Last October, the Halloween franchise returned 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 rebooted the franchise in 2007 and even managed to get a sequel out of it. Blumhouse’s new Halloween just ignored ALL of the sequels.
In the early 2000’s, Dimension FIlms released Halloween: Resurrection as a direct follow-up to the continuity established by Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. Despite delivering moderate box office receipts, critics savaged Resurrection. 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.
Halloween Resurrection 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. Yes, the logic underlying the death scene follows through on Resurrection’s retconning of H20’s ending. Nonetheless, it still cheapens Laurie’s journey to kill her off in the movie’s 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 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 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 ‘Final Girl’ in Sara Moyer (Bianca Kajlich). Sadly, Halloween Resurrection wastes Laurie’s death.
Rosenthal Fails to ‘Resurrect’ Scares in This Halloween
Of all the things Halloween: Resurrection gets wrong, it’s biggest offence is that it’s not scary. In fact, the scariest scene in Resurrection is its final camera shot. And that’s a lazy set-up for another sequel. Some of the problem stems from its gimmicky use of the ‘reality TV’ angle. Writers Sean Hood and Larry Brand tack a commentary on society’s needs to watch other’s tragedies. In spite of their best efforts, it’s completely underdeveloped and doesn’t fit with the series.
A lot of the problem with Resurrection is that it’s another sequel just out to make 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 imitating the lesser horror films it inspired.
It’s a little sad to see an innovative film like Halloween reduced to imitating the lesser horror films it inspired.
To his credit, it shows that Rick Rosenthal has previously directed a Halloween film (Halloween II). Aside from John Carpenter, no other director has filmed Myers as well as Rosenthal does in Part II and Resurrection. He has an intuitive grasp of the idea that Myers is ‘The Shape”. That is, Rosenthal films 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.
Halloween Franchise Suffers From Continuity Problems
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. Contemporary horror franchises, like Saw and Paranormal Activity, were obsessed with the minutiae of continuity. Past horror film sequels were content to repeat the original movie’s formula 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. Folllow-up, Halloween: Season of the Witch, does it own with, minus Michael Myers. With Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers, Laurie Strode was unceremoniously written out of the series. Instead, the late 80’s sequels focused on Danielle Harris’ Jamie Lloyd, Laurie’s daughter. Following Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers, the series shifted again. This time it jumped forward an undetermined number of years, once again re-imagining Michael Myers’ origins.
Halloween Resurrection Continues Muddling Franchise Continuity
But not even a young Paul Rudd could save the sixth film from its ridiculous Druid-cult story. As a result, Halloween got a soft reboot with Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. Horror vertebrae, Steven Miner, directed H20. He may or may not have ignored Parts 4 to 6, bringing Laurie Strode back. Apparently, there’s a deleted scene in which a character acknowledges Jamie Lloyd. This would seem to keep those sequels canon. Yet based on what’s in the actual movie, those sequels never happened.
This finally brings us to Halloween: Resurrection, which quite frankly doesn’t help fix any continuity issues. One patient residing in the same asylum as Laurie Strode recites key biographical details of infamous serial killers. His information download on Michael Myers ignores Parts 4 to 6. But it also seems to forget some deaths from Halloween II. And if the size of Crystal Lake exponentially expanded with each equel, the Myers’ home has grown into a cavernous mansion.
And About Busta Rhymes
Fans were upset that Resurrection killed off Laurie Strode. This same fanbase equally disliked Busta Rhyme’s Freddie Harris. First, Busta Rhymes isn’t terrible in Halloween: Resurrection. It’s not hard to see why producers cast him – he is charismatic and his presence expanded the potential audience for Resurrection. The problem lies in the screenplay – his character doesn’t fit into the tone of the series. His confrontation with Michael Myers along with the accompanying one-liners is just too jokey. It 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. Jason Blum has now just re-imagined both movies 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.