Oct 16, 2014

October 2014 Horror Movie a Day - Day 15: HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION (2002)

I remember the first time I saw the trailer for Halloween: Resurrection. It was at the Hollywood Galaxy theater at the corner of Sycamore Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles (it's now an L.A. Fitness), although I can't remember what movie it was in front of. The trailer starts out revealing that a group of teens have been contracted to spend the night in the childhood home of "our most brutal mass murderer", cleverly omitting the name of the psychopath. You see them in the house, there are signs that things will go bad and then suddenly there is Michael Myers and that iconic theme letting us know what this movie really is. A movie about teens spending time in a infamous home for a reality show at first struck me as a great concept, and then when Myers was introduced, I was totally hooked. The audience laughed with a mix of "oh you got us there", "you have to be kidding" and "well played" feelings. In my opinion, it was a successful marketing campaign (as you can see for yourself below.)

With the recent release of the comprehensive and amazing Halloween franchise box set, a limited edition collaboration between Anchor Bay and Shout! Factory's horror-specific label Scream Factory, I knew I had to include at least one of these pictures on the Horror Movie a Day watch roster (if not more, which will be revealed by the end of the month - like say on October 31 - hint, hint). It occurred to me that although that trailer caught my attention, I had not seen this film yet, the only one out of the series (including Rob Zombie reboot and sequel).

Let's do this dance one more time so we can get our paychecks and go home.
The first question the picture answers is how can there be another Halloween movie with Michael Myers when Jamie Lee Curtis decapitated him in Halloween: H20 (#7 in the series, this is #8)? They cover that all right with a laughable plot device of showing Myers crushing a man's throat in the last film, then putting the mask on him. Curtis had really killed a hapless emergency respondent and now resides in a mental hospital, committed for insanity and murder. Here Curtis is kind of like the Halloween version of Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2. She sits staring out of a window, looking bad-ass, clutching a doll while waiting for Michael to come for her. Given pills, she fakes taking them then stuffs in the doll so as to keep alert. Michael comes back as expected (and necessary for there to be a movie) and he happily shows us how ready he is to pick up his knife and get back to work.

Wait until 'Crocodile' Dundee gets a load of this knife.
With that over, we are finally at the point where the actual plot of this picture kicks in. A pair of college students (a pre-Battlestar Galactica Katee Sackhoff and Sean Patrick Thomas) submitted themselves and their unknowing friend (Bianca Kajlich) for a spot on a reality TV show where they would have to spend Halloween night in the childhood home of Michael Myers. The show is being produced by Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks, the principals of 'Dangertainment' who are looking for their first breakout hit. The home and the contestants are outfitted with cameras so that every moment will be broadcast.

I'm guessing this is going to be sticking out of my dead corpse at some point?
Bianca's character has made a cyber friend (Ryan Merriman) who refers to himself as 'Deckard' (obviously he's a Blade Runner fan) who is smitten and wants to spend Halloween watching his 'girlfriend' that he's never actually met. His friend coaxes him to attend the hottest party in town instead, where Deckard retreats immediately to a computer room to watch the show. He's not the only one interested as soon the entire party comes to him and get caught up in the on-screen action.

Should we pick the order in which we die or just wing it?
Rhymes and Banks have added their own theatrical flourishes to the house to give "America a good show", including having Rhymes dress as Myers for more terror. Who knew (except us) that they didn't have to go to all that trouble as the real Myers crashes the party and the corpses start piling up. Luckily for Bianca, she's in contact with Deckard who helps her out using a PALM/texting device. Thus, the horror movie and the Halloween franchise enter the 21st century.

I am way too bad-ass for this movie!
It is a toss up for me which is the worst of the Myers Halloween sequels (Halloween 3 does not feature Myers and stands on its own. It has developed a cult following) between this and Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (#6). When H20 was released, it, as well as this film, act as if Halloweens 4-6 never happened which is probably some sort of rights or contractual restriction because I liked 4 and 5.

Wait, there's a knife in this shot?
The problems with this picture are bountiful. First there's the opening sequence involving Jamie Lee Curtis that takes up way too much time for being what essentially is the explanation as to how Michael is still alive - but it's also way better than anything that comes after. It also allows the producers to add the marquee value of Curtis who probably did this for the paycheck, and you have to wonder if there was a conversation where she agreed but only if they made sure she could never come back. For very little screen time, she makes an impact. I wish the picture had stuck with her.

Just hold still while I crush your skull.
The main plot involving the reality show kicks in much too late. When Michael finally begins his killing spree, there are so many prime opportunities that the filmmakers drop the ball on. One in particular is the plot point involving Busta Rhymes pretending to be Myers in order to give viewers bang for their buck. So much could have been done with the two Myers that would have made things much more interesting. I was hoping for many more 'red herring' scares with this, but we really only get one. There is one great moment where Rhymes in Myers gear yells at the real killer to get back to the production hub (thinking he's an already murdered camera tech).

I was beheaded in the last movie, so you think these flames are really going to do the trick?
The place is completely covered by cameras, yet conveniently people turn away from the monitors right when killings happen. This occurs more than a few times and gets old fast. Then there is the tricky element of this being a broadcast Internet reality show. It seems the only people reacting to the badness on screen are Deckard and the people at the party as the teens in the house have to run from Myers for an awful long time without any authorities or help showing up. This is strange especially given all the press covering the event, so you'd expect there to be news vans or something nearby. Aren't there hundreds if not thousands of people watching this live?

I deserved waaay more screen time.
Busta Rhymes is a standout in this picture, giving it his all. Poor Tyra Banks is stuck with a few throwaway scenes while she sits watching the monitors from a production center. I would have rather seen more of her than the teens in the house.

Let's sit here and drink and not pay any attention to our employees getting murdered on the screens behind us.
Another under-developed element is Bianca's character. The rest of the group are in it for the celebrity, the exposure and are immune to the 'horror' aspects of what they are about to embark on. However when Bianca is initially being interviewed, a studio light falls down behind her and she reacts as though someone had just been axed to death before her eyes. This leads Rhymes to think she's his 'golden goose', a natural. Nothing really comes of this later as the coverage of the teens in the house is fragmented to the point that their deaths are merely inevitable rather than creating any sort of tension as to who is going to die, when and how. It has the effect of rendering the main protagonist we are supposed to side with as nothing more than part of the background.

This was the last of the sequels before the series was rebooted by Rob Zombie (I don't even want to get started on those, especially his Halloween 2) and that was probably smart as it is very obvious that this franchise was running out of steam. For a slasher flick it is fine as you get what you came in for, Michael Myers doing his thing to hapless teenagers. I just feel that overall this movie is one big missed opportunity.