Halloween Restrospective: Rob Zombie's Halloween

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Throughout the month of October, Rob will be taking a trip down memory lane, examining the Halloween series as the films exist in chronological order. Tackling Rob Zombie's remake alongside Carpenter's original made sense at the time.

It happened. After the successful remakes of Dawn of the Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dimension Films saw fit to "reboot" Halloween using rocker Rob Zombie, then-known for the underrated House of 1,000 Corpses and the overrated Devil's Rejects. The terms "gritty" and "real" have been thrown around a bit when talking about Zombie's filmmaking ability. He's like a modern-day Peckinpah, only without the restraint, as odd as that sounds.

In this prequel/remake, Zombie approaches Myers as a human being, not as a force of nature, as Carpenter did. The standard abused childhood excuse and mother issues arise, however; they're nothing fascinating enough to really drive a character like Michael Myers. It's a shame that the franchise had been run into the ground to force Dimension's hand and bring about a remake of this kind. Halloween, as a series, works not because of explanation, but because at the end of the day, the evil is ethereal.

Michael Myers is given a fairly standard white trash upbringing. Sheri Moon Zombie plays Myers' mother, a brilliant performance in a thankless role. Daeg Faerch plays young Myers, teased at school, treated like garbage by his family, etc. You genuinely feel bad for the kid, but it's a forced connection and doesn't work. Its not a particularly interesting characterization. The concept of your everyday lunatic against the concept of pure evil just doesn't work.

Tyler Mane plays Myers as an adult. He's every bit as threatening and intense as Nick Castle was in the original film, perhaps more so. Mane is the highlight of the piece. While Zombie pays homage to Carpenter through the use of the original Halloween theme as well as classic moments lifted directly from the original, his interpretation of Myers is just painfully average.

Michael Myers is a suburban stand-in for a figure like The Headless Horseman or any number of legendary ghosts and spirits in American or English literature. By giving him a standard origin, you take away that fascinating, universally terrifying aspect of a character that now functions as a messed-up nutjob.

It's almost as if Zombie wants us to root for Myers. This is a notion that's far more in step with something like Friday The 13Th or Nightmare on Elm Street. Those movies are rooted in the anti-hero and the essentially nameless victim pool. We can root for Freddie Kruger or Jason Voorhees because there's no personality or heart to what's standing between them and the slaughter.

In the Halloween series, Dr. Loomis provides the viewer with that heart and personality. The viewer, on some levels, IS Loomis, knowing full-well what Myers is capable of. The mayhem and horror, while part of the film series' allure, isn't what keeps fans coming. Its the battle between good and evil, the mythology, the vibe. All of that is essentially missing from Rob Zombie's take, which is a shame.

Scout Taylor-Compton plays Laurie. While not terrible, performance-wise, she's missing the innate "survivor" quality that Curtis had in the original. Danielle Harris, who played Myers' niece, Jamie, in the original series, plays Annie in Zombie's remake. The girls, in general, are smarter (except Laurie, who seems oddly dumbed-down) than their 70's counterparts, unfortunately, the results are the same as the original.

Dr. Loomis is perhaps the worst casualty in the film. While Malcolm McDowell is a fine actor, with a better script, he might have been a great replacement for Donald Pleasence. Zombie's Loomis and his interactions with young Myers are genuinely fascinating, however; they're out of place with the overarching narrative of the Halloween series in general. So much was contingent on Myers sitting, not interacting with Loomis whatsoever, thus resulting in Loomis' obsession with Myers and the evil that was inside him. A little boy in a homemade mask having a freak out and being coddled by Loomis isn't fascinating, it's average.

In a pivotal scene, Loomis essentially quits on Myers, telling him that it's time to move on. Immediately after, Loomis is shown at a speaking engagement, the author of a tell-all book about Myers, the murders and his psychological makeup. Its something that's completely counter to the Loomis of the original series, and like with every other character, you begin to root for Loomis’ demise.

I get Zombie's desire to want to do his own thing, but realistically, such a silly and dumb departure in a film full of the most vile characters in existence only forces the viewer to root for Myers, which, as referenced before, is really the only course of action one could take with Zombie's script and direction.

Once Myers makes it to Haddonfield, the film essentially becomes a near-shot for shot remake of Carpenter's film. While the dialogue is ostensibly different, it carries the same narrative thread.

With the film essentially devolving into the Cliff's Notes version of Halloween, the film becomes pointless. Just another exercise In horror futility. The series, as a whole, deserves better. The fact is that Zombie crafted such an ugly and gross version of what Carpenter created. There are some filmmakers who could've worked wonders with the material. Guys like Stevan Mena or Mark Romanek, but when given to Zombie, Halloween becomes a silly and cartoonish take on a horror classic. If this was an original film and not related to Halloween in any way, it might have been an interesting jaunt. As it is, its a standard slasher with no heart and no brains.

Thankfully, even a terrible remake (which, admittedly, has a handful of good things going for it) can't color the impact of the original. Zombie remains an exciting filmmaker, fearless and inventive, certainly a visual stylist, at the very least. His 70's Grindhouse-style sensibilities would have perhaps been better-suited for a Motel Hell remake.

Oct
21
2013
Robert Ottone • Staff Writer

A natural bon vivant in love with cigars, finery and luxurious booze, SelfieRob aims to make light of the world around him while living the party boy lifestyle. From the Hamptons to NYC and beyond, SelfieRob lives life to the fullest.

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