Tuesday, July 12, 2022

20 Years of Dangertainment!

At some point, most slasher sequels - even the ones that didn't get much love originally - tend to attract a fanbase that claims these films as their own. Even Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, with its impostor Jason, has come to collect a core of passionate devotees over time. 2002's Halloween: Resurrection, however, remains the rare slasher sequel that still can't claim much of a following. Surprising, I know! For some reason this one's still a hard one for Halloween fans to love and, by God, most of them don't. But today, on the twentieth anniversary of its release, I am here to profess my own ongoing affection for Resurrection

Right off the bat, just so it's clear where I stand, let me say this: Halloween: Resurrection > H20

As well as H20 was received by most critics and fans back in '98, that movie has never done it for me. Not then, not now. Michael's mask looked like shit in every shot (it's the worst the mask has ever looked, and it's looked like trash in several of the sequels), the big final confrontation between Michael and Laurie was tepid, not at all worthy of the twenty years of history behind it, and its young cast, featuring up and coming stars like Josh Hartnett and Michelle Williams, was entirely wasted. H20 felt weirdly truncated, too, as though it jumped directly from its first to its third act. 

As much as I love Jamie Lee Curtis, H20 sucks. And the worst part about Resurrection is the opening with JLC as she tries to kill Michael by setting a Scooby Doo trap for him. Bullets and fire have done nothing to slow this guy down but somehow Laurie thinks that having him dangle upside down and falling on his head might do the trick. This is by far the dumbest thing about Resurrection but after that we're doing fine. 

Yes, really! 

Now I will not try and make a convincing case that Resurrection itself is particularly good. Slasher sequels are meant to be graded on a curve. If you've stuck with a series like Halloween or Texas Chain Saw past a certain point, well after you know that most of them are going to be crummy, you have developed a flexible set of standards. I will just say that, when I saw it in theaters on its release date of July 12th, 2002, I immediately enjoyed Resurrection far more than I had H20. I didn't straight up love it right then and there, no. That'd be crazy. But even on first viewing I thought it worked as a Halloween sequel far better than H20 had and arguably better than either 1989's The Revenge of Michael Myers or 1995's The Curse of Michael Myers. I'll say this: if I were to rank the series, Resurrection sure wouldn't be at the bottom for me. This is mid-level Halloween, folks!

Actor Brad Loree makes for an excellent Michael. His body type is right (no middle aged girth filling out his gray coveralls like George P. Wilbur had in Curse), his moves are good and the Michael mask is on point in a way that it hadn't been in ages. I am a big believer that when you're dealing with an iconic character, that character - whether it be Superman, Godzilla, Michael Myers or whoever - ought to have what everyone with a passing familiarity with them would recognize as the classic look and Resurrection has that going for it.

Even the Myers house looks right in this movie for the first time since director Rick Rosenthal made his first trip to Haddonfield back in 1981 with Halloween II. Prior to Resurrection, the Myers house had been fucked up on screen for over twenty years. When the Myers house was featured in 5 and 6, it looked unrecognizable from the established look of the first two films (worse than that, the houses in 5 and 6 looked completely different from each other!). Given that, I do appreciate the fact that Rosenthal realized it was actually important to, you know, have the key locale of the series look the way it's supposed to. I'm a little iffy on how well they did when it comes staying true to the interior layout but whatever. 

Close enough, I say. 

I know filmmakers shouldn't be applauded too hard for just showing the most basic attention to detail but given that when it comes to the Halloween movies, it's been established that you can't rely on people to do even the bare minimum I think Rosenthal deserves credit for getting some things right that others absolutely did not. Personally I hate watching a Halloween movie and having Michael's mask be an eyesore. And it drives me nuts to see the Myers house look nothing like it's supposed to. If you manage to at least not fuck that shit up, I'm ready to forgive a lot of other stuff.

I know some will say I'm ready to forgive too much but I would argue that, story-wise, Resurrection is fine as far as slashers go. Certainly it's nothing to be embarrassed about as far as slasher sequels go. I'm not saying this is top shelf material, I'm just not seeing how this is inherently so much worse than what some of the other sequels came up with. If you're watching Halloween movies this deep in, I say it pays to be willing to bend a little.  

Resurrection's screenplay by Larry Brand and Sean Hood does a more than fair job of setting up its body count narrative involving a group of college kids live broadcasting their night in the Myers home via the webcam show Dangertainment. And to have characters in the movie watching Dangertainment and, through text messages, remotely advise the characters in peril what they need to do in order to stay ahead of Michael is a nice meta touch, making the horror tradition of audiences shouting their instructions to characters on the screen into a clever plot point. 

Also, let's give Resurrection some credit for being smart enough not to waste everyone's time trying to expand Michael's mythology with any Druidic nonsense. Say what you will but there's no pointless revelations about Michael's origins here that needed to be retconned out of the series.   

The biggest problem that most people had with Resurrection is with the larger than life head of Dangertainment himself, Freddie Harris, played by rapper Busta Rhymes. This is an area in which I will strongly disagree with the haters and say that I totally dig Busta in this movie. His character brings a completely different type of energy to the series. Freddie may be loud and obnoxious and abrasive to some but I'm all for it. Some will say this movie crosses a line by allowing Freddie to disrespect Michael but I don't go along with that. Yeah, he gets in Michael's face in one scene when he thinks it's just someone in a Michael mask but so what? This scene may not be an example of the terror that the Halloween series usually strives for but Michael himself isn't any the worse for wear for it. 

Busta definitely makes a bigger impression here than does likeable but bland Final Girl Bianca Kajlich. And he ends up delivering one of my favorite lines in the entire Halloween series, describing Michael in purely poetic terms as a "killer shark in baggy ass overalls." And of course, the immortal "Trick or Treat, motherfucker!" is all him. Freddie rules, period. If only he and Loomis could have met. 

Oh, what a pair those two would have made. 

I only wish the next Halloween would have continued on from the end of Resurrection. I liked where they left things off here and I would have loved to have seen Freddie square off with Michael again. Had the series continued with this timeline, it would have had to carry on without any of its familiar touchstones like Laurie, Loomis, or even the Myers house. What kind of Halloween movie that would have been, who knows, but I wish we would have had a chance to find out. Resurrection tee'd up the franchise for an interesting next step and it's a bummer that step never got taken.

So as much as it is still vilified by many fans, on this day I say "cheers" to Halloween: Resurrection. Happy Anniversary, motherfucker!

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