Rob Zombie’s Halloween: A Big Rant

June 29, 2009

I grew up on horror films. I was watching the A Nightmare On Elm Street and Friday The 13th franchises when I was as young as four. I idolized Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees more than Batman and Superman. I can’t explain my early fascination with these seemingly unstoppable and deformed serial killers, but it was my thing as a kid. It’s kind of sick to think back about it now. My parents probably questioned their leniency in the matter when they came home one day to find out that I chopped their kitchen counter to shit with a butcher knife. I’ll never be able to explain why I did that, but somehow I turned out to be a harmless human being anyways. For whatever reason, Halloween was the last classic horror franchise that I got into and it now stands as my favorite and Michael Myers is by far my top horror icon. While I’ll never be able to understand what it was like to see John Carpenter’s original film for the first time in the late 70s, I can still appreciate it as an iconic movie to this day and possibly the best in the genre. When I heard Rob Zombie was going to remake/re-imagine the Halloween series I had mixed emotions: on one hand, it’s better to leave the classics alone, but that’s a lost cause in today’s Hollywood; on the other hand, I felt like if anyone was going to take the reigns, Zombie was a good choice. I wasn’t expecting the subtle chilliness that made the original so scary or even for the remake to be a good overall film, but I figured Zombie would give us a solid slasher pic with plenty of gore and breathe life into a franchise that has been on life support for about a decade.

The first third of the film is painful to watch. I certainly didn’t expect Zombie to dive into Michael Myers’ childhood and attempt to provide a reasonable explanation for his murderous ways. No thanks. One of the scariest things about the original Michael was that there wasn’t a good explanation for his homicidal activity… something about him was just… pure evil. In Zombie’s version, he spends forty minutes accomplishing what the original film did before the opening credits. We are introduced to the Myers gang and between his stripper mother, deceased father, verbally abusive and alcoholic stand-in dad figure, and promiscuous older sister–plus the added bonus of school bullies–I think we are somehow supposed to understand why Michael Myers just had to go a little nutty. Does Zombie really expect us to empathize with this kid? If not, then what’s the point? If that wasn’t problematic enough, Michael was 5 or 6 in the original version and when he killed his sister, we were left with the impression that he didn’t really understand the severity of what he just did. In the 2007 version, Michael is 10, clearly understands death and the consequences of his actions, and murders four people before finally being locked away in Smith’s Grove. Ugh. The first part of this movie just makes me sick to think about. It’s the ultimate butchering of a classic. Michael Myers has dialogue. He kisses his baby brother (or sister, I don’t fucking know). He has long hair and looks like the raggedy outcast from The Mighty Ducks with the power slap shot. The little shit even puts on the classic inside out Shatner mask and parades around like a Mini-Me version of his future adult self. Hopefully we get to see an infant Freddy Krueger in a crib wearing a glove of knives and a fedora in the upcoming A Nightmare On Elm Street remake. I could really go on and on about how much this shit sucks.

And I will. Once at Smith’s Grove, we are subject to even more unnecessary character development. We are introduced to Malcolm McDowell as Professor Sam Loomis (played fantastically by the late Donald Pleasence in the original series), a child psychotherapist that watches helplessly as Michael slowly dissolves into social withdrawal and the sanctity of the masks he insists on wearing at all times. Again, too much time is wasted trying to explain something that is better off without explanation. None of these scenes mean anything and when Michael ultimately kills the nurse in charge of him (why someone would turn their back on a kid with four homicides under his belt to read a newspaper is beyond me) and his mother cracks under the pressure and commits suicide, I’m still as emotionless as Michael Myers should be. Despite all the added “development,” Loomis’ obsession with Myers doesn’t have nearly the impact that it did in the original series. It all leads up to one important question: Who fucking cares?

Fortunately, the movie takes a turn for the better once it jumps forward 15 years. In the meantime, Michael Myers has become a mute and Loomis has published a book describing Michael as “the devil.” For some reason, one of the hillbilly security guards at Smith’s Grove thinks it would be a good idea to invite his friend out to rape one of the female patients… in Michael’s room… while he is unbound, working on a mask at his desk, with his hands free. Yeah, it’s always smart to rile up a 6’9″ 250+ pound serial killer that looks like The Undertaker. Obviously, Myers escapes and we finally get to the meat of the movie. Danny Trejo plays a different security guard that has been watching over Michael for 17 years, developing a Dane Cook “thanks for the Snickers” relationship with the pyschopath, and I liked how Myers doesn’t hesitate for a second before drowning him and smashing his face in with a TV. That’s the Michael Myers I know and love.

The rest of the movie plays out pretty similarly to the original. Lots of stalking his sister, Carpenter’s classic score, and ghastly death scenes. Scout Taylor-Compton isn’t nearly the actress Jamie Lee Curtis is and her Laurie Strode is kind of bland. It’s kind of dope to see Danielle Harris in a role. She played 10 year old Jamie Lloyd in Halloween 4 and Halloween 5 and returns in the new franchise as Laurie’s friend Annie Brackett. She’s such a good sport, that she even goes topless for several minutes while being chased by Myers.

All in all, Halloween is a pretty good remake once you get past the first forty minutes or so. Taylor Mane is a beast and makes Michael Myers more intimidating and scary than he ever was. I really liked the look of the mask in this movie too. I just hated the first third of this film so much that it kind of leaves of sour taste in my mouth. Thankfully, in Zombie’s upcoming sequel, we won’t have to wade through any corny background story and can get right into Michael Myers in beast mode. I’m looking forward to it.

Grade: 5 out of 10 (worth watching)

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