Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dangertainment

Year: 2002
Director: Rick Rosenthal
Cast: Busta Rhymes, Bianca Kajlich, Jamie Lee Curtis
Run Time: 1 hour 34 minutes
MPAA Rating: R

It’s been a wild and rocky ride through the world of Haddonfield’s Finest, but here in the safe haven of 2002, we arrive at the final Halloween picture (Rob Zombie? Never heard of him). Though the back half of the franchise pretty much stinks like Michael Myers’ jumpsuit (He might have the scratch to spruce up his mask every time, but has anyone ever seen him launder his Lucky Murder Overalls?). Halloween H20 was a beautiful fresh start for the series, leaving the air clear for a follow-up to glide smoothly in.

Of course, that’s not what happened. This is one of my franchise marathons, after all. Things can always get worse. Halloween: Resurrection cannonballed in, gnarled and spitting, after four long years of radio silence. It’s far from the worst of the franchise (I lied – I’ve heard of Rob Zombie and those remakes are trundling down the trash chute right at us), but it’s a massive step down from the oasis of H20 in the barren Halloween desert.

Please take a moment to pay respect to that killer pun.

Halloween: Resurrection took one look at the calendar and thought, “What can I do to make sure that nobody ever forgets I was made in 2002?” The answer is this: The plot centers around Freddie Harris (Busta Rhymes), the host of a spooktacular reality TV web series known as Dangertainment. This Halloween, he will be sending a host of sexy college students with webcams into the notorious Myers house to see if they can find evidence of the serial killer’s upbringing. The film’s understanding of psychology begins and ends at a single paragraph clipped from a Carl Jung book, so an intimately detailed portrait it ain’t.

The Meat he packs into the house includes Jen (Katee Sackhoff of Oculus), a fame whore with the energy of a rabid chipmunk; Rudy (Sean Patrick Thomas), a chef in training who thinks that Michael’s rage stems from a poor diet – who invited this guy?; Sara (Bianca Kajlich), a good student who is in an online relationship with Deckard (Ryan Merriman of Final Destination 3 and The Ring Two), a freshman who sneaks away from a party to watch her show; Jim (Luke Kirby), a horny music major; Donna (Daisy McCrackin), a pretentious asshole who thinks she’s smarter than everyone else because she read that Jung paragraph; and Bill (Thomas Ian Nicholas, Kevin from American Pie), who might actually be hornier than his hapless Pie character,

Naturally, Michael Myers (Brad Loree) arrives for his close-up, fresh from finally offing Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, who wanted to make sure that she wouldn’t be asked back for any more sequels). His one mission in life complete, he does what any recent retiree would do – immediately attempt to recapture the glory days.

I suppose a model train set is out of the question.

Halloween: Resurrection is the cinematic equivalent of the absurdly confident freshman who just took a PSYCH 101 class and gleefully analyses their friends from on high. It’s clearly an attempt to dredge up some latent themes from the original Halloween about how the boogeyman represents the darkness inside all of us. However, this topic loses some of its luster when addressed by annoying clods who correct each other’s grammar, scoff at phallic imagery before being penetrated by sharp objects, and have the sheer pedantic audacity to call Michael Myers the “great white shark of our unconscious.”

However, I have been forever inoculated against annoying characters thanks to Tina from Halloween 5. Though Resurrection’s slate of characters is universally obnoxious, they’re hardly more obnoxious than all of us under 30 were back in 2002. The real beauty (if you can call it that) of Halloween: Resurrection is that it’s an unabashed time capsule of the strangest, most embarrassing trends and behaviors of the new millennium. Many film fans find dated movies to be abhorrent, but my secret joy lies in exploring the unearthed rends of a decade not too far removed from our own, yet as distant from the context of 2015 as Mars.

Thus, in my eyes, Halloween: resurrection is a totally adequate stupid slasher. There’s no part of the film that could conceivably be called “good,” but nearly every minute is a haphazard good time.

Kind of like a Ryan Murphy show.

OK, we all know Halloween: Resurrection is crappy. But as a self-professed kinda sorta fan, I feel that it is my duty to start with some positive comments before we rummage through the barrel of well-worm mockery. First and foremost, the mask is actually sort of decent. Or, at least it’s kept in shadow enough that it’s given the opportunity to be creepy. It’s the best Michael Myers couture since Halloween II, at any rate. My favorite element of the mask is that, when it emerges from the darkness, it looks angry. Now obviously that flies in the face of the idea that he is a faceless force of evil, but I feel like on this side of the Thorn trilogy, we’re a smidge past the point of fussing over subtextual minutiae.

And one should never underestimate the value of an evenly parsed-out platter of Meat. We meet our core three one at a time before we’re dumped in with the rest, so we’re given a moment to breathe and get a bead on who’s who. I don’t particularly want to get to know any of these paper-thin archetypes from Aristotle’s thesis on Irritating Drama, but I appreciate the fact that we’re given the opportunity.

Finally, as dated as the film’s premise and technology might be, it has some fun with it. Director Rick Rosenthal (returning from Halloween II, having helmed the classic The Birds II: Land’s End in the meantime) still doesn’t quite know how to frame a shot when he’s not quoting John Carpenter (as a matter of fact, he doesn’t quite know how to frame a shot when he is quoting John carpenter), but there are some clever editing moments involving the POV of the webcams, especially when they’re attached to teen corpses or rolling down the stairs on a severed head. 

Plus, the presence of Deckard and an increasing crowd of partygoers watching the show allows us to be a part of the game, getting real time audience reactions as the horror ensues. This all culminates in a sequence where Deckard must act as Sara’s eyes because only he can see where Michael is hiding in the house thanks to the cameras. It’s not exactly fraught with tension, but it squeezes some blood from the stone that the franchise had become.

Oh, and there’s a handful of pretty cool kill sequences that are baroquely gooey in the classic slasher tradition, including a blood tracheotomy that hearkens back to 1960’s Peeping Tom.

Rosenthal’s motto is “If it ain’t broke, steal it.”

I do recognize that a film that requires this much defending isn’t exactly Wizard of Oz, but Halloween: Resurrection is just fun. Spectacularly dumb fun, but fun just the same. There’s a lot to hate in the film and many scores of people have found it, but at least for me it’s all part of the ineffable experience. Sure, the actual webcam footage is pixelated enough to abrade your corneas, the Final Girl is next to useless, and a climactic scene involves young Rudy throwing fennel in Michael’s eyes. But it wants so badly to entertain and I for one feel that it does.

Resurrection’s piece de resistance (and an accurate gauge of if this movie is for you) is without a doubt Busta Rhymes. He is far from a good actor, but his singularly arresting energy is far more compelling than the herd of halter tops that surround him. His performance style follows two steps incessantly and unfailingly: 1) Cock head at a physically impossible angle that makes people fear for your health, and 2) Just keep talking until you get to something that feels like the line you were supposed to say.

His copious monologuing puts even the loquacious Dr. Loomis to shame. And although Donald Pleasance has chewed up mountains majesty of purple dialogue, I’m not sure even he would relish calling Michael Myers a “killer shark with baggy-ass overalls.” Busta just lets loose and goes for it, performing every act with supreme commitment, whether it be wooing Tyra Banks (who is in this, did I mention that?), kung fu kicking the Boogeyman, or merely sitting on his couch at home. His performance is pure, magnetic lunacy, a perfect centerpiece for this unflappably deranged sequel.

Whatever. I like Halloween: Resurrection. Sue me.

Killer: Michael Myers (Brad Loree)
Final Girl: Sara (Bianca Kajlich)
Best Kill: Jim’s head is crushed and he cries tears of blood.
Sign of the Times: Deckard meets Sarah through a Yahoo! Chat room and they keep in contact using their Palm pilots.
Scariest Moment: Sara has to climb down the stairs over Bill’s dead body.
Weirdest Moment: Busta Rhymes does kung fu alone in his apartment.


Champion Dialogue: "Screwing a music major would be tantamount to lesbianism.”
Body Count: 10; not including the decapitated “paramedic” shown in H20 flashback footage.
  1. Security Guard is decapitated.
  2. Willy has his throat slit.
  3. Laurie Strode is stabbed in the back and falls to her death.
  4. Charlie is stabbed in the throat with a tripod.
  5. Bill is stabbed in the head.
  6. Donna is impaled on an iron spike.
  7. Jen is decapitated.
  8. Jim has his head crushed. 
  9. Rudy is triple stabbed and pinned to a door.
  10. Nora is stabbed and hung offscreen.
TL;DR: Halloween: Resurrection is an immensely stupid but vastly entertaining time capsule.
Rating: 6/10
Word Count: 1634
Reviews In This Series
Halloween (Carpenter, 1978)
Halloween II (Rosenthal, 1981)
Halloween: Resurrection (Rosenthal, 2002)
Halloween (Zombie, 2007)
Halloween II (Zombie, 2009)

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