Appellate Judge Mac McEntire wonders why every horror sequel isn't about druids.
Our reviews of Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers (published May 11th, 2001), Halloween: Resurrection (published December 19th, 2002), Halloween H2O (published December 7th, 1999), and Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers / Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (Blu-ray) (published May 27th, 2011) are also available.
"There's a little back story that I haven't been…completely
Let's talk about the Halloween films. The first, from director John Carpenter is a well-deserved classic, a nearly perfect example of slow-burning suspense done right. It made stars out of actress Jamie Lee Curtis (True Lies) and movie monster Michael Myers. They squared off again in the inevitable sequel, notable in that it revealed a deeper connection between Michael and Curtis's character, Laurie Strode. In the hopes of turning the franchise into an anthology series of Halloween-themed horror flicks, Halloween III: Season of the Witch jettisoned Michael Myers for an oddball tale of killer masks, corporate druids, and that goddamn jingle that drives me up the wall just thinking about it. The fans reneged, and producers brought back Michael for parts four and five, where he got a new nemesis, Jamie Lloyd, played by preteen scream queen Danielle Harris (The Wild Thornberrys). Fan reactions to these two films are mixed, but I've always enjoyed them in a "popcorn movie" sense.
That brings us to the subject of this review, a two-sided disc containing the final three films in the series before it was sucked into Hollywood remake oblivion.
The sixth film, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers picks up several years after the shocking cliffhanger at the end of part five. We learn that little Jamie Lloyd eventually had a baby of her own, and now Michael has returned, hunting the baby. Michael's psychiatrist/adversary Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance, You Only Live Twice) is back, we meet another branch of the strode family, someone else from the first movie shows up, there's an evil cult performing genetic experiments, and it's all tied into Michael and his supposed "curse."
The movie goes overboard trying to establish a complex mythology for Michael. Remember back when he was a knife-wielding psycho silently stalking babysitters? Remember how scary that was? Well, screw that, because now he's got an elaborate supernatural/sci-fi history, complete with prophecies, ancient magic, and high-tech DNA weirdness. There are a ton of characters, all with their own subplots to keep track of, and it's confusing as hell. You shouldn't have to take notes in order to follow a Halloween movie.
A quick trip around the internet and back reveals that the movie was a troubled production. The script was constantly being re-written during filming, and then, after a disastrous test screening, a whole new third act was written and re-shot. So it's no wonder this thing is a mess. The actors look just as bewildered as the audience, the camera loves to linger on close-ups of the blood and gore, and the ending is so random and abrupt that to this day folks all over the web still don't know what to make of it. There are occasional flashes of amazing visual style in some scenes, but you've got suffer through one headache of a movie to get to them.
Jump ahead a few years to the late 1990s, and the seventh film, Halloween H20. After the success of Scream, horror had not only gotten popular again, but it had gone postmodern. Dozens of Scream-esque movies flooded theaters. Because Scream referenced Halloween so extensively, it made sense to bring back not just Michael Myers, but Jamie Lee Curtis as well. Because it's twenty years later, it was time for the series to go retro.
Halloween H20 doesn't mention anything that happened in parts four through six (and, obviously, part three). Let's see if we can't figure out this continuity. In Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers, Laurie Strode has only been "dead" for a year, while H20 establishes that she's living in California under a new identity. This means Laurie must have abandoned little Jamie Lloyd at age 8 to go start her new identity. But, wait, Laurie of that movie has a 17-year-old son, John (Josh Hartnett, Black Hawk Down), which means he and Jamie must have known each other when they were little, right? Unless my math is off, this also makes Jamie the older sibling. Jamie's tragic fate is made all the more tragic after Halloween H20, in which Laurie all but forgets and/or denies her daughter's existence.
OK, so the filmmakers wanted to discard the complex and confusing plotlines of the sequels and go back to basics, putting the focus squarely on Laurie Strode and Michael Myers. After suffering through the convoluted nonsense that was part six, I don't blame them. The fault lies not with the filmmakers, but with this DVD. By putting Halloween 6 and H20 in one package, it demands viewers watch them back-to-back, which will just add to everyone's confusion.
This is too bad, because there's a lot to enjoy about H20. One of the first times we see Jamie Lee Curtis on screen, she's waking up from a nightmare, screaming. This immediately reestablishes her title as one of the all-time great scream queens. There's a thrilling scene near the end of the movie in which Laurie picks up an axe and goes looking for Michael, with the classic Halloween theme music cracked to the max. It shows that the characters have come full circle—now she's the one stalking him.
Jump ahead a few more years, and it's time for yet another sequel, Halloween: Resurrection. What was hot in 2002? How about the reality TV boom? So now an unscrupulous producer is wiring a bunch of sexy 20-somethings with cameras and having them spend the night inside the run-down Myers house. Michael shows up and, slasher that he is, takes them out one by one during the live Halloween night broadcast.
Halloween: Resurrection is a gimmick movie, no doubt. The question is, does the gimmick work? This is not a "found footage" movie, so no need for Dramamine. There's a semi-clever bit about someone watching the broadcast sending texts to someone else inside the house. Beyond that, though, the reality show stuff exists only as an excuse for two things. One, to get a bunch of good-looking soon-to-be-victims locked inside the house, and two, to get Busta Rhymes involved.
The rumor at the time was that Halloween: Resurrection was intended to kick off a whole series of sequels with Busta Rhymes as the hero, battling Michael Myers each time. I've no idea if this is true, but after watching the movie, I believe it. Jamie Lee Curtis only appears in a cameo in the first few minutes, as if she's passing the torch to Busta, for him to take her place as the human face of the Halloween series. Busta is all about the action hero quips, the martial arts moves, and the bad attitude. I'd totally check out this character in his own action movie, but in this one, all he's doing is trying to upstage good ol' Michael Myers the whole time.
The supporting cast features Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) and Tyra Banks (America's Next Top Model), so there's that.
I could go on and on, discussing what it is about Michael Myers that makes him still a viable movie monster all these years later, detailing the other supporting actors in these three movies and what they bring to their roles, and further elaborate on how various themes and concepts in each film represents the era in which it was made, but there's no need for that. This is a stock catalogue release, unceremoniously dumping the three movies on a double-sided disc without much thought. In a perfect world, we'd get a multi-disc set for Halloween 6, with both the theatrical and original cuts of the movie and tell-all extras about the troubled production. But, we don't live in a perfect world, so no extras. Halloween H20 could have had retrospectives on Jamie Lee Curtis's career, or the many ways the series influenced horror and pop culture during its first 20 years, but nope, no extras. Even worse, Halloween: Resurrection was previously released on a stand-alone DVD with commentaries, featurettes, and a nifty yet self-flagellating option to watch just the "live-cam" parts of the movie. None of those generous extras are present here. Video and audio are adequate, if unremarkable.
If this disc succeeds at anything, it's to demonstrate how the Halloween series has suffered from a lack of direction over the years. Following the classic first film, the franchise become inconsistent, full of highs and lows but never evening out to create a satisfying experience as a whole.
Knife-wielding masked man: Not guilty.
Sci-fi druid conspiracies and rapping kung fu reality show producers: Guilty.
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Review content copyright © 2011 Mac McEntire; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.