Thursday, October 4, 2012
In 1978, John Carpenter changed the horror genre forever with his simple story of small town babysitters stalked by an escaped mental patient who murdered his older sister on Halloween night as a six year old fifteen years prior titled Halloween. The movie seemed to be a bomb when first released to the public and many people didn't find it interesting. All of a sudden, the box office began to get more and more and more, shocking Halloween's executive producer Irwin Yablans and the man behind the Boogeyman, John Carpenter himself. The 1980s brought on Friday The 13th and many Halloween imitators. Moustapha Akkad got the offer to make a sequel. Reluctantly, John Carpenter and his co-writer/producer Debra Hill decided to come on board to write the script that gave the original's heroine Laurie Strode a connection to The Shape by revealing her to be his younger sister. Halloween II was pretty successful and so it was established to make a third film. This time, Akkad wanted to dismiss the Michael Myers story and try something different that became known as Halloween III: Season of the Witch. It was hated by the avid Halloween fans and bombed at the box office, so Akkad decided to bring Myers back with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, which brought back Haddonfield, The Shape, and his arch nemesis Dr. Loomis. It was said that Laurie was killed in a car crash, but she had a daughter named Jamie Lloyd who became Michael's next target along with anyone that got in his way. The film is most known for its shocker ending and made tons of cash. Feeling over successful, Akkad and company rushed into making Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers before the script had been finalized. It came to theaters in 1989, exactly one year after Halloween 4. The film didn't go over too well with fans and introduced some things that raised more questions than answers. About four or five years past and Akkad had trouble finding the right story for Halloween 6. Meanwhile, Miramax's Dimension Films bought the rights to the franchise. A die hard Halloween fan came aboard to write the script and made a bold move by providing an explanation to why The Shape can't die. Unfortunately, they had a screening in which a 14 year old kid said that the ending sucked, so they re-edited and released Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers to theaters that pissed off fans and made for a confusing mess of a movie that made no sense. Sadly, soon after completing additional dialogue for the film, Donald Pleasance who portrayed Dr. Loomis in the franchise passed away in England in 1995.
A few years later, Jamie Lee Curtis who played Laurie Strode in Halloween and Halloween II mentioned that she would like to come back into the franchise to make something fresh with it. This idea interested Akkad, which brought on Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later in 1998 that capitalized on the success of 1996's smash hit Scream. H20 was a direct sequel to Halloween II and ended with Laurie chopping off her brother's head with an axe. The film did massively well and could have been a great end to a loving franchise.
Unfortunately for Halloween fans, Akkad and company got greedy and did the daring thing of making the god awful Halloween Resurrection. In that film, Michael finishes off Laurie at the opening and ends with Michael being karate chopped by rapper Busta Rhymes. Resurrection was hated by a great majority of horror fans alike and the franchise seemed dead and buried. Message boards discussed what Halloween 9 should be like. In 2003, New Line in association with producer Michael Bay released their remake of the horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The remake did so well financially that other filmmakers decided to pitch in including Dimension for a Halloween reboot. All Halloween fans were outraged when told the news since most of the remakes that came out were mere shapes of their originals. Then, it was confirmed that rock musician/filmmaker Rob Zombie would be writing and directing the remake. For Zombie fans and even some not familiar with his work, this was a dream come true that a horror fan was going to be remaking the most famous horror film of all time. I know because I was one of them and will say while Carpenter's 1978 classic will always be the best Halloween and my personal favorite, Zombie's remake brought a new perspective of Michael Myers that nobody had seen before. While it does have a mixed audience, I won't deny that I was personally digging Zombie's exploration through the eyes of horror cinema's greatest villain.
On Halloween, ten year old Michael Myers brutally murders his older sister Judith, her boyfriend Steve, and his mother's alcoholic/abusive boyfriend Ronnie. He's sent to Smith's Grove eleven months later after being taken into custody. There, his doctor, Sam Loomis, tries to find out what would make such a young boy want to kill people and animals. One day, Michael snaps and murders a nurse violently. His mother realizes that he is no longer her loving son, but a totally violent monster and ends off killing herself leaving her baby daughter Boo to be taken in by the Police. Fifteen years pass and Loomis can't reach Michael since he's become silent ever since murdering the nurse. While about to take Michael to a maximum security prison, he snaps and violently murders the staff before escaping the mental hospital. Michael returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois and retrieves a blank white mask, a knife, and steals a jump suit after killing a truck driver. Meanwhile, Michael's sister Boo is now a very good looking seventeen year old named Laurie Strode who happens to drop off a key at the Myers house which her father is selling. Michael sees her and realizes that she is in fact his baby sister. On Halloween night, Michael wrecks havoc on Laurie and her friends that will become a Halloween night massacre.
Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween is pretty solid in many areas. Granted, the film isn't perfect and many will most likely hate it, but I won't deny that I like the direction Zombie took with Michael. I still prefer the more Boogeyman like Michael that Carpenter created, but Zombie's violent killing machine is pretty cool with me. First off, I would like to talk about what worked before I get into my problems with it. Zombie could have easily remade Halloween shot by shot like Gus Van Sant did with Alfred Hitchcock's classic Psycho, but he wanted to make something different than the horror classic and I truly respect the man for that. Many will say that Zombie ruined Carpenter's Halloween. That's not true because you can still go watch the original classic over and over again. It ain't going anywhere. With Zombie's version, we get an entirely different look and feel of Halloween. Hell, even John Carpenter told Zombie to make it his own and that's precisely what he did. He took many of the classic sequences from Carpenter's classic and added twists and turns to them while also adding his own stuff too.
Many were pissed because of Zombie providing a back story for Michael. Okay, well it ain't much of a back story, it's more like showing more of the day that he would commit his family massacre. Most prequels ruin characters by providing motive to why they are the way they are. If you notice in the movie, Michael has a private hobby of killing animals. Okay, it's never explained how long that he's been doing this. He could have been killing animals since he was old enough to even pick up a knife. If that's the case then it wouldn't make a difference if he had the perfect family in the first place because either way he would have ended up being a vicious killer. The thing with him killing animals as a child is very true with real life serial killers. Most start out with something small then as they get older they begin to do the same to people. This is someone who was born to kill. He doesn't kill because his mommy's boyfriend beat him. He doesn't kill because of some bullies at school. He doesn't kill because his older sister is a bitch. And he doesn't kill because his mother is stripper. The guy has always had this dark side that was just itching to be unleashed on the town. I look at it more as he was a ticking bomb and the abuse unleashed The Shape (his evil persona).
I loved the scene in which he murders the sister in the hallway, which is pretty fucking brutal while wearing the mask that he will wear again as an adult. The death of Judith's boyfriend was also very insane where Michael just bashes the dude's brains out with a baseball bat and I cheered on the death of Ronnie where Michael duct tapes him to the chair before slitting his throat. The killing of the school bully was cool too where Michael beats him to death with a tree branch. I also loved how Zombie included Carpenter's original score when young Michael is following the bully into the woods. The scene after Michael kills his family and is sitting on the front porch with his baby sister is good too. I love that the camera does an overhead shot and we see the clown mask sitting up on his head and the way the light hits it the eye holes are completely black. Just a great cinematography moment right there.
The Smith's Grove stuff was pretty interesting too since we didn't get any of that in the original. I also loved that Michael didn't remember the murders when talking to Loomis and that he made masks to cover up his real face. It's like he was trying to find the perfect face for his dark side to have. I also dug when his mom tells him to remove the mask, he said "It hides my ugliness." The scene where he snaps and kills the nurse was really good. I love when his mom tries to remove his mask that he lashes at her like a wild animal and the expression on her face was like she didn't know who he was and was scared of him. She finally saw the evil side of him and took her life because she lost the people that meant the world to her being her kids. I also liked that Zombie threw in a staff member that was good and one that was sadistic. I thought that was pretty interesting. Michael killing the guy that was good to him was a pretty funny scene but it also at the same time showed that this guy was really evil. He feels nothing when he kills. He's like a rabid dog that kills because he loves doing it. He enjoys what he does and leaves nobody to talk about it.
I really love the way he escapes too. Now, there are two different versions of how he escapes Smith's Grove. In the rated version, some guards are escorting him in shackles and he breaks the shackles and kills the guards brutally. In the Director's Cut, the sadistic staff member Noel Kluggs and his cousin drag some woman into Michael's room and gang rape her which sets Michael off to kill the two rapists. Now, I love the Unrated version, but the escape scene in the rated was a hell of a lot better for me. The whole rape felt not needed and didn't feel like it belonged in the movie.
Getting to the three teen girls being Laurie, Annie, and Lynda. I love the way these characters were displayed because they felt like real teenage girls with their sexual dirty talk and joking around. Granted yes, they aren't the same as in the original Halloween, but they worked fine for this remake in my opinion. I like that Laurie is more spicy than just a virginal babysitter that's kinda book wormish. Totally different from the original Laurie, but I still dug it. And plus she looked fucking hot so I can't complain. I think the one that was closest to the original character was Annie. She's still a smartass and plus she's played by Danielle Harris from Halloween 4 and 5. Plus, did I mention we get to see her fucking topless? I gotta tell you, I was cheering and screaming "It's about fucking time!" Lynda is kinda bitchy this time around unlike the giggly "totally" version in the original. But, she was pretty hot and sounded like a girl that got kicked off the cheerleading squad so it's cool with me. I was also liking Tommy and Lindsey in this version. They sounded and acted like real kids much like how they were in the original. The scenes with Laurie joking around with Tommy were pretty entertaining too.
I love the fact that Zombie casted Brad Douriff who played Chucky in the Child's Play movies to play Sheriff Brackett. He wasn't as great as Charles Cyphers' portrayal, but I thought he did alright. Dr. Loomis here was okay, but didn't engage me like Pleasance did in the original. One of my favorites was Deborah Myers. She seemed like a caring mother that was struggling to get by, but still loved her children. I loved the scenes between Michael and his mom and thought that they were really strong.
The twists that Zombie added, I really dug like showing characters that were mentioned in the original but never really shown. For example, we get introduced to Laurie Strode's parents (well foster parents) and we get to see Paul (Annie's boyfriend who was just a voice on the phone in the original portrayed by Carpenter himself).
As far as what Zombie kept from Carpenter's version and some more twists of his own that he added, we got some interesting things. I really like that he kept that part where Bob gets killed and stabbed up on the wall while Michael slightly tilts his head. I also enjoy the insertion of a lot of Carpenter's original music that in some areas, Tyler Bates added something wicked to. I loved the scene where Laurie's foster Dad gets killed mainly because it made me jump out of my seat. I love how Lynda still gets strangled to death while talking on the phone. Oh and I loved that one character that was killed in the original survives in this one. Let's just say Zombie keeps some great stuff from Carpenter, but adds his own spin to where you are guessing what's going to happen next.
Many have complained about the billion cameos throughout the movie. I actually found it to be kinda cool seeing old faces again especially a Halloween movie nonetheless. From the Zombie usuals to Clint Howard, Udo Kier, Dee Wallace, and Danny Trejo.
Now, I do have some complaints about the film. The whole white trash thing kinda got on my nerves a bit. I mean it works fine for films like House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects, but not so much in a Halloween film. I love the good build up of young Michael and the Smith's Grove stuff, but the remake portion felt too rushed. As far as the characters go, we got to know who Laurie was, but Annie and Lynda kinda felt like cannon fodder. I just didn't have enough time to fully get to know Lynda before she was killed by Michael. Some of the dialogue was kinda odd in areas and some of it became a bit laughable. I didn't really like the idea of Michael's mom being a stripper and didn't like the Ronnie character at all. I just feel that it would have been even more effective to make it where he came from a normal household like in the original. Loomis again, I wasn't totally feeling the character that much. If Michael is a Human Being that's psychotic then how the fuck can he burst through doors? He must be pretty fucking strong. I also wish that Sheriff Brackett had been in the movie more than he was. Just little flaws here and there that bothered me.
The look of the film is dark and great. I know people have complained about the shaky cam, but I say it's like the camera guy is trying to run from Michael too. I was also really loving the ending to this movie. There was also an alternate ending on the DVD, but it felt more like a ripoff of Halloween 4, so I like that they stuck with the final ending. I love how after Laurie shoots Michael and blood sprays in her face, she begins screaming her lungs out as the picture fades showing an old family film of young Michael holding baby Laurie as the classic Halloween theme plays. Just great stuff there.
The script had its problems, but wasn't a bad attempt at all by Rob Zombie. Zombie did a fine job in the director's chair in my personal opinion. My only issue really is that the remake half rushed by so quickly where the prequel portion built up so nicely.
The acting was good and okay here. I thought Tyler Mane and Daeg Faerch did good as both adult and young Michael Myers. Scout Taylor Compton was excellent as Zombie's version of Laurie Strode and man can that girl scream! Danielle Harris fit into the role of Annie perfectly. It was great seeing her back into the Halloween world even if it was as a different character and damn she has very nice breasts! Kristina Klebe was good as Zombie's version of Lynda. I just wish we got to know her more, but she did say the word "totally" a few times, so I gotta give her credit there. She too had very nice boobs and a nice lower region too in the Director's Cut. Malcolm McDowell was iffy as Dr. Loomis in my opinion. I mean the man is a marvelous actor, but I just wasn't really feeling his portrayal of Loomis here. Brad "Chucky" Douriff was good as Sheriff Brackett. Again, I wish we got to know his character more. One of my favorites though was Sheri Moon Zombie as Michael's mother Deborah Myers. I know a lot of people give Zombie shit for casting his wife in all of his movies, but this in my opinion was her best performance. All in all, not bad casting here again in my personal opinion.
Overall though, Rob Zombie's take on Halloween is actually a pretty interesting story. While not everyone's cup of tea, it still manages to do more right than wrong and has a place on the shelf next to John Carpenter's much superior original.
B - Theatrical Cut
C+ - Director's Cut