5/8/09

Mental Health Awareness Month: Halloween (2007)

It’s the second week of Mental Health Awareness Month, and this week we’re going to explore something that drives me insane, remakes. Most of them I find bland, repulsive, or simply unnecessary. So when Rob Zombie made his little film a couple of years back I was hesitant to watch it. I had really enjoyed Zombies pervious work; both showed a mastery of genre conventions and the ability to tell interesting stories. Yet what would possess the musician turned film maker to think we needed to see his version of…
Halloween (2007) starring Tyler Mane, Scout Taylor-Compton, Malcolm McDowell, Sheri Moon Zombie, Brad Dorif, Danielle Harris, and William Forsythe. Directed by Rob Zombie. 

Michael Myers was a messed up kid. He killed some animals, killed some people, and ended up in an asylum under the care of Dr. Loomis. Years later he escapes from the hospital and makes his way back home.  

The Bugg Speaks

A short synopsis for John Carpenter’s Halloween might read: Laurie Strode is terrorized when escaped lunatic Michael Myers invades her home. Carpenter’s Halloween was Laurie’s story; this is Michael’s. By this alone I can’t judge this film, but I do feel that what he tried to do with Myers was akin to the sympathetic psychos of The Devil’s Rejects. With the first hour of the film devoted to unraveling the minutia that made Myers, it attempts to make the psycho human. I’m not sure if that designation could have been applied to the masked maniac in the last few films, and I’m not certain if Zombie’s film is better or worse for it. 

With Michael being a mute 12 year old for much of the early part of the film, the heavy lifting falls on the stalwart shoulders of Malcolm McDowell. What can I say about McDowell that has not already been said? Well, he can grow a hell of a nice beard, and it looks lovely in Halloween. Now that I got that out of the way. Let me say that if it were not for McDowell, the first half of this movie might have put me to sleep, but waiting for him to show up and rock the Loomis kept me going though all the set up. 

Thankfully, once the second hour kicks off, we are back in familiar territory with a fair retelling of the Carpenter original. There are the requisite death scenes, and Zombie proves his film to be gory. The splatter was nowhere near as good or fun as his previous films and the film suffers from it. While Zombie’s gleeful redneck psychos could cackle and entertain while they’re skinning your face off, Michael is a callus, unfeeling killer. That there, my friends, is what gets us into real trouble with the film. 

Halloween and Michael Myers were about the unknown. The Shape, it’s as simple as that. I don’t want to know where he came from or what made him turn out that way. Zombie gives Michael an upbringing that’s like he’s one of the The Devil’s Cousins. William Forsyth is entertainingly profane as Michael’s mom’s boyfriend, and hearing Forsyth threatening to “skull fuck” makes the first 5 minutes of the flick recommended viewing. Beyond that it gets murky with an underwhelming performance by Sherri Moon Zombie as Michael’s stripper mother. Sherri has crafted a role all her own in her husbands other films, but Ms. Zombie is just not up to task of a serious part. 

While the first half of the film is largely disposable, I will have to say that it looked crisp and had a nice ‘70’s vibe, but then in the end half, Rob did one of the things that drives me more insane than anything in film can, I’m talking about the blue tinged filters. Why is that masked man trying to kill Smurfette? Not a question I want to be asking! Not when I have more important things on my mind. Like what is Scout Taylor-Compton doing?  Sure she was plenty cute, but, as with the earlier portion of the film, the lead female role is weak and undefined. It’s a shame. Zombie has thus far not proved himself able to bring strong female characters into his films. 

Halloween does deliver on some cameos from several genre movie favorites. Dee Wallace is Laurie’s Mom. Ken Foree gets killed in the can, Sid Haig tromps around a graveyard, and even The Monkees’ Mickey Dolenz shows up as a doctor. These cameos made for some joyful “look, hey. it’s…” moments as I watched the flick, but really none made any kind of impact on the film. They were just shiny objects there to dazzle as the drek rolls by. 

There’s a movie in here desperately trying to get out, but unfortunately I think its Carpenter’s original trying to escape the remake’s clutches. Rob Zombie sure did not do himself any favors with folks who didn’t enjoy his earlier work, and the fans that he’s made, well, I can’t see how they won’t be disappointed. I really wanted this to be the film that bucked the trend, to find out that I had unfairly judged it before I’d given it a chance, or to even end up feeling justified in my hatred. In the end I didn’t get any of those. Instead I was left feeling blasé about the whole thing. Nothing in it ever really elicited a response. It was there. I saw it, and I kind of wish I hadn’t.



Bugg Rating
 




After that I need a tune to help me relax. What could be better than that top song of 2007 "Crazy" given a fresh new paint-job by the Violent Femmes. 

7 comments:

  1. This was a very good review--very fair as well.

    "Nothing in it ever really elicited a response. It was there. I saw it, and I kind of wish I hadn’t."

    That is exactly why I was really disappointed with this film. Being such a big fan of RZ, the fact that I didn't walk out the theater feeling...anything, really bummed me out. I don't have high hopes for the H2 either.

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  2. Great article and I have to admit I have felt that Zombie is a talented guy but his films (for me anyway) always seem to show his love and appreciation for 70's era classics but I still don't think I've seen Rob's voice or vision yet. He's like a talented young guitarist still mimicing his influnces instead of finding his own style.

    Did that make sense? Maybe not.

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  3. Nice write-up...

    You're so right...Scout Taylor-Compton just about ruined this movie. Actually, a whole lot of things ruined this movie. But she was really bad.

    Not to mention when a movie opens with a quote...from a character IN the movie...you know it's going to be a pretentious mess.

    -Billy

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  5. Great review, and it pretty much sums up all the reasons I decide to skip this movie entirely.

    I just couldn't bring myself to watch it. When I heard it was going to go in-depth to explain the Shape's history (I never call him Michael Myers—he's always the Shape to me), I rebelled. I don't want the killer explained. He's much scarier as this horror that emerged out of nowhere right in the middle of suburbia.

    Plus, aside from the original, I've liked none of the Halloween films, and why would this be any different?

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  6. Well as someone who holds the original HALLOWEEN in such high regard to the point that it's my favorite film of all time, I hated the idea of a remake from the start. Yeah I dig RZ's films [especially THE DEVIL'S REJECTS] so I was okay with him doing it. And while I love your review and you make solid points, I still like this remake. Yeah, it humanized the Shape but I think that's what people find scary these days. I thought the first half was well done but the remake portion was rushed. And I know people talk smack about Taylor-Compton, but I know girls like that so it didn't bug me so much. Hell, I think HALLOWEEN 5, HALLOWEEN 6, and HALLOWEEN RESURRECTION are a lot worse than this one. At least Zombie tried to make a good film. The other three films showed no respect for the franchise.

    All I'm saying is that HALLOWEEN 2007 is an unnecessary remake but it's the world we live in right now. It could have been a lot worse I thought and I'm hoping H2 doesn't go in that direction. But I can understand the hate over this one. No one wants to see an inferior copy of something that so many people [including myself] love so much.

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  7. I like some of Zombie's visual ideas, but he has to be one of the worst writers in Hollywood. His dialogue makes me cringe more than the horror scenes. Still, I'd like to see what he could do directing someone else's screenplay. As long as the "someone else" isn't an 11-year-old trapped in a man's body.

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