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Halloween: Resurrection

(2002) * 1/2 R
89 min. Dimension. Directors: Rick Rosenthal (II), Rick Rosenthal. Cast: Tyra Banks, Sean Patrick Thomas, Bianca Kajlich, Brad Loree, Luke Kirby, Jamie Lee Curtis, Busta Rhymes, Ryan Merriman.

Those who identify as fans of the Halloween films will want to see Halloween: Resurrection, the eighth in the series; those who don't care about Halloween won't. That said, Halloween: Resurrection could have been worse (it could have been Jason X). But that's hardly a ringing recommendation of what's essentially another tired straight-ahead slasher film, a genre which long ago became irrelevant (Wes Craven's Scream, which goosed the genre with its humorous postmodern take and pumped-up efficiency, and the low-rent bait-and-switch of The Blair Witch Project, were anomalous events). Halloween: Resurrection is a decided step down from even the blase seventh film, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, which at least featured original star Jamie Lee Curtis for more than ten minutes.

Curtis's pre-title appearance is cleverly constructed to make this a must see for buffs, but once she takes her money and runs, the movie should be over. Instead, we're left to a wan variation on Blair Witch employing omnipresent webcams to record the deaths of teenage college students. Web entrepeneur Busta Rhymes (followed around by Tyra Banks) melds The Real World with Murder in Small Town X for his reality web TV show, holing up six volunteers in serial killer Michael Myers's former home. Rhymes's Dangertainment Productions turns out to be two people in a control room who aren't paying attention, yet most of the action makes it out to the world, including a party where a friend of one of the six housemates can become an "Instant Messenger" hero.

The worst mistake of screenwriters Larry Brand and Sean Hood was not devising characters in whom we'll form a rooting interest. This one's a biker-chic bad boy, that one's a smarty who makes Jungian references (oy vey). One (Sean Patrick Thomas) is a chef who obsessively natters on about food; another (Thomas Ian Nicholas) makes like a snarky frat boy. The heroine's a blandly shell-shocked virginal type, and the beat goes on. Brand and Hood take a stab at Peeping Tom relevance with jokey dialogue. Her: "Cameras are so phallic." Him: "Is that good or bad?" Her: "Depends who's watching."

As for Myers (Brad Loree), his malignity remains basically motiveless, though the requisite expository nonsense explains how he survived his apparent beheading at the end of the last film. Other than the diagnosis of "extreme dissociative disorder," I suppose we're meant to infer that he resents the trespass in his former home; come to think of it, does he have a current home? Michael's been a device so much longer than he's been a person that we're not supposed to ask such questions. Meanwhile, the poor guy's beginning to look suspiciously like Ron Wood.

There are worse ways to get your trash fix, and director Rick Rosenthal (who helmed Halloween II) knows the science of slasher films well enough to create legitimate tension and induce the odd jump despite the film's inherent stupidity. But the silly details don't stand up to scrutiny (as you might imagine), and the plotting is obvious and derivative. Must we, in 2002, still slavishly enact the sex-and-drugs-as-prelude-to-gory-death slasher tropes? Is this, a lonely critic asks, all there is? Well, yeah.

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Aspect ratios: 2.35:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Street date: 4/17/2012

Distributor: Echo Bridge Entertainment

Echo Bridge is movin' on up with its acquisition of Miramax and Dimension catalog titles, including Halloween: Resurrection. A/V specs are creditable on this decade-old title. Picture quality may betray a bit of edge enhancement (we may be dealing with a vintage HD transfer here), but on the whole, this upgrade should more than satisfy Halloween fans who've made the leap to Blu-ray, especially given the budget pricing. Pleasing detail is particularly lively outdoors, but also surprisingly revelatory in dark interiors (shadow detail only occasionally succumbs to crush). The most obvious improvements over DVD here come in detail and truer colors, as well as the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that effectively supports the pounding post-millennial horror style with ever-clear dialogue, full-bodied music, and nerve-rattling effects.

Adding significant value is a full complement of bonus features, beginning with audio commentary by editor Robert Ferretti and director Rick Rosenthal, who cheerily chatter about the film's development, concept, style, cast, and production. The disc also includes "Alternate Endings and Deleted Scenes" (10:38, SD), "Tour Set with Production Designer" (6:52, SD) Troy Hansen, "On the Set with Jamie Lee Curtis" (4:04, SD), "Head Cam Featurette" (480p, 4:12) and a "Storyboard (Split Screen)" montage (3:51, SD). Though certainly one of the sketchiest Halloween pictures, this title allows Echo Bridge to put a good foot forward with their rapidly expanding Blu-ray catalog.

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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