“We’ve got a psychotic serial killer in the family. Likes to butcher people on Hallowe’en.”
Halloween H2O (*******7/10)
Country: United States
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnett, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Adam Arkin, LL Cool J, Janet Leigh
Eye candy: Michelle Williams, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe
Director: Steve Miner
Run time: 86 minutes
DVD distributor: Alliance Films
You know how Kevin Bacon appeared in that first Friday the 13th movie, and Johnny Depp was in Nightmare on Elm Street? How about Jennifer Aniston in the first Leprechaun? Making each of them the most talented, best known actor ever killed in any of those series? After fifty or sixty sequels in the three series combined, the most well known people I can think of to die at the hands of Freddy, Jason or the Leprechaun are Kelly Rowland in Freddy vs. Jason and Sticky Fingaz in Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood. As the series move along, the quality of actors gets lower and lower and lower until they’re down to porn stars and rappers and members of Destiny’s Child.
The Halloween series is different. It always has been different, in that it started off with an all-time classic. I know Nightmare on Elm Street did too. Both series got progressively worse as time went on, and as the actors got worse and worse, so did the movies. Eventually, by about the sixth episode, directors were phoning it in worse than the nubile young terrible actors. Then came Halloween H2O. Now, I would never suggest that this is an all-time classic. I wouldn’t even say it’s a great movie. But it’s certainly the best in the series after the original. The young cast is impressive, and there are more name actors in this film than in any sequel I can remember.
What is really remarkable about this is that the greatest actors ever killed by Michael Myers were killed in Halloween H2O, the seventh installment in the series. It’s a toss-up for me as to who is the better actor – Joseph Gordon-Levitt or Michelle Williams. Williams has been remarkable in many movies, perhaps most notably Brokeback Mountain. But I’m going with Gordon-Levitt (perhaps best known for the TV show Third Rock From The Sun), who is, I believe, one of the best young actors working today. His performance in The Lookout was fantastic, and he was the best thing about Stop-Loss.
Sidebar – Ironically, I just looked up several of the actors in Halloween H2O, and discovered that Adam Arkin, Jamie Lee Curtis and Janet Leigh were all on the Season Two, Volume One DVD of The Love Boat. Creepy, eh?
It’s certainly a nice touch to have Janet Leigh appearing in a horror-slasher movie, since she is famous for appearing in the ultimate one, Psycho. And Jamie Lee Curtis, despite having carved out a respectable career outside the horror-slasher genre, is still primarily remembered as the scream queen from the original Halloween. Then again, in Halloween H2O, she does very little screaming. Instead, she is that requisite movie-sequel badass who attacks, with gusto, the bad guy. No running for her, she is going to face her problems head-on. And of course, Michael Myers is her biggest problem.
Her son, Josh Hartnett, is also a problem though. It’s been 20 years since Michael Myers attacked Jamie Lee, and he thinks that maybe it’s time she stop being frightened by this crazy brother of hers. Let me be free! he cries, and so the two of them clash and have one of those mother-son fights that are so very familiar to all of us. Even those of us who don’t have a crazed serial killer somewhere in our family tree. But we, the audience, know that her fears are grounded in reality. Because we saw Michael Myers slaughter three people (one of them Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in the opening scene. He’s coming, and these folks are blissfully ignorant!
There are some cool scenes involving a gate surrounding the upscale private school where Curtis is the headmistress and Hartnett is a student and LL Cool J is a particularly slow-witted gate-guard. However, Michael Myers has the ability to drive a truck. In fact, he seems to be able to drive a truck from Illinois to South Carolina in about 21 hours. With powers like that, you would think he could climb a fence, and wouldn’t have to wait until the fence-guard had his back turned to slip in silently. But, there are fewer silly moments like that one in H2O than in most Halloween sequels.
After the killing of the three people in the opening scene, we have to wait a full hour for killing #4. Unlike most brainless slasher sequels, the body count isn’t crazy high here, and there is not a wall-to-wall rampage where characters are introduced simply to be murdered moments later. Instead, we get to know Curtis, now a mother of a 17-year-old, and her boyfriend (Adam Arkin), the school psychiatrist (how a-propos), and we learn slowly how this woman still, years later, has a very injured psyche. Crazy serial killer brothers on a rampage will do that to a person.
Curtis is quite good, reprising her role of 20 years ago and playing it pretty straight. Hartnett, Williams, Jodi Ly O’Keefe and LL Cool J have clearly been chosen because they are young ingenue eye candy, but they form a much better cast than most similar movies. And the direction works. The movie is tight, there is adequate tension in the right moments, and although it feels a little too slick, it works. And the end of the movie is perfect. This is how you end a series, definitively. As a final act in the series, this one really works. If only it actually was a final act.
“Trick or treat, moth******er.”
Halloween Resurrection (**2/10)
Country: United States
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Busta Rhymes
Eye candy: Tyra Banks, Bianca Kajlich, Daisy McCrackin, Katee Sackhoff
Director: Rick Rosenthal
Run time: 89 minutes
DVD distributor: Alliance Films
Oh, why? Why did they have to do this. Halloween H2O was no classic, but it was effective and decent and closed out the series nicely. How could they create another movie after the ending of the last one? Well, they create a new character. This Michael Myers, although ostensibly the same Michael Myers as in the last episode, is now Hannibal Lecter clever. Resurrection completely destroys the credibility that had returned to the series with H2O, because it creates a movie so far outside the realm of Halloween that it’s laughable. This, really, is a Friday The 13th film. At best.
The idea is that Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks run an online reality show where they plan to put cameras throughout the childhood home of Michael Myers, and film some hot young people spending the night there on Hallowe’en. That’s right. Busta Rhymes. And Tyra Banks. Everything nice I said about the cast of H2O goes out the window and is turned on its ear in Resurrection. Thankfully, Busta Rhymes lives through the film, leaving Tyra Banks as the definitive champion in the contest of Worst Actor Ever Killed By Michael Myers. Had ol’ Busta bitten it at the hands of the maniac, it would have been a really, really tough call.
So in Resurrection, although there are a couple of recognizeable names, we have the worst cast of any Halloween film. Busta Rhymes makes LL Cool J look like Laurence Olivier. Mercifully, Jamie Lee Curtis finally dies at the hands of Michael Myers, effectively ending her involvement in this series, and not a moment too soon. Her death, early on in the movie, is merciful. One of the most staggeringly painful and unoriginal movie openings ever comes to a merciful end at the same time.
You see, Curtis is now locked up in an insane asylum, convinced that Michael Myers is still coming to get her. She is pretending to be more crazy than she is – faking a catatonic state – and spitting out her medication after the nurses leave. She is preparing to face off against her brother, plotting her escape, and training for the Big Showdown. No one believes her that he is on his way, or that he is real, until they see him on the security camera entering the building and killing people on his way to her room. Sound familiar? Think a moment…yes. Jamie Lee Curtis has now become Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2. Only, she loses the battle and dies. Thankfully.
Now all we get is a creepy Michael Myers house (where he still, of course, lives), and some inane and idiotic speeches from Busta Rhymes about Dangertainment and the entertainment value of real terror, and how this is how true entertainment will be in the future, and blah blah blah. The movie seems to be trying to make a statement about human nature and vicarious thrills and so forth, but it is way too stupid to do so. There are broken steps and creepy high chairs and musical stings and underground lairs where Michael Myers apparently eats rats for sustenance until people come into his house for killing.
“She really is a very talented actress.”
No she isn’t. Oh, and considering the plot of this movie surrounds an internet reality show, you would think that the cameras in the house and attached to the “stars” would be used to create new and interesting angles and scare shots. But no. When Michael Myers kills someone, the cameras switch back to regular movie cameras, and the cameras inside the house and on the characters are ignored completely. So…the premise is completely irrelevant. Good.
This really is a Friday the 13th movie – Michael Myers crushes a guy’s head with his hands. Like Jason. He lives in a creepy place by himself and only kills the young hotties who come into his area. Like Jason. And the movie really, really sucks. Like Friday movies. The whole thing ends with an incredibly stupid, self-absorbed and utterly nonsensical dissertation by Busta Rhymes, refuting every other thing he has said during the entire movie. And so ends Resurrection, a follow-up so bad that it undoes absolutely everything that H2O did right.
At least the two movies come on one, bargain-priced DVD, so Resurrection is really like a bonus feature for H2O. A long, involved, and terrible bonus feature, but there it is. The single-disc set comes out August 4th from Alliance Films.