October Horror: Halloween Marathon 6 – ‘Halloween H20’ (1998) + ‘Halloween: Resurrection’ (2002)

halloween h20Every now and then, an original horror movie comes along that hits the mainstream while significantly influencing the genre as a whole. Usually they’re followed, for a while at least, by a hoard of imitators. Halloween is an example of such a movie, but in the mid-nineties that movie was Wes Craven’s Scream, a self-aware meta-commentary on slasher movies. Both funny and scary, Scream managed the tricky feat of both parodying, and being part of the sub-genre. Many US horror films attempted to replicate its tone in the years immediately following it and one of them was itself a Halloween movie, the original of which was referenced heavily in Scream. It’s no surprise to learn that Scream writer Kevin Williamson was actually involved in the production of 1998’s Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later, though he does not receive a writing credit, as tonally it fits right in with the brief post-Scream US horror boom of the late nineties.

H20 takes a different approach to the other Halloween sequels too, in that it decides to not concern itself with continuity at all. It essentially retcons the previous three movies out of existence, avoiding any mentions of Laurie’s daughter or the events that took place. Seeing as the character of Laurie herself was returning, the film does stick with the notion that she’s been presumed dead for years, the reason given is that she faked her death and changed her identity in the hope that Michael Myers would not be able to find her.

Directed by horror veteran Steve Miner (House) Halloween H20 wastes absolutely no time, kicking in with an amusing sequence in which Michael Myers returns and kills a teenage Joseph Gordon-Levitt with an ice skate, before retrieving a file confirming Laurie’s whereabouts.

The film mainly takes place in a Californian boarding school where Laurie, under a new identity has become the headmistress. Her son John (Josh Hartnett in his movie debut) and some friends are having a Halloween party when Myers shows up. Maintaining a tight pace, Miner gets in a number of entertaining slasher sequences. The cast includes some surprising faces, Michelle Williams as John’s girlfriend and LL Cool J as a security guard, but the star of the show is Curtis.

In the final act, she decides to not try and escape but instead finally confront him once-and-for-all. It’s a great showdown, acknowledging Myers’ near-invincibility; it uses this to allow Laurie to inflict a series of would-be deaths upon him before finally having her decapitate a trapped Myers with a fire axe. Sticking to its straightforward, no-nonsense sensibilities, it ends right there, a very fitting conclusion. Halloween H20 is one of the few movies in this series I’d seen before watching the whole lot this October, but that was ages ago and I hardly remembered anything about it. Revisiting it now I find it’s actually a very fun little horror movie, and a strong contender for best sequel in this series.

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halloween resurrectionI have to give one thing to 2002’s Halloween: Resurrection, it does actually address a question I posited in an earlier review; what would Michael Myers do if he actually achieved his goal? Yes, in the opening scene it’s revealed that Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis returning once more for a thankless cameo) actually beheaded the wrong person at the end of H20! A completely implausible explanation is given, suggesting that Myers dressed a paramedic up as himself, and then crushed his larynx so he couldn’t say who he was.

The realisation of this ridiculous occurrence has led to Laurie living in a psychiatric institute for the last few years, where she hasn’t spoken but pretends to take her medicine, secretly preparing for Myers’ inevitable return. When he does, he falls into her prepared trap, but a stupid moment stemmed from her needing to be sure it’s him this time leads to Laurie being promptly stabbed then dropped off a roof. Victory for Myers!

So if you’re wondering what the answer to that question I posed earlier is, well imagine the least imaginative outcome possible. What does Michael Myers do once he kills his remaining one family member? Go and kill another bunch of hapless teenagers of course!

The opening sequence is unrelated to the general plot of the film, which finds a director (played by rapper Busta Rhymes) setting up a terrible-sounding internet reality show in which a group of idiotic college students (including a young Katee Sackhoff) will spend Halloween night exploring Michael Myers’ childhood home with cameras attached to their heads. Knowing that such a show would be pretty boring to watch, Rhymes also adds in some extra features to scare the kids, including dressing himself as Myers to pretend to stalk them. Little does he know, the real Myers is there as well picking them off one by one.

Halloween: Resurrection provides literally no motivation for Myers to be there. Why does he care about what these kids are doing? Is he just doing this for fun now? I guess it would be easy to look past the more nonsensical aspects of the plot if the film provided some decent scares but it completely fails on that part too. Rick Rosenthal, the first director to return to the series after making the generally superior Halloween II doesn’t create a single memorable kill or any kind of suspense. The characters are again a completely forgettable bunch and Busta Rhymes is just awful as the lead. Not only in his performance but what they have him do – there is honestly a moment in which he kung fu kicks Myers out of a window. It just left me wondering if that was something he’d demanded to do in order to appear in this movie.

Halloween: Resurrection is a strong contender with part 5 for worst film in this franchise. It’s just yet another rubbish slasher movie with what I imagine was then cutting edge technology but now looks amusingly dated. It seems a total shame that after Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie was re-introduced to the series so effectively in H20 that they just kill her off in the opening scene. Maybe it was apt though, as this film underperformed sufficiently to essentially kill the series as it was too, before of course the inevitable remake.

Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later –  3/5

Halloween: Resurrection –  1.5/5

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