When it was first announced that Rob Zombie would be doing a remake of our beloved franchise, it was met with skepticism and ridicule by pretty much everyone. Then it came out to the largest opening in Labor Day weekend history and became a lighting rod of controversy among horror fans. Some really liked the new take, and others hated it. It also didn’t help Rob looked like a huge hypocrite for decrying remakes up until that point.
I’ve always been a big fan of Zombie’s work way back since seventh grade. And I was really upset with him for making this movie. It seemed to be spitting in the face of everything he stood against since he made the grind house epics House of 1000 Corpses, and The Devil’s Rejects.
Hearing about how the film would focus on young Michael had me intrigued. My confidence of his vision increased with news that that Zombie was casting some of his old chums from the previous film. Ken Foree and William Forsythe, along with some other cult actors, including Richard Lynch and Udo Kier were on board. But what most had me most intrigued is Malcolm McDowell taking the pivotal role of Dr. Sam Loomis. That character is the lynch-pin of the series and without him you end up with things like Halloween: Resurrection.
So when the film came out at the end of August 2007, I went to go see it and to be quite honest I was really impressed by what he had done. The opening of the film introduces us to young Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch), his stripper mom Deborah (Sherri Moon Zombie), her alcoholic boyfriend Ronnie (William Forsythe), his teen sister Judith Myers (Hanna Hall) and his baby sister whom he calls “Boo” (who grows up to be Scout Taylor-Compton). I’m not sure if the intent of Zombie is to cause a sense of anxiety and hatred towards all of this family, but that is basically what happens. They are obnoxious white trash and spend the opening 30 minutes yelling obscenities at each other. Rob Zombie received a lot of flack, and perhaps rightfully so, that he has a strange obsession with white trash characters and doesn’t really know how to do anything else. I disagree he can’t do anything else, but he does stay comfortably in his wheelhouse during the opening of this film.
The prologue rests on the shoulders of newcomer Daeg Faerich. And for his part, he brings to life a very sinister young version of Micheal Myers. For a first role, he’s completely believable in the part and Zombie isn’t afraid to send him down some dark paths. The first red light indicator something is wrong with Micheal is when a dead animal is found in his book bag. Principal Chambers (the late, great, Richard Lynch) immediately calls in Deborah to inform her of her sons proclivity to kill animals, and she thinks he just found it on the road and put it in his book bag on a whim. I’m not sure if Zombie’s intent is to make her look unfit for motherhood, but if it wasn’t, he sure screwed up royally.
Micheal then steps up his game by beating to death one of the school bullies with a tree branch in the kind of uncompromising and brutal scene that Zombie seems loves so much. It’s disturbing, and seriously pushes some boundaries, so let’s give the man some credit for going to places other films wouldn’t.
After that, we have Micheal going on a rampage killing Ronnie, Judith, and her boyfriend in a Halloween massacre rampage while his mom is out stripping at the Rabbit in Red, all because seemingly he was upset Judith put her need for penis over taking Micheal trick or treating. Which is a stupid reason. But it shows the tragedy of the situation.
After that Micheal is transferred to Smith’s Grove under the care of Dr. Sam Loomis. For me, these sequences are where the film gains it’s footing. The interviews with Sam and Micheal are sad and tragic, and heightened by the interspersed visits from Deborah to see her son. This is the turning point for young Micheal, whether he will get better or not. Of course, we know he won’t, because then there wouldn’t be a movie.
Instead, in a pivotal moment, Micheal murders a nurse who picked on a photo of his little sister Boo while Deborah is outside talking with Loomis. The aftermath of this leaves Micheal stuck in the asylum, leads Deborah to commit suicide, and lets Loomis pen a best-selling book about the situation. This character trajectory is largely different from the original series and became a huge source of contention for children on-line who enjoy complaining about everything. Be that as it may, it injects a source of reality into the series that had been missing for quite some time. Rob Zombie isn’t playing these scenes of violence to be enjoyed; he’s showing things that emotionally scar his characters. Deborah Myers crying while watching old super 8 films of better days, committing suicide is a really bleak moment.
We then jump forward 15 years. Micheal is institutionalized in Smith’s Grove, and Loomis is getting ready to retire and go on tour for his tell all book about his experience with Micheal. Oh, and Micheal is now almost 7 feet tall and 250 lbs. He looks like TNA wrestler Abyss, but it’s actually Tyler Mane behind the mask. Tyler Mane also played R.J. Firefly (the “Boba Fett” of the series) in The Devil’s Rejects and Sabretooth in the first X-Men film. Micheal has spent the past 15 years making paper mache masks that adorn the entire walls of his cell.
One night, close to Halloween, two drunk guards (one of them the amazing Lew Temple who played as Banjo of the band Banjo and Sullivan in The Devil’s Rejects) decide to rape one of the inmates….and get the fantastic idea of doing it in Micheal’s room. Myer’s doesn’t care about any of that, but then they start messing with his masks. This sets off a chain reaction of violence in which Micheal slaughters all the guards, including a kindly Danny Trejo in a role that requires him to actually act (and shows that he can).
From here on out, the remake portion of the original film officially kicks in as we switch gears and follow baby Boo, who is now adopted into the Strode family and goes by Laurie. Her friends Lynda (Hannah Hall) and Annie (Danielle Harris!) take over the roles from PJ Soles and Nancy Loomis. If you are not a Gen X’er you’ll probably prefer the new girls to the old ones. Anyways, Micheal is going after Laurie on Halloween. He starts following her and her friends around before striking out at Lynda whose making out with her loser boyfriend Bob in an abandoned house for some reason.
After that, it’s off to get Annie Brackett, who is also having sex. This is the most brutal scene in the film. Danielle Harris is so tiny, and topless, that makes you see how helpless the poor girl is in the situation. However, Micheal doesn’t get the chance to finish the job because Laurie shows up, and sets up a final confrontation between the two, while Loomis is trying to find him with the help of Annie’s father, Sheriff Brackett (played by Chucky/The Gemini Killer himself, Brad Douriff).
Rob Zombie said in interviews he wanted his Micheal to be a regular person, not a supernatural creature; the whole opening solidifies this by having Micheal become a killer because he’s white trash. Fine, whatever. All this is shattered towards the end when Micheal is shot 6 or 7 times by Loomis. The whole crux of his version of Micheal is under-cut, which left me feeling severely cheated. It was a bad move.
But then the film gives us a really tense stalk and chase scene that shows when Zombie takes his Ritalin he can focus himself to pull off some rather fantastic and prolonged moments of tenseness. Laurie is hiding in the rafters of their old home, and Micheal is ramming through the ceiling with a 2X4. I thought Zombie didn’t get enough credit for how awesome this scene is, and how it harkens back to the suspense of the original. And it’s a moot point to argue about this with anyone on the internet because they’ll just “LOL Rob Zombie suxxxxx”.
The film ends with Laurie shooting Micheal point blank in the face, killing him, which makes the movie a one-shot, just like Zombie said it would be (*snicker*). The film then fades into some old super 8 footage of Boo and Micheal as kids as the new Halloween theme plays us out over the credits.
Perfect timing, and editing. It sends the audience out on a high note.
This movie gets a lot of hate that it doesn’t deserve. Is it the best movie ever? No. Is it the best remake ever? No. Is it a terrible movie? Absolutely not. It’s a very serviceable adaption of the original film for the modern age, and if you don’t like it, who cares? The original is still there, and gets re-released every 10 years in a new format with a boatload of new extras, as well as playing at theaters across the country each Halloween. The original film still exists. This remake will not ever overshadow it, or hurt it’s legacy anymore than the sequels to it already did (thanks Busta Rhymes).
For me, I’m glad Zombie took the time to make Micheal a monster killer again. I just wish the opening to the film didn’t exist, or could have been done with a better actress than Sherri Moon Zombie (no offense). One complaint I have is that Loomis is not a strong enough foil for Micheal in this version. Zombie’s cynicism shines through with the way the role is written, which is fine, I understand the changes. Donald Pleasence can not be topped so tweaks to the character are necessary for an update. It was also disheartening to see Micheal gouging his eyes out, killing Loomis, shortly before Laurie shoots Micheal in the head and kills him.
Oh yeah? That head shot to Micheal? Turns out that couldn’t kill him either, as Zombie brought us Halloween 2 a couple years later. Nobody is really sure why Loomis is still alive or has his eye sight restored in the sequel, and the character seem to think it’s all normal.
But we’ll get to that one next…