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.
Rob Zombie's follow-up to his prequel/remake interpretation of John Carpenter's immortal classic. Oddly enough, Daeg Faerch doesn't return for this follow-up as young Michael Myers; instead, we get some kid who's nowhere near as creepy. The good news is that Sheri Moon Zombie, who was brilliant in the first film, returns, reprising Myers' mother. I'll be examined if she's not a genuinely powerful performer in this flick after playing a howling lunatic in Zombie's previous efforts.
Picking up mere minutes after Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton) shot and apparently killed Myers after a night of pure terror, Laurie is suffering from some genuinely terrifying psychological scars. Dr. Sam Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) has also survived the ordeal, after being nearly crushed by Myers' death grip in the first flick. Its always a treat to see Brad Dourif not playing a lunatic. Just like in the first film, he plays Sheriff Brackett.
Thankfully, the most impressive part of Zombie's remake, Tyler Mane, also returns. Granted, Myers stirs back to life in a remarkably dumb way, it's still nice to see Mane back behind the mask, as mangled and dirty as the mask looks throughout the film. Hampered by visions of his mother and a white horse (the meaning of which is explained in a pre-credits title card), Myers sets out on his path of mayhem.
Zombie's flair for the brutal also returns, especially during the opening moments as Laurie is pieced back together by emergency room doctors. It's one of those creepy moments that worked for me. Overall, considering the film doesn't waste time having to explain the (dumb) origin of Michael Myers, all the action can unfold naturally, without having to burden one's self with a terrible backstory.
Even though there's some of Zombie's old, white-trash-y grindhouse tendencies, his direction shows real maturity. If only he had the same mindset about his first attempt at the Halloween saga that he has going into the sequel, I think long-time Halloween fans would have accepted Zombie's remake and vision. I don't dislike Zombie. In fact, quite the opposite; I think he's a genuinely talented and strongly visual filmmaker. I would just love to see that grindhouse tendency go away. He's far too talented a filmmaker to let those tendencies run wild.
The use of The Moody Blues' "Nights In White Satin," is a fascinating aspect of the film. A song I've always loved used to center the violence and intensity of the horror is something I dig, however; the song itself has been interpreted to mean a variety of things. From the usual "jealousy over a love one can't have," to the more fascinating ghostly interpretations, either way, it's a song that evokes a dreamlike and spooky atmosphere.
It's interesting seeing Annie (Danielle Harris) and Laurie two years after the horrible night that changed their lives. Annie carries a variety of scars on her once-perfect and beautiful face while Laurie lashes out at every person in the film, including her psychiatrist, played by Margot Kidder (who’s pretty brilliant in her thankless role). Laurie, when she's not screaming and running from Myers, is a brat, not a survivor. It's a wild departure from Curtis' interpretation on the character. While fascinating, seeing Laurie on-edge and acting like a beast throughout the film gives us no one to root for, unfortunately. Maybe Loomis or Brackett, but certainly not the bratty Laurie.
The change in Loomis doesn't make much sense. He goes from a caring physician who happened to make money off Myers' case in the original film to a seemingly uncaring douche who continues to make money off the ghoulish deaths of teenagers two years prior. Loomis even goes so far as to compare himself to Myers' father using psychological mumbo jumbo to place himself further into the narrative of Myers' destruction. He's almost insufferable even though there's hope that he's still the caring physician we saw in the original film.
Myers existing as a homeless drifter is not dissimilar to an idea I remember hearing about Quentin Tarantino's proposed interpretation of the character. Laurie's apparent "psychological link" to her brother is an idea touched upon in both Halloween 5 & 6. It's yet another layer to the psychological mayhem going on inside Myers' (and Laurie's) heads.
Like in the previous installment, Myers seems to kill plenty of folks who have no connection to the intended targets. If you're going after Laurie, it makes sense to take out her friends and those around her, bringing her social circle and those who could potentially intervene down to zero. You kill out of necessity, you kill out of instinct. In Zombie's take, Myers kills for reasons not made particularly clear to the audience. An assault on the Rabbit In Red strip club is visually fascinating, but narratively, other than the fact that Myers' mom worked there, there's no real cause for the slaughter, unless the implication is that the sleazy owner is, in fact, Myers’ father.
As the narrative progresses, Laurie and her new, "rebellious" record store friends are later stalked by Myers at what appears to be a barn Halloween party. It's my kind of scene, with heavily-tattooed skanks dancing around and rockabilly tunes being played by a costumed band. Suffice to say, Laurie loses her mind a bit more, Myers finishes off Annie and the flick progresses down the same brutal path as the previous entry.
It's worth noting that Zombie does not use Carpenter's original (and iconic) theme for a single minute of film. What's fascinating is that Zombie reportedly never wanted to use Carpenter's theme in his remake, but caved to studio and public pressure. That's the general consensus, anyway. The lack of theme here works to the film's advantage in that it's not particularly trying to be connected to the original series. It's exactly what Zombie should have done in the first place - create an original slasher narrative. It just happens that this particular narrative features Michael Myers and Laurie Strode.
The film closes with Laurie, seemingly in what is, I believe, meant to be the afterlife, greeting her mother. While fascinating, this ending pretty definitively ends Zombie's residency with Halloween. This particular entry is so strong however; it's just a shame to see Zombie go after showing so much promise.