Who better to reimagine John Carpenter’s masterwork of controlled, measured tension and suspense than the brash, crash, metalhead turned horror filmmaker Rob Zombie? Anyone. Pretty much anyone would have been better. But Zombie was riding high off the success of The Devil’s Rejects, so I can see why he was chosen. Does that make him the right choice? No. Not in the slightest.
Clarification: The issues I have with Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies are not that they’re different. It’s not that they’re “Not True Halloween Movies,” either. It’s that they’re loud, unpleasant, and brutal to the point of obscuring whatever artistry may lie beneath. Yeah, I said artistry. Because I genuinely believe that Rob Zombie has the potential to be one of today’s horror greats. But he’s stuck behind a wall of excessive brutality. It’s like if every movie Mel Gibson directed was Passion of the Christ. Everything is drenched in senseless brutality. Quite literally senseless. A lot of it doesn’t make any sense. When the gore leaves the screen for minutes at a time is where Zombie’s sense for surreal imagery and his unique sense of humor come into play. But we’re not here to discuss Rob Zombie as a director, we’re here to talk about his crap Halloween films.
Upon rewatching the 2007 remake of Halloween, I was surprised by how much better it was than I remembered. And by that, I mean that I remembered being really bored by it, and I was only kind of bored by it upon second viewing. Yeah, it’s pretty dull. And by that, I mean it’s stupid.
Let’s get the good out of the way:
- Zombie did something different.
- Daeg Faerch is surprisingly good as a young Michael Myers.
- Scout Taylor-Compton is acceptable as Laurie Strode.
- Brad Dourif is good, as always.
- The Legendary Malcolm McDowell is no Donald Pleasence, but he’s quite a good Loomis regardless. Though it is weird that he retains the 1970’s trenchcoat-leather gloves look.
And the bad:
- What Zombie did different is to waste the first 45 minutes asking what makes a serial killer, only to provide the answer of “No idea.” This leaves us with barely any time (about 10-15 minutes) to meet Laurie before she’s thrust into the sped-through plot of John Carpenter’s Halloween.
- Zombie still clearly feels tied down in some way, he shoves in a few shot-for-shot recreations of the iconic ones, you know, the knife pin, the ghost blanket bit, all the great ones. But he missed the OBVIOUS opportunity to replace the film playing on the TV, which is, in the original, Howard Hawks’s The Thing, with John Carpenter’s The Thing. WHY WOULD YOU NOT DO THIS?! If you’re going to reference, this is the obvious one!!!
- Every single character is unlikable. Except for maybe Sheri Moon Zombie. But she offs herself, so…
- We’re left with Danny Trejo. He’s pretty cool. Then he’s killed, and we’re left with…
No one. No one is likable. That’s a big problem in a slasher film. Well, I shouldn’t say nobody. I guess we don’t hate Danielle Harris. I like Danielle Harris. Not because the character of Annie Brackett is particularly well-written, nor because she’s particularly good in this film, but because it’s a nice throwback to the original series.
How ’bout The Shape? He’s bad. Tyler Mane is horrifically miscast. Myers is not a hulking mountain of a man. He is not Jason Voorhees. He is not Leatherface. He is slim, he is lithe, he is slow, yet methodical. He is evil incarnate, not rage incarnate. He is this:
Ultimately though, Zombie’s Halloween just isn’t scary. It lacks the tension of the original. Zombie has not the talent of Carpenter for suspense, and thinks he can replace it with brutal violence and excessive gore alone. And that just doesn’t work. The film is loud, uncontrolled, obnoxious, etc., thesaurus, etc. And none of it, I repeat, NONE of it is scary for even a second. Which is why I give Rob Zombie’s Halloween a D+. I guess it could’ve been worse.
If Halloween was Rob Zombie restrained, than Halloween II is Zombie Unchained and off the chain, and off his rocker. Here, he retains the excessive and senseless brutality, and in fact cranks it up to 11, but adds pretentious symbolism and an inept meditation on PTSD. At least, I think that’s what it’s supposed to be.
I’ve describe Halloween III: Season of the Witch as a fever dream. I’d have to describe Halloween II as a fever nightmare: nonsensical, unpleasant, and gross. Really, really gross.
I don’t wish to linger on Halloween II. I don’t want to waste thought process on this dumb film. I guess we’ll briefly discuss it. What went wrong?
First off, Zombie was allowed to do whatever he wanted. Big mistake. The first 20 minutes or so aren’t bad. We pick up where we left off, though Myers is inexplicably still alive. Whatever. He escapes from the coroner’s van, and attacks Laurie in the hospital. And it’s exciting, if not scary, if excessive, if brutal. At least it’s entertaining, it’s promising, it’s…
A dream sequence.
And then we descend into madness from there. That’s probably intentional, the film’s supposed to be about a descent into madness, but it’s just so dumb that I think it actually drove me insane. Okay, so Myers is hunting Laurie again. He actually did live without explanation, just not in the same way as he did in the dream. Or maybe part of it wasn’t a dream. I don’t know, it’s unclear. Somehow, it takes like 2 years for Myers to get to Laurie walking. I don’t know how he got so far away. Maybe he went to Disneyland, and forgot to get round-trip airplane tickets. I really don’t know. Laurie’s been changed by the events of the prior film. Apparently, she’s been changed into Rob Zombie. Take a gander:
Vastly different character from the one last time, Zombie. Here, she’s just unpleasant. She starts unpleasant, she ends unpleasant. Just like everyone else.
Loomis is included in that everyone else. Inexplicably, he’s become a jerkass. He’s got a good wit though, so it’s entertaining. At one point, he’s interviewed on a reality show by Weird Al Yankovic and The Talking Dead’s Chris Hardwick. Seriously. And they make the obligatory Austin Powers reference. This is a thing that happens in a real movie.
Danielle Harris winds up being the best part of the movie. She’s rather good, considering the crap script and her limited screentime. She doesn’t come off as annoying or unpleasant, quite an achievement in this movie. She dies though.
Even Brad Dourif is bad here. He has one scene in particular which just screams bad acting, when he finds his daughter dead and exclaims, “Ohhh, Annie, nooo, oh God, please, Annie nooo.” Cliche dialogue, poor delivery, bad times were had by all.
There are surreal dream sequences here. Michael’s delusion is manifested as his mother (convenient that Sheri Moon Zombie still gets to be in the movie, eh Rob?) with a white horse and young him, played by a different actor. So they’re a mad trio off to rope in Laurie, Michael’s sister. That’s revealed clumsily as well, it was sort of in the first movie, but Laurie never found out, so she just happens to pick up Loomis’s book and reads it and finds out there. Wow, what an intelligent reveal. Yay.
All in all, it is not good. An excessive, unintelligible mess with any vision muddled in a sea of distractingly over-the-top brutality and gore, Rob Zombie’s Halloween II earns an F.
Well, there it is. Finally done with Halloween. Not a solid note to end on. Hopefully Halloween Returns actually happens.
This was sort of posted on Halloween by accident. Sorry about that, something else will also be posted about Cronenberg’s The Fly. Later!