’s slip in the blood of one of his victims. Tyra Banks’ role wasn’t completely wasted.

Resurrection leaves the door open, but it wasn’t to be. And so the Halloween sequence was killed in the early years of the 21st centur. A little too late.

It’s telling that Myer’s first kill (in the main storyline) befalls a cameraman, and is missed by presenter/director Nora. Some preposterous martial arts, sneak attacks and gruesome deaths that foreshadow the emergence of the Saw franchise two year’s later. If Resurrection’s anything, it’s a little too knowing while being a little too blind to the franchise. The coda of the previous film may have been interpolated to an extended opening, but it’s the final sentiment that sums up it all up: Halloween’s shape needed a radical redrawing.

“What makes you so sure it’s over?”

This Halloween retrospective will return on the anniversary with another reboot, and the rise of the Zombie Michael Myers. Rob Zombie, that is. Halloween and Halloween 2 the reboots coming up. 

Catch up on the retrospectives so far, starting with that date in 1978…

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