Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN Rantview

I've just watched Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN via an advance workprint. Thank God for advance workprints, because this is the absolute worst piece of rat excrement I've witnessed since, well, "The Devil's Rejects" (or maybe "Cabin Fever"). Seriously, if this is what Horror films are anymore, I burn my membership card. I no longer watch or like Horror films.

First, I'm going to go throught the minutes of this movie and then go through all that is wrong with this abortive attempt at a remake, so spoilers abound. Go ahead and read on. No one should ever pay to see this shitball of a movie.


The prologue is a half hour long. Little Michael Myers is the middle child of a white trash family. He has an older sister, Judith, and a younger sister, Laurie, a mother, Deborah, who is a stripper and a step father, Ronnie, who is a lecherous deadbeat with a cast on one arm and a finger splint on the other. The parents bicker and fight over breakfast while Michael, upstairs, first coddles and then kills his pet rat. Michael continuously wears a clown mask.

At school, two bullies verbally attack Michael and call his mother and sister whores (well, they ARE). They fight, the principal bursts in to break it up and Michael tell the principal to go fuck himself.

Next, in the Principal's office, Michael's mother is brought in and so is Doctor Samuel Loomis, who offers to psychoanalyse Michael. Michael's mom is then shown the corpse of a dead cat that Michael's been carrying around (Michael's mom says that that's what little boys do) and pictures of mutilated animals.

Michael then stalks one of the bullies over the opening credits and then kills the boy with a tree branch. Later that night at home, Michael's mom lets Michael go trick or treating even though he's been mutilating animals all over town. She goes to the strip club, the step dad goes to sleep and Michael's older sister brings a boy up to her room. The boyfriend dons the familiar Captain Kirk mask during foreplay. Michael ties up his step dad with duct tape while he sleeps and cuts his throat. The Boyfriend goes downstairs for a sandwich and is bludgeoned to death with an aluminum baseball bat. He then gets a knife and goes upstairs for his sister. He puts on the Kirk mask and stabs his sister, chasing her down the hall (the first time of many I screamed "OH, COME ON!" since Michael looked like a midget with a full sized head). He then kills his sister, grabs the baby and runs out of the house, just when his mom arrives home. Cue television report montage.

Michael is institutionalised in Dr loomis' care. They seem to get along, but the relationship is strained as Michael wants to leave the hospital. Mom still loves Michael, even though he killed most of the family and visits him often. Michael then begins to wear a papier mache mask he made that looks like a cross between Leather Face and Slipknot. Michael becomes worse and worse until he finally kills a nurse. Cue montage of happier times between Michael and Mom.

Present times. Michael is a hulk of an adult in a tattered bathrobe and shackles. His hair obscures his face. The Slipknot comparisons are gelling even more. His room (rather nice for an isolated patient) is filled with homemade masks. His final parole is denied and Dr. Loomis tells Michael that he's leaving him.

Enter mental institution nurses aide rapists. They drag a girl into Michael's room and rape her in front of him while wearing his masks (I'm hearing the rape scene has been removed... thank god). Michael freaks out and kills them (probably more for the masks than the rape) and leaves the hospital freely with no fanfare.

He goes to a truck stop and kills a trucker with his own knife in a toilet stall. Donning the trucker's overalls, he goes to his hometown.

HADDONFIELD. 52 minutes into the film. Laurie Strode and her adoptive parents live a middle class, but still rather trashy existence.

Michael goes to his old house and rips the floor boards apart to reveal the Kirk mask. Apparently, young Michael was forward thinking enough to stash the mask in the floorboards.

Dr. Loomis does a lecture tour of the Myers case.

From here on, the film finally bears some resemblance to the original film, plot wise. The girls (Annie, Lynda and Laurie, just like the original)talk about babysitting, Dr. Loomis bickers with other Psychiatrists about the handling of Michael... Blah, blah, blah.

Michael bursts into the Strode house and kills Laurie's Adoptive Father. The then goes for Laurie's Adoptive Mother, but sees Laurie's picture and it stops him. Why? I don't know. Laurie was just a baby and he COULDN'T see any resemblance. The Mother's murder is revealed later. Michael's Kirk mask is giving off the feel of Karloff's Frankenstein's Monster.

The ghost and glasses sequence is done pretty much the same, but with out Lynda's telephone breathing (no telephone at all, actually) and with more nudity.

Annie is slashed and dragged through the house coitus interruptus (after killing her boyfriend), and not strangled in a car.

The final chase scene between Laurie and Michael (and the two babysitting children) is well done, but, really... how can you fuck up a slasher chase scene if you have the budget for a good editor? Answer, you can't. That I give this scene praise means the basic job has been done. Oh, yeah. Michael kills a cop.

Michael grabs Laurie and carries her off, Frankenstein-style. I'm supposing the connection in intentional.

The monster takes the girl to his lair. Michael, who has apparently forgotten how to talk, reaches out to Laurie, who is understandably distressed. She escapes and the chase is on again. Laurie falls into an empty swimming pool. Michael circles a bit and then comes in after her. Loomis stops him and shoots 3 times. Michael falls and Loomis rescues Laurie. He puts her in a police car. The Bogey Man exchange is repeated and Michael grabs Laurie through the window of the car. Enter pathos. Loomis tries to reason with Michael that it's not Michael's fault that all this happened. The cops arrive and ratchets up the tension, but Loomis shouts them away. Loomis reasons with Michael once again and he releases Laurie, dropping the knife. The Police then open fire on Michael. Michael lies lifeless while old recordings of Michael and Loomis' conversations in the institution play in the background. Fade out, the end.

The new ending that will be playing in theatres: (Thanks to BitterMan23 from the Ain't It Cool News Talkback for this one) After the police car scene, Michael and Loomis face off after Michael puts Laurie down. She runs into the house. Michael then crushes Loomis' head and drags the body inside. He then begins looking for Laurie. This takes what seems like forever as he smashes walls and the ceiling. Finally he finds her and they scuffle a bit before she runs away again. She finds Loomis' gun and then Michael rushes her. They go out the window (seen in tv spots). Then Laurie pulls trigger twice at Michael (who appears to be unconscious) but nothing happens. He starts to come to, and then she pulls again and this time the gun goes off. We don't see its impact but it's assumed she more or less blows half his head off. Then she screams, Sally in original TCM style, and the movie ends.


The problem with the film, right off the bat, is Rob Zombie's view of the world he lives in. It was just as bad in his other two filmic excursions, "House of 1000 Corpses" and "The Devil's Rejects". Everyone in his world is trash; The good and the bad and he would like you to believe the line between those two is blurred beyond pure sight. The characters in these films are sexually perverted, unfeeling to anyone but the inner family and depraved. I feel extremely sorry for Mr. "Zombie" if that is his true view of the world and if it isn't, I despise him for proliferating it in the name of "Coolness".

Another problem is the film just isn't scary or thrilling or anything, for that matter. It just stumbles along, limply. The original "Halloween" was an exercise in style and deliberate pacing. The result was absolutely Hitchcockian. This film is more like, well, "The Devil's Rejects" in the first half. So much so, that in the second half, any real tension built up is negated.

One thing that made the original "Halloween" work was the shock of something horrible happening in a small town setting. Anyone can suspect that someone for a sad, dysfunctional family could be driven to this. What is terrifying is that a relatively well adjusted, middle class family could have a child in their family that could do something unspeakable. Little Michael Myers in the first film was a kid that just lived down the street. He was an Anykid that lived in Anytown USA. This Michael Myers would be a kid that I would stay away from just on appearances alone. He's a creep.

Now, being that the film's prologue was set in the late 70's, the present time would be, what, 1996? Yet the film seems to want us to believe it's the present. That's another problem. The film really doesn't lend itself to present time.

The film has a who's who of horror genre film making, but everyone is wasted. Udo Kier, Clint Howard, Dee Wallace Stone, Richard Lynch, Ken Foree (looking like Blacula)... all wasted... And poor Danielle Harris. She's given the most protracted attack scene in the second half. Was it that important to do that nude scene, Danielle?

The use of familiar music (The Monster Mash, Love Hurts, Fly By Night) hurts the proceedings as well, taking the viewer out of the moment, and often.

The BIGGEST problem, however, is the bloodletting. Halloween is a film that relies on tension and the level of bloodletting is distressing... and not in the way is wants to be. The film is so casual in it's bloodletting that it becomes de facto. There is no question if there is going to be blood spilled, but when. That was something in the 1980's slasher boom that set the original "Halloween" apart from it's many, many imitators. The original had class. This one has crass.

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