Once again, trusted friend and horror-film expert Brandon Peters has offered to give us his take on another modern genre entry. This time, he saves me the trouble of having to run out and see Halloween II. This freed me up to sample The Final Destination, which was my wife's choice of horror for this weekend (terrible movie, but ok 3D and interesting D-Box effects). As always, thanks Mr. Peters.
By Brandon Peters
Rob Zombie’s Halloween II is a much more artistic, visionary and ambitious film than his 2007 product. While a much better film and a project Zombie clearly had more fun with, it is still highly flawed as it crutches itself on a few common horror film mistakes and stereotypical Rob Zombie character blunders. If anything, it is definitely one of the more entertaining Halloween sequels in a long time, as it is very different than anything fed to us before.
A token amount of plot: After a nightmare sequence, our story begins one year after the first film’s massacre. A now goth rock rebel Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) is living with her self-sheltered friend Annie Brackett (Danielle Harris) and her father, the Sheriff (Brad Douriff) in a house in the countryside of Haddonfield, IL. Everyone’s favorite doctor, Sam Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) has shaved just his beard and left a mustache full of attitude, as he has pulled “Gale Weathers” and cashed in on the horrific events of the previous year with a top selling book. Meanwhile, Michael Myers (Tyler Mane), looking now like a giant-sized Rob Zombie, has been roaming the countryside waiting to strike again. When he has a vision of his mother (Sheri Moon Zombie) telling him they need to be a family again, he returns to Haddonfield in search of revenge and his sister, Laurie.
Before shooting the first Halloween, Rob Zombie contacted John Carpenter (creator and director of the original), and asked if he had any advice going into production. Carpenter wished Zombie good luck and to “Make it your own.” The first time around, Zombie mistook “his own” for overly brutal deaths and making the characters all white trash swear-a-holics. This time around, Zombie doesn’t totally grasp the concept, but is definitely on the right track. Halloween II is among the most artistic slasher films of all time. Surrounding the Halloween II’s brutal (yet less graphic) murders of dirty rednecks, Michael is guided by eerie visions of his mother guiding him along his path. Laurie too begins to share these visions; unaware of her familial links to Myers. Truth be told, the visions were the most interesting part of the film. While the common moviegoer and blood fanatic will probably laugh-out-loud or find them stupid, it is inarguable that they are a highlight. This is the ‘make it your own’ the first film needed. Said sequences are wonderfully shot and edited, and actually creepy. The highlight sequence being one set around a dinner table (it doesn’t make sense, but it doesn’t have too, it’s intended to be visually confusing). These scenes provide an eerie misunderstood element to the series, more than a big strong thug brutally shedding blood every ten minutes because his family was straight-up trailer trash.
The film is only 101 minutes, but probably could have been a much more effective at 80 minutes. There are two scenes of Michael Myers murdering random rednecks and one death scene (which includes a stereotypical “I gotta pee, I’ll be right back” kill) that should have been left on the cutting room floor. They do nothing to progress the movie or carry the plot (did the studio again mandate “more deaths please”?). The latter said death scene only makes for absolute confusion in relation to the story. Also, there is far too much screen time given to McDowell’s prick take on Dr. Loomis. If these things were cut out or trimmed down, there would be pretty good slasher movie here. The characters in this film are marginally improved compared to 2007’s Halloween. The returning characters almost provide for a doppelganger elseworld for the Halloween universe. They have all taken paths different than what was expected of them in the previous movies. The highlight is the father/daughter relationship and characterization of Sheriff Brackett and Annie. It’s very believable and actually well performed. They provide the film with characters that good horror movies often contain; ones that don’t deserve what happens to them. Thus, you don’t want said things to happen to them either.
Halloween II is a flawed but much improved Rob Zombie Halloween movie. Artistic as it may be, it remains a second rate slasher picture and a second-rate Rob Zombie film. Still, after nine Halloween films (excluding the Michael Myers-less Halloween III: Season of the Witch), this tenth entry is the freshest and most original take on the series. The ‘new’ additions will definitely disappoint a lot of modern gore hound horror lovers; the sorts who often don’t care for depth or substance. But for someone who has tired of modern slasher films, it was a breath of fresh air. Rob Zombie’s ultimate failure in the series as a whole is trying to answer the question “why does Michael kill people?” Michael Myers is far more terrifying when there is an absence of reason or just a slightly vague one (Halloween 5 and Halloween 6). Unlike the 2007 Halloween remake, I never felt like getting up and leaving at any point during the movie. Still, as a longtime fan, I hope Michael takes a nice five-to-seven-year hiatus before returning to us.
-I thought Laure shot Michael in the face at the end of the first movie, but no damage is shown.
-I dig that Rob Zombie tried to do something other than the traditional mechanic suit for Michael. And a further deteriorated mask (part of Mike’s face is shown) is welcoming.
-Dropping the original score until the end was a smart move. It somehow erased what would have been some predictability.
-Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 star Caroline Williams and Margot Kidder (Superman) both have fun cameo roles.
-Character actor Silar Weir Mitchell (24 season 1, My Name is Earl) had a nice cameo which I found amusing, concerning Rob Zombie’s thoughts on people who fight over the age old argument “who is better Michael, Jason or Freddy?”
-I don’t ever want to move to Rob Zombie’s Haddonfield. No, it’s not Michael Myers I’m afraid of. It is all the rednecks, white trash, dirt bags, sluts and necrophiliacs (I’m not kidding) living there who terrify me.
-Dr. Loomis line: “Do you really think Michael is going to respond to hostage negotiations” was a very good line that I wish would have been applied to more horror films of the past.
-I don’t know if it was intentional, but some of this movie was very reminiscent of, and could stand as a remake of, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers.