Was it Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho that was responsible for the slasher craze of the 1980s? Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre? John Carpenter’s Halloween? The answer is not just one of these movies, but all three, with a little bit of political influence thrown in too.
Each emerging throughout the end of the 1970s (with the exception of Hitchcock’s Psycho), these films were created in direct response to the real-life horrors on display in America throughout the decade, with race riots raging and the Vietnam war coming to a bloody end. Stabbing at the national zeitgeist to awaken a new dawn for horror cinema, such aforementioned films exposed the facade of American peace, justice and liberty, opening the door for an influx of nasty cinematic villains to rear their ugly heads.
One of the most celebrated of the bunch was Halloween’s Michael Myers, a silent, masked killer with a strange ethereal majesty that gave him an almost mythical resilience. Whilst the chaos of Texas Chainsaw’s Leatherface would instil a more gory sense of madness in the decade to come, the influence of the Halloween franchise would help to directly prompt countless other copycat movies to be released.
Whilst intensely popular for a short while, these slasher movies went through a distinct genre cycle, going from a respected new subgenre of horror to parody and, later, reinvention in the 21st century. This was clearly reflected in the Halloween franchise that produced six sequels to the classic 1978 movie from 1981-1998, with the critical reception getting worse and worse with every new release.
By the time Halloween: Resurrection cropped up in 2002, audiences were almost totally disillusioned with slasher icons entirely, particularly after Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and Jason X had moved fellow genre rivals into the realms of parody.
Set three years after the events of Halloween H20, the eighth instalment of the horror franchise takes an entirely new approach to the series, setting the story around the cast and crew of a reality TV show that is challenging contestants to stay a night in Myers’ old family home. Constructing a fake set with hidden scares and booby traps, the whole set-up is only supposed to be a bit of harmless fun, until the real serial killer shows up and begins continuing his incessant slaughter.
Rightfully panned upon its release, Halloween: Resurrection is little more than a cash-grab from Universal, retreading many of the same steps from the previous seven instalments, albeit with a few more utterances of “motherfucker” by Busta Rhymes who takes an unusual leading role. Instead, what’s truly interesting about the 20-year-old slasher movie is its place in the history of the genre, betwixt in a moment when it was in its greatest transition.
The turn of the new millennium had brought a new taste for voyeuristic reality TV, where everyday people could be superstars and flashy, expensive productions became somewhat out of favour. Along with the revolutionary found-footage movie The Blair Witch Project in 1999 and even the inception of the reality show Big Brother in 2000, audiences were beginning to prefer more down-to-earth stories that were unapologetically unsophisticated and unpolished.
Halloween: Resurrection acknowledged this too, taking down the level of production whilst tapping into the recent craze of reality TV by setting Myers loose on a show that used similar surveillance techniques to Big Brother.
Whilst Blair Witch had sparked a whole horror sub-genre in the found-footage movement of the early 2000s, encouraging a move towards lower budgets, smaller teams and more basic concepts, Halloween: Resurrection can be seen as a lame, loveable swan-song to the passing of the slasher era.