Resurrecting Halloween or Driving the Final Nails In?

Halloween Resurrection is currently available on instant Netflix

Halloween Resurrection

Halloween Resurrection (2002) – Rated R

Three years after he last terrorized his sister, Michael Myers confronts her again, before traveling to Haddonfield to deal with the cast and crew of a reality show which is being broadcast from his old home.

As I noted last week, Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers was a complete narrative nightmare (and not in the good sense). Among its many egregious sins was rewriting the end of the previous movie.

Along came Halloween: H20, the second best movie in the franchise. Since it didn’t have Dr. Loomis, they went back and got Jamie Lee Curtis to reprise her role as Laurie Strode. It also helped launch the careers of Josh Hartnett, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Michelle Williams. It also had a very satisfying ending that made for an excellent sendoff of the series. Unfortunately it made too much money.

So here we have Halloween 8. Resurrection is a terrible name for this movie as it is more a death knell than a revivification. It enters self-parody but not self-awareness. Naturally the first thing it does is completely rewrite the ending of the previous movie.

Original scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis is lured back one last time. I imagine the conversation went something along the lines of “sure, I’ll be in your movie, I want x dollars and I want it to be a cameo just like in the Scream movies.” Katee Sackhoff has an early role here.

The premise has a reality show being filmed from the Myers home. This is apparently broadcast through the internet. As usual with a Hollywood movie, they have absolutely no idea how the internet works.

The house is completely covered with cameras and wired for sound as are all the ‘actors’ in the reality show. In spite of all of that, the plot hinges on no one (supposedly there is a vast audience for this live event) noticing the first few, completely on camera, killings. They also don’t follow through on their premise with many of the killings shown from angles that don’t match up to the camera placement.

I applaud the use of a more ethnically diverse cast so it isn’t just the usual game of ‘white girl down’. Unfortunately they also try to ‘urban’ it up which fails spectacularly. The writing is ridiculous and they must have had a cursing quota. Busta Rhymes is just awful. Tyra Banks is umm Tyra Banks.

Finally we reach the absolute nadir of the Halloween franchise with Freddie Harris (Busta Rhymes) going Bruce Lee on Michael Myers while Myers is armed with a butcher knife. Michael Myers becomes a bad joke in his own movie.

Terror Train – Do Not Get on That Train week

Sorry for the late post ending Do Not Get on That Train week. Terror Train is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Terror Train (1980) – Rated R.

“A fraternity prank goes wrong and lands one student in a mental institution. Four years later, when his frat brothers host a costume party on a train to celebrate their graduation, the student sees this as his opportunity to exact revenge. He sneaks on the train and begins killing the partygoers one at a time, masking himself in the costumes of his victims. Will anyone make it off the train alive?”

Hrrrm. While the slasher genre is not known for originality, Terror Train is overly formulaic.

The most important facet of a slasher is to have a strong female heroine. The quintessential final girl is Laurie Strode in Halloween. Naturally they hired Jamie Lee Curtis to play our heroine here. Jamie Lee filmed this back-to-back with Prom Night and just before she reprised her role of Laurie Strode in Halloween II.

Over a four-year period Jamie defined the phrase Scream Queen. She does have a great scream by the way and it is on display here. From 1978 to 1981 she played the strong female lead in Halloween, The Fog (with her mother Psycho victim Janet Leigh), Prom Night, Terror Train, and Halloween II. Other than coming back as Laurie Strode for the surprisingly entertaining Halloween H20 and the why oh why Halloween Resurrection, she pretty much retired from horror after 1981.

Next you need to have a recognizable actor – usually in a wise do-gooder role. Again our quintessential role model is from Halloween – Donald Pleasance portraying Dr. Loomis. Here we have the venerable Ben Johnson as the train conductor. In the aforementioned Prom Night you have Leslie Nielsen.

An interesting setting helps. Halloween starts with babysitting and segues into a hospital setting for Halloween II. Friday the 13th and The Burning have summer camp, Prom Night has umm well prom night, and Terror Train has a train.

The train setting really helps Terror Train and is well used from private cars to sleeping berths. Writer Daniel Grodnik claims to have gotten the setting from a dream after viewing both Halloween and Silver Streak. My favorite train horror would have to be Horror Express with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

Normally slasher films have to hide who the killer is. This can be done by awkward angles and obscured views but is more often done through a mask. Friday the 13th ends up several ways – the original laboriously obscures the killer, part 2 has potato sack Jason and finally in part 3 we get hockey mask Jason. In Terror Train, we have a big masquerade party so the killer is able to assume more than one identity.

During the draggy midsection, Terror Train helps divert us with a magic performance by Ken the Magician. Ken is played by none other than uber performer David Copperfield.

The last necessary staple of a slasher is that we have to have a character that we hate and want to die. Hart Bochner (Zach McNeill on The Starter Wife) plays Doc Manley who not only plays the terrible practical joke that starts our movie but also learns no lesson from the tragic outcome. He continually harasses and plays jokes on the other characters.

This is the directorial debut for Roger Spottiswoode. He does a good job of keeping things moving briskly and filming in the confined quarters of a train. He would go on to make Tomorrow Never Dies and The 6th Day.

While extremely formulaic, the formula works. This is an entertaining early 80s slasher. It is not even remotely as good as Halloween but Jamie Lee Curtis and Ben Johnson are both quite good. I recommend this to anyone wanting to see Jamie Lee in her prime or to see a fun 80s slasher. It is by no means a “good” or “important” film but it is enjoyable on its own merits.

People Watch: D.D. Winters has a brief role here as Merry. What is that you say? Who is D.D. Winters? Oh well maybe you know her better as Vanity, the Prince protege.