Thursday, October 4, 2012
Halloween II (2009)
In the late summer of 2007, Rob Zombie unleashed his version of Halloween to movie theaters nation-wide. The remake of the 1978 classic received mixed reviews among horror fans, but it also received favorable box office success. This could only mean one thing, which was to make a sequel. While at first, Rob Zombie refused to make the sequel, he soon changed his mind when Dimension was not having much luck in finding the right person to helm the project. It was soon announced that Rob Zombie was returning to write and direct his follow up titled simply Halloween II. While fans of his remake were excited and very interested to see what he came up with, those that hated his first shot at Halloween lashed out at the announcement. I will admit that I was pretty interested and curious to see what Zombie would come up with. That of course was until I saw the first trailer in which it revealed that Michael Myers sees his deceased mother provoking him to kill. The theatrical release for Halloween II also happened to be the same as The Final Destination, which made for a box office tug of war between the two sequels. Then the reviews started popping up being mainly negative, which left me with very bottom of the barrel expectations. Not because they were by haters of the remake, but because over half of them were by fans of it. Now, as many of you know from reading my previous review for Zombie's remake that I was an avid fan of it. Sure, it had some flaws and wasn't perfect, but I liked that Zombie added something new to the Halloween legacy. While, I can see where he was trying to go with Halloween II however, I felt that it was good ideas and poor execution leading to a disjointed mess that should have been so much better.
Halloween II picks up exactly right where the remake left off. Laurie Strode has shot Michael Myers and is walking down the street covered in blood traumatized at all of the horrific events that she encountered. Sheriff Brackett shows up and Laurie is taken to the local hospital. Meanwhile, some paramedics pick up Michael's body and are taking it to the hospital when they accidentally hit a cow that's in the middle of the road. Michael soon awakes and murders the paramedic violently. He makes his way to the hospital where Laurie is and starts to massacre any and every person that gets in his way of finding his baby sister. We jump a year later and learn that Laurie is currently living with her best friend Annie and Sheriff Brackett (Annie's father). She has been going to therapy to try to stop the nightmares of Michael. Meanwhile, Michael's old doctor, Dr. Sam Loomis, who survived last year's Halloween night massacre is now wealthy because of the success of his new book regarding Michael and the victims he has claimed. The families of Michael's victims all hate Loomis and blame him for Michael escaping Smith's Grove. Laurie soon discovers from reading Loomis' book that she is in fact the baby sister of the man that has made her life a living Hell. She handles this anger by going to a Halloween party and getting drunk off her ass. Meanwhile, we find out that Michael has been living in some shack in the middle of nowhere and is driven by visions of his deceased mother and child self. On Halloween, he returns leaving yet again another major body count of random people in search of Laurie. The thing is that Laurie and Michael have been both seeing their deceased mother and young Michael. Michael finds his way to the Brackett's home and comes face to face with Laurie in a surprisingly interesting conclusion.
Halloween II is basically a major disappointment for me as both a Halloween fan and a Rob Zombie fan. While I really like the idea of where Zombie was headed here, it just felt poorly executed. Some things that were interesting weren't explored to where they made sense. First off, I will talk about what I actually enjoyed about Rob Zombie's Halloween II before getting into what I had problems with. The first like 25 minutes I thought were actually pretty good except for that ambulance driver that said the word "fuck" about twenty times before he was slaughtered by Michael. I liked where we open with Laurie traumatized about shooting Michael and of the horror that she experienced that Halloween night. The whole hospital thing was solid in my opinion too and also a bit creepy. This was the only part of the movie that was kinda like the sequel to the 1978 classic. Now, many are saying that this Halloween II was a remake of the 1981 Halloween II and that is simply not the case here. The only part of the movie that you could say was like the 1981 Halloween II is the hospital scene at the beginning. Everything else is purely a sequel to the 2007 remake. I liked the killing of the nurse where she's stabbed numerous times. Also, I enjoyed the chase between Michael and Laurie in the hospital.
In the remake, Annie and Sheriff Brackett barely had much screen time, but here I liked that they were more fleshed out especially Sheriff Brackett. While, I hated the fact that Annie gets killed in this one where she actually survived the remake, but we all knew it was going to most likely happen that she would be killed off in the sequel. I really liked Sheriff Brackett in this movie especially at how you could see exactly how torn up he was as a father to find his daughter slain by Myers. In the Director's Cut, I dug how Zombie placed a home video clip of Danielle Harris as a child during the scene where Brackett finds Annie's dead body adding to this character's emotional breakdown. I know many have complained about how Dr. Loomis is a fucking money hungry douchebag in this movie, but I found it to be a quite interesting and different direction for Zombie to go with the character. He's no longer hunting Michael down. Loomis came off probably more crazy than Michael in the original franchise in how obsessed he was in killing him for all that is good. I really wasn't impressed with Malcolm's portrayal of the character in the remake, but I actually thought he played greedy Loomis quite well. I know it's a like it or hate it direction for the character, but I found it to be quite an interesting character change. The guy is obsessed in killing Michael and stopping him from getting Laurie then writes a best seller that exploits Michael's victims and mayhem. Then he becomes hungry for cash because of his book's success. I guess I liked it because it was a change and not the same Loomis that we have seen in six movies.
I found the murders to be quite brutal and love how he just comes out of the blue giving you a sudden heart attack. There's also a scene where Michael kills a dog and eats it, which was implied in the original Carpenter classic. I mean the guy's gotta eat right? The scenario where he hides out in a shack all year until around or on Halloween was quite interesting. I had always wondered where he was when it wasn't October and this makes plenty of sense even though it kinda reminds me a little bit of Friday The 13th Part 2 where Jason would live in a shack in the middle of the woods. I wish he had just been living underneath the Myers house or something like that. Many have complained about the dream/vision stuff and why Laurie would see the same visions as Michael does. I personally believe that what Michael is seeing is very symbolic. Zombie has basically left it to the audience to make sense to themselves what these visions are and what they represent.
I've always believed that there are two sides to every Human Being. We have our good half and our evil half. I tend to look at Michael Myers in the sense that he slowly lost his Human side at ten years old. The vision of young Michael represents the little kid Michael or should I say the actual person Michael Myers, while the vision of his mother represents The Shape (his dark and evil side). Now, his Shape identity is the killer that we all know and love, while Michael as a person is a nice guy that was taken over by his dark side and turning him into a monstrous killer that no longer has a soul. He sees things not as black and white or grey but just pure darkness. I don't know, maybe I'm reading too much into him, but that's just my thoughts. I'm still a little confused at what the white horse represents. I'm thinking maybe it's supposed to be like his legacy of The Shape or whatever. I truly believe that Laurie was born with a little bit of The Shape in her blood, which is why she is seeing the exact same things as Michael. And not to mention the fact that they are blood related. It would actually make some sense. I think that The Shape is in the form of the mother since she was the only person that Michael really loved aside from his baby sister. I think towards the end of the movie, The Shape was trying to take her over completely so she would turn out to be just like Michael, a soulless killer. This stuff I really liked if only it were explored more where it actually made more sense than leaving you guessing what it all means. Also, I really was digging the ending of the movie and liked how Laurie came out of the shack wearing Michael's mask and the very ending just before the credits I felt was good even though I think it should have had more time to build up to it.
Now, it's time for the flaws of the movie that really dragged what should have been a good follow up to the remake down. I think the worst choice that Zombie made was not having the Halloween theme in the movie and just having it during the end credits. It just didn't fully feel like a Halloween movie without the famous musical score. There were plenty of places that Zombie could have inserted it like the hospital scene or during some of the vicious kills. Another thing that really bugged me was that the film felt disjointed. We go from a good first 24 minutes minutes to Laurie hanging with two alcoholic party girls to Loomis being a douche to Michael killing random assholes back to Laurie and her friends to dream sequences all leading to the finale. I also hated the over-kill stuff. Michael would sometimes stab a victim like thirty fucking times while grunting (?) and even after they're already dead, then he would continue stabbing the corpse. Alright, the guy is dead, I get the fucking point, let's move on already!
Another thing that bothered me is the white trashy talk like with that ambulance driver who kept talking dirty then would say "fuck" about twenty fucking times before Michael finally slashed his throat open. What the Hell was the point of him anyway? The major one is that strip club scene that I could have easily done without. It felt so out of place and not to mention the characters in it didn't interest me one fucking bit. And then there was the two party girls Harley and Mya that Laurie hung out with. These girls did absolutely nothing for the movie, but made for death scenes. And the one that actually pissed me off was when Laurie finds out that Michael is her brother and goes to get drunk. Now, I can understand that when someone is messed up that they usually hit the bottle to forget about their problems, but this did absolutely nothing for the movie except create un-needed material. Also, what was the point of that sequence between Loomis and Weird Al? That was not needed, but I guess Zombie wanted to squeeze in more cameo appearances.
On a more positive note, I really thought the vision/dream sequences were shot beautifully and thought that the cinematography as a whole was more than decent. I just wish that Zombie had kept the pacing on track like he did with the remake instead of going in many different other directions all at once. I understand that he wanted to create his own thing, but he didn't have to add a bunch of nonsense in with actual interesting scenarios.
The script was jumbled up, but within were very interesting ideas that should have been explored more than to just add random brutal kills for the sake of it and he should have used the Halloween music throughout the film instead of waiting till halfway through the end credits. His direction was good in some areas and confusing in others.
The acting was good and bad here for me. I thought Tyler Mane was fantastic as Michael Myers. Granted, we do have some instances of Mane not wearing the mask, but his face is covered in a lot of shadows, which made him kinda creepy looking. I know many complain about the mask being ripped in half. But, I thought it actually looked interesting because it's like one side is Human Michael and the other is The Shape. Pretty cool concept I thought. Although I wish that Mane didn't look like a homeless bum, which came across pretty laughable. Scout Taylor Compton pissed me off and annoyed me this time around as Laurie Strode. I don't think it's her fault, but the way her character was written didn't really help much. But, she had me with her being traumatized and screaming at the beginning of the movie due to the shit she just went through in the previous film. Danielle Harris is great as before playing Annie. At least this time we got to know her more as a character unlike the remake. I thought Brad Douriff was awesome as Sheriff Brackett here especially when he finds Annie has been killed. Sheri Moon Zombie was alright as the vision of Deborah Myers. She's not anything like how she was in the remake though. Chase Vanek was horrible and super monotone as the vision of young Michael, Daeg was way better in the remake. And Malcolm McDowell as Loomis was very different this time around as a greedy and money hungry douchebag. Since McDowell is best at playing villains or bad guys, I thought he made a good portrayal of a greedy asshole here. I actually clapped when he got killed by Michael, which is something I have never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would be happy to see. There were a few cameos like one being the lovely Caroline Williams from both The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and The Stepfather 2. Zombie didn't go fully nuts with the cameos in this one like he did the remake.
Overall, Halloween II had some great ideas but disappointed me majorly because of poor execution and exploration of them. If you're a die hard Halloween fan or even a Rob Zombie fan then you'll most likely be disappointed (unless you are Tyler Hosley of course!). If you hated the remake then you definitely will want to stay away from this film. I'm really curious where the franchise will go if we ever do see another Halloween film, hopefully it will be a much better film and return the franchise back to its roots of suspense and mystery. Until next Halloween, Trick or Treat baby!