Most every classic horror
film of the last few decades has been victim of a remake, so it was only a
matter of time before John Carpenter's 1978 classic Halloween, the
true pioneer of the slasher film and the best ever made, would be
regurgitated into the multiplexes with a new coat of paint.
auteur Rob Zombie's re-imagining of the film is one of the best of
the remake lot – but it still isn't as good as the original. It all
makes you wonder why they bothered, since the first film is still widely
Zombie has definitely
ratcheted up the killing and the nudity – both of which were already pretty
significant in the first film.
The problem is the
characters in the new film are not nearly as sympathetic as the original, so
the audience does not feel invested when masked psychopath Michael Myers
starts mowing people down. In fact, many of the characters –
particularly his own family which Michael ends up butchering as a ten year
old – are such white trash assholes that we'd just as soon they die.
I know that was Zombie's point, (in fact white-trash-assholes seem to be his
bread-and-butter as a filmmaker) but it does this story no favors.
Sure, there were more than a share of jerks in the original film as well,
yet there was also a balance of truly decent people who we were worried for
Zombie seems to be of the
idea that everyone in the world is a complete slime ball. Even Laurie
– the supposed good girl – breathily teases her mother that some old guy
has been feeling her up and casually dry humps her girlfriend in front of
the small children she is babysitting. This may be how people act in
Zombie's world, but most people in the real world have some sort of
self-restraint and tact.
Zombie puts his own stamp
on the story by going much deeper into the background of how Michael started
killing and escaped from his mental hospital prison. What was
dispatched of economically in the original in about five-ten minutes and
with only one death now takes almost the first hour of the new film and over
All the revelations shown
in this slow first hour have a bit of a tendency to neuter Myers as a
boogeyman. The more we know about him the more pathetic he seems.
He becomes less a strange and menacing force of nature and instead seems
like a bit of a petulant mama's boy. Certain characters in pop culture
are really better off not having a back-story, and Michael Myers is
This new pacing is a
constant problem, though later it flip flops back and forth. After
stretching out the early scenes, Zombie seems to feel he has to make up by
rushing through the meat and potatoes of the original film, when Myers
returns to his hometown and starts systematically stalking and killing off
three babysitting girls and their boyfriends.
These attacks – with
several other new ones peppered in – come just too quickly. The
audience doesn't have time to come to terms with one death when another one
comes barreling along. The suspense of the stalking and the learning
of other revelations about the killer and his victims fly by. (He even
steals a plot point from the first of many disappointing Halloween
sequels, the revelation that the heroine is the sister of the killer.)
What took well over an hour in the original takes about a half-hour here.
Then Zombie shifts down yet
again, dragging out the final showdown between Myers, his (unbeknownst to
her) sister Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton) and his over-the-top psychiatrist,
Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) much longer than it needs be.
Rob Zombie does have some
significant talent as a horror director. The fact that he could not
keep up with one of the greatest films in the genre is no real surprise or
no real crime. However, from now on he's best off coming up with his
own stories and leaving the masterpieces be.
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: December 8, 2007.