Tag Archives: Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later

109: Halloween H20, Halloween Resurrection, Plus Night of the Living Deb and Ruin Me

Arnold and Natalie end their massive series rewatch of the HALLOWEEN movies! In this episode, they talk about the series’ second timeline, with Laurie Strode returning for HALLOWEEN H20 and a bit of HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION. The project ends abruptly, and they jump instead to Shudder for a look at the meta-slasher RUIN ME, before winding up with the delightful romzomcom, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEB! It’s tainted water and sibling showdowns in this all-new DOCTOR OF THE DEAD podcast!

Show Music: “Rage” (feat. Vosmoy) by Still Pluto.

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Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

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THE PATIENTS

Director: Rick Rosenthal
Writers: Larry Brand, Sean Hood
Starring: Busta Rhymes, Jamie Lee Curtis, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Ryan Merriman, Sean Patrick Thomas, Tyra Banks, Bianca Kajlich

THE PATHOLOGY

After a prologue that provides a final, epic farewell to Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode, we move on to Haddonfield, where Freddie Harris (Rhymes) is about to present a new Internet-based reality program dubbed “Dangertainment.” Lock the usual assortment of attractive young people in the Myers house, strap webcams to their heads, and let the fun begin. Oh, did I mention Michael has come home again? Oops. Bet nobody had him sign off on this production.

THE PROGNOSIS

I won the scorn of many colleagues when I confessed to actually enjoying this 2002 installment in the slasher franchise. Yes, the Michael Myers seen here is a pale shadow of the Shape we once knew; yes, it makes Busta Rhymes a more imposing presence than Myers, to the detriment of Michael’s stature as the series’ indestructible juggernaut; and yes, it won’t win any awards for plotting or performance quality. It’s a less than ambitious entry in the series and middle-of-the-road horror fare for a more conservative era.

It’s a less than ambitious entry in the series and middle-of-the-road horror fare for a more conservative era.

But hell, it’s also a pretty decent HALLOWEEN sequel when your expectations are suitably lowered, and sometimes you have to evaluate a film within its own narrow category rather than relative to the vast universe of cinema in general. When compared with the lethargic 20th anniversary entry, RESURRECTION at least gets down to business with some old-style Myers murders (Tyra Banks’ demise, regrettably, happens off-screen), a decent level of suspense, and even some welcome continuity touches that have been absent from the series for a long time. Anyone remembering the sudden reality shift in HALLOWEEN 5 when the old Myers house became a Gothic-style cathedral-like edifice should have no problems here. The Myers home not only serves as the central location for most of the action, but it looks almost exactly as it did back in 1978. Good show, set designers.

The premise is marginally clever as well, taking advantage of the slew of reality-based shows on TV then (and now) and incorporating aspects of the growing Internet culture and the “found footage” genre. True, some fans might question why Michael is driven to continue his rampage at all now that his last remaining relative is gone in the first fifteen minutes, but to hell with logic. For a series with two distinct continuity threads, who needs consistency? At least Michael, played here by Brad Loree, recaptures a bit of his trademark body language, and the mask is not at all bad. Michael even shows a wry sense of humor by presenting his bloody knife as a collectible trophy to a mental patient obsessed with serial killers. What a nice Shape he is sometimes.

Our new Laurie stand-in, Sara (Kajlich), is pretty flat, but then so was Laurie. Come on now – the HALLOWEEN movies were never about brilliant acting anyway. The rest of the cast dies well enough, and Busta emerges as one half of a heroic team – the other being Sara’s Internet and Palm Pilot chat pal ‘Deckard’ (Ryan Merriman) – that gives Michael a definite run for his money. And once again this brings us to the issue of the HALLOWEEN series’ recurring problem with endings.

At least Michael, played here by Brad Loree, recaptures a bit of his trademark body language, and the mask is not at all bad.

In the theatrical cut of the film, it’s Busta that wipes up the floor with the Shape. This is director Rick Rosenthal’s second shot at a HALLOWEEN film after the legendary near-disaster that was HALLOWEEN II, and once again he was subject to a lot of last-minute tinkering in the editing room. In the original ending, it was Merriman’s character that arrived to save the day, but test audiences demanded that Busta survive and save the damsel in distress instead.

Either way, we all know damn well that Evil never dies, but this is the end for the original HALLOWEEN series. After eight films and two storylines, the decision was made to hand the character to filmmaker and musician Rob Zombie to reimagine for a new era. But perhaps some night soon, the one true Shape will come home again…

RATING

05brains

HELP US BY ORDERING THE MOVIE VIA THIS LINK!

ALL THE OTHER FILMS IN THE SERIES:
HALLOWEEN

HALLOWEEN II

HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH

HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS

HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS

HALLOWEEN 6: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS

HALLOWEEN H20: TWENTY YEARS LATER

Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998)

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THE PATIENTS

Director: Steve Miner
Writers: Robert Zappia, Matt Greenberg
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Adam Arkin, Michelle Williams, Adam Hann-Byrd, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Janet Leigh, Josh Hartnett, LL Cool J, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Chris Durand

THE PATHOLOGY

Twenty years after the Night He Came Home, Keri Tate (Jamie Lee Curtis), alcoholic school marm and dead ringer for a girl who was terrorized one horrible Haddonfield Halloween night, must face her demons in the form of her brother-turned-demonic killer. Can Keri – sorry, Laurie Strode – save herself and her son (Josh Hartnett) as well as his friends when a ghostly Shape from her past returns to kill again?

THE PROGNOSIS

We never thought it would happen. Jamie Lee Curtis – screamer turned star – returned to the series that made her a modern horror star just in time for the twentieth anniversary. Perhaps it was fate that Curtis would be back – yes, fate definitely caught up with her here. Fate never changes.

H20 was a laudable attempt to bring some mainstream gloss to the B-movie slasher series, and Curtis’ return garnered this seventh installment considerable media coverage. Sadly, Donald Pleasence had since departed this mortal realm, so Curtis’ rematch with Michael would happen without the sorely missed presence of Dr. Sam Loomis.

Of course, the previous three movies had established Laurie as dead and mired themselves in a convoluted continuity of their own that nearly buried the series. The creators decided to take a chance with fan sensibilities and jettison everything that happened in HALLOWEEN 4-6. Although the resulting anniversary sequel plays like a love letter to fans of the original two films, there are problems. Why was the opening voice-over, a word-for-word re-enactment of a speech first performed by the late, lamented Pleasence, re-recorded with a younger man trying to replicate Pleasence’s distinctive tones. Surely they could have extracted the audio. Rights issues? Too much background noise or interfering music?

Although this anniversary sequel plays like a love letter to fans of the original two films, there are problems.

Some might get a rush out of hearing the classic Carpenter-penned HALLOWEEN theme rendered with a full orchestral sound, but after the initial excitement of this mainstreaming installment dies down, rewatching exposes all the flaws. In a move towards broader audience acceptance, the gorier aspects of the earlier films were toned down, but so too went much of the suspense and tone. The movie feels more like a generic action thriller than a horror/slasher movie. At best, it’s an uncomfortable marriage of two approaches, and while the killings aren’t as intense, they do seem more tragic and almost unbearably sad in the style of HALLOWEEN homage series SCREAM, in particular when one girl is savagely stabbed multiple times while pinned to the ground, and in another when a really nice guy gets the knife-in-the-back-elevator-ride that Michael once gave a nurse in HALLOWEEN II.

While none of the new kids are particularly impressive, they scream when they need to and run when they have to. You might stifle a giggle when Curtis stands menacingly in shadow and screams Michael’s name at the top of her lungs in challenge as the theme kicks into high gear; it’s a bit too over the top. Curtis’ overwrought performance as the alcoholic Strode grates on the nerves after a while, and by the end you may be hard-pressed to decide which sibling you want to root for. Let’s see – who’s the likeliest one to come back in several more HALLOWEEN movies? I know where I’m putting my money…

By the end you may be hard-pressed to decide which sibling you want to root for.

As for the eternal mask issue, the filmmakers were unhappy with their new mask after shooting had already begun. The replacement, while an improvement that comes as close to the original as we’ve seen so far, still shares screen time with the crappy first version due to ham-fisted editing.

Finally, there’s that ending calculated to elicit a huge audience cheer, but it only holds up if this is truly the final HALLOWEEN. Since we know it’s not, it just becomes a matter of figuring out how they plan to get around the seemingly inescapable conclusion. Fans who had read an earlier script for that last scene, circulated around the ‘net, were already ahead of the game. We all knew the Shape would return…but would Laurie be back to face him again?

RATING

06brains

HELP US BY ORDERING THE MOVIE VIA THIS LINK!

ALL THE OTHER FILMS IN THE SERIES:
HALLOWEEN

HALLOWEEN II

HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH

HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS

HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS

HALLOWEEN 6: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS

HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION