I was one of those that cried blasphemy when I heard about Rob Zombie’s remake of the classic Halloween. Many horror fans consider it to be the birth of the slasher-film (even though Black Christmas came before it); it was the first popular version of the psychopath chasing the various teenagers to their deaths, with the virginal girl becoming the hero. It remains effective to this day, John Carpenter crafted a nearly perfect horror film the first time around. Why bother to do it again?
I’m a fan of Rob Zombie as a filmmaker, The House of 1000 Corpses was a highly flawed, but ultimately interesting horror film; and its sequel The Devil's Rejects, is beautifully crafted, an experimentally made 70’s road movie, about a family of psychos on the lamb from Johnny-Law; a truly ambitious film, horror or otherwise. If they had to reboot the Halloween series, I’m glad that he was the director behind the lens.
While I still prefer the original, Zombie’s Halloween proves to be a worthwhile horror film. He’s taken enough of the original so that it feels similar, but not so much that it feels pointless in that we’re watching the exact same film. There’s enough of a twist on it, that it becomes it’s own film; he does Carpenter through his own eyes. It makes for a unique ride, through familiar territory.
Mainly what’s been added is a back-story for Michael Myers, we get to know his family; his drunk, abusive step-father played by the underused William Forsythe, his slutty older-sister, his loving, but worn-out mother stretched way beyond her mean’s played nicely by Zombie’s wife Sherrie-Moon. And once he’s killed off his stepfather and sister; we learn a lot more about his relationship with Dr. Loomis, played by Malcolm McDowell and his perfectly coifed, stark-white hair and beard. We see how Loomis becomes the only loving figure in his life as Michael sinks deeper into his own mind. I appreciated seeing most of this; the young Michael is portrayed fairly well, the young actor does a good job with it. There’s a bit too much though, they could have cut about 10 minutes of the back-story, not spelling everything out for us, while also moving the slightly longish movie along at a better pace.
Once Michael escapes the psycho-ward, the film becomes extremely similar to the original. There are a few differences, like we get to know the youngsters that Laurie Strode is babysitting a bit better. I don’t think that Lorie is played as well by Scout Taylor-Compton as Jamie Lee Curtis did, but it’s an acceptable job in taking the place of a classic role. Most of the deaths are done in the same fashion, but quite a bit more brutal in this go round. Zombie has to compete with the likes of Saw and Hostel, where Carpenter was treading in fairly fresh waters. There are a few other deaths piled on to the body count, and the film ends in a new, similarly predictable manner.
Overall, I enjoyed the film. I think that it could have been a total mess with another filmmaker besides Zombie behind it; too easy to just redo the original shot for shot, with new actors and a bit more gore and still rake in $25 million on opening weekend. I’m glad that they were more ambitious with it; adding some freshness, while also honoring the classic version. I’m sure they’ll make a sequel with another filmmaker that’ll become instantly forgettable, and I honestly hope that Zombie doesn’t bother in doing another Halloween, I’d like to see another original idea from him; but since they’re rebooting Friday the 13th, he might be the right man for the job. - Grade: B-