Courtesy Photo
82 minutes | Rated: R
Opened: Wednesday, August 5, 1998
Directed by Steve Miner

Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Adam Arkin, Michelle Williams, Adam Hann-Byrd, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, Josh Hartnett, Janet Leigh & LL Cool J

Curits is back under the knife, but latest 'Halloween' more re-run than revival

OK, I'm only gonna explain this one more time: When you knock Michael Myers on his ass, take his knife and start hacking him up.

Don't stab him once and run away. Don't stand over him crying.

Also, don't stay in houses where the power and phones have been cut, don't split up in pairs, don't lock yourself (or anyone else) in a closet, and when you see Michael Myers coming, don't whimper -- scream, loudly.

"Halloween: H20," the 20th class reunion of the first (and best) official slasher flick, seems like a great concept, and it has a lot going for it on the surface:

There's its genre pedigree -- it stars both Jamie Lee Curtis (from the original "Halloween") and her mom, Janet Leigh (from "Psycho"). There's its aren't-we-clever homages -- Leigh drives the same model car she drove in Hitchcock's 1960 classic (with era license plates, no less). The tension built up in the first 30 minutes of the film is a killer. And of course there's that soundtrack with the scariest movie theme music in history.

But even with 20 years of psychiatry and a new identity, "Halloween" I and II survivor Laurie Strode (Curtis) is still dumb as a post and does all the aforementioned "don'ts" when her underworldly psycho bro, the slasher in the spray-painted Shatner mask, comes calling in this hopefully final-for-the-really-last-time "Halloween."

Laurie now goes by Kari Tate and is the heavily-medicated headmistress at a boarding school on a woody California hillside.

On October 31 her school empties out for a field trip to Yosemite, leaving her alone on the poorly-lit campus, except for her guidance counselor beau (Adam Arkin), an aspiring-novelist security guard (LL Cool J) and a few student stragglers who didn't get their field trip permission slips signed (Michelle Williams, Adam Hann-Byrd, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe).

Laurie's son (Josh Harnett) was supposed to go on the nature outing, but he bailed out to boff Williams in darkened dormitory basements, which is lucky for Mike, because apparently it's the boy he wants to knife.

Directed by Steve Miner ("Friday the 13th" II & III, "My Father the Hero"), the first half of the movie is mostly backstory and unnecessary character development, which only serves to make it obvious who will and will not get whacked, based on the amount of screen time they get.

Then enter Michael Myers and commence with the splatter- paint- by- numbers terror.

With twice as many false-start spooks than real scares, "H20" (as in "Halloween: 20 Years Later") is largely soundtrack tension and actors framed off-center so Mike can pop up in the background and induce shouts of "turn around!" from the audience.

It's not so much that the movie stinks -- Miner has the anything- could- happen- at- any- moment mood down to a science -- it just doesn't have anything new to offer, and in the wake of "Scream," I've come to expect more.

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