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Halloween (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)




Starring Malcolm McDowell, Tyler Mane, Daeg Faerch, Sheri Moon Zombie, Scout Taylor-Compton, Danielle Harris, Kristina Klebe, Skyler Gisondo, Jenny Gregg Stewart, Hanna Hall, Danny Trejo, William Forsythe, Brad Dourif, Dee Wallace, Udo Kier, Clint Howard, Sybil Danning and Micky Dolenz.

Directed by Rob Zombie.

Directed by Rob Zombie.

Distributed by Dimension Films.  109 minutes.  Rated R.

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.

Sleaze rocker-turned-horror 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 available.

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 as well.

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 ten bodies.

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 definitely one.

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.

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: December 8, 2007.

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