Countdown to Halloween: The Legacy of Michael Myers Part 8
In anticipation of the upcoming sequelboot of the Halloween franchise, in which every entry but the first are to be eliminated from canon, I decided to give one last look at the whole series before it is banished into the Soul Stone for good. As it currently stands, the Halloween series has a pretty crazy continuity, complete with alternate endings, ridiculous retcons, and an unrelated anthology entry about magic masks that fill kids’ heads with bugs. There’s a reboot and a sequel to the reboot, both of which have multiple conflicting endings of their own as well. It’s a glorious mess, so there’s really no reason to treat any future story developments as anything out of the ordinary. No, Michael Myers has never made it to outer space, nor has he dueled with another horror heavy (although Halloween vs Hellraiser did almost happen) but he’s certainly been around the block enough times to merit an investigation into just what has kept this killer alive for so long, and just why we are now throwing most of his work in the canonical trash. I will be watching the entire series in order of release, starting with John Carpenter’s seminal 1978 classic which, for my money, remains one of the finest fright films ever made. Check out the whole series here!
“Evil finds its way home”
Director: Rick Rosenthal
Writer: Larry Brand, Sean Hood
Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis, Busta Rhymes, Daisy McCrackin, Katee Sackhoff, Bianca Kajich, Sean Patrick Thomas, Thomas Ian Nicholas
Michael Myers played by: Brad Loree
Plot: A group of wannabe reality stars are tasked with spending a night in the abandoned Myers home, broadcasting their experience over the internet. Unfortunately for them, Michael Myers is back once again, and he doesn’t much care for their intrusion. It’s very stupid.
Review: A little background - at the end of Halloween H20, Laurie Strode has finally ended her brother’s multi-decade reign of terror by cutting off his head with an axe. It was a definitive, fitting close to the series, but where there is money to be made...
Enter the most incredible retcon I think I’ve ever seen. As it turns out, the masked man that Laurie beheaded was not Michael Myers at all! You see, when a paramedic was sent to bag Myers’ body, the presumed dead killer awoke, crushed the paramedic’s larynx, and then switched clothing with him, mask and all. So when we all thought we were watching as a dying Michael Myers reached out to his sister for mercy, we were actually watching a terrified medical professional (a father of three, according to Nurse Exposition) begging silently to be recognized as a civilian and spared. Why he didn’t remove the mask, I don’t know. It’s a pretty big stretch, but it’s appropriately fucked up, and remarkably clean, considering the logistical gymnastics needed for it to work. If there’s one thing in this move that works for me, it’s this. The balls on this retcon are tremendous.
Jamie Lee Curtis, upon finding out that the series she thought she capped with class was destined to continue, requested that Laurie Strode be killed off in this entry so that she can be free of this mostly ridiculous franchise once and for all. Good on her. As character exits go, this one isn’t too bad either. Laurie has been committed to a mental institution in a catatonic state (a fun reference to both her de-canonized daughter, as well as a scene from the TV cut of the original film, in which a young Myers fakes a catatonic state), traumatized from having accidentally murdered an innocent man. She pretends to take her pills, and plays along with the daily sanitarium routine while she waits for her brother’s inevitable return. Why she’s at the “Grace Andersen Sanitarium” and not Smith’s Grove is a mystery and a missed opportunity for a fun tag. Anywho, she somehow finds the time to set a trap on the hospitals roof, and once Michael shows up, she manages to snatch him up in it. Buuuuuut before she can put the finishing moves on him, doubt creeps in, and she just HAS to remove his mask to make sure it’s not another hapless paramedic. Her moment of doubt exposes her to Michael’s grasp, and he throws her from the roof to her death. It mostly makes sense, and at this point, I’m happy to see an actress of unmatched class be freed from franchise bondage. Well, until this October when she returns once again.
At its time of release, Halloween: Resurrection was touted as a modernization of a now decades-old tale. Where H20 employed a modern look to bring the story back to its source, this film is littered with attempts at bringing Michael Myers into a “new generation of horror.” As such, it ends up feeling the most dated of the whole series, while even the weakest of the previous entries maintain a timeless feel. Technology has advanced so quickly over the past 20 years, that even media from five years ago can feel comparatively archaic. At 16 years old, Resurrection’s depictions of live-streaming, text messaging, and basic internet usage are absolutely laughable. My memory isn’t what it once was, but I remember it feeling slightly futuristic at the time of release. Ha!
Dangertainment, the company behind this ridiculous reality show, is fascinatingly dumb. They have no business model to speak of. As far as I can tell, the online broadcast is totally free, and it isn’t until the moments before the broadcast begins that anyone even suggests that product placement would be a good income generator. But we’re not supposed to be thinking about these things. This is just a setup to get a bunch of youngsters into a murderer’s path. It doesn’t work nearly as well as the filmmakers want it to, and I suspect this is because the bulk of the film could really be ANY old slasher. Although this wasn’t the case, Resurrection feels like a bland horror script was retrofit with Halloween lore. Give me 20 minutes and a word processor and I could turn it into a non-Halloween slasher of equal (see: low) calibre.
Even the reality show framing device is used inconsistently. A handful of things regularly occur which betray the in-universe rules. For example, in a scene where one of the kids has her head cut off, we get to see what this looks like from her head-mounted camera. As the head rolls to a stop, the camera reveals the shocked faces of the remaining survivors looking down at it. Then a few seconds later, we see the same scene from one of Busta Rhymes’ monitors. Now the camera is pointed at her head, creating an unsettling shot of her lifeless eyes. It’s a cool look, but its inconsistent. In addition, just about every “in-camera” cut during the broadcast has a frame or two of Michael Myers’ face spliced into it. It’s at a subliminal speed, but it’s there. So, um, why? How? Did Michael do this? Busta Rhymes? Rick Rosenthal? It’s a functionless device that doesn’t make sense — that favors imagery over logic — but that’s Resurrection’s whole motif it seems.
There’s also a fair amount of choppy slow motion used in moments of Myers emerging from the shadows. It conjures images of an 80s hair band video. It’s jarring every time it happens, but not nearly as jarring as the film’s many failed attempts at humor (on IMBD, this film is classified first as a comedy, then horror, then thriller). First and foremost, this is an oddly horny movie. Perhaps it’s meant to be a hammy commentary on the use of sex as entertainment, but it really doesn’t dig deep enough to validate that notion. Instead, it’s just a parade of horribly written innuendo played for laughs. It never works. Add to that Busta Rhymes’ interest in karate movies, and Michael Myers’ sudden understanding of dramatic irony (and a near supernatural awareness of the audience), and you’ve got jokes on jokes on jokes, all of which fail. There is one moment where I was legitimately laughing with the movie rather than just at it, and it’s when Busta, dressed as Myers, come face to face with the masked maniac. There’s something legitimately funny about the enthusiastic rapper’s voice coming from a typically scary visage. And when Myers has had enough of Busta’s ranting and silently turns to leave the room, I had to pause the movie from laughing so hard. Take a look:
There are a few fun visual throwbacks to earlier entries that I appreciated even if they were all way too little way too late. My favorite is when a character finds herself stuck in the iconic closet from the first film, and another character has to punch through the slats in the door in order to get in. Another is when, in a reference to Halloween II, Myers uses his incredible strength to walk through a wooden door, shattering it with his mere presence. It’s neat.
A few fun notes:
Michael Myers has apparently spent the last few years living in the basement of the Myers home, surviving by eating rats.
One of the cast members is chosen to partake in Dangertainment when she screams and it impossibly shatters a glass across the room.
The dudes in this movie are super gropey and it is very gross.
Palm pilots as far as the eye can see!!!!!
One of the first clues that the Myers house is not as inhabited as it seems is the discovery of fresh fennel in the spice rack, meaning that Michael Myers, who has been eating rats for years, managed to hit the store and grab some spices for his meals.
One of the notes I took while watching this entry reads simply “Oh my god, who wrote this shit?”
Best kill: Bill (Thomas Ian Nicholas - Rookie of the Year) is looking into a mirror, amping himself up for a night of potential fame-making sex with one of the female co-stars. But before he can complete his ego-driven ritual, Michael Myers bursts through the mirror from the other side and starts a-stabbin’! He sticks Bill a few times before finally burying his knife in the top of Bill’s head. Why Myers was waiting on the other side of a mirror is a mystery, but so little of this movie makes any logistical sense that I’m happy to appreciate a decently staged kill.
Best line: Once again, this is a movie with no lines that could be considered good, so instead, here are a few gems I collected.
“Oh my god, you’ve been pussy whipped. What’s worse, you’ve been cyber whipped!”
“Screwing a music major would be tantamount to lesbianism.”
“You know, Donna, you got great legs. What time to they open?”
::Donna gives the middle finger::
“That’d be one o’clock?”
“Cameras are so... phallic.”
“We’re gonna be bigger than the Osbournes. We’re gonna be large!”
“Never underestimate the effect of a poor diet. Too much protein, not enough zinc. Next thing you know, you’re cutting up bodies in the bathtub. I mean, look at Hitler. He was a vegetarian. The brother was seriously malnourished.”
“Trick or treat... muthafuckah!” - Busta Rhymes before karate fighting Michael Myers.
“Hey Mikey! Happy fuckin’ Halloween!” - Busta Rhymes before zapping Michael Myers in the nards with a split electrical cable.
Worst line: At the end of the movie, Busta Rhymes, who has spent the entire movie gleefully exploiting the Michael Myers mythos for money, is now admonishing news cameras for attempting to do the same now that his show was a fatal disaster. It’s an unbelievably dumb lecture, and it goes a little something like this:
“Michael Myers is not a sound byte, a spin-off, a tie-in, some kind of celebrity scandal. Michael Myers is a killa shark! In baggy ass overalls! And he gets his kicks offa killing everything and everyone that he comes across. That’s all!”
Mask: We’re so many movies deep now that the mask has become a pretty standard design. Within the universe, it now stands to reason that novelty masks are being produced in the image of the famous killer, much in the same way you could by one at a Halloween shop here in the real world. We can reasonably assume that they’ve become a standardized product, even if we can’t explain how Myers himself keeps obtaining them. Due to the incredible retcon which serves to explain why Myers remains living, we HAVE to assume that this is a brand new mask. I did notice that this one has very prominent eyebrows and noticeable jowls, both of which serve to lightly indicate Myers’ age, even if in a nonsensical way (masks don’t age like flesh unless being worn by a Terminator), but at least he saw fit to tuck the neck into his collar. We’ve also graduated beyond the point of intermittently showing Myers’ eyes. They are now on full display at all times, and while I do prefer to see his eyes, it goes to show how little thought went into the artistry here. Myers is a brand, and Resurrection is (terrible) brand management.
Dr. Loomis’ health: Still dead, and he should be very grateful that he’s avoided this chapter. This is a uniquely terrible way to end the series.
Lore: Michael Myers did NOT get his head cut off. Laurie Strode is now dead. Michael Myers eats rats as well as dogs now. Michael Myers has nards. Michael Myers is not good at karate. In perhaps the biggest addition to the lore, Michael Myers is revealed to have spent much of his childhood chained up in the basement by his family, being fed gruel and treated like a monster. Text messages are sent letter by letter. Reality TV is silly. At the end of it all, Michael Myers, once again presumed dead, opens his eyes just before the credits roll. Yep, this entry is cynical as hell, and if not for the accurate, terrible reviews (currently at 12% on Rotten Tomatoes), we could’ve expected a never-ending franchise of diminishing returns. It makes sense that the next step is a remake.