Later this October, the Halloween franchise will be returning after laying dormant for over nine years. One of the ‘Big Three’ of slasher film franchises, along with Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, the Halloween movies have a much more convoluted timeline than their counterparts. Rob Zombie attempted a reboot of the franchise in 2007 and even managed to get a sequel out of it. This October’s new Halloween has opted to ignore ALL of the sequels. It’s just being treated as a direct follow up to John Carpenter’s 1978 classic.
Sixteen years ago today, Halloween: Resurrection was released as a direct follow-up to the continuity established by Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. Despite delivering moderate box office receipts, Resurrection was critically savaged and saw Michael Myers shelved again for five years before Zombie’s reboot. Despite its sub-title, Halloween: Resurrection temporarily put the beloved horror series on the ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ list. In this edition of The Vault, I take a look at what went wrong with the Rick Rosenthal-directed sequel.
They Did What …
One of the biggest sources of fan outrage with Halloween: Resurrection was that it killed off franchise hero, Laurie Strode. There are two major problems with killing Laurie in Resurrection. First, Laurie’s death is delivered in an almost perfunctory manner that does a huge disservice to her character. While the logic underlying the death scene follows through on Resurrection’s retconning of H20’s ending, it still comes across as cheapening Laurie’s journey to have her die in the opening minutes.
Unfortunately, in Halloween: Resurrection, Laurie’s death is immediately followed by what amounts to nothing more than a standard slasher flick.
Second, Rosenthal doesn’t use Laurie’s death to push the franchise forward in new directions. Killing off a major character can work for franchises (see my argument for it in Scream 4). It sends a message that no one is safe, adding a fresh sense of intrigue to a stale narrative. Unfortunately, in Halloween: Resurrection, Laurie’s death is immediately followed by what amounts to nothing more than a standard slasher flick. She’s even replaced by a boring, listless main protagonist in Sara Moyer (Bianca Kajlich). Laurie’s death is completely wasted.
Rosenthal Fails to ‘Resurrect’ Scares in This Halloween
Of all the things Halloween: Resurrection gets wrong, it’s biggest offence is the fact that it’s not very scary. In fact, the scariest scene in Resurrection is its final camera shot, which is not much more than a lazy set-up for another sequel. Some of the problem stems from its gimmicky use of the ‘reality TV’ angle. There’s also a last-minute attempt to tack on some attempt at commentary on society’s needs to watch other’s tragedies, but it’s completely underdeveloped and doesn’t fit with the series.
A lot of the problem with Resurrection is that it’s yet another sequel that seems to have no purpose other than making some quick money. The franchise feels really played out in this sequel. While there are some good bloody kills at least two of them are re-hashing moments from past sequels. It’s a little sad to see an innovative film like Halloween reduced to being derivative of the lesser horror films it inspired in this sequel.
It’s a little sad to see an innovative film like Halloween reduced to being derivative of lesser horror films in this sequel.
To his credit, it shows that Rick Rosenthal has previously directed a Halloween film (Halloween II). Aside from John Carpenter, no other director in the Halloween series has filmed Michael Myers as well as Rosenthal does in Part II and Resurrection. He has an intuitive grasp of the idea that Myers is ‘The Shape”, filming Myers more like a shadow or entity than an actual person. Stuntman Brad Loree also eserves a lot of props for his portrayal of Myers. This is the best ‘The Shape’ has looked since Halloween II.
Muddled Franchise Continuity
Today continuity is a major concern for film franchises. Look no further than the countless number of articles written online about continuity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Horror film franchises have traditionally been less concerned with continuity. Unlike the Saw and Paranormal Activity films, which were almost obsessively concerned with the minutiae of continuity, horror film sequels in the 1980’s took the formula of the first film and just repeated with a higher body count. Look at the Friday the 13th franchise. With each subsequent sequel Camp Crystal Lake just seemed to get bigger and bigger.
Yet the Halloween series has a particularly muddled timeline, which has been thoroughly dissected online. John Carpenter’s Halloween and the first sequel both occur on the same evening with Halloween: Season of the Witch being a completely separate film outside Michael Myers’ story. With Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers, Laurie Strode was unceremoniously written out of the series to shift the focus to Danielle Harris’ Jamie Lloyd, Laurie’s daughter.
Following Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers, the series shifted again, jumping forward an undetermined number of years while simultaneously re-imagining Michael Myers’ origins. But not even a young Paul Rudd could save the sixth film from its ridiculous Druid-cult story, so Halloween got a soft reboot with Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. Directed by horror veteran Steve Miner, H20 may or may not have ignored Parts 4 to 6, bringing Laurie Strode back. Apparently there is a deleted scene in which a character acknowledges Jamie Lloyd and the existence of those sequels, but based on what’s in the actual film, those movies never happened.
This finally brings us to Halloween: Resurrection, which quite frankly doesn’t help fix any continuity issues. One of the patients residing in the same asylum as Laurie Strode at the start of the film is fond of reciting key biographical details of infamous serial killers. His information download on Michael Myers seemingly ignores Parts 4 to 6, but also may be forgetting some deaths from Halloween II. And if the size and population of Crystal Lake seemed to exponentially expand with each Friday the 13th sequel, the Myers’ modest suburban home has grown into a cavernous mansion by this sequel.
And About Busta Rhymes
If fans were upset that Resurrection killed of Laurie Strode, much of the fanbase was equally vocal in its dislike for Busta Rhyme’s Freddie Harris. First, Busta Rhymes isn’t terrible in Halloween: Resurrection. It’s not hard to see why he was cast in the film – he is charismatic and his presence may have certainly expanded the potential audience for Resurrection. The problem is the way his character was written – it doesn’t fit into the tone of the series. His confrontation with Michael Myers along with the accompanying one-liners is just too jokey and adversely impacts the mystique of ‘The Shape.’ But that’s a script problem, not a problem with the performance itself.
The ‘Batman and Robin’ of the Halloween Series
To date, it is probably a toss-up between Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers and Resurrection for worst film in the franchise. With its infamous Producer’s Cut, The Curse of Michael Myers arguably has a larger following. Both films led to the series taking new directions to re-invigorate things. Curse saw the series bring back Laurie Strode, while Resurrection gave way to Rob Zombie’s vision. Both films are being completely re-imagined out of Halloween canon. Either way Halloween: Resurrection makes a good case for itself to be considered the ‘Batman and Robin’ sequel in the series.