Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Halloween (2007)

Congratulations, Rob Zombie, for completely misunderstanding what made the original Halloween so scary. It was frightening precisely because this kid did seem like a normal boy who somehow snapped, and seemed just as baffled by the change as his parents (that look on his face as the parents find him outside the house is great). Rob Zombie gives us Michael Myers’ backstory, including a mother who is a stripper with a boyfriend who is abusive, an older sister who teases him, and classmates who also tease him. He also shows Michael killing animals, the typical early warning sign for a serial killer. And then Michael’s older sister won’t take him trick-or-treating, so he sits outside his house, brooding, while Nazareth’s “Love Hurts” plays. Fucking retarded. He’s so bummed about not going trick-or-treating that he goes back inside to kill his sister. Her boyfriend is wearing the classic Michael Myers mask. So we lose all the great suspense of the original film, not knowing who was lurking outside and so on.

Michael kills his mother’s boyfriend and his sister’s boyfriend (in the original, the sister's boyfriend was able to leave the house unscathed because Michael was really only after his sister) before going upstairs to kill his sister. His sister is listening to “Don’t Fear The Reaper” on her headphones when Michael enters her room. Really, Rob Zombie? “Don’t Fear The Reaper”? Could you be a little less original? There is nothing subtle, nothing clever here, and no suspense. He took a classic and turned it into a run-of-the-mill slasher film.

Anyway, Michael puts on the boyfriend’s Michael Myers mask, which just seems silly and laughable, in part because it’s too big for him, and in part because it feels like he's pretending to be the character from the original film. Michael then goes into his baby sister’s room and says “Happy Halloween.” One good thing is that Michael’s mom (played by Sheri Moon Zombie) wears a sexy patchwork fur jacket in two scenes. But even after she returns home to find Michael holding the baby (still alive), we stay in that time period in order to get footage of the police and news reporters on the scene. Completely unnecessary.

Then we cut to eleven months later, with more news footage of Michael Myers being transferred to the hospital. And we see Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) interviewing him. And yes, Michael Myers talks in this version. He talks about a mask he made, and he and Dr. Loomis discuss whether black is really a color. Again, in the original, Dr. Loomis’ later description of Michael as a completely silent boy is eerie and frightening. Here, instead, we see the boy chatting away with Dr. Loomis, which is not scary at all. Michael denies his guilt. And we have a scene of his mother visiting him. And then a janitor tells Michael to learn to live inside his head. And then Michael stabs a nurse with a fork. After that, there’s home movie footage of Michael that his mom watches before shooting herself. The original film needed none of this stuff. Granted, I watched the director’s cut, so perhaps a good deal of this pointless footage wasn’t in the theatrical release.

The movie then goes to fifteen years later. Finally. At this point, we’re thirty-eight minutes into the film. Michael is now a giant. And Dr. Loomis says that Michael hasn’t talked in fifteen years. Dr. Loomis then says Michael has become his best friend. Really? His best friend is someone who hasn’t spoken to him in fifteen years? Whatever, it doesn’t matter, because in the next moment, Dr. Loomis says he’s giving up on his best friend and won’t be coming to see him anymore. He then goes on a book tour, discussing Michael’s case.

Two janitors decide to rape a young female inmate in Michael’s room, thus giving him the chance to escape. First he kills everyone in the place, including the other janitor that was nice to him. So we lose that great scene from the original where Dr. Loomis drives up to the hospital at night. Basically everything that was great about the original is missing from this version. What we get instead is a trucker in a bathroom quoting Cool Hand Luke. Great. Thanks, Rob Zombie.

When we finally get to Halloween and meet Laurie Strode (you remember, the main character of the original film), we are fifty-four minutes into this remake. Rob Zombie sure likes to waste a lot of fucking time. We should be happy to finally meet Laurie, but Rob Zombie has fucked this up too. This Laurie comes off as the opposite of the original, making sexual jokes to her mother in her first moment on screen. Ouch. Jamie Lee Curtis was instantly likeable in the original film. Not so with this girl. When Tommy catches up with her on the street, she tells him to leave her alone. Boy, Rob Zombie just got every single thing wrong.

Meanwhile, Michael Myers returns home and rips up some floorboards to take out a knife and the Michael Myers mask that his older sister’s boyfriend had been wearing. What, he buried it under the floorboards after killing his sister fifteen years ago, then replaced the boards before waiting outside for his mom? Come on! At least Rob Zombie was smart enough to use John Carpenter’s music. It’s one of the only good things about this movie. By the way, by showing us Michael taking out the mask and knife, we know that he’s in the house before Laurie even gets there. So, once again, we lose a scary moment from the original, when Laurie walks up to the house and we suddenly realize Michael is already in there. Rob Zombie has absolutely no clue as to how to build suspense.

Oddly, this version keeps the three girls saying “totally” over and over as they walk home from school. In the original, it was a cute character trait, but it doesn’t fit at all with this version as it takes place in 2007. In this version, Linda and her boyfriend go to fuck in the Myers house, which makes things a lot easier on Michael, and once again eliminates any suspense. And after they fuck, she puts on the portable radio she’d brought, and – I seriously can’t believe this – “Don’t Fear The Reaper” is on. Again? I’m beginning to think Rob Zombie is a fucking moron. He does keep the bit with Michael wearing the sheet and the boyfriend’s glasses.

One good thing is we get a scene where Dr. Loomis goes to buy a gun. That actually makes sense. What makes the scene even better is the surprise appearance by Micky Dolenz as the gun store owner. Another surprise is that Michael kills Laurie’s parents.

Dr. Loomis makes the leap that Michael has returned for his baby sister, and tells that to the sheriff. The sheriff luckily knows exactly what happened to that baby sister. Rob Zombie does come up with a different ending, where Michael captures Laurie and takes her back to his house, maybe to connect with her again. But she stabs him, which he doesn’t appreciate, and any warm feelings this psycho might have had for her immediately evaporate. After that, we just get the typical slasher movie ending.

And that also ends any interest I might have had in any future Rob Zombie projects.

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