In our new feature on HorrorCultFilms, we will examine the horror films that has split opinion among horror fans, in which we will take the case to the court room and we’ll give a case for and then against, until finally giving out the verdict from our jury.
Our second entry is of course Rob Zombie’s attempt at re-making John Carpenter’s horror masterpiece for the second time with his HALLOWEEN II and this time our two fellow critics David S Smith (FOR) and Ross Hughes (Against) bring their case to our deathly judge.
THE CASE FOR:
MR DAVID S SMITH TO START THE DEFENCE!
Your honour – it feels odd defending Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2. You see, I too have hated it. In fact, up until my last series re-watch it’d have been right at the bottom – somewhere between the Curse of Thorn and the Kick of Busta Rhymes. There’s a lot to hate: we have hobo-Michael walking the moors and scoffing down a dog, the hospital fake-out (an ace sequence nonetheless), loads of psychobabble and an unlikeable Loomis. Then there’s that flipping horse! Believe me, I could go on much longer – but I don’t want to do the honourable Mr Hughes’ job for him. Suffice to say I’ll likely sympathise with a lot of what he has to write. It is, of course, the least accessible film of the eleven.
But though Mr Hughes is my senior, I suggest what he has in age, he lacks in wisdom. You see, Zombie found a way of working within the classic template while doing something completely different. Myers is still Myers, albeit more violent than usual and with loopy dreams. Which matters since, in an age where nobody was making straight slashers, Zombie took the essential elements of one but packaged them up as a personal trauma movie. Something David Gordon Green would do again nine years later with a smidgen of the imagination. He could have done something more conventional – the nightmare bit shows us that much, and it’d have probably been fine. But I’m glad he didn’t. The central drama involving Laurie, Annie and Sheriff Lee Brackett was well handled and even quite touching. For instance, the scene when Lee returns home to find his daughter dead is genuinely harrowing and makes for maybe the most consequential violence in the franchise.
Because this is what the film’s all about: what happens after the credits. Laurie doesn’t just get up, dust herself off then carry on even stronger than before – as we assume of so many final girls. Instead, she’s got PTSD, mood swings and is struggling to get by. The script takes her, and by extension us, to some dark places. Along with the often-excessive gore, that challenges us to find it fun, her mental health issues give the film an emotional realism that’s notably absent from almost all the other sequels. I’m a little more mixed on the decision to characterise Michael through the dream sequences, though at least they’re there to show what drives him rather than make us sympathise with him. They also let Zombie indulge in the sorts of surrealism he’d bring back more successfully in Lords of Salem. The guy’s an auteur and, free from the shackles of his more compromised first outing with Halloween, I like that he’s made an entry that’s distinctly his.</p>
After all, there’s a reason Rob got given the series: to remake Halloween in his voice. And, for better or worse, that’s precisely what he did with his sophomore effort. Sure, it’s got some of his worst qualities as a writer: the constant effing and blinding coming from unlikeable characters dressed in grunge gear. Yet it also displays his best qualities as a director: the meeting point between psychedelia and grindhouse. It builds to a climax that’s got far more momentum than its predecessor and way more personal stakes. Your honour, this isn’t a great film, and I fully get why some people don’t even regard it as a good one. But it is a unique entry in the canon that gets better with every re-watch. Frankly, I’ll take that over dodgy astronomy and Dangertainment any day.
THE CASE AGAINST:
MR ROSS HUGHES BEGINS THE CASE AGAINST:
Thank you, your honour and before we start can I just say a few things after hearing my fellow esteemed colleague’s defence of Halloween II, that I believe will help our defence against this very film. In my colleague’s own admission he admits on the first watch of the very film in question he would have put it somewhere in the bottom of the ranking of Halloween films and it was only after a recent re-watch he found some love for Rob Zombie’s attempt at a new vision of Myers and Haddonfield.
The question I ask is how we can we trust Mr Smith’s judgement? I mean how can do we know that once he re-watches Mac and Me, he will change his mind and believe its better than E.T? Or that putting a bomb on a slow moving boat, makes SPEED 2 a superior film to its original and giving Mr Clooney Bat Nipples, makes Batman and Robin the best Batman film of them all?
What happens on a third or fourth watch? Will Mr Smith’s opinion change once more? I would suggest to my honourable Mr Smith that its not the fact of my age or as he calls it “lack of wisdom” but of his own lack of knowledge regarding the Halloween franchise and that he does not exactly get why this film is so hated within the Halloween followers.
For that your honour I would like to start and can I just say that for the purpose of this case against Halloween II, we have to break the rules a little and say our statement with a few swear words, because your honour, as the film is littered with the word “FUCK” so many times, we need to repeat it here and we honestly do not mean, any fucking offence by it and hope it does not influence any negativity regarding our case.
Can we start with offering up Exhibit A: This are two images from the film that sum the entire mess. A quote at the beginning of the film and of course the sight of Ghost Mum and a horse that seems to be stolen from the old TRI-STAR Films logo, but for the purpose of this case we will call….White Beauty.
I mean a quote!! really? Freddy Kruger had some quotes attached in big red writing at the start of his capers, but a Halloween flick? And White Beauty that will obviously play a pivotal part in this sequels plot, but lets be honest was never mentioned once in the two hour running time of it’s original, or should that be remake/reboot? And its not a quote that’s exactly rememberable, I mean most viewers would need a degree in something to really understand it, at least Freddy had a great quotation from the legend that was Edgar Allan Poe!
Also the return of the Dead mum is just an excuse for Rob Zombie to once more cast his wife in one of his movies, next to a boy who we believe is Michael Myers but somehow the hospital has amazingly gave him a new head transplant, in which suggests either a re-cast or a future sequel in which Michael Myers will chase after the son of Caster Troy.
The movie carries on where the original ended and we will agree with the defence that this is where the film sparkles. Laurie getting rushed to the hospital is the same background setting from the original Halloween II and it sets up hope that we will have a decent follow up.
But no! Can we say the same word over and over? “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!”….Is that the viewers brain or the worker in the ambulance who are transferring Myers body and who has just hit a cow and has had his head smashed in? Before this though, we have been subjected to an awful and vulgar piece of dialogue in which we bare witness to two guys in an ambulance talking about anal rape and making love to a dead corpse!! Stay classy Mr Zombie!!!!
Now we know that Rob Zombie loves to fill his films with ugly and disgusting characters but this scene in particular is just as crass and awful as the rape scene in the original…sorry remake/reboot and yet there are those fans who praise this and yet criticise the other?
Also after we are subjected to the awfulness of the ambulance guy, uttering the word “FUCK a lot ”before finally and thankfully getting killed by a resurrected Myers, we then see that Zombie has totally forgotten what horror franchise he is involved in as Myers sees White Beauty and his dead mother and all of a sudden we have entered into Friday the 13th territory!!! Where next? Campers instead of babysitters?
Again though, we have to praise what happens next as we go back the the roots of the original Halloween II and witness Myers stalk and hunt down Laurie at the hospital. It’s a good sequence, a bit of an overkill by a too knife happy Myers, but it does build up a credible amount of tension…
FUCK! FUCK!…..what were they thinking? So all that good shit is gone out of the window like a fucking Twilight twist as we discover that the hospital was all a dream as Laurie wakes up screaming in horror! So wait a minute? Was that ambulance sequence a dream as well? How can Laurie dream of herself and also of what exactly happened in Myers escaping? How did he escape? Why is Laurie dreaming of anal sex with her dead friend? Or did she? What is real or not? Your honour the fact that this is never explained is quite a strong case for a Guilty verdict.
After Laurie stops screaming, we discover that it’s now Two Years Later and Laurie is now living with Annie and her Sheriff dad. The fact that Laurie must be damaged as she has gone all goth and has heavy metal posters on her wall is such a stereotypical imagery that it must works against the defence and must be noted.
We will get to the problem with Doctor Loomis in a bit, but lets focus on Myers who now looks like Hagrid from Harry Potter who is seen walking through vast fields. Is that what we has been doing for two years – Walking? Does he carry a ring and going on some quest.
The further evidence that this is more Jason than Michael is when he meets up with Ghost Mum and White Beauty who tells him “Halloween is coming”, which for some odd reason its ok for him to do this year, but last year…….nah!! No need….have a rest as you must be tired from walking with Frodo all the way from The Undying Lands.
The characterisation of Doctor Loomis in this is appalling and it really does insult the memory of Donald Pleasance. Nothing but a media whore, his total lack of compassion and the way he talks to everyone around him is a shock to such a beloved horror icon and further evidence that Zombie didn’t really know how to write this character differently but with respect, the franchise itself demanded.
The black and white imagery on offer like it’s some deranged shitty Italian rip off of all things Argento and is so far removed from what makes a Halloween film work is further evidence that this “bold vision” if we call it that, just didn’t work.
Laurie finding out she is the sister of Myers is also beyond ridiculous of story-telling. It’s been two years since the first murders and with a few cops like the Sheriff knowing and with a full investigation of how Myers escaped and why he returned to Haddonfield, no one bothered to tell Laurie? No newspaper broke the story? She finds out by reading it in Loomis’ s new book? Does that make sense or are we that desperate for a good Halloween flick since the debacle of Resurrection that we are willing to forgive the flaws?
Myers killing at the strip club may just raise the standards briefly but it’s all outdone once more when Laurie also sees Dead Mum and White Beauty. But again it raises questions? How does she see the image of Sheri Moon when they have never met? Young Myers is walking around with a new head but that woman could look like anyone…..it makes no sense!! Unless they are real ghosts and all of a sudden we expecting Katie and Hunter to turn up with their Camcorders in tow – Paranormal Activity 15: One night in Haddonfield.
Or is Laurie a secret Jedi and has started to embrace her dark side and what he have is a twisted version of Star Wars lore?
They kill off Danielle Harris…..AGAIN! Despite the best intentions of Brad Dourif who carries the emotional punch, they still kill Harris off – AGAIN!!!!!
The finale in the barn is hilarious with imagery ghosts (or are they?) Holding back Laurie while a sudden change of character arc for Loomis for no apparent reason just for him to be there, looks on like the rest of us….baffled at what is happening.
This film was beaten by a Final Destination sequel at the box office, which should never happen!!!….
Your honour, we appreciate that Mr Zombie tried something different with a long established franchise, but the truth is, it just did not work. The tone, the look, everything about this trip to Haddonfield feels wrong and totally misses the blueprint set out by John Carpenter. That scene with the two guys talking about anal sex with a dead girl who may be only sixteen or seventeen is repulsive, so when Myers awakes and kills, you are sort of rooting for the big guy which is a huge big no towards the character. Also apart from Dourif and Harris, the film is littered with bad performances and with a Loomis who more or less has profited from the deaths of many, turning an important character in horror history, into nothing more than one of the most unlikeable characters you could ever meet.
Halloween II is an ugly mess from start to finish, with characters you more than happy to see Myers kill and if you need that final nail in this sequel’s coffin…..Myers takes off his mask and speaks, which makes most Halloween fans wish to return to the days of dodgy astronomy and Dangertainment ….. and with that your honour…the case against….Rests!!
JUDGE DEATH MAKES HIS SUMMARY
Thank you Mr David Smith and Mr Ross Hughes for strong cases on a film that has divided opinion among not just Halloween fanatics but also of fans of horror and it really is such a divisive film that I can not possibly come up with a judgement all on my own. So for that reason, I am reaching out to the jury of our HorrorCultFilm readers to give us their verdict.
Is Halloween II by Rob Zombie, Guilty or Not Guilty within film? Leave a comment below and we will make our verdict as soon as we have enough votes!