An utterly pointless endeavor.
Have you ever been driving down the road and a song you know starts to play on the radio? You know that beat, you love this song! You start to groove and just as you’re ready to sing out of tune at the top of your lungs… Wait a second! What the heck is this? This isn’t the original. Who is this? Your heart drops. Oh man, this is just some lame cover version. You flip the channel.
And that, in a nutshell, is the viewing experience of Rob Zombie’s remake of John Carpenter’s slasher classic Halloween. Zombie does his best to mimic the genre-defining film whilst upping the ante on kills and grizzly violence, but 2007’s Halloween lacks the subtlety, the heart and the soul that made the 1978 version a groundbreaker that created the slasher genre.
Zombie’s most intriguing fingerprint on this new version is a more in-depth look into the upbringing of young Michael Myers. Daeg Faerch does a good job playing the creepy-eyed spawn of the devil. Sherri Moon Zombie plays his stripper mom Deborah Myers and Hanna Hall plays Michael’s often topless sister, Judith. Michael also has a white trash father. White trash characters, by the way, have become a fingerprint of all Rob Zombie movies. Michael’s mother is contact when the troubled boy gets in a fight at school. The principal reveals a zip-locked dead cat in the boy’s bag and a stack of dead animal photography. Seems as though the stripper mom, the sexually promiscuous sister and the deadbeat step dad isn’t exactly helping Michael’s lot in life. Go figure?
Mom makes a vow to start making some changes around the old homestead, but for tonight it’s Halloween and she’s got a greased pole to get to. Michael’s sister promises to take the tyke trick-r-treating, but she chooses sex with her moron rocker boyfriend instead. Oops, sis, haven’t you noticed little brother’s a total psycho? Might want to make him happy, but too late… Michael goes ballistic, starting off by killing the school bully that got him in trouble earlier that day. After mom heads to work, he picks off step dad, big ‘sis and her boyfriend. Michael spares his baby sister, waiting calmly with her on the steps of the front porch for mom to come home.
Malcolm McDowell now enters as Dr. Loomis, who spends years in therapy trying to get through to Michael. He doesn’t make much progress, as Michael manages to plunge a fork into a nurse’s jugular and spends the rest of his years prior to escape making a bunch of creepy masks.
Most of you know the story from here. Michael escapes and returns home for his baby sister, killing anyone who gets in the way or just happens to be standing nearby. Zombie has upped the body count and bloodiness for this version, offering audiences such new killing tactics as an aluminum bat, eye-gouging, a tree stump, drowning, bashing against walls (that’s a particularly popular one) and, of course, that trusty kitchen knife.
At the end of the day, Zombie’s new “re-imagining” of Halloween is completely pointless. The back story of Michael is the most interesting element, but still it seems largely irrelevant. Carpenter’s version was leaner and meaner. You understood that Michael was pure evil without the need to see him killing animals or staring through the tops of his eyes. Also, in the original, the mysteriousness of Michael was part of what made him so frightening.
Here, grown up Michael, played by Tyler Mane, looks like something comparable to a taller version of Glen Danzig. For those who don’t know, Mane is a former WCW wrestler. He’s pretty huge and has long hair, but somehow appears less frightening than Nick Castle's portrayal from the original two films.
Zombie’s direction and storytelling are extremely uneven. Scenes intended to be serious or even scary drew laughs. Weird additions such as a white trash gun store salesman seem designed merely as if to say, ‘Hey look, Rob Zombie made this.’
In general, the awfulness of Halloween isn’t the fault of the cast… Well, except for Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie Strode. Admittedly, filling Jamie Lee Curtis’ shoes is a thankless task, but here Strode is just annoying. In the original you liked Laurie and wanted her to make it out alive. Here, by the ultimate end of a final sequence that goes on waaaay too long, you just want Michael to finish her off too.
The original is still loved by the younger generations, a mainstay of monster movie viewing parties on Halloween. Aside from bell bottom jeans and a little bit of the lingo, it holds up surprisingly well today, less dated than you might think. Like a similar ill-fated horror remake, Gus Van Sant’s atrocious 1998 Psycho remake, Zombie’s Halloween leaves fans scratching their heads wondering, ‘Why?’