Directed by: Rob Zombie
Written by: Debra Hill, John Carpenter, Rob Zombie
Starring: Bill Moseley, Brad Dourif, Danielle Harris, Danny Trejo, Malcolm McDowell, Scout Taylor-Compton, Sheri Moon Zombie, Tyler Mane, William Forsythe
HALLOWEEN (ROB ZOMBIE) SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!
So, where to begin with Rob Zombie’s Halloween series. Well, first and foremost, i think all comparisons to the original need to be forgotten. This is Zombies films, Zombies re-imagining and i would like to live with the fact that he has based his films on the original, but improvised his own version. Don’t get me wrong, i truly stand by the fact that the original Halloween is a classic, a masterclass in sheer terror and suspense which has rarely been bettered, or even equalled. Only a small number of horrors have managed to create quite the atmosphere and edginess of that one in a million Carpenter milestone in horror history.
Zombie, evidently, LOVES Carpenter’s version and instead of making a shot or shot remake, he has injested a bit of Rob Zombie into the whole thing which makes it, as Zombie quite rightly called it, a “re-imagining”. Now, many have fussed and argued and moaned about Zombies new take on events, giving Myers a history, a personality. I, for one, love what Zombie has done with the first half hour of his film, i really do. I will admit to be one of the first to complain about it once i heard what he was planning to do, but after witnessing that first half hour, i was impressed, really really impressed. Let me make this clear just one more time before people start attacking me, this is not a review and a comparison to Carpenter’s original, this is purely a review of Zombie’s version, ok. So, the opening half hour, a background story for Michael Myers is presented to us. Some bought into this idea, some didn’t. I wasn’t expecting to, but i was utterly engrossed in it. The kid who played a young Myers is possibly the most evil looking kid since that vicious little brat from the ORIGINAL Omen. He has a nasty look in his eye, and the kid, fair play to him, plays his part brilliantly. The family history is full of rotten things and bad people, the language used at the breakfast table, the way the stepdad perves at his teenage step-daughter, the dishes in the sink, the mess, the sheer unstableness of the upbringing is enough to make anyone a bit fucked up. The main issue with the opening stuff is Zombies wife, Sheri. She may have a nice body, but she’s a terrible actress and waters down the effect of this messed up family ever so slightly, but not enough to ruin it. Its just, the way Zombie clearly demands perfection from all those involved, you would have thought he would have had words with his wife and said “Now look ere, act bitch!!”. Nevermind, what we get is a history, a new and “rocked up” version of the Halloween theme, and a nice tough in introducing Michael’s mask and how he needs the damn thing to perform his violent acts.
We move on to school, and refreshingly, we see Michael stand up to the bullies and not take any shit, which causes him to get in trouble and Dr Loomis is called in briefly, but he will return! Finding pictures of dead animals, its clear Michael has issues and he legs it and decides to wait in the woods for one of the bullies to walk past. After only ten or so minutes, any viewers who have not witnesses Zombies work are about to get a massive wake up call as Myers corners the bully in the woods, wearing his mask. Using a large branch, Myers beats the kid to a bloody pulp and viciously kills him, all to the wonderful use of camera angles, sound effects and incredibly violent music. A shot of the trees indicates the bully looking up at the sky trying to escape the beating, but there is no escape and Myers murders him in cold blood, expressionless, and only stopping for a second to remove his mask, and put it on again. Anyone not associated with Rob Zombie have now been given a huge wake up call, this is how this man works, he relishes his violence and not other director of recent times has had the ability to produce violence quite like this.
We move on, to worse things as Michael returns home with no remorse. His stepdad drinks, his Mum is a pole dancer, and his sister couldn’t care less about him. Powerful messages about how a broken home can create a monster, and one has to wonder wether Zombie himself went through this. Michael only seems close to his Mum, and she goes out to work as a pole dancer, leaving his sister to take him trick or treating, which she doesn’t, she’d rather spend time with her boyfriend. A powerful scene follows as Michael sits outside his house, watching spoilt kids with a better life having fun, and then we cut back to his Mum pole dancing (a rather pleasant experience i might add) and it’s here that we truly realise how strong their relationship is and how much Michael depends on the support of his Mum, something which will come to light more in the second film. Alone and lost Michael has so much hatred built up he gets himself ready to kill again. Sitting at the kitchen table, he eats sweets with his dirty hands and black finger nails, a tell tale sign of neglect. His stepdad has passed out in the living room, and his sister is upstairs with her boyfriend.
Zombie sets up another kill, only this time its the stepdad, the sister AND her boyfriend and if you haven’t seen this, you are about to witness an incredibly violent and sickening massacre. Zombie uses precision sound effects, expert music and incredible camera angles to get a truly uncompromising effect, even using a shaky camera for each time the sister is stabbed. Its difficult to watch and can bring on feelings of nausea. Its violent, downgrading, vicious and utterly horrific, and we’re only half hour in!
Zombie has an attention to detail that i personally feel gets missed by people not looking for it. An example comes just after the murders, Michaels mum comes home, police are everywhere and the camera slowly pans around the outside of the house. Everyone outside has grinded to a halt, it almost looks like bullet-time from the Matrix, no one is moving, and then we pan to the police car, Myers sat in the back not moving. It seems that Zombie has cleverly paused everything for us to see, and then Michael turns his head to the camera, a clear indication that he is completely withdrawn from the normal world.
We move on, and Myers is in a mental hospital, with Loomis as his Dr, played expertly by Malcolm Mcdowell. The relationship between these two is really emphasised here and gives an impressive indication as to why Loomis can’t let Michael go. Its heartfelt, involving and at times touching, even tho barely a word is muttered by Myers. Eventually, Loomis and Myers’ Mum leave one day, Loomis asks a nurse to keep an eye on Michael, and for some god-forsaken reason, she turns her back on him and reads a paper! Myers stabs her with a fork and thats it, he’s in a mental hospital for good. This is yet another Zombie set-piece which is vicious and aggressive and incredibly theatrical. As the security guards run in, the alarm is sounding, in slow motion, its genius and really works! We move on to Myers Mum shooting herself and we have the haunting sounds of Myers baby sister crying, this marks a powerful end to Zombie’s introduction, his added piece which i initially thought would be crap but actually turned out to be genius!
Forward 15 years and we start off as the original eventually does, with Myers a grown man, only here he is a fuckin monster! 7 foot tall!!! A security guard in the mental hospital has befriended him for 20 odd years, and Loomis is still visiting but Myers still has not spoke since stabbing that nurse. Loomis decides enough is enough and leaves. With no one to look to, Myers becomes enraged and can’t wait to break out. As with all Zombie films, the cast are just as bad as the bad guys, so when a security guard brings in his drunk friend to rape a new girl inmate and take her into Myers room just to show him up, Myers uses this as a means for escape. The rape scene is vicious and unsettling, but then Myers attacks and suddenly the rape is the last of your worries as he literally pummels the two guys in yet another vicious scene. To make matters worse, the security guard who has looked after and befriended Michael turns up, and he is killed in a cold scene that proves Myers really doesn’t care about anyone. As the guard screams out “I was good to you Mikey!!!”, Myers drowns him and smashes his head in with a tv.
Zombie really knows how to get the most out of his bad guys, as we witness when Myers meets a violent black guy, almost the same size, in public toilets. Its one of those scenes that if it actually happened in real life, you would run a mile, two hulking men fighting. Again, Zombie shows his class as the camera shakes everytime the black guy is pounded into the door. Its yet another scene of utter carnage that the original Myers never did. As we are then introduced to Myers now teenage sister who has no idea who she really is, things grind to a halt as we head into the usual teenage clichés. Things soon pick up with the arrival of Brad Douriff as the sheriff and one of the girls Dad. Throughout the film, we also get cameos of Zombie regulars. The black guy pummelled in the toilet, the graveyard cleaner. Its clear people who have worked with him are keen to do it again, which is a good thing!
Zombie now follows the original almost scene for scene, but beefs it up a bit to his style. We see a teenage friend of Lori (Michaels sister) strangled while completely naked. You see, Zombie seems to have this nack of having Myers turn up just before, during, or just after sex which leaves the girl pretty much naked. Its a nice touch, and really adds to the effect! Anyway, as we head into famililair territory with the story, its clear Zombie has no intention of bettering, or even trying to be as good as the original. All he wants to do is make his version of his favourite horror and add his stamp to it. This version has Zombie’s dirtiness all over it, Hell, even the William Shatner mask is dirty!!
As we draw to a close, Lori’s foster parents are killed in cold blood, and again Zombie adds his stamp to make this as effective as possible. Christ, usually when victims have their head thrown though glass they come up with cuts. Not here,Zombie wants small pieces of glass sticking out of every cheek, every eyebrow, lip, nose etc. Nothing is left out! My god how this guy loves his violence! So, Zombies violence, use of sound effects, music and naked girls, his new introduction to Michael, his incredibly brutal new take on the creepy original, what more is up this guys sleeve? Well, only an almost Heat influence exchange of words between two Weird/Strange legends Brad Dourif and Malcolm Macdowell! Moments like this don’t happen enough in films and the two are perfectly bouncing off each other.
Lori’s friend and daughter of Dourifs Sheriff Annie is attacked by Myers in one of the most disturbing scenes in the film. As she makes a run out the house, she makes it, only to be dragged back in. Bruised and bloodied, she survives, only to set up something more vicious in the next film! At this point tho, you question, this aint your usual teenager in distress horror. In films like Scream etch, they don’t get killed off in such cold, calculated and violent ways as they do here. This aint for the teens, this is serious horror for ADULTS, make no mistake! This aint the cool, calm, calculated Carpenter masterpiece, this is pure and simply an onslaught of violence and brutality that will leave many upset and tembling. Its an onslaught of vicious violence and mayhem of the highest order. If you take away the fact that this is a remake, then i honestly cannot find any fault with this film. The ONLY thing, in my opinion, that is against it is the fact it is a re-imagining of a classic. If this was, say, Night of the Demons which no one has heard of (by the way, watched it the other day a thoroughly enjoyed it) no one would bat an eye lid.
This version, make no mistake, is nowhere near as scary as the original, this is just nasty. However, there are a few well timed scares, like at the end when Lori is sat in Loomis’ car and asks “Was that the boogyman?” and Loomis replies “As a matter of fact, i do believe it was..”, silence for a second and then Michael bursts through the window. Still makes me jump! Then we have that end bit with Michael smashing through the ceiling trying to get to his sister, a sign he is actually driven by some emotions, hate! The way he smashes the ceiling is incredibly unsettling as he is SO desperate to kill her. Its shows that he does have feelings, and that he well and truly is a monster driven by hate. What this proves, yet again, is that Zombie has injected some honestly into Michael Myers role, and that is something the die-hard fans cannot deal with, and something new fans possibly like? I for one like it, but it won’t put me off grading the original as one of the finest horrors of all time. As Zombie’s version draws to a close and Lori is left screaming, it is clear that Zombie had every intention of doing part 2, there’s so much that leads onto it. But, as a final kick in the teeth, we get shots of a young Myers and his Mum, playing during the closing credits, just to reinforce the message of how close they were…
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