Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Franchises: Halloween. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

File:Halloween Resurrection Theatrical Poster 2002.jpgHalloween H20's ending seemed pretty final. Michael Myers had survived being shot a bunch of times, blown up and sat on fire, falling down a mineshaft, and countless beatings but getting his head cut off is something that nobody, not even him, should be able to survive. At least, that's what I thought. But when I heard rumors in the early 2000's that they were currently planning yet another Halloween movie, I was absolutely baffled. Even though I hadn't seen H20 yet myself, I knew how that film ended so I was thinking, "How in the hell is Michael still alive? Is he going to be like the headless horseman in this film or something?" Needless to say, I was rather curious as to how they were going to explain away his decapitation but I wouldn't learn for quite a while. I didn't see Halloween: Resurrection in the theater (at 15, I was still too young to see an R-rated film without a parent and neither my mom nor my dad was going  to take me to see a bloody horror film) and I didn't read a single review on it (although I knew that it wasn't very well liked). I finally saw the movie that December when I got it on DVD for Christmas but by then, my cousin, who had already seen the movie, told me how they explained Michael's still being alive and also informed me that he finally managed to kill his sister at the beginning. He actually thought the explanation was really intelligent whereas I wasn't quite sure how I felt about it myself and I was shocked to learn that Michael managed to kill Laurie as well. But, I decided to reserve judgment until I saw the film for myself and when I finally did that December, while I didn't think it was an awesome movie by any means and certainly not one of the franchise's shining moments either, I enjoyed it for what it was: a dumb slasher movie. Certainly, there were better ways they could have used Michael Myers and the movie's concept and execution wasn't original in the least but during this time, I still felt H20 was overrated and didn't care for it as much as everyone else so that's probably why I got more entertainment out of Resurrection. And that was a feeling that I held for a very, very long time.

However, things change over time and just as my opinion on H20 has become more positive in recent years, my opinion on Resurrection has become more negative. As I approached this review, I came to the realization that I hadn't seen this film in its entirety in a long time and certainly not since I had warmed up to H20. As I've down with a few of these reviews, I figured I'd best watch the film again before I dived headfirst into this write-up and after doing so... ooh, boy, this movie has not aged well at all. I still don't hate it and it does still provide me with some cheap entertainment, which is why this isn't a ranting installment of Movies That Suck, but that said, they definitely should have ended it with H20. Despites its flaws, that was the perfect cap on the series. This, however, is a purely by-the-numbers slasher film that's filled with a lot of clichés, a bunch of uninspired characters, no scare factor at all, and just feels like they didn't put much, if any, effort into it whatsoever. I can definitely see what John Fallon of Arrow In The Head meant when he said that in this case, they completely forgot about filmmaking and just decided to make a product. In addition, the whole thing just feels very tired by this point. While the Halloween series had a lot of good entries over the years, making another movie after H20's definitive, crowd-pleasing ending felt like they were just beating a dead horse and Resurrection more than qualifies as a prime example of that. While I do maintain that I can get some enjoyment out of it and I can definitely watch it any day of the week over what came next, the writing was on the wall that they should have left it alone.

It's been three years since the events of Halloween H20 and Laurie Strode is now in a psychiatric hospital after she had accidentally beheaded a paramedic whom Michael Myers had switched clothes with in the confusion. One night in October of 2001, Michael, who has been in hiding for the past three years, manages to sneak inside the hospital and, after a brief confrontation with Laurie, manages to finally kill her. Some time after accomplishing this task, Michael returns home to his old house in Haddonfield. However, his house is to be the focus of a reality show where six college students spend Halloween night in it and try to find clues as to what led him to become the notorious killer that he is. However, as the night progresses, not only do the students learn that the show isn't exactly honest about a lot of things, including what they find inside the house, but Michael soon makes his presence known and begins attacking and killing each of them. Now, with no way out of the locked house, the lone survivor must depend on a cyber friend of hers to avoid becoming Michael's next victim.

Resurrection is quite simply one of the most uninspired and overused sequel subtitles imaginable, just like how The Beginning is typically the subtitle for a prequel. What's more, that subtitle has nothing to do with this movie at all. At least with the movie Alien: Resurrection, it made sense given how they brought Ripley back from the dead by cloning her. What resurrection takes place here? Michael Myers wasn't even dead! In fact, that wasn't the original title for the film; it was originally going to be Halloween: The Homecoming, which is what it was called when I first heard about it. While that title isn't the best either, at least it makes more sense seeing as how Michael does return to his childhood home here. But the producers wanted a title that said point blank that Michael was alive and so, the film was renamed Halloween: Resurrection in early 2002. I didn't even know that the title had been changed until I saw some TV spots for it while I was on vacation that summer and while I wasn't aware at that point how overused the word "resurrection" was when it came to sequels, I still thought that was an odd choice. Not having yet learned how Michael survived being decapitated, I wondered if they did indeed call it that to explain how he came back. But, nope, as we'll see, I was far off. And their reasoning for giving it that title is stupid as well? You know, if there's a new Halloween coming, I'm sure people would deduce that Michael is still alive... that is, if it were about him, which actually almost wasn't the case. Dimension did consider honoring the ending of H20 and do a Halloween movie without Michael but Moustapha Akkad reminded them of how badly that idea bombed back in 1982 with Halloween III: Season of the Witch so they immediately dispensed with that notion. They could have just made something else entirely as well and let the series rest but, as long as there was money to be had, that wasn't going to happen.

When it came to choose a director, Dimension initially considered Whitney Ransick, who had mostly done television work and a few films here and there that I have never ever heard of and when that didn't work out, they tried to get Dwight H. Little, director of Halloween 4, to return to the franchise but he turned them down as well. Ultimately, though, they did get another series alumni back into the director's chair again: Rick Rosenthal, director of Halloween II. I don't know what enticed them to get Rosenthal back. Maybe they felt that he'd made a good film back in 1981 (which he did) and hoped that he'd be able to replicate that success with this entry. It couldn't have been because of the stuff he had done since Halloween II, that's for sure. In the years since his rather impressive debut, Rosenthal had mainly directed a lot of TV work, on little known shows like Darkroom, Code of Vengeance, and such, as well as much more popular ones like The Practice, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Strong Medicine, and Crossing Jordan. He had directed a few films, though none of them were particularly successful or even that well-known. We're talking about stuff like American Dreamer with JoBeth Williams, Russkies, Distant Thunder, and a notoriously bad made-for-TV sequel to a classic Alfred Hitchcock film, The Birds II: Land's End, which was so awful that it prompted him to use the Alan Smithee pseudonym. According to IMDB, the only theatrical film he's done since Halloween: Resurrection is something called Nearing Grace in 2005. Otherwise, he's mainly done more TV work on shows like Smallville, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the revamp of 90210. In any case, when it comes to his directing of Halloween: Resurrection, all I can say is that Rosenthal was a much better director when he first started out. Maybe it was the script he had to work with or interference from the studio, which it seems there was a fair amount of, but whatever the case, it's hard for me to believe that this was directed by the same guy who did what I thought was a very worthy follow-up to John Carpenter's original classic back in the day. Far unlike that movie, Resurrection has no style or mood whatsoever and makes me wonder if Rosenthal just forgot how to direct an actual horror film or something.

Halloween: Resurrection is known for starting with a prologue that wraps up the loose ends concerning Laurie Strode and the ending for H20, a prologue that also has nothing to do with the main plot of the film that begins after the opening credits conclude so let's start here first. Now, I had known from the TV spots that I saw for the film that Jamie Lee Curtis was back in this movie but I assumed that she would be in the entire movie, maybe trying to stop the people from spending the night in Michael's house or at least having a final confrontation with her brother at the end. So, when my cousin told me that not only was she only in the first fifteen minutes of the film but Michael actually killed her, my jaw dropped. I couldn't believe that they would just kill off this beloved character that had been such a well-remembered aspect of the series since its inception. Turns out, that's the only way they could get Curtis to play the role one last time, if they killed her off so she wouldn't have to do anymore. I think after Dimension completely foiled her intention to end the series by killing Michael in H20, Curtis decided that she'd had enough, that they were never going to stop making these movies, and she wanted nothing more to do with it, which is no doubt similar to the way John Carpenter must have felt after a certain point. But, even though she only did the film to make sure that both she and her character would be vindicated from the series (as well as collect a nice paycheck, I'm sure), I thought Curtis still did well with what she had to do. I really feel bad for Laurie when you first see her sitting in her room in the psychiatric hospital, looking absolutely destroyed and sullen. It's really sad to see that her life ended up this way: being institutionalized due to accidentally killing an innocent man, the guilt she feels from that, and being taken away from her son (whose picture you can see on the wall behind her), particularly after what felt like a triumph at the end of H20. But, despite her despair, she's also smart enough to know that Michael will come for her sooner or later and she makes sure that she's ready for him by simply pretending to take her meds and ambushing Michael from behind when he breaks into her room.

Unfortunately, they not only have Laurie get killed by Michael but it happens in the stupidest, most butt-hurt way imaginable. After Michael bursts into her room to kill her and Laurie whacks him in the back of the head with a light, he chases her up to the roof where she's rigged a pulley system with a rope that catches his foot, hoists him up over the side of the roof, and she proceeds to grab his dropped butcher knife to cut the rope and drop him. So, this is Laurie's big plan? First, after everything that Michael has survived, does she really think that dropping him off of a rope is going to kill him once and for all? I know she's in a psychiatric hospital but, according to one of the nurses who checks on her at the beginning of the movie, she managed to get up on the roof a couple of times, no doubt to get it rigged up so, if she's able to do that, you'd think she'd be able to find another way that would more definitively kill him. Plus, she had three years to prepare for Michael and this was the best she could come up with? In any case, just as she's about to drop Michael, he starts grabbing at his mask and Laurie, remembering the tragic mistake that she had, wants to be sure this time and tries to take his mask off to make sure it really is him. Some have questioned how she would evcn know what his face looks like but, remember, she's saw it at the end of the original Halloween and, as brief as that was, I doubt that she's forgotten what he looked like and could probably recognize it after twenty years of aging. However, what gets me is that she even thought that this might be another instance where it isn't really him. Lady, who else would burst into your room specifically, wearing this outfit and mask, and attempt to knife you to death while you're in bed? Do you think he once again changed clothes with somebody while he was in the middle of chasing you up to the roof? And even if it's not him, it's clear that this person still wants you dead, so I think it'd be okay to do away with him. Everybody would, or at least they should, think it was self-defense. But, nope, Laurie attempts to take Michael's mask off, he grabs her, they both tumble off the side of the roof, and Michael manages to grab the knife and stab her in the back. I do like that, before Michael lets her fall to her death, Laurie actually kisses him and says, "I'll see you in hell," but it doesn't change the fact that this is a rather undignified way for Laurie to go out. If they absolutely had to kill her, they could have at least come up with a better way to do so, like maybe have her get killed after another confrontation and fight with Michael. It's the same principle that applies to Rachel's pathetic death in Halloween 5: after everything she put him through during the previous film, at least let it be a bit of challenge for him to finally kill her.

Now, let's talk about their explanation as to how Michael is still alive after he was apparently be-headed at the end of H20. As we're shown, after Laurie stabbed Michael numerous times and sent him falling off the balcony onto one of the tables in the dining hall, the police arrived and a paramedic walked in to find Michael's body. After he took the knife out of his hand, Michael suddenly sprung to life, grabbed him by the neck, crushing his voice box, and slammed up against the wall, eventually choking him to the point where he passed out. Seizing the opportunity, Michael switched outfits with the guy and put his mask on him, so it was the paramedic whom Laurie decapitated after that big crash. Despite my mixed feeling when my cousin first told me about it, the minute I actually saw the movie, I knew it was complete crap even though, as a devoted fan of the series, I tried to tell myself that it wasn't. Let's count the ways in how this is a bunch of bull. First off, why did that one lone paramedic go into the dining hall while everyone else stayed outside? Is that standard procedure for investigating a crime scene? Second, Michael must be pretty dang fast when it comes to swapping outfits with someone because, as long as that would usually take, you'd think somebody would walk in and check on the paramedic, asking, "Why you taking so long?" Third, when Michael walked out wearing the paramedic's outfit, did nobody notice that he wasn't the same guy who went in there to begin with? And since Laurie, as we've said, knows what Michael's face looks like, shouldn't she have seen him and been like, "Oh, crap, that's him! He's going to get away!" Fourth, there's actually a shot in this flashback of Michael in the paramedic's outfit, carrying his butcher knife! Wouldn't somebody have come up to this supposed paramedic and ask, "Why are you walking around with that knife? That's evidence." I'm not going to ask what exactly Michael's plan was because they eventually did learn that he was still out there when they found the paramedic's decapitated head and even if Laurie hadn't killed him, that guy would have woken up eventually and somebody would have had to deal with. Either way, it wouldn't be a mysterious that Michael was still alive so he obviously meant that as just some sort of distraction so he could get away. But now, let's get into how this doesn't at all fit with what we saw during the final part of H20. If that was indeed a paramedic and not Michael, then why did he lunge at Laurie after he managed to get out of the body bag? How did he survive going through a windshield and after that, getting crushed between a fallen tree and a coroner's van? And even though he couldn't talk, he still could have taken the mask off. If I were to wake up after being rendered unconscious, I think I'd realize that there was something on my face, like that mask. That's not exactly something that's difficult to notice. It's possible that they even knew they were going to do this when they made H20 because they had a moment where "Michael" appears to pull at his mask after he awakens from being crushed in-between the log and the van but even if that's true, nothing about this connection between the films adds up at all.

As far as characters go in this prologue, the only person whom I find to be kind of interesting is Harold (Gus Lynch), this patient who's an expect on serial killers, is always quoting data about them as well as dressing up like them (when you meet him here, he's wearing a clown mask to be like John Wayne Gacy), and, according to the guards, appears to be able to escape from his room at ease. I do find it interesting how Michael, after killing Laurie, walks into Harold's room, gives him the bloody knife, and just walks away while Harold spouts off information about him. I don't know why that makes me smile but it does, I guess because Michael's smart enough to know that by giving Harold the knife, he'll take the blame for the deaths of the guards and Laurie, and how Harold is too wrapped up in realizing that Michael is back (or too crazy) to realize that he's going to take the blame for it. Heck, he might not even care. The rest of the characters here are pretty standard as far as horror films go. You have the two dumb guards who are so stereotypical of this genre, the young nurse who becomes curious about Laurie's being in lockdown, and the older nurse whose only purpose is to spout exposition and tell her (and us) about what happened in-between the scenes that we saw during the latter half of H20 and how Laurie ended up in the asylum, which, I want to quickly add, isn't a badly designed place and the laundry room in the basement where both security guards get killed does have a bit of a mood to it (not much of one, though).

You know, as much as this opening sucks, if it had to exist, then I kind of wish that the movie was flipped the other way, with the main plot involving the reality show at the old Myers house happening first and then having Michael, after springing to life in the morgue and, predictably, killing that female coronor and escaping, find where Laurie is and go in and kill her. It would still suck that Laurie got killed after all but at the very least, even though the ending of H20 would still have been infinitely better, the original Halloween series would have had a concrete conclusion. But, as it worked out, the series ended on a stupid, predictable jump-scare that will almost certainly never be followed up on and given any closure.

Now that we've talked about the specifics of the prologue, let's begin talking about the movie as a whole. A good percent of the characters in this film are hardly anything special but there are a few that I don't mind, with one of them being the lead, Sara (Bianca Kajlich). She's definitely not one of the most impressive leads we could have had, though, and her character is pretty generic: the quiet, smart girl who's not like everyone else around her and doesn't even really want to participate in the reality show because she doesn't want to be famous or draw attention to herself but is pressured into it. In other words, she's kind of a low-rent version of how Laurie Strode was in the original Halloween. The good thing about her is that she's not annoying or obnoxious but that said, there's still not much to her. She doesn't have the most expressive face and her voice is pretty monotone for a good chunk of the movie. I will say that they do show how intelligent she is when we first see her in her psychology class, with her not only being the sole person who's paying attention to the professor (a cameo by Rick Rosenthal, by the way) but able to answer his question as well. However, at the same time, that never comes into play at all, even though you'd think they'd do something with it since they're talking about the dark part of the human psyche and Michael Myers certainly embodies that; plus Sara gives some thoughts as to why he became the way he is. But, most of what she does during the third act of the movie is scream a lot (not really her, though, because Kajlich has said that she can't scream very well) and run from Michael. She even does something really stupid like scream even when her cyber-friend tells her not to. Granted, she does help Freddie when he's fighting Michael as well as fend him off with a chainsaw at one point, so she's not totally helpless, but she still has to be saved by Freddie at the end of the movie. All in all, she's certainly not the worst character in the film and I didn't want to see her get killed either but she's hardly an inspired lead as well.

Let the Dangertainment begin out... of this motherfucker.
I'm going to get a lot of crap for this but, not only do I not mind Busta Rhymes as Freddie, I actually like him as well. I know he's one of the most maligned aspects of the movie and the character he's playing isn't the most decent human being but I can't help it, I do enjoy him. I don't think he's that bad of an actor. He has a certain energy and natural likability and charm that I really gravitate towards. I was always entertained whenever he was on camera. I like some of his lines, like when, after Sara gets startled during an interview for the reality show and screams so loud that a nearby glass explodes, he goes, "Now that's what I'm looking for. Ooh!" or when he's watching that martial arts movie in his motel room and he's going, "Get his ass! Get his ass! Get his ass! Who could be better than Wat Chun Lee? Whoopin' everybody's ass while he's smoking a cigarette," and when there's a knock at the door, he goes, "Who the hell's knockin' on my door at this time of night? Whoever it is is keepin' me from seeing Wat Chun Lee whoop some ass." I'm sorry but I love that stuff. And I always laugh at the part when he's dressed up as Michael, is confronted by the real Michael, and berates him because he thinks it's someone who works for him. Yes, he should have gotten butchered for that and it doesn't make sense for Michael to just stand there and take it but it's so damn funny. "Goddammit, what the hell is wrong with you?! I said, 'What you lookin' at me like that for?" Huh? Huh? [Taps Michael on the forehead.] You don't get it? You don't get it? Your shit ain't workin' up there or somethin'? You need to take your ass back into the garage with Nora. That's your job. Go back into the garage and help her ass out. Go do your job. I left the backdoor unlocked for your ass to go back into the garage. That's what I did. You need to get the hell out of here! Go on scoot, skedaddle! Get the fuck out of dodge!" Then Michael actually walks and he goes, "Goddamn. What the hell's somebody got to do to get a little decent help up in this motherfucker?" Believe me, I used to chastise myself for laughing at that but I just figured that if it makes me laugh, it makes me laugh.

Like I said, you found out that Freddie isn't exactly a trustworthy person and that the entire Dangertainment reality show was a set-up, that he and his crew rigged the Myers house with a bunch of crap, made the participants look like morons live on the internet, and even he freely admits that he has no qualms whatsoever about what he did and only wants a paycheck from it as well. So, yes, Freddie isn't the most decent human being you could think of... but he does redeem himself. Once he discovers that Michael is indeed in the house and has killed everybody except for him and Sara, he gets Sara and attempts to get them both out. He could have just left her behind and saved himself but he didn't and he clearly recognizes it's his fault that so many people are dead because he tells Sara that he had no idea whatsoever that Michael was there. And when they run into Michael, he actually fights him instead of running away like a wimp, keeps him from hurting Sara, and even manages to get some nice hits on him as well. While it is ridiculous to see Michael Myers taking so much abuse from Busta Rhymes, especially when keeps doing those silly kung-fu noises, he doesn't totally dominate him in the fight and would have even gotten killed at one point if Sara hadn't intervened. The same goes for the fight between him and Michael in the burning garage at the end of the movie: he gets knocked back by Michael at one point and if he hadn't regained consciousness when he did, Michael would have killed him. And speaking of that confrontation, it happened in the first place because he broke into the garage to save Sara. Yet again, he could have saved himself but instead, he did something admirable by once again fighting Michael to save her life, especially after he'd been stabbed in the shoulder a few times. Plus, again I love his lines, like, "Trick or treat, motherfucker!" "Burn, motherfucker! Burn!" and, "Hey, Mikey, happy fuckin' Halloween!" So many lines like that in this scene was a tad bit overkill but I still enjoy it. Finally, after everything they've both been through, Freddie, realizing that he was being this dickish earlier and that it cost a bunch of people their lives, shows that he now has no love for the media when the news reporters shove cameras in their faces and ask for statements, seeing it as disrespectful, which it is. You got to love it when that one guy asks him how he's feeling and he says, "You want to know how I'm feelin' right now? Feel this!" before doing something to mess up the camera. I may not like his music (I don't like hip hop or rap at all, for that matter) but I can't lie, I do get entertainment out of watching Busta Rhymes in this movie.

I also don't mind Sean Patrick Thomas as Sara's friend, Rudy. I thought he was rather likable and funny, with his quirk of being obsessed with food and feeling that a poor diet is what causes some people to become murderers. He thinks that the reason behind Adolf Hitler's madness was because of his vegetarianism and he mentions another guy who committed murder and only ate Twinkies. Another moment that I like is when he and Jenna are getting high and when Sara bursts in on them to tell them that she saw Michael, Rudy is laughing like crazy and telling her that there's nobody in the house besides them. I can relate because I've been in those moods where you're so out of it that you'll laugh at anything (and no, I wasn't stoned) and therefore, I found that rather funny. I also like how Rudy has some integrity. When he finds out that the whole thing has been rigged for sensational purposes, he decides to forget the money and just quit, as does Sara. Finally, I have to admire that he chooses to fight back against Michael, going so far as to divert his attention away from Sara towards himself. As Michael corners him in the kitchen, he tells him that he should try a little less protein in his diet to control his violent tendencies and proceeds to whack him with a rolling pin, throw some stuff in his eyes, temporarily blinding him, and uses two knives to fend him off. Unfortunately, the door is locked (I love the way he says, "Oh, shit,") and Michael is able to overpower him and kill him in a pretty nasty way. As you may know by this point, I always like it when someone goes out as a hero and Rudy certainly qualifies here.

"I AM distracting."
Yeah, but not in the way you think.
As much as I like Rudy, I can't say the same for Sara's other friend, Jenna (Katee Sackhoff). My God, this girl is annoying! Tina in Halloween 5 was pretty bad too but at least her love for Jamie Lloyd was one redeeming quality about her; this girl, on the other hand, is the definition of an air-head dumb blonde. She is so obnoxious, cares about nothing except getting some fame from being on this internet reality show, pressures her less than enthusiastic friend into doing it with her (according to Sara, she's talked her into similar things before), does annoying stuff while they're inside the house like fool her friends into thinking she's being attacked, and the way she talks is just irritating. When she's being interviewed and is asked what she expects to find in the Myers house, she says, "My ticket to internet fame," and does this stupid sputtering laugh, which just makes me groan, and when they're in the house and she lies on a bed, commenting, "And this must be the bed where he was conceived," I was thinking, "God, shut up!" I couldn't even be interested when she was lifting up her top at one point because of the dumb-ass face she was making while doing it; plus, it didn't help that her skin was so sickly pale (does that woman ever get out in the sun?) And unfortunately, like Tina, she doesn't get killed until very late in the film. Yeah, not a fan of Jenna. She's a perfect example of why slasher movies typically don't get any respect.

Just about as annoying as Jenna is Bill (Thomas Ian Nicholas), the guy who's constantly trying to get in her pants and convinces her to left up her top, even though it ends up being a complete tease. Not only does that make him less than likable but he's also just a snarky smartass, making obnoxious comments like, "Wow, a chair," and "Worried about your internet fanbase?" I just found him to be irritating and I'm not a fan of American Pie so I don't like those kind of teenager characters anyway. Fortunately, he's not in the film that much and he's the first one of the group to get killed so it wasn't that intolerable. I also don't care much for Jim (Luke Kirby) or his would-be love interest, Donna (Daisy McCrackin). Jim, while not as obnoxious or as much of a smartass as Bill, is still only interested in getting into Donna's pants and the money that he'll get from participating in Dangertainment. He's even willing to just sit around and not even give the viewers a good show at the beginning as well as contemplate going on with it even when he knows that it's all fake and seemed legitimately angry about it at first. As for Donna, even though there wasn't much to her, I didn't mind her at first since she was smart and seemed interested in exploring the house and finding out why Michael Myers became evil. She also continually resists Jim's lecherous advances... and then, when they're down in the basement, she comes onto him. Well, that was pretty sporadic. That comment about cameras being phallic not withstanding, she constantly pushed Jim away whenever he tried to come on to her, even giving him the finger at one point (I do like his comment, "That be 1:00?" when she does so), and then, out of nowhere, she starts making out with him and is fully prepared to go all the way, only being interrupted when a bunch of fake corpses fall onto the two of them. Well, you can probably guess what happens next: yep, she's dead meat. And when I talk about the deaths in the film, I'll mention how her actually getting killed by Michael, given the circumstances, is pretty pathetic on her part.

One person whom I don't mind and wish he was a part of the actual action is Ryan Merriman as Myles Barton, aka Deckard, Sara's cyber-friend whom she communicates with on her palm pilot. Yeah, he did lie to her and tell her that he's a graduate student and does think of it like he's dating her, he comes across as a very decent guy overall. He helped her with some of her college classes and he does generally care about her, finding a way to watch her online, something that she asked him to do since she's really nervous about, and when he realizes that she and everyone else is in danger, he not only calls 911 but tells her with her palm pilot where in the house Michael is and which way she should go. If not for him, it's very possible that Michael would have killed her as well. It also doesn't hurt that I like Ryan Merriman as an actor anyway, so he was a welcome addition to this movie for me. I don't mind his friend, Scott (Billy Kay), either, although I don't think he quite understands how the world works if he thinks getting invited to a senior party is going to lead to anything major for him. Plus, he looks ridiculous dressed as Samuel L. Jackson from Pulp Fiction, although it seems to get him a girl so what do I know? And by the way, if you're a fan of Freddy vs. Jason, you should recognize Kyle Labine, the guy who played the Jason Mewes-like character of Freeburg in that movie, as the one partygoer with the red outfit and small afro.

This image kills me.
And finally, Tyra Banks is... well, Tyra Banks. I know why they put her in the movie, because of her good looks and popularity for that very reason, but certainly doesn't bring much else to the movie other than eye candy. I like how they don't even pretend that she was hired for any other reason when the camera gets a close-up of her gyrating rear end as she walks to make herself a frappuccino (that song she's listening to in that scene sucks big time, by the way!). They're basically saying, "We're not even going to beat around the bush. Here's her butt." Mind you, I don't hate her in this movie or anything and I certainly don't mind looking at her but still, she's not a very good actor. And yet again, I know that's not why they even put her in the movie so this argument is completely pointless.

One thing you can't deny about Halloween: Resurrection is that it's a very good looking film. Even though its budget of $13 million is slightly lower than H20's $17 million, it's obvious that the production values are still very high and the movie looks very slick and polished, perhaps even a bit more so than its predecessor. The nighttime scenes may not be creepy or anything and they're hardly the darkest the series has seen but they're still very well shot, with a lot of blue lighting, which is always a welcome addition, even though in this instance it feels like it's there just for style rather than to create a mood. The production design of the film by Troy Hansen is also really good, particularly that of the Myers house itself, which is the main set of the entire film. The entire thing was an interior set and that did fool me because the first time I watched it, I just assumed that this was shot on location. Plus, since the house was built specifically for the film, they were able to make it look the closest to the way it looked in the first two films, just aged over twenty-three more years. While the film is hardly scary, the inside of the house does have a bit of an eerie quality to it, looking exactly what you would think the inside of a supposedly real haunted house that's been abandoned for years would look like: it's old and rundown, there's dust and dirt everywhere, there's no electricity so it's really dark when nighttime comes, especially since a lot of the windows are boarded up, and so on. I always felt that a movie set entirely inside the Myers house would be a good idea and while this film doesn't really make it creepy or anything, it's still nice that they at least made the effort to make it look the original house... for the most part. When you get down into the basement with that dungeon-like room and those sewer-like tunnels where Michael actually lives, it begins to feel less like a house you'd expect to find in a small American town and more like a relic from Europe's mediaeval times. It's still well designed but it just doesn't fit, although Michael's actual room down there is a bit eerie, especially when you see a doll with nails in its eyes, and it's particularly nasty when you see that he's been eating rats (does Michael just not have a taste for normal food or something?) And this is a nitpick but I just have to say that the original house didn't have a garage, which it does here. I know I'm grasping at straws and even Hansen himself admitted that it didn't exist originally but still, if I notice it, I notice it.

Like Halloween 5, this is a movie where I don't buy that it's taking place in October whatsoever; in fact, I think it may be a little worse here. When I first saw the movie, until I started seeing the occasional jack-o-lantern and Halloween decorations, I figured it was taking place in the springtime. It doesn't have the fall vibe to it at all, with all of the completely green trees and the bright sunlight during the daytime scenes. They try to give it a feeling of autumn by having dead leaves blow in from off-screen and being sure to show pumpkins, decorations, and kids dressed up in costumes but it feels tacked on and not genuine at all. The movie also just has a warm, springtime feeling to it overall. When Sara is driving to the motel to meet with the Dangertainment crew, it looked like a warm evening in May or something, so much so that it actually perplexed me when I saw a jack-o-lantern! That's not good. And even on Halloween night when you see people dressed up, like in that scene where those kids run up to the Myers house and leave a pumpkin on the porch, I still don't buy it. It just does not feel like Halloween, or like Haddonfield for that matter, to me but rather like a nice mid-spring night in California, which is ironic considering that the film was shot entirely in Canada! Judging from how it looked, I would have bet money that this was shot near L.A. or San Diego but not Vancouver. I guess you can make Canada look like any place in the world... too bad they made it look like spring in California instead of fall in Illinois (and I don't think its release date being in July helped that feeling either).

If H20 was like the Halloween series' equivalent to Scream, then Resurrection is quite possibly that to The Blair Witch Project, only instead of being shot through the POV of a handheld camera for the entire film, they use the webcam gimmick, which was pretty new at the time. It's an interesting idea to have a web reality show based around a group of people investigating the childhood home of Michael Myers only for them to fall victim to the killer himself and it does kind of say something about the jadedness of the internet age when viewers see these people getting killed and think it's all a put-on. One of the writers has said that it was his intention to do a reversal of the infamous 1938 Orson Welles broadcast of War of the Worlds, with people thinking that something real is fake, which is more than likely to be the case nowadays since it's hard to believe anything you see in the media or on the internet. For that matter, the character of Freddie Harris knows that people won't believe that it's really Michael Myers when he goes around dressed up as him but he's willing to do so because he's, "just trying to give America a good show." And you know, Freddie's not exactly wrong when he says, "America don't like reality, first of all. Second of all, they think the shit is boring. They want a little razzle-dazzle, a little pizazz, a little thrill in their life..." When you watch a reality show, you're well aware that a good chunk of what you're seeing is hardly "reality" at all but is amped up for entertainment purposes and that's what the partygoers who are watching the show think when they see Michael going around, wiping out all of these people. They even cheer when he kills Rudy in a pretty nasty way because they think this is all part of the show. But then, when they realize that it's not fake and they're actually watching people get killed, they get into it in another way because now, they're genuinely concerned for Sara's safety and they're saying to Miles, "Tell her this, tell her that," and the one guy even yells at the computer screen, "Come on, go!" even though it's pointless because she can't hear him (but how many times have you done that yourself when watching something?) It takes on a whole new meaning then and they really come together as a group to help her get out of the situation alive. So whether or not you like Resurrection as a movie, it at least has some significance in that regard.

There are instances of some rather bizarre editing and sound effects in the film as well. Obviously, you have the constant cutting back and forth between the actual film and the webcam footage but there are similar things that don't have any explanation. The one that immediately comes to mind is when night falls on Haddonfield and we see that the group inside the Myers house has lit some candles on a table. We then see a POV shot of Michael from down the hall but then we get a quick glimpse of Michael walking down a different hallway (it looks as if it's a few frames taken from the scene where he kills Donna down in the tunnels beneath the house) which is noticeably slowed down and cut back to the POV shot but it continues to move forward until it's in the room and practically on top of them. All the while, you can hear Michael breathing so it is indeed meant to signify his presence but I don't get that latter portion of the POV. If Michael truly did walk into the room and get that close to them, how did they not see him? Can he suddenly turn invisible or something? That's always perplexed me, and the same goes for a shot where Rudy, while he and Sara are looking for Jenna upon hearing her scream upstairs, turns around and unknowingly illuminates Michael, who was standing in a room behind him, with his flashlight. As he does so, we hear a rather loud, wheezing breath which I'm not sure was meant to be coming from Michael or if it was just put there to creep you out. Whatever the reason, it feels rather out of place and so do inexplicable knife scraping sounds that you hear when Michael is doing nothing but just standing still or walking down a hallway without scraping the knife on anything. It's common to hear a knife scrape when it really shouldn't be there, like at the very beginning of H20 when that woman raises the butcher knife to carve a jack-o-lantern, but it feels pretty random when you hear it in those aforementioned instances here. And finally, there's the part during the climax when Michael is just about to kill Freddie but Freddie grabs some live cables and shoves them right into Michael's crotch (!), sending him flying backwards and when he does so, you hear this echoing, "Ooh!" What in the heck was that? Was that supposed to be Michael? If so, then this may be the first time we've ever heard him respond to pain. I now understand why he tries to be as silent as he can because if his victims heard what he sounds like when he gets hurt, they wouldn't be scared of him at all. They'd make fun of him and try to beat on him as much as they could just to make him do it again.

Once again, Michael Myers is played a man, Brad Loree in this instance, who has a body style similar to that of the people who played him in the original film. It's good that they seemed to learn what the difference is between him and Jason Voorhees in the previous film and stuck to it for this one... for the most part. The part where he kills Jim by crushing his head feels a little unnaturally strong for him, akin to when he did it to Brady in Halloween 4, and he seems to be able to decapitate people quite effortlessly with a butcher knife but other than that, there's nothing about him that feels out of character here (yeah, he smashed through the door to Laurie's room in the asylum but he did that in Halloween II as well so I'm not counting that). Speaking of which, just like in H20, Michael's main weapon of choice is his butcher knife but, also like that film and the first two, he will use another method every now and then. I don't think Loree does that bad of a job at playing him either. Yeah, he's not doing anything that we haven't seen before and feels like a slightly juiced up version of Chris Durand from the previous film in terms of how he moves and gestures but I think he's acceptable and plus, it's nice to once again see Michael looking and acting like he should. While the force of evil feeling isn't as present here as it was previously (by this point, I honestly don't think that they'll ever be able to capture that feeling from the original film again, especially with Donald Pleasence gone and the series having been completely rebooted after this one), it's still fun to just see Michael doing his thing. As for his mask this time around, I kind of have the same feeling that I did with the main mask in H20: when it's lit and shot well, it looks good but other times, it looks a little funky. I like the face of this mask more than the previous one but it still looks strange in some shots. And during the climax in the burning garage, I swear that there are times when the face looks like Jamie Lee Curtis'! Maybe I'm the only one who sees that but when Michael flings Freddie back against the wall, knocking him out, to me the mask looks the way Laurie did at the beginning of the movie when you see it in close-up. Does anyone else see that? If so, tell me so I know that I'm not crazy.

You do get some pretty good kills in Resurrection, kills that are much more memorable than the ones in H20 (but then again, that movie had another agenda altogether). The blood itself is a little too bright red in spots, granted, which was pretty typical of horror films of the time, but still I think Gary J. Tunnicliffe and his crew did some pretty good work. Ironically enough, according to Rick Rosenthal, the same thing that happened with Halloween II happened again here: he didn't want a lot of gore but the producers made him go back in and beef it up a little more (at least in this instance, he didn't have somebody else doing it behind his back). History has a funny way of repeating itself. In any case, you get a couple of gruesome kills right off the bat, with Michael decapitating one of the asylum's security guards off-camera, which leads to the other finding the head in a running dryer (a really horrific image, I might add) as well as the headless body and then he gets a really gruesome throat slash. Of course, after that is when Michael kills Laurie but there's nothing technically special about that death, just a bloodless stab in the back, so let's not dwell on that. Up next is Charlie, one of the cameramen for Dangertainment who falls victim to Michael when he's setting up cameras inside the house. Michael takes the sharp points at the end of the legs of a camera's tripod and slowly impales Charlie through the neck with it when he backs up against a wall. Standard bloody kill but effective. The kill that always makes me cringe, which is interesting because there's no blood whatsoever, is that of Bill when Michael suddenly bursts through a mirror, although I don't know how he was able to smash through it since it was hanging on the wall or how none of the viewers saw it, grabs him, and puts the knife right in the top of his head! Ouch! Again, there's no gore and I didn't really like this character either but the violent, quick action of that blade going through the guy's scalp makes me go, "Crap." The most pathetic death to me is that of Donna down in the tunnels beneath the house. I'm talking about the method, which is Michael pushing her and impaling her on a bar that's stick out horizontally, but by the simple fact that she could have gotten away. She runs into a gate but it's a gate that has a hole big enough for her to climb through. It's mangled but you still make it through it. But, she just pointlessly shakes the gate and allows Michael to get up to her and push her into the bar that's sticking out. The shot of Michael looking at her webcam and then walking away, leaving her dead face staring up at the ceiling, is a bit eerie, though.

They must have realized what an irritating person Jenna is because she gets one of the best deaths by far. Michael corners her at the top of the stairs, swings that butcher knife, and slices her head clean off, sending it tumbling down the stairs. Michael's either really strong or must be an anatomical genius and knows exactly where to aim in order to cut someone's head off with one swipe. After dispensing with Jenna, Michael chases Sara, Rudy, and Jim into the next room where he corners Jim, raises his knife, then puts it into the wall and proceeds to grab Jim's head and crush it with his bare hands. Again, I think this kill is a bit too Jason-like since it involves over-the-top strength but I can overlook it. Plus, you got to love the blood coming out of Jim's eyes and the sound of bones crunching until they finally snap when Michael finishes him off. Michael almost gets Sara next but Rudy distracts him and he chases him into the kitchen, where Rudy manages to fend off for a little bit... and then, Rudy realizes the door leading outside from the kitchen is locked. When Michael comes at him, he tries to stab him with both of his knives but Michael catches both of his arms, pulls them both down, holds him in place as he lifts him up, and then impales him through the sides with the knives, hanging him on the door. And then, just for good measure, he goes to a cabinet, takes out another knife, and puts it right through his chest and out the other side of the door, finishing him off. That's the last onscreen death that we see, however when Sara makes her way to the garage during the climax, she discovers Nora lying in a pool of blood. Her  death was filmed, though, and while it's not on the special features of the DVD, you can find it on YouTube. However, not only did they remove her actual death but they changed the method in which Michael killed her as well because in the scene that was filmed, he simply strangles here whereas here, he obviously knifed her to death.

One thing I definitely appreciate about this film is that there aren't as many false scares here as there were in H20. There are a few, though, but they don't do it so much here that you get sick of it. The film has one very early on, where Harold, the mental patient, scares one of the security guards at the asylum. Very, very cheap and predictable. There's another where Sara, while trying on clothes at a shop with Jenna and Donna, sees a reflection in the mirror of Michael standing outside the window behind her but when she turns around, there's nothing there. Why did she see that? I understood why Laurie saw stuff like that in the previous film because of her being traumatized by what happened with Michael decades before but Sara has never encountered him before. The stupidest one is when they hear Jenna scream upstairs and after looking around for her, Sara enters this one room and she pops out of the dark at her and they both scream like banshees. Then Jenna says, "Gotcha!" with that stupid smile on her face, which leads into Sara calling her a bitch and Jenna fires back with, "Slut!" You see why I hate that woman? And finally, you have a weird part where they're in one of the bedrooms and a mannequin with a face that looks like Michael's mask falls out of the closet and onto Sara. Sara asks what that thing and that's also what I want to know. What is that thing and why is it in that bedroom closet. I guess Freddie may have put in there in order to create a cheap scare for his show but it's still something that comes out of nowhere. Who knows, maybe Michael models his masks on that thing. Maybe that thing scared him as a kid and it inspired him to find a mask like that when he started killing people.

See, couldn't she rather easily climb through that?
While the kills are enjoyable, Halloween: Resurrection unfortunately lacks in terms of thrilling chase and suspense sequences save for the climax, which is basically one big chase/fight with Michael. There are some throughout the movie but they're either very short, like the beginning where Michael chases Laurie through the asylum and up to the roof to where she attempts to kill him but ultimately gets killed herself, or highlight how dumb the characters, like how Nora doesn't see Charlie's dead boy getting dragged away on one of the monitors behind her in the control room even though it's in her peripheral vision (I understand that she didn't hear it because of the music and the sound of the frappuccino machine) or Donna doesn't get away from Michael even though she could if she were just willing to get a little cut up. The major chase sequence of the film begins when Michael kills Jenna and proceeds to massacre the rest of the group save for Sara, who gets to an upstairs room and barricades the door. Here, she contacts Miles for help, who begins informing her of where Michael is at any given time, telling her that he's coming up the stairs and that he's in the hallway outside of the room. He tells her not to scream but, of course, she does, giving herself away, and she's told to climb out the window. Although she makes it outside, she can't jump down because it's too high up. At that point, Michael smashes his way into the room and looks out the window, seeing her. She kicks him in the face but he also manages to slash her in the leg as she makes her up to the attic. Rather than pursue her up there, Michael ducks back inside the house. After getting herself situated up in the attic, she once again asks Miles about Michael's whereabouts and he tells her that he's in the hallway and then that he's gone into his old bedroom. Realizing this is her chance to escape, Miles tells her to do so and she quietly climbs down the ladder leading from the attic, over Bill's body, and makes her way down the hall. As she does so, she's grabbed from the dark by Freddie, who realizes that everyone else is dead and tells her that they've got to get out now.

Sara and Freddie try to escape but they're ambushed by Michael, whom Freddie immediately tackles into the next room but Michael manages to grab him and fling him across it. After getting to his feet, Freddie proceeds to use the kung-fu moves that he's seen Wat Chun Lee do on TV against Michael. While Freddie does manage to pulverize Michael with a kick, he grabs his leg when he goes for another one but Sara jumps on him from behind before he can use his knife. Michael spins around, whipping his knife, trying to get Sara off of him and eventually manages to do so but before he attack her, Freddie gets his attention and after doing some more kung-fu noises and posing, he runs at Michael and sends him crashing out the window, getting tangled up in some cables and apparently hung in the process. Feeling that they're now safe, Freddie and Sara walk down the stairs and prepare to leave, with Freddie telling her that he saw Michael's room and that he's been living underneath the house for years. However, when they reach the bottom of the stairs, Miles sends another text to them, informing them that Michael isn't dead. Looking out the window, they both see that Michael is indeed not hanging out there anymore. Sara asks Miles where Michael is and he responds, IN THE HOUSE! Immediately after seeing that, Michael appears behind them and stabs Freddie in the shoulder. Freddie tells Sara to run before he collapses and she takes off into the dark house and manages to make her way down into the basement and into the tunnels beneath the house, with Michael in hot pursuit. Sara eventually finds a ladder leading up to a hatch in the roof of one of the tunnels and although Michael manages to cut the back of her leg again while she's climbing, she kicks him in the face and makes her way up through the hatch, finding that it leads into the garage. Sara puts a barricade over the hatch and as she backs away from it, she slips in a large pool of blood and finds that it's coming from Nora's body.


Seeing Michael appear outside the garage doors rather than try to come through the hatch to get her, Sara quickly finds a place to hide. Michael enters the garage and searches around in the dark for Sara. Seeing her webcam's POV on one of the monitors in the garage, Michael realizes where she's hiding but Sara comes at him with a chainsaw and manages to slash him a couple of times with it as well as cut a few of the cables hanging from the ceiling. Unfortunately, the chainsaw stalls and after she tries to restart it with no luck, Sara futilely flings it at Michael. Just when Michael has her cornered, the sparks caused by her sawing the cables in the ceiling create a small fire that makes its way to the small lawnmower in the garage, which explodes and sends the two of them flying back as well as creates an even bigger fire. Sara is flung onto a table with a modem sitting on it, which falls and tangles her legs up in the cables (at least, that's what I think is the reason why she can't get up). Michael rises to his feet, grabs his butcher knife, and makes his way over to Sara. As he raises the knife, ready to kill her, Freddie, injured but alive, bursts though the garage door and resumes his fight with Michael. He grabs a shovel and whacks Michael across the chest with it. Twirling it around in his hands, he prepares to hit him again but Michael grabs the shovel and manages to overpower Freddie, eventually knocking him back against the wall. Michael closes in for the kill but Freddie regains consciousness at the right moment, grabs a cable, and shoves the end of it right into Michael's crotch, sending him flying backwards and getting tangled up in the cables and wires hanging from the ceiling. Freddie uses the live cable to create another fire that directs itself towards Michael. He then grabs Sara and carries her out of the garage on his back, leaving Michael to the burning shack.

Halloween: Resurrection was originally slated for release on September 21, 2001 but, because Dimension felt that the film wasn't strong enough, that release date was pulled and reshoots were done from September to October. I also think that 9/11 had something to do with it as well; the producers had to realize that no one would be in the mood for a horror film just ten days after that. In any case, these reshoots resulted in several different versions and endings for the film. While I personally have not seen these alternate versions of the overall film, I have seen the alternate endings  since they're on the DVD. One ending involves the police investigating the remains of the burned down garage and as one female investigator approaches the hatch leading down into the tunnels beneath the house, Michael pops up and grabs her. Another involves Sara being saved not by Freddie, which implies that he was killed when he got stabbed, but by Miles, who bursts in, carries her outside, and introduces himself to her. (I'm glad they didn't use that one because that would have ben rather anti-climactic as well as unbelievable for Miles to be able to make his way down there and save her in the nick of time.) And finally, you have an ending where Michael comes to life on the gurney as Freddie and Sara are looking at his charred body, attacks Freddie, and Sara quickly grabs a fire axe and puts it right in Michael's head! In other words, that ending is sort of a compromised version of the ending of H20 only this time it actually is Michael getting the axe put to him. I think we can assume that if that one were used, there wouldn't have been any more films made afterward (but then again, I say that and immediately think back to H20 so now I'm not so confident about that). In fact, there were so many endings to this film that Rick Rosenthal suggested to the studio that they take advantage of it and use it as a gimmick, shipping the film with a different ending to each theater, akin to what happened with the film version of Clue. The studio, however, didn't see it that way and they all got what became the official ending.

As I said, there are a couple of workprint versions of the film out there. One retains the original title of Halloween: The Homecoming and contains an alternate opening that involves the Myers family's home movies (which is actually at the beginning of the 25 Years of Terror documentary), an alternate music score, an added shot of the audience gasping when Donna discovers that the half-eaten rat she finds down in those tunnels isn't fake, and the ending involving the CSI. The other workprint is much more obscure but contains more deleted material than the first one, although they both share the alternate opening with the home movies. The workprint also contains an alternate death for Laurie with her falling onto some concrete, Michael actually stealing the car that he uses to return home (it seems like that was centered around a very Friday the 13th-esque scenario where Michael sees two people having sex in a tent), an alternate death scene for Donna where she actually runs into the spike rather than Michael shoving her onto it, Nora's death actually being shown, a shot of Freddie and Sara making it outside after he saves her, and the ending where Sara puts the axe in Michael's head. While these workprints might be interesting to watch for curiosity's sake, I sincerely doubt that I will ever actively pursue them since I, quite frankly, don't care enough about this film in order to do so.

Looking at it in retrospect, the ending to this film is not only an uncreative jump scare, with Michael's eyes opening with a loud, jolting noise on the soundtrack after his charred body is brought to the morgue and the female pathologist prepares to examine him, but it's also sad since it's very likely that it will never be followed up on. They didn't realize it at the time but this film would end up being the last entry in the original Halloween series. Obviously, they intended to make another film, with there even being a contest for someone to have a walk-on role in the proposed Halloween 9, but when Moustapha Akkad was killed in Amman, Jordan by a suicide bomber in 2005, the decision was made to completely reboot the series and start over with a remake (although, of course, that also was because the studio saw dollar signs after the Dawn of the Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remakes did very well). It's a shame that the original series couldn't have a proper closure. Like I said back at the beginning of the review, while I still don't like that she was killed off, I do wish that if anything, Laurie being killed by Michael was at the end of the movie instead of the beginning so the series could have at least had a concrete conclusion with Michael walking off into the night after finally completing his task. But unfortunately, history is history and fans of the series will just have to be content with it ending on a jump-scare. While there is a very slim chance that we may see a proper wrap-up of this original series, seeing as how Texas Chainsaw 3-D was made as a direct sequel to the 1974 original, I'm not going to hold my breath.

One of Resurrection's strongest assets is the music score by Danny Lux. Above everything else, I honestly think that this film has one of the best scores the series has seen in a long time and I think the rendition of the Halloween theme this time around is the best since the synthesizer version of it way back in Halloween II. It's a simple, straightforward piano version of the theme but it's played very well, with crashing keys and some background noises like an ominous drone, some creaking, and a moan-like sound put into the opening version of it to add to the effect. As that opening version of it goes, you get a melancholy-sort of section while Laurie is narrating about the tunnel and then a much more somber version of the theme accompanied by some vocalizing as we see Laurie sitting in her room in the asylum. I also particularly like the slow ominous build-up to the theme after Michael hands the knife to Harold after having killed Laurie and walks off, a version that's played again at the end of the ending credits and is given an extra bit of atmosphere there with, again, the addition of a vocalizing woman. There's also a slow, rather eerie version of it that plays as Michael walks after he's killed Donna. Lux created some other good bits of music as well, like a nicely frantic theme for the sequence when Michael chases Laurie up to the roof, a rather sad theme when Michael finally stabs her and sends her falling to her death off the side of the building, some creepy bits for when the kids first enter the Myers house, an atmospheric theme for the scene when we see some kids running around Haddonfield on Halloween night and leave a jack-o-lantern on the porch of the Myers house, and a threatening piece that leads into the Halloween theme when Michael starts after Sara after stabbing Freddie. You can also hear some sound effects on the soundtrack as well, like a woman faintly singing at points as well as a whirling-sort of sound. But, not all of the music is good. This one dumb theme, which is only played once, thank God, occurs when you're first introduced to Jenna and it perfectly signifies what a stupid character she is. It just goes, "Durn, dur, dur," over and over again and it's just bad. I guess they made it that way for a reason but it's still a chore to listen to, as brief as it is. And the songs that are on the soundtrack suck big time as well, especially that God-awful one that Nora listens to while sitting in the control room, talking to Charlie. I don't know what that song's called and I don't care either. The same goes for all the songs that you hear when Miles is chatting with Sara online at his home as well as the songs you hear during the party, although that music that's playing when Miles and Scott first arrive at the party does sound pretty cool. Overall, a really good music score but some piss-poor songs.

It's not hard to see why Halloween: Resurrection is one of the most despised films in the franchise. While I do think it has some good points, like some nice kills, a nice use of the webcam gimmick and the setting of the Myers house, a decent portrayal of Michael Myers, and a really good music score, it certainly has a lot of faults. The majority of the cast is either unremarkable or just plain annoying, there aren't that many good chase and suspense sequences, the opening with the downright insulting explanation of how Michael is still alive and the death of Laurie Strode definitely won't win any points with fans, especially after H20, the songs on the soundtrack are really bad, and the film, as a whole, is not scary at all and is filled with clichés, including an annoying jump-scare ending. It's a shame that this had to be the way the original series of Halloween films ultimately went out. While I personally don't despise the film as most do and I could certainly watch it as a time-waster, I can understand why it's not fondly remembered by fans and probably won't garner a cult following any time soon either.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Franchises: Halloween. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

File:HalloweenH20poster.jpgHalloween water? That was my first thought when I saw the title for this movie and it's also the response I get when I mention it to people who are not savvy about the series or the genre as a whole, for that matter. They're always like, "Does he spend most of the movie in a lake or something? Does the entire movie take place underwater?" It sounds silly but that title is so unusual that it's not hard to understand why those not familiar with the series would be perplexed by it. (Also, I must admit to a huge mistake I've been making throughout these reviews. Every time I've referred to the film beforehand, I've written it as H2O since that's how the actual formula is spelled and how it looks when the title actually comes up in the movie, not to mention on the poster, which you can see. But, looking at how it's spelled everywhere else, I realize that it's meant to be H20 to signify the twentieth anniversary so,   sorry for the mistake.) But, in any case, as I've said before, this was the third Halloween I ever saw after the first two, which is quite appropriate given how this acts as a direct sequel to Halloween II. Instead of seeing it on TV like the first two, I saw it when I got the VHS for my birthday in 2001 along with the original (I had asked for Halloween II as well but I wouldn't get it until that Christmas) and I watched it the day after I revisited the original. Going into it, I knew what the general story was, that it brought Jamie Lee Curtis back into the role of Laurie Strode after being away from the series since the second film, and, most importantly, that it ended with Laurie chopping Michael Myers' head off. Upon reading that latter bit of information, I felt, "Well, I guess this means it's the last one. I got into this series just in time." (And make no mistake, this should have been the last one but we'll get into that presently.) After watching the film, my opinion was, "It's... good." I didn't think it was awesome or anything, since there were a few aspects of it that I didn't exactly love, but I certainly didn't hate it either. Truth be told, H20 is one that I've always been very conflicted on. Despite my initial opinion of it, which, again, was mostly positive, I went through a period where I felt that it was vastly overrated, which made me like it less, and that there were other films in the series that I enjoyed a lot more. I had heard some say that they felt it was better than Halloween II, which I never agreed with and still don't but that's neither here nor there. So, for a while, I wasn't entirely sure what I thought of H20. I never hated it but, still, I did always feel that it got more praise than it deserved.

Actually, it's weird that I say that because, looking at everything I can, it seems like the general opinion on H20 is quite mixed. Currently, it has a 5.4 rating on IMDB, which is pretty low and quite surprised me when I looked it up, and from what I've read, the critical reception of it when it was released was also far from being all positive. Some critics really liked it, others generally dismissed it, and some said that while it was good, it still paled in comparison to the original. That pretty much runs the gambit of opinions. I knew before I even saw it that John Stanley, author of Creature Features (I know these reviews seem like a big advertisement for that book but it was a very important bit of reading for me back then when I was trying to learn more about horror and sci-fi flicks), didn't like it very much, giving it just two stars, which he gave to the majority of the sequels, and really criticized both Jamie Lee Curtis' decision to return to the series as well as her portrayal of Laurie Strode this time around. (Also remember that the sequel he gave the most praise to was Halloween 5.) But yet, every time I heard fans of the series talk about H20, they typically gave it a lot of praise, saying that it was the best of the sequels, even Debra Hill herself said that, which is what created my opinion of, "Good God, it's not that great!" In other words, the hype from the fandom is what kind of turned me against the movie for a while. But, when I got the double feature Blu-Ray of H20 and The Curse of Michael Myers back in 2011 and watched H20 again (I hadn't seen it in a very long time), I must say that I really enjoyed it and the same goes for when I watched it again to clarify my opinion for this review. So, to make a long story short, despite my initial mixed feelings and slight backlash, I've really warmed up to H20 in recent years. Now, I still like quite a few of the other entries in the series more but, at the same time, I can safely say that I enjoy this film much more now than I did when I first saw it.

On October 29, 1998, in Langdon, Illinois, nurse Marion Whittington (formerly Marion Chambers) comes home to find that her house has been vandalized. After her young neighbor calls the police and searches the house, finding nothing, Marion later discovers that her office was particularly hard hit and the file she had on Laurie Strode is missing. It's not longer afterward when the burglar is revealed to be Michael Myers, who kills Marion as well as her neighbor and escapes with the file on his sister, avoiding detection by the police. He traces Laurie to Summer Glen, California, where she's living under the assumed name of Keri Tate with her son, John, and is the headmistress of a private boarding school. Laurie is still traumatized by the night of terror she experienced twenty years before, having to depend on medication to quell her anxieties, is an alcoholic, and is overly protective of John, which has been putting a major strain on their relationship in recent years. That Halloween, her fear is particularly high, as it is every year, compelling her to forbid John from attending a weekend getaway to Yosemite with the rest of the students, save for three of his friends. Taking advantage of the situation, John and his friends decide to have a little intimate Halloween party, while Laurie spends the evening with her boyfriend, the school's guidance counselor. However, their fun doesn't last long, as Michael arrives at the school and begins stalking the grounds. As things escalate and several people fall victim to him, it doesn't take long for Laurie to realize that her evil brother has finally come for her and that John very possibly will become his next victim unless she takes matters into her own hands and kills Michael once and for all herself.

By 1998, it looked as if Halloween would suffer the same fate as Hellraiser and be downgraded to straight to video for the rest of the series, if it had even continued at all at that point. Although The Curse of Michael Myers did reasonably well at the theater in 1995, it was hardly a blockbuster and did little to re-energize the franchise's slump since the failure of Halloween 5. Dimension did intend to make a seventh film and, in fact, hired writer Robert Zappia to pen it (who came up with the scenario of it taking place at a boarding school) but they planned to simply make it a straight to video film and not waste time with a theatrical release that, by all accounts, wouldn't do very well anyway. But then, two things happenedFirst, Scream came out in 1996 and got everyone talking about horror again after what was mostly a dry season of quality and success since the end of the 80's. Second, with the twentieth anniversary of the original film approaching, Jamie Lee Curtis decided that it would be fun to return to the series and pick up with the character of Laurie Strode twenty years after the fact. Once she got involved, not only was the new film assured a theatrical release but Dimension hired Kevin Williamson to be involved with the film (they probably would have regardless, though), which included writing a treatment that would incorporate Laurie into the scenario that Zappia had come up with. While I don't think that any script completely written by Williamson was used for the finished film (Williamson has said that he wrote a couple of drafts with input from Curtis), I've read that treatment was what the film was heavily based on and plus, Williamson was a producer on the film as well, so he was heavily involved it in regardless and you can tell. The finished movie definitely has that distinctive style and feel that Williamson brings to everything he creates. A lot of people, I know, don't care for that at all and criticize the film for it but, honestly, while it's not exactly a style that I absolutely love (I don't hate it, though, mind you), I think it was the logical way for the studio to go after Scream had been such a huge hit. Plus, if not for Williamson and Curtis, Halloween, for better or worse, probably wouldn't have survived for much longer after this movie, if at all.

Since this was meant to be an anniversary movie, Jamie Lee Curtis hoped that she and everyone else could entice John Carpenter to come back to the director's chair. As usual with this kind of stuff, there are some conflicting reports as to what happened. One is that Carpenter just out and out refused and he himself has said in interviews that he just didn't want to do it, telling them, "God bless all of you but no thanks." Other reports have said that Carpenter was interested but would only direct the film if he were compensated for revenues that he felt he hadn't received from the original film, which amounted to a starting fee of $10 million. Needless to say, Moustapha Akkad balked at that and once that happened, in addition to the fact that were was some contention between the two men anyway, it was the end of any hope of Carpenter returning to the franchise. I'm not exactly which scenario is true. I would say that I sincerely doubt that Carpenter would have suddenly developed an interest in directing another Halloween after refusing to do so for so long but, given how he was originally slated to direct Halloween 4 way back when, maybe this did occur. As I said up above, Carpenter himself has said that he just didn't want to do it but, as much as I love the man's work and respect him as a filmmaker, I don't know if he's somebody I would trust about some things given his reputation and especially since there's so much bad blood there. Regardless of what happened, Carpenter did Vampires instead and, man, I wish he had done H20 because Vampires is not one of my favorites of his filmography.

After John Carpenter walked away from the project, they ultimately went with Steve Miner, a guy who certainly is no stranger to the horror genre, having directed fan favorites like Friday the 13th Part 2 and 3 (two films that he refuses to talk about now, for some reason) and House. Weirdly enough, the film he made before this was Big Bully, a comedy with Rick Moranis and Tom Arnold. In any case, I thought that Miner did a pretty good job with H20. You can't deny that he'd certainly grown as a filmmaker over the years, given how polished and genuinely well made the film is as a whole and how there are some effective moments in it too. I actually find it kind of odd that he was given the job in the first place seeing as how his Friday the 13th films were the only real noteworthy horror films he had at the time (honestly, would House really have impressed big studio brass that much?) and that series is definitely not held in the same regard as Halloween. I honestly can't think of anything else he had done that would have really impressed them but what I do know? (Maybe Forever Young got him the job!) In any case, again, he did well with the film. Unfortunately, I can't say that his career has done well since, although you'd think it would have. After H20, he did Lake Placid, another horror flick that did quite well at the box-office (I used to like that movie but it's lost its luster during repeated viewings), but then he did Texas Rangers, a box-office dud from 2001, and a remake of Day of the Dead that was so bad that its release was pushed back constantly until it was finally dumped on DVD in 2008. His last movie was Private Valentine: Blonde and Dangerous, another movie from 2008 which starred Jessica Simpson. Not surprisingly, he hasn't done anything since and who knows if he ever will? Should have stuck with Friday the 13th and Halloween when he had the chance.

Like I said, John Stanley not only didn't care for the movie as a whole but also didn't have many good things to say about Jamie Lee Curtis' portrayal of Laurie Strode this time around, calling her "shrewish," saying that she, "curses all the time, drinks too much, and is half crazed with images of unstoppable killer Michael Myers," and ending his critique with, "It is impossible to care about her." Well, the middle half of that is certainly true but I think Mr. Stanley completely missed the point of Curtis' portrayal being that of a traumatized, paranoid woman. I've always thought her portrayal here was a great continuation of the way she was at the end of Halloween II where she was sitting in the back of that ambulance, thinking about the horrifying night that she'd just survived, and how she would never forget it. Although it's been twenty years since the events of the first two films, Laurie (or Keri Tate, as she calls herself throughout the film) is still haunted by what happened, as anyone would be, is very protective of her son, and her paranoia is doubly amped up on Halloween because she worries if this will be the year when Michael returns for her and claims John as well. And given how she witnessed firsthand how Michael would not die no matter what was thrown at him, she has every right to be scared to death that he might still be out there. I completely disagree with Mr. Stanley's feeling that it's not possible to care about Laurie. In addition to what I've just described, we see all of the medication that he has to take in order to deal with the trauma and the nightmares, we even see one of the aforementioned nightmares for ourselves after the opening credits, learn that she's been divorced from John's father for a long time, whom she describes as an, "abusive, chain-smoking, methadone addict," and Laurie describes to her boyfriend about how, no matter what type of therapy she's tried, nothing has worked to quell her fear. Plus, as she also tells her boyfriend, Michael sat in an institution for fifteen years, waiting for the right time to come for her, and then one random night, he did just that. What would another twenty matter to him? Given all of this, how could you not feel bad for her as well as understand why she's an alcoholic and why she's so protective of John to the point where she's unintentionally smothering him?

It's not like Laurie's a complete paranoid nut-job 100% of the time. When she's at work and is mingling with the staff of Hillcrest as well as teaching her English class, she's very professional and even downright charming. Look at the scene where she's telling the students the rules of the impending class trip to Yosemite, for instance. She has a very light air about her and she's making jokes about her making her typical plea to uphold the standards of the school and that there's to be, "No musical sleeping bags, no booze, no drugs, no kidding," and that undoubtedly someone will ruin it for the rest of them. She could have been very overbearing and shrewish, as Mr. Stanley feels that she is, and out and out threatened them with the rules but she didn't. In fact, given what I know about Jamie Lee Curtis as a person and in interviews I've seen with her, this feels like how she would actually act if she had this position. I also like the scene where she's talking with her English students about the original novel of Frankenstein and when she doesn't get any insight from them right away, she jokes, "Guys, it's Frankenstein! (Pronouncing it "Fraunkensteen" right there.) You could have watched the movie! (I would have asked, "Which one?")" That's just great, and the other students laugh about it, giving off an air that they do like her as a teacher and that she can't be all that bad. I wish I had some teachers that were like her (although I did have some really good ones throughout my school years). And I also buy why her boyfriend, Will, is attracted to her. Yeah, she has some issues that he can plainly see but that charm and sense of humor that does come through I think is hard to resist. I sincerely doubt he would want to be with her if she acted the way she does with John all the time. Plus, it doesn't hurt that Jamie Lee Curtis, despite being almost forty at the time, still looks pretty good in this flick.

One interesting thing about the relationship between Laurie and Michael is that there does seem to be some sort of connection between the two of them even before they come face to face with each other during the climax. I'm not taken about a stupid psychic link like there was in Halloween 5 but rather the progression of her delusions and fear about Michael. First, we have that nightmare at the beginning of the movie that seems to be shot through Michael's POV as it goes through the halls of Hillcrest and into Laurie's office where we see a quick flashback of the closet scene from the original Halloween and then see a knife stabbed into her picture of John and her name written on the chalkboard. Some of these areas are where Michael does stalk her and the others as well as where they confront each other, so it's like she's having a premonition that Michael is indeed going to come for her soon and this is where it'll happen. And remember, the only time we saw Michael during this nightmare is in that flashback to the first film. Next, we go to the first hallucination that she has about him where she's in her office and when she looks out the window, his "reflection" appears behind her. Now, we actually see him in a third-person way other than a flashback. While Laurie is able to make this hallucination go away herself, she's not so fortunate later on in town when she sees his reflection again and turns around only to see that the person behind her was Will. This time, while the reflection was still a hallucination, it was projected onto something concrete. And it's not long after that when we learn that Michael has actually arrived in town. Finally, we get the last hallucination where Laurie sees "Michael" walking towards her on the dark school campus. Not only is it not a reflection this time but Laurie, no matter how hard she tries, can't force it away, to the point where he actually comes up and touches her, only for her to discover that it's just Will again after she recoils and yells. Michael is also now actually on the school grounds so it seems like the closer he gets to her, the more concrete her visions and fear of him become. It gets to the point where, after telling Will about what happened to her twenty years ago, Laurie, realizing that John is now the same age that she was on that Halloween night, gets an impossible to ignore feeling that something is wrong. It's like she can now feel Michael's presence and all of the evidence that she comes across afterward, like the phones not working and the strange car parked at the gate, verifies to her that he is nearby. And, of course, she turns out to be right when the two of them have that little family reunion after she and Will save John and Molly from him. This, plus the death of Will and the danger that John is in, is undoubtedly what eventually spurs Laurie to take matters into her own hands. She's tired of being afraid all the time and realizes that the only way that both she and John, as well as anyone else they become close to, are ever going to be free of Michael is for her to confront and kill him herself. That's a great character arc.

If you've read my review of 30 Days of Night, you would know that I cannot stand Josh Hartnett. I don't know how that guy got the career that he did but I've never found him to be charismatic or have any personality whatsoever. But, ironically enough, I've never minded him here, which was his first film. I thought he did really well as John Strode, coming across as someone who, despite how he much he loves his mother and is sympathetic towards her issues, is tired of her paranoia and not letting him have his own life, forbidding him to go outside of the school grounds or to the class trip to Yosemite. He feels that she needs to realize that it's been twenty years, that Michael Myers would have come for her by this point if he was going to, and that they should try to have a happier life. I think that scene where the two of them have that argument about it in the middle of town displays some good acting by Hartnett, especially when he tells her, "If you want to stay handcuffed to your dead brother, that's fine, but you're not dragging me along... not anymore." Even though we know how wrong John is, you can understand where he's coming from. And even though they don't dwell on it, I love the moment where, after he and his girlfriend find one of their other friends dead, they both see Michael standing there and John has this look of, "Oh, my God!" on his face. He has to know who Michael is when he sees him so I just like that he realizes that his mom was right all along. On top of everything else, John is actually quite a likable guy. There are a couple of moments where Hartnett's typical wooden acting rears its ugly head but for the most part, he's able to generate some charisma and energy, like when he tells the security guard the scenario he could go with when he lets John off the school grounds against Laurie's wishes or when he's making funny faces at his girlfriend during English class. There's one moment where the two of them are waiting for their friends to come back so they can start the Halloween party and when they go to look for them, John peaks his head around the corner and goes, "Hellooo," figuring that they're having sex. I like that kind of stuff. It makes me wish Hartnett would be that likable and charismatic in all of the movies he does instead of being a plank of wood all the time.

Adam Arkin does a fair enough job as Laurie's guidance counselor boyfriend, Will. Arkin isn't exactly one of those actors that I'm huge fan of (I don't care much for that nonchalant, kind of awkward humor that he does, including in this film) but I thought he did well with what he had to do here. He comes across as likable, although sometimes I'm not sure about whether he wants to help Laurie deal with the issues he knows she has or if he says he does just because he wants to get into her pants. When he's listening to her hint at the issues she has in that restaurant, he does come across as sincere and all but later on, when they're making out at her house and she begins to tell him about what happened, at one point he says, "That's terrible. Take off your clothes." Maybe I should give him some slack because he was probably caught up in the moment of making out with someone as attractive as Jamie Lee Curtis but still, she has to remind him that he promised to listen to her and he just sighs and says, "Okay." He does even believe her at first, mentioning that he knows about Michael Myers and thinks she's fooling around with him. Um, why would someone, particularly a person as troubled as her, jokingly pretend to be Laurie Strode, even as part of a Halloween prank? I don't know, again, maybe he was just kind of out of it or something. I will admit that once he realizes that she is telling the truth and really is Laurie Strode, he becomes sincerely concerned and tries to comfort her about it. And although he initially thinks that she's overreacting when she learns that the phones aren't working and pulls a gun out from underneath her pillow, he's determined to help her when it becomes clear that Michael is back and refuses to leave her, even when she tells him to. So, Will is a decent guy in the end; but, like a dumbass, he accidentally shoots Ronny (doesn't kill him, though), wasting all of Laurie's bullets in the process as well, and, unfortunately, right after that he gets fatally stabbed in the gut by Michael.

One of H20's biggest faults, unfortunately, is that the supporting cast isn't the most interesting group of people, especially the other teenagers. John's friend Charlie (Adam Hann-Byrd) is supposed to be the comic relief, I think, but he's not all that funny and the only noteworthy thing that he does is suggest that they get out of the trip to Yosemite to have their own private Halloween party; in other words, his idea is what puts everyone else in danger. Other than that, the only thing I can say about him is that he desperately wants to bang his girlfriend, he finds obesity to be sexy, and he shoplifts some booze for the party. I have even less to say about his girlfriend Sarah (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe). Like Charlie, she wants to bang her boyfriend, her goal in life is to get fat (I'm not making that up either) and she calls Charlie a renaissance man for thinking that obesity is sexy, she doesn't want to go to Yosemite because it's lame and repugnant (a word that she takes a long time to come up with), and she's a suck-up to Will when he comes in to check on her and Molly. She does have that most gruesome death in the film, which is something, but she's a pretty forgettable character otherwise. And finally, you have Michelle Williams as John's girlfriend Molly, who probably has the most baggage of the supporting cast but, again, that's not saying much. She's unable to go to Yosemite due to tuition problems, is quite close to John, and she gives some foreshadowing about the film's climax when she says that in Frankenstein, it took Victor Frankenstein's losing everyone he loved to the monster to make him decide to confront his creation, which is also one of the incentives for Laurie's confrontation with Michael Myers. In fact, when she's telling Laurie this in the middle of English class, it's obvious that it's already affecting her and making her think. In the end, Molly is somewhat more important than the other, more disposable characters of the film but she's still not all that memorable at all.

It's cool to see Janet Leigh in her role of Norma (ugh), Laurie's secretary... and that's really her only purpose for being in the movie. She's only in two scenes and while the latter one does have some fairly nice acting where she comforts Laurie, knowing that something's wrong with her, and tells her that it's important to concentrate on your life now rather than let whatever bad things have happened to you rule your life, there doesn't seem to be much cause for her being in the movie besides the fact that she's Jamie Lee Curtis' mom, which she alludes to when she asks Laurie if she could be maternal for a little bit (I'm so glad that John Carpenter didn't do that when he cast both of them in The Fog) and that she was in Psycho. Speaking of which, the amount of references to Psycho in this movie get rather distracting after awhile. Not only is Janet Leigh's character named Norma but the car she drives is the same one that she drove in Psycho, you hear a vague reference to the original theme for that movie when she walks up to it, Charlie tells John that in thirty years, he'll still be living with his mother, "probably running some weird motel out in the middle of nowhere," and Ronny even calls Laurie a psycho when she chastises him for letting John and Charlie off school grounds. Okay, I get it! Psycho is an awesome flick and pretty much created this subgenre of horror but this gets very distracting after a while.

LL Cool J is meant to be another form of comic relief in his role of the security guard, Ronny, and while don't know why they felt the need to put a rapper in here (well, I know why but still, it wasn't necessary), I think he's a lot funnier than Charlie. I do smirk at the scenes where he's talking to his wife on the phone about his desire to write romance novels and her comments when he reads to her what he's come up with lately, which I totally agree with because the crap he's written down is a bunch of overly sexual dribble. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't laugh when John comes up behind him when he's talking to his wife and accidentally scares him, causing him to yell, "Whoa, fuck me! Shit!" I also like the little moment between him and John when Ronny refuses to let John go into town, telling him that Laurie said that he'd be fired if he let him out again and John eventually gets him to do so, as well as when Laurie arrives back at the school with them and she chews him out for letting them get into town. The face he makes to John is priceless. You also got to love how Laurie points a gun right at him when he shows up at their doorstep, scaring the crap out of him again, and even after she puts it down, he continues to stare at it. Finally, everyone says that black people get killed off first in horror films but that doesn't apply here since Ronny not only doesn't get killed first but doesn't die at all. You originally think he does when Will accidentally shoots him but you later learn the bullet just grazed him and that he's not only perfectly fine but has been inspired to write a romantic thriller. That said, though, he stops Laurie from initially finishing Michael Myers off at the end of the movie so, in retrospect, you could blame him for the events of Halloween: Resurrection. All in all, I do enjoy Ronny but I like LL Cool J a lot more in Deep Blue Sea, which was the year after this (and he didn't die in that either!)

I thought it was very cool that they brought back Nancy Stephens in the role of Marion Chambers (whose last name is now Whittington) for another concrete link between this film and the first two. While she doesn't have much of a role other than getting killed in the opening prologue (don't you hate it when they bring a character back just to kill them off?), it's still nice to see her again and she does have some importance because you later learn that she cared for Dr. Loomis, who is said to have died several years before, during the latter years of his life. Plus, I like her comeback when the character of Tony says, "Hasn't anyone ever told you that second-hand smoke kills?" "Yeah, but they're all dead." Kick-ass. Speaking of which, while there's nothing at all to say about Tony (Branden Williams) other than he's a total coward who refuses to check out Marion's house along with his friend Jimmy (if it wasn't for IMDB, I wouldn't have even known that his name was Tony), I do have to give special mention of Joseph Gordon-Levitt who plays Jimmy. It's interesting to see him here because this was that time after Third Rock from the Sun where he was in a kind of limbo before he became the sought after actor he is now, appearing in huge blockbusters like Inception and The Dark Knight Rises. In any case, he might not have much to do here and he gets killed off-camera but he has his natural likability going for him, particularly when he's acting all tough while investigating Marion's house, yelling, "Alright, let's not anybody mess with me here! Jimmy's been suspended five times this year already for gettin' a little crazy with the stick, alright?!" I also like how, after he smashes a bit of her kitchen when something startles him, he blames it on the burglar. And yeah, he's the type of person who'd take advantage of the situation and steal some beer from your refrigerator but wouldn't you do the same if you had the opportunity?


Wouldn't you know it? This is the only image I could find of the
town and it actually looks like autumn here!
This is the only Halloween film other than Halloween III to not have one scene take place in Haddonfield. While the prologue takes place in the nearby town of Langdon, the rest of the film is set in Summer Glen, California, where Laurie has relocated in an attempt to throw Michael Myers off her trail (I would have moved to another country, myself). While this does make H20 unique, I think it also severely undermines an element that has always been very, very important for this franchise: the Halloween feeling. While the prologue in Langdon does have this, with the opening shot of the woman carving the jack-o-lantern (that thing with the knife raised in the air got me the first time I saw the film), kids running around in costumes, the Halloween decorations, a gray overcast sky, and the dim lighting that gradually transitions from dusk to nightfall, once we shift to Summer Glen, I think the film loses that feeling and never quite gets it back. It's the same thing that I said about the way Haddonfield itself looked in Halloween 5: with all of the bright sunshine and a lot of still green leaves, this feels more like springtime than it does October. I'm not going to be as harsh on this as I was on Halloween 5 because that was still supposed to be Illinois in the fall but looked like California in April whereas this actually is California; at the same time, though, I don't think it was a good idea to set this film here. If you don't have that Midwest in the autumn feel to the surroundings, then it doesn't feel like a Halloween movie to me. Now, it is possible to make a Halloween movie set in California work, like in Halloween III, but I don't think Steve Miner accomplished what Tommy Lee Wallace was able to do in that film. In addition, there aren't that many Halloween decorations or pumpkins to be found here. There are a few and you do see some people in costume during the part of the film that takes place in town but I can't help it, it still doesn't quite feel like Halloween. That's one I really liked about The Curse of Michael Myers. Despite all of that film's other problems, it had that Halloween feel in spades. This, though, doesn't really do it for me.

In general, I don't get the creepy vibe that was present in the first two films here. Obviously, there's only one John Carpenter and I don't even think he would have been able to replicate the atmosphere that he created so well in 1978 but this film doesn't hold a candle to the feeling that you get from the original and Halloween II. Steve Miner does try, mind you, and the prologue does have a nice vibe to it all its own and the interiors and exteriors of the school are lit very well during the third act but it's still just not as creepy and eerie as the first two or, for that matter, Halloween III and 4. I don't know what it is because the film is very well shot and it's certainly the best atmosphere Miner has ever been able to create but it still falls short of what we've seen before in this series. Halloween H20 may be a sequel that lives up to the original in some ways but mood just isn't one of them.

A secluded private boarding school like Hillcrest Academy is a pretty good setting for a horror film. With an environment that's fenced in like this place, with an automatic gate that's the only way to get in and out, you could create a lot of suspense with the characters being trapped in here with no way to escape from whatever the threat is. The trick, though, is to do it well and I don't feel that Halloween H20 took the best advantage of its setting. There are some great scenes in the dorms and main sections of the school during the final act and those interiors are used very well. However, I never got the feeling that the characters were really trapped within the walls of the school. Once Laurie, John, and Molly escape from the main building and get to Laurie's car, they're able to very easily get to the gate and open it up with the controls. It's only after the kids escape and Laurie smashes the controls to the gate that we now feel that there's no way out of this place and even then, it's not played with. Maybe if Michael Myers himself had smashed those controls once he got on the grounds, it would have worked a lot better because then you could have had a scene where they get to the gate and, upon seeing the smashed controls, realize that they're trapped. That would have forced Laurie to find somewhere to hide John and Molly or find an alternate escape route so she can confront Michael without them being in danger. Basically, what I'm saying is that John and Molly were able to get away too easily and I think they should have raised the stakes a little more in terms of how enclosed an environment Hillcrest is.


Wrong movie, moron!
Since Kevin Williamson was involved in Halloween H20, you shouldn't be surprised that there are a lot of references to other horror films and I'm not just talking about the myriad of Psycho references that I pointed out earlier. Of course, there are a few references to the original Halloween, such as a recreation of the scene where Laurie looked out the window at school and saw Michael Myers watching her from nearby, this time done with Molly and with Laurie in the role of the teacher. Not only does it recreate the effect of Michael vanishing during the time that it takes for the person to answer a question asked by the teacher (although this answer is so lengthy that it's not surprising that Michael had time to disappear and he didn't have a car this time either) but Molly also brings up fate, which is what Laurie's teacher asked her about in the original. Not too long after that, we have Laurie bump into Norma, startling her, and not only does Norma apologize for doing so but she even says, "It's Halloween. I guess everybody's entitled to one good scare." And one of Michael's kills is a lot like the scene in Halloween II when he stabbed the nurse Jill with a scalpel and lifted her up. While these callbacks to the previous films are nice and all, I think some of them are a bit too on the nose, particularly the "one good scare" moment or the moment at the beginning when Marion runs into Jimmy while he's wearing a hockey mask. They don't completely take me out of the movie or anything but when a reference is that obvious, it does make me roll my eyes because it's like they're saying, "Hey, remember those moments from the movies you love? Here they are again!" It's rather pointless. But there's one that goes way too far and that's when you see that Molly and Sarah are watching Scream 2 on the TV. Um, okay, so they're watching a sequel to a movie that takes place in a reality where all of these movies are just movies and, in fact, had clips from the original Halloween in it. For a movie that's meant to be a direct sequel to the first two Halloween movies, this is getting far too meta; in fact, that kind of breaking of the fourth wall is something you'd expect to see in something like Scary Movie, not a legitimate sequel to one of the movies that series parodies. Originally, they were going to have So I Married an Axe Murderer playing on the TV and make the reference of it starring Mike Meyers, which would have been corny enough, but using one of the Scream movies was taking things way too far for my tastes. Well, at least they didn't show any clips of the original Halloween from one of those movies (my head almost exploded while writing that) but still.

One aspect of Halloween H20 that I haven't mentioned yet and I think I should talk about now is that it's a reboot of the series' continuity, acting as a direct sequel to Halloween II and ignoring everything in-between. There originally were plans to connect the film to the previous entries, most notably with a scene where a student was doing a report on the murders in those films and Laurie's hearing that Michael did kill Jamie Lloyd, which causes her to run into a bathroom and throw up, but those were scrapped early on to give more focus to the character of Laurie... at least, that was the reason given. I think there's more to it than that. They probably knew all too well what a complete mess had been made of the Jamie Lloyd storyline by the time they got to The Curse of Michael Myers, with all of that stuff dealing with Thorn and the cult, let alone the two versions of that film, and realized that doing a follow-up to it that was the least bit cohesive would have been nearly impossible. The story that they come up with for this film also just plain doesn't fit with those movies, which is something else they no doubt realized and why they decided to keep it simple by ignoring them instead of opening up that can of worms again. Finally, it wouldn't have been very good for Jamie Lee Curtis' character if we were to learn that she did indeed have two children and yet, left one behind while taking the other with her when she faked her death. In fact, the idea of her faking her death was originally meant to explain why she was believed to have been dead in Halloween 4 but, of course, that was something else that was dropped. And personally, as much as I enjoy Halloween 4 as well as The Curse of Michael Myers, I think it was a wise decision in many respects to simply ignore that timeline for this film.

While some fans are okay with this rewriting of the Halloween story, others weren't too happy when three movies' worth of continuity was simply thrown out of the window and since then, have tried to come up with ways to tie all of the movies together. Some of the theories they've come up with are pretty elaborate and interesting, like saying that the reason nobody acknowledges of the events of 4-6 is because Haddonfield and the state of Illinois as a whole covered them up to avoid the economic crisis that the widespread knowledge of these killing sprees would have caused, with people refusing to visit the state and specifically Haddonfield; in other words, they would have done something to keep the depression that Haddonfield was going through in The Curse of Michael Myers from getting worse. As for John, some have tried to rationalize that the reason why she would keep him and allow Jamie to be adopted is simply because Jamie was taken away from her in some unforeseen legal entanglement when she faked her death and made sure that didn't happen with John since it was painful enough to lose one child. As creative as some of these theories are, you can always poke holes in them, especially with the latter argument when you think back to the fact that the very reason Jamie was put up for adoption in Halloween 4 was due to Laurie's death and so, it wouldn't make sense for the same thing to not have happened to John. And how would Laurie have been able to take John with her and not make everyone, including Jamie, wonder if she were still alive? What, did she have Jamie with her when she faked the supposedly fatal car crash? If that's the case, why not take Jamie with her too? It makes even less since given how, by all intents and purposes, John and Jamie would have been born at the same time and Jamie would have been old enough to realize what had really happened and so on and so forth. I really like the fact that the fans are so passionate about the series as a whole that they do try to make it all work out in terms of continuity but, the thing is, sometimes you have to accept the mechanics of storytelling for what they are. If I had a problem with reboots, then I wouldn't be a fan of what is arguably my favorite film franchise ever, Godzilla, which has been rewritten and retold so many times that you don't know if you're coming or going with that series. In other words, as fun as it is to think about this, don't lose sleep over it.

I've heard arguments from some people, one of them being James Rolfe, who feel that this film also ignores Halloween II and goes straight for being a sequel to the original. The evidence they use to back these theories is up that a detective at the beginning of the film mentions that Michael Myers' body was never found twenty years ago, which sounds like they're talking about the ending of the original where he was shot off the balcony and disappeared into the night, and how Michael, unlike Halloween 4, doesn't have any burn scars on him whatsoever. While I can see where they're coming from there, there's certainly a lot of evidence to the contrary in this film. The most notable one is the whole brother-sister relationship between Laurie and Michael, which wasn't established until Halloween II. If H20 ignored the events of that film, then it would have had to ignore that revelation as well. Also, when Laurie and John have their heated argument in the middle of the town, John says to Laurie, "You told me yourself you watched him burn." That's a very clear reference to the ending of the second film, where Michael is engulfed in flames from the explosion in the operating room and Laurie watches his burning body when he collapses in the hallway. Of course, then how do we account for his body having never been found? Well, knowing how resourceful and nigh invulnerable Michael is, I don't think it's that far-fetched to assume that, just like he disappeared after being shot off the balcony, he slipped away before the police investigated the interiors of the hospital. But as for Michael not being burned... I don't have an answer for that. While it's still incredible to think that both he and Dr. Loomis survived that explosion, in both continuities no less, at least Halloween 4-6 showed some damage done to both of them from it, even if it really should have been far worse. But here, Michael's perfectly fine and there's no explanation for it whatsoever, so there's really nothing you can say about it. (Well, he is in California. Maybe he had some plastic surgery!) In the end, even if you don't like Halloween II and feel that H20 is the superior sequel, there's plenty of evidence that they're still counting it in this continuity.

One thing that I definitely love about the continuity reboot is that it dispensed with all of that Thorn curse crap that had plagued Michael Myers as a character for two films. This wipes the slate clean, gets rid of all that junk that damaged his mystique and scare factor, and, as it was in Halloween II, his only motivation here is to kill his sister for whatever reason. Some may say even that's too much motivation but I'd rather it be just that than him having a curse that forces him to kill his entire bloodline. In addition, for the first time since Halloween II, he actually feels completely like Michael Myers instead of a Jason Voorhees clone. For one, they hired Chris Durand, a man with a tall, thin build similar to that of Nick Castle and Dick Warlock (well, less Warlock since they had to give him shoe lifts), to play him instead of another big bulky guy like George P. Wilbur or Don Shanks and it feels more authentic as a result. Second, his main weapon of choice in this film, as it was in the original Halloween, is a classic butcher knife (one with a huge blade, I might add), although he does use a few other methods as well, and the kills are not as over the top here as they have been in the past few films. They are bloodier than those in the original but at the same time, he's not crushing people's skulls with his bare hands or shoving objects all the way through their bodies. Third, we get a lot more stalking this time around than we've had lately. Michael may be out in the open more here than he was in the original but like that film, we do see him standing around and observing people, waiting for an opportunity to strike. He's not acting like Jason as he did before, where he would just waltz in and kill someone or charge in like a pit bull and massacre someone. He's actually thinking about what he's doing. I like some of the intelligent things he does here, like simply taking that lady's purse with her car keys at the rest area instead of murdering both her and her daughter and then taking the car or when he's trying to get John and Molly when they're stuck between that small gate and the door and he notices the keys on the ground, picks them up, and attempts to find the right one for the gate. It shows that he's much more than just a mindless killer, which is the same sense that you got of him in the first two films. And finally, you once again have that feeling that he's a lot more than a normal human. I know at this point you're thinking, "Well, duh!" but it's done in the same way it was in the first and second films, where he'll suddenly appear and disappear before you know what happened, like when John and Molly run far away from him and then he suddenly ambushes them or when he seems to walk away when Laurie is hiding underneath the tables in the cafeteria and he suddenly appears on top of the very one she's hiding beneath. He can also walk directly behind Ronny in one scene and not make a single sound as he sneaks onto the school grounds and when Ronny walks back inside, the lights of Michael's car inexplicably dim, which is never explained. It's all a welcome return of that mysterious, undefinable supernatural quality that was missing from the past few films and makes him feel a lot more like the Shape this time around.

Halloween H20 not only has one of the best opening title sequences in the series in ages, far surpassing the knife-whipping, pumpkin carving credits from Halloween 5 and the lazy push-in credits from The Curse of Michael Myers, but it also gets across how Michael has not only haunted Laurie over the years but Loomis as well. The camera pans back and forth across Loomis' office, giving us close-ups of the mass evidence that Loomis collected on Michael, from newspaper clippings on his evil acts to maps of Illinois and Haddonfield, several photos of Laurie, evidence photos (including a picture of a bloody pair of scissors, which could quite possibly be a link to Halloween 5 that they forget to edit out), and a drawing of Michael whose black eye the camera zooms into as the sequence ends, and the whole time, in addition to the effectiveness of the score, we hear Loomis' speech about how he first met Michael and realized that he was pure evil. Many don't like that it's not actual audio of Donald Pleasence speaking those lines in the original but I've always thought that Tom Kane, the guy who did his voice, not only did it well but the way he spoke it was more appropriate for the ideas that they were trying to get across, that Loomis always remembered that first meeting and it forever haunted him along with Michael's killing spree in 1978. It's sad to think that in this timeline, Loomis spent the remainder of his life obsessed with the idea that Michael was probably still out there and spent every waking moment trying to find him. And right after this, we see the nightmare that Laurie has about him so we immediately understand how he affected the lives of the two people who had survived his rampage and knew that he was nothing less than a monster.

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers wasn't the only film to have some controversies behind the scenes. H20 had a couple, with one of them being over, of all things, Michael's mask. You'd think that wouldn't be a big issue but, just like Halloween 4, it's not hard to miss that his mask changes a lot throughout the film. They started the film with a mask that was designed by KNB, who had worked on Halloween 5, and just like with that film, the mask proved less than satisfactory. About halfway through shooting, the decision was made to change the mask and reshoot the stuff involving Michael (although some brief glimpses of it show up in the final film and you see it full-on in the trailer). Looking at an image of that mask, it's not hard to see why they decided to change it. It's far too round, especially with the nose, and the face is far plainer than even how Michael's mask should look. The only good thing I can say about the mask is the eyeholes, since they hide the eyes a lot more than the mask they ultimately replaced it with for the majority of the film. According to some, the reason for the mask's look is because KNB was told not to make it look like the previous masks due to rights issues (I don't know why there would be rights issues since this is an official Halloween movie and not some fan film), whereas one designer said that, for some reason, it was Steve Miner himself wanted it to look almost totally featureless. Whoever's right, I'm ultimately glad they decided to change the mask because that thing looks bad. However, the controversy doesn't end there. It's not clear exactly who made the decision to change the mask. According to some sources, decision to change the mask was that of Steve Miner but according to Greg Nicotero in the 25 Years of Terror documentary, during a screening of dailies, someone said, "That's not Michael Myers' mask," and they all panicked. After the decision was made, John Carl Buechler was contacted to create a new mask, which was an altered version of the mask in the previous film and appears most notably in the opening where Michael stalks and kills Marion Whittington. While that sequence is very darkly lit and you don't get a good close-up of the mask, if you look closely you can tell that's not the same mask Michael wears for the majority of the film. Miner, however, did not give approval for this mask (Buechler himself even said that they went behind his back for it) and he got Stan Winston's crew to do a mask, which is the one you see throughout the majority of the finished film and was meant to be an amalgamation of what Miner liked about the original KNB mask and what the studio liked about the Buechler mask. That mask... eh, when it's lit well and shot from certain angles, it looks fine but there are plenty of times where you get too good a look at it and then, something about it feels a bit off. I don't like the hair (sometimes it looks Michael's got a damn Mohawk!), the face is not only not ideal to me but looks downright goofy in some shots, like in the close-up of Michael's face when Laurie knees him in the crotch during their fight, and, as I said before, you see his eyes way too much. You saw them a couple of times in Halloween II, granted, but they were still darkly lit for the most part and that's when Michael looks the creepiest. While that's all of the practical masks, in some shots, most notably when Charlie turns around and Michael is standing in front of him, they had to create a CGI mask because they didn't have time to reshoot it with the actual one (time constraints are probably also why Miner couldn't reshoot the prologue with his preferred mask as well). I remember when I first saw that shot, I thought the mask looked funky but I just figured it was due to the quality of my VHS. It was interesting to learn years later that it actually was computer generated. In any case, knowing all of this, it's rather fun to watch H20 and try to spot where each of the masks show up but it also kind of hurts Michael's effectiveness just a little bit when it's obvious that his mask keeps changing.

Since the filmmakers' intentions were to be more like the original Halloween, there's much less violence in H20 than there had been in some of the previous films. While it certainly has a higher body count and is much bloodier than the original, it's not a gory massacre like Halloween II and the kills aren't over the top like the ones in the three films prior to this. So, as far as the mount of blood and violence goes, it's in-between the first two movies. In any case, the first deaths are that of Jimmy and Tony, both of which happen off-screen, and when Marion finds their bodies, Jimmy has a skate smashed into his face whereas Tony... I don't know what Michael did to him, actually. He's just standing there in the doorway when Marion opens it and he falls forward onto her. There doesn't appear to be a mark on him. Maybe he got strangled. In any case, after a suspenseful chase throughout Jimmy's house, Michael eventually catches Marion and slashes her throat with the butcher knife. It's a brief effect and not very bloody but it's still enough to make you wince. There isn't another death until Charlie gets it while looking for a corkscrew for the champagne bottle, much like how Crispin Glover bought the farm in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. There's some very effective misdirection in the lead up to the kill, with Charlie dropping the corkscrew down into the garbage disposer and has to reach in to get it. While he's doing so, Michael shows up in the doorway behind him and you're expecting him to walk up and turn the garbage disposer on, tearing Charlie's hand to shreds. There's even a shot where Charlie glances at the switch while his fingers are scraping against the blades just to make you think that's what's going to happen. But nope, Charlie gets the corkscrew out without incident and turns around to find Michael staring at him. After a really creepy shot of Charlie reflected in Michael's eye, we later see Sarah find his body in the dumbwaiter. I used to think Michael just slashed his throat with his knife but everyone says he put the corkscrew in his neck. The shot is pretty dimly lit so I can't say for sure but if they say that's what happened, I'm not going to argue.

Sarah gets the absolute worst punishment in the film. First, Michael stabs her in the leg while she's trying to get in the dumbwaiter and then, when she gets to the top and tries to crawl out, her leg gets caught underneath Charlie's just as Michael cuts the rope on the dumbwaiter. The top of it slams down onto Sarah's leg and after she manages to pull it out, you get a gruesome close-up of this really nasty fracture. It still makes me go, "Ooh! God!" She tries to crawl away but she doesn't get far before Michael appears again and stabs her numerous times. But even after she's dead, he's not done with her because John and Molly find a pool of blood leading to a room where Sarah's body is hanging while still dripping blood and I can't tell if the light bulb is wrapped around her neck or if she's hanging because it's actually inside her body; some have said that it's the latter, which is absolutely sick! Regardless, it's a horrific image. Finally, Will gets killed when, after he accidentally shoots and seemingly kills Ronny, Michael comes up behind him, stabs him in the gut, and raises his body up, which is the aforementioned reference to a kill from Halloween II. And just to make it all the more disturbing, Will's body convulses, blood oozes out of his mouth, and he moans a little bit before finally dying. (Technically, there's one more kill, that of Michael himself, but we'll touch on that later.) Halloween H20 is certainly not an extremely gory slasher film, which may disappoint those looking for such a film, but that allows it to fit well with the series' tradition that was upheld in some of the previous films.

Unfortunately, H20 is another entry in the franchise that has the annoying habit of throwing too many false scares at you. While there are some nicely suspenseful sequences that ultimately don't lead to anything horrific, like that aforementioned part involving the garbage disposer or a moment where the dumbwaiter comes down even after Molly tells the person operating it not to send down anymore, which leads to her opening it and finding some roses and a map to the party room, the film has more moments than it should of something unexpected happening and loud music sting or sound accompanying it. Even a couple of the moments where Laurie hallucinates about Michael, which I do still think serve a higher purpose that I went into earlier, have some cheap scares to them. The other false scares are, in order, that bit at the beginning when Marion runs into Jimmy when he's wearing a hockey mask, an ironing board inexplicably coming down behind Jimmy and causing him to panic, the moment at the rest area with the little girl screaming right after her mother sees Michael walking around through the crack in the stall door (which is an otherwise well done scene that I'll go into presently), John accidentally scaring the crap out of Ronny, a moment where Laurie is startled by some kids running around when she's in town as well as one suddenly banging against the window when she's in the restaurant, John coming behind Molly and grabbing her in the dark when she's following the map to the party room, Laurie running into Norma, Laurie opening the door and Ronny's standing there, and a moment where Charlie surprises Sarah from behind (that one doesn't even work because you can see him all too well). Do filmmakers not realize that when you do this constantly, it stops being frightening and is just annoying? I remember getting really tired of all of these jump scares the first time I watched the movie. They're just irritating. As enjoyable of a film as H20 is, that's another strike against it in my book.

There's one moment in particular that might not be a jump scare but it's always made me scratch my head. When John, Molly, Sarah, and Charlie are sneaking into the building where they intend to have their party, John suddenly turns around and looks into the bushes for a few seconds, as if he saw something. However, there's nothing to indicate that he did. I don't remember the bushes rustling or anything like that and you certainly don't get a quick of Michael or even his shadow. The whole thing just stops for a few seconds while John simply stands there looking with an inquisitive look on his face. I've always wondered what that was all about. As I've described, if they were trying to see that he briefly saw Michael, they didn't do a very good job of it. It's always been one of the film's most perplexing moments for me.

We get our first suspense/chase sequence during the opening prologue. After Marion Whittington tries to get the power on in her house, to no avail, she sees that the backdoor to her house is wide open, which it wasn't a minute ago (during a shot where you see Michael appear behind her at the end of the hallway), and, realizing that there's still someone in her house, she runs over to Jimmy's house. Upon arriving, she finds both his and Tony's dead bodies and then, Michael proceeds to show up and chase her into the living room, grabbing a large knife in the kitchen as he does so (he doesn't even have to look at it, he automatically knows which one is the biggest and sharpest). Michael hears that the police have arrived next door and when he turns to look out the window, Marion whacks him from behind with a golf club but he swings around and just barely misses her with the knife. Marion cries for help but due to the closed window, the police officers can't hear her and she has to fend Michael off again. In-between this, we get some Hitchcockian shots of the exteriors with the police entering Marion's house on the right side of the screen, oblivious to her struggling and yelling behind the window on the left (because of the aspect ratio on the VHS, I never noticed that until I saw the Blu-Ray). Just when Marion manages to smash the window, the police enter her house and as she unsuccessfully calls for help again, Michael finally manages to get her and cut her throat. He silently slips out of the house as the police finally notice the smashed window and I like the shot of Michael driving off down the road as the unsuspecting officers investigate the second house.

Despite its ending on a false scare, the scene where this woman and her young daughter encounter Michael at a rest area is quite well done and suspenseful. Since the ladies' bathroom is locked from the inside, they have no choice but to use the men's and the inside light doesn't work so the woman has to prop the door open with a rock. They both proceed to do their business (or at least the girl does; the woman says she has to as well but all she does is sit there) and the woman has to give her daughter some tissues since the place is out of toilet paper. That's when they hear the door suddenly shut, momentarily startling them, and as the lady sits on the toilet, Michael reaches in from underneath the door to the stall and grabs her purse. The next bit is quite suspenseful as the frightened woman peaks out through the cracks of the door and catches a glimpse of Michael as he walks past and briefly sees his masked face reflected in the mirror. This scares her even more and she cautiously turns the lock on the door to peek out after he moves out of sight. After a few seconds of doing so, she hears her daughter scream and she quickly runs to her stall, only to discover that she's screaming because of a few spiders. She then briefs a sigh of relief and hears a car pull away, not yet realizing that Michael just took their car (or maybe she did but she was just glad that he didn't hurt either of them). As I said, I don't like that this scene ends on a false scare like that. Now, this is just me but I would have had her cautiously walk over to the door of the restroom, peek outside, and see that their car is gone but have her be relieved that Michael is gone too before slipping inside to check on her daughter. But whatever.

There's quite a frantic sequence leading up to Sarah's death. She finds Charlie's dead body in the dumbwaiter and, panicked, she tries to flee through the door but Michael appears there and she's forced to use the dumbwaiter to escape. Even though Michael manages to slash her in the leg, she does manage to temporarily get away from him but that's all dashed when she rides the dumbwaiter to the top of the shaft, gets her leg caught underneath Charlie's body while trying to get out, and Michael cuts the rope on the dumbwaiter, causing the top of it to smash onto Sarah's leg, giving it a nasty fracture. Afterward, Sarah does what she can to crawl away but she's not able to get far before Michael finds her. The moment where she sees his shadow in the adjoining hallway is quite dreadful because you know that she's screwed now and she does too because hopelessly yells, "Oh, fuck!" She futilely begs for her life as she tries to crawl away but Michael proceeds to put his foot on her and hack into her repeatedly with his knife. And given what he does with her body afterward, I think we can all agree that Sarah should have just gone to Yosemite.

Right after that, we have a great sequence that begins with John and Molly finding Sarah's body and upon seeing Michael standing in the dark nearby, they run out of the building and as far down the campus as they can. Feeling they've gotten far enough away, they decide that they're going to go call the cops but as they begin walking away to do so, Michael grabs Molly from behind and John proceeds to punch him in the face. Unfazed, Michael flings Molly away, shoves John down onto the ground, and stabs him right in the leg (God, that looked like it hurt!) Before he can finish him off, Molly clobbers him in the head with a rock and she and John run off. Michael chases after them until they get to a door with a small gate in front of it. Molly frantically fumbles for the keys as Michael rounds the bend and walks toward them. She manages to unlock the gate and close it but she drops the keys on the outside and Michael gets to the gate before she can get the keys. Michael tries to tear the gate down and when that doesn't work, he sticks his hand through the bars and swipes at them with the knife. John frantically screams for somebody to open the door from the inside and after he does so, Michael looks down and notices the keys on the ground. John and Molly particularly start to panic now as Michael tries to find the right key and just when he does, Laurie and Will reach the door from the inside and allow them to get in. Right then is when you have that iconic shot where Laurie and Michael come face to face with each other for the first time in twenty years through the window in the door and when Laurie pulls her pistol out, Michael disappears.

Laurie and Will hide John and Molly in a closet, with Laurie telling them to barricade the door, while they go on to try to find Michael. After refusing Laurie's telling him to jump out the window and escape, Will then sees a shadow, grabs Laurie's gun, and shoots, only to realize too late that he just shot Ronny. That's when Michael appears behind Will and stabs him in the gut. As he lifts Will's convulsing body up with the knife, Laurie quickly takes off down the hallway and attempts to get John and Molly but to open an empty closet instead. Realizing they moved to another closet and that she just left a bloody handprint next to the door which will tip Michael off, Laurie tricks him into thinking that she's hiding in there by locking the door. Michael smashes through the door, only to find no one inside and get bashed on the back of the head with a fire extinguisher by Laurie. She proceeds to run to the next closet, find John and Molly, and the three get out of dodge as Michael gets to his feet and pursues them down the hall. They make it to Laurie's car and as Laurie fumbles with her car keys, Michael rounds the bend and starts walking towards them, with John warning Laurie to hurry. Michael manages to get to the door on the driver's side just as Laurie finds the key, turns the car on, and drives away from him. (A lot of noticeable close calls in this movie, isn't there?)

And now we come to the sequence that the entire film was building up to: the confrontation between Laurie and Michael and while I do wish it was just a bit longer, since the sequence in total lasts for three and a half minutes, it's still an exhilarating battle between the two. After Molly and John drive off to call the police, Laurie smashes the controls to the gate, grabs a fire axe, and goes looking for Michael, calling for him to get him to come to her. After walking through the empty halls of the school, Laurie stops and then, we see Michael descend from the ceiling (again, he's able to appear wherever he wants because there's no way he could have been up there the whole time without her knowing) and stomp down behind her. She swings around and puts the axe in his shoulder as he slashes her left arm with the knife (giving her a new scar along with her old one) and causes her to fall to the floor. She runs into the next room as Michael pulls the axe out of his shoulder, throws it to the floor, and pursues her into the cafeteria. At first, it seems as if Michael can't find Laurie, who's hiding beneath one of the tables, and he appears to walk away. However, when Laurie quickly crawls underneath several other tables and stops, the camera pans up to reveal that Michael is suddenly standing on top of the one she's under. As she attempts to crawl out, Michael slashes at her but she quickly rolls back under the table and kicks a chair to try to get his attention as she tries to crawl to the end of the row. Michael isn't fooled, though, and walks across the tops of the tables, jumps down in front of her as she reaches the last one, and slashes at her again. Laurie quickly crawls to the other row and scoots underneath them as Michael begins grabbing and turning the tables over to expose her. When she gets at the end of the tables, she grabs a small flagpole and stabs Michael in the gut with it. He manages to the smash the pole in half and pull the one half out of him, prompting her to fling the other half at him after before she takes off upstairs. It's quite frantic as she runs up to the kitchen, throws something down into the floor, and pulls out the drawer full of knives and other utensils as he enters the room. Laurie throws every knife she can get her hands on at Michael but he manages to dodge them and just as he gets to her, she uses a small table as a shield, which the blade of his knife goes right through. This is when she knees Michael right in the crotch and, even though I think the mask looks silly here, I have to admit that its expression combined with the look in Michael's eyes is funny. Michael smacks Laurie to the ground while he tries to pull his knife out of the table and she in turn, takes several of the knives that she threw at him before running off again.

After Michael finally manages to get his knife out of the table, he follows Laurie down the hall and she proceeds to charge out from behind a window curtain at him. He swings but misses and Laurie furiously stabs him with both of her knives, leaving one in his chest as he falls over the balcony and crashes down onto one of the tables in the dining room. Looking down at him and panting, Laurie drops the knife she had and walks down to the dining room, knowing full well that Michael isn't dead. She proceeds to grab the knife still stuck in him, pull it out, and attempt to finish him off... and then Ronny, who you'd thought was dead, shows up and grabs Laurie and prevents her from delivering the killing blow, telling her that he's dead (again, you can blame him for the events of the following film). Laurie, of course, still knows better and later on, as Michael's body is being taken away, she grabs the fire axe that she used earlier, as well as one of the cop's guns, and hijacks the coroner's van. She drives off down the road, waiting for Michael to come back to life, which he does, of course, and manages to get out of the body bag. Seeing Laurie in the driver's seat, Michael lunges at her but she slams on the brakes, causing him to go right through the windshield. Seeing him laying in the road, she waits for him to get to his feet, even telling him to do so, and when he does, she drives at him full force and he ends up on the front of the vehicle. They careen down the hillside, with Michael flying off as Laurie manages to get out of the tumbling van. Michael is pinned between the vehicle and a fallen tree and Laurie, seeing this, gets to her feet and walks over to him. I really like this moment when Michael, upon returning to consciousness and seeing her standing there, actually reaches out to her. Laurie actually feels some compassion for her brother and reaches out and touches his fingers... but then she remembers all the pain and torment he's caused her and how he's been trying to kill both her and her son (plus, no doubt realizing that he's probably just trying to win her sympathy to get another opportunity to attack her) and with that, swings the axe and cuts his flipping head off! Even though I knew that was coming when I went into the movie, it was still very well done and shocking to see that happen. I can only imagine what the reaction in the theater was. People must have gone nuts and cheered like crazy! It certainly would have earned that type of reaction and, with Laurie standing there breathing heavily as the Halloween theme plays and the sirens approach, it makes for a perfect end to the franchise...

...or at least it would have had the producers not gotten greedy and interfered. This is certainly nothing new, granted. I mean, how many times have we been told it was going to be the end of a franchise and then it turned out to not be the case? Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, Alien 3, and so on. So, despite Michael's head being chopped off, we should have known that this wouldn't be the end of it, even though it definitely looked sequel-proof. But, still, despite this common knowledge and the fact that I do get some cheap entertainment out of the following film, Halloween: Resurrection, it still sucks what they did with this. This was meant to be (or at least, I think it was but Chris Durand has said they'd already planned to make another movie when they started work on this one) the triumphant return of Jamie Lee Curtis and Laurie Strode, after having been absent from the series since the second film, and to be about Laurie finally deciding to stop running, face Michael, and destroy him once and for all. Not only is that a great idea but it was also done so well here that I have to ask the question, "Why would you want to mess that up?" I know producers don't care about anything but money, which this film made a truckload of, but I just can't help but sigh when I think about how they not only just couldn't let this be the triumphant end of the series but started thinking up ways to debunk it, with Moustapha Akkad suggesting that it was a copycat killer instead of the real Michael as well as the actual explanation they came up with in the next film (Kevin Williamson himself supposedly thought that up), which is total bullshit and I'll on it when I review the next one. I know Curtis herself was not at all happy about it and how they tried to feed her a reason as to why it would work that they didn't even follow up! It's just unfair on so many levels and more than a little disrespectful.

The other big controversy with H20 besides the mask was the music score originally composed by John Ottman. According to an interview with Ottman on the special features for Halloween: 25 Years of Terror, the producers seemed to like the idea that he pitched for the score, which was a big orchestral version of John Carpenter's original themes. But late in post production, they got rid of a lot of his music and replaced it with a lot of the music that Marco Beltrami had composed for the first two Scream movies and Mimic (he even gets a credit in the opening title sequence). I saw this movie long before I saw any of those others but I did feel that much of this music just didn't fit with the movie, though I couldn't put my finger on why. After I heard Ottman tell the story of most of his music being replaced, I assumed that it was new music score specifically for the film. Then years later, I finally saw both the Scream movies and Mimic and realized, "That music is in Halloween H20 as well!" I did not expect that at all. Regardless, Ottman has made it clear that he's not happy with the music of the film, not only with the rejecting of most of his work but also with the themes that were retained being re-edited and placed in spots where he didn't intend for them to be. That's a shame because I think that most of the work he did is really good. I must say, though, that I did not really care for his big orchestral version of the Halloween theme the first time I heard it. Being a stickler for the original, I wanted the version of it that I had known up to that point, which was probably what turned me off of the movie to begin with. It has grown on me in repeated viewings, though. I like how it starts off nice and quiet and then becomes loud and all-enveloping, fitting well with the idea that Michael Myers has haunted Laurie for the past two decades and did the same to Dr. Loomis, as we learn during the opening credits. I like the others versions of it that Ottman comes up with, like the subtle, instrumental version of it that plays during the scene when Laurie reveals who she really is to Will and the other instrumental version that you hear during the above shot of Michael's body lying on the table after he falls over the balcony. We also get a brief but nice version of the Myers House theme during the first hallucination that Laurie has of Michael and I like the gentle, almost vocalizing, bit of music when Laurie sits down in her office and looks at John's picture on her table. I'm not sure if Ottman composed or if this is a piece from one of Beltrami's scores that I don't remember but I like the eerie strings theme that you hear during a suspense scene as well as the little, menacing theme that you hear when Michael drives away after killing Marion at the beginning of the movie. The rest of the music I don't remember the specifics of but I do enjoy most of the film's score.

One thing I have to say about the music that I've always hated is how, as the closing credits begin playing after Laurie chops Michael's head off, the Halloween theme isn't played in its entirety and fades out to be replaced by What's This Life For? by Creed. That annoys so much. You're on an emotional high with Laurie finally killing Michael by lopping off his head and the original version of the Halloween theme hitting as soon as she does so and you completely ruin it by switching to a song that is not only inappropriate but I don't like at all. If there are fans of this song out there, that's fine, but I've never cared for it and I don't get why they couldn't just let the original theme play out because that would have been the perfect way to fully end the movie. And back when I didn't like the orchestral version of the theme, it didn't sit well with me that, after the song ends, we get that version instead of the original. That alienated me from the film even more. In conclusion, even though I like the score overall, I've always found this last bit of the soundtrack to be a big mess-up.

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later is most certainly a movie that has gotten better to me over time because when I first started doing these reviews, I was sure this one would be more disparaging than it has turned out to be. But, upon watching the film again, I think it has a lot going for it. It does have some flaws, like an unremarkable supporting cast, far too many false scares, references to other horror films that aren't needed, including one that goes too far, and a setting that I don't think lends itself that well to the Halloween franchise in terms of atmosphere, but this is a case where the good outweighs the bad for me. Jamie Lee Curtis truly does make a triumphant return as Laurie Strode, the continuity reboot dispels all of the stupid stuff involving Michael Myers that had been in the last couple of films, Michael himself feels more along the lines of how he was in the first two films, there are a lot of good suspense and chase sequences, the score is pretty good and memorable, the film has one of the best opening credits sequences the series has seen in a while, and the ending is awesome to say the least. While I do still enjoy the original Halloween as well as II and 4 more, I would still put H20 as one of the best entries in the series, which is something that I didn't think I would say a few years ago since I still thought it was overrated back then, and I would most certainly recommend it for newcomers to the franchise.