Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Movie Review: Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN 2
As previously mentioned, I was fortunate enough to attend the red carpet premiere of Halloween 2 at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on Monday night. There seems to be a little bit of confusion about how, exactly, this entry can be called "H2" when it is, in fact, the tenth - count 'em! - film in the Halloween series, so here's the skinny: Rob Zombie's 2007 take on Michael Myers was not a sequel, it was a "reimagining." Thus, this film is a sequel to that reimagining, not another entry in the series started by John Carpenter. Got it? It might sound a little strange, but the truth is that the less you think about Carpenter's movie, the more you'll enjoy this one.
How did I feel about it? Overall, I liked it. But I should preface this by saying that I am, in fact, a Rob Zombie fan, and I did like his first Halloween. What I like most about him is that he genuinely seems like a fan of horror and of these movies. Whereas the Texas Chainsaw and Friday the 13th remakes seem like they were made by people who were, at best, ignorant and, at worst, disdainful of the films they were revamping, I think Zombie has the proper reverence for the original Halloween, which just so happens to be my favorite film of all time. True, he has made a lot of changes, but I actually find that more respectful than trying to do a shot-by-shot remake a la Gus van Sant's Psycho; it was perfect the first time, so if you don't have something totally different to bring to the table, why bother?
Okay, now that we have that settled, on to the movie itself. I read somewhere that Zombie conceptualized his first Halloween as two movies, with the first focusing on Michael Myers as a child up until his escape from Smith's Grove, and the second dealing with "the night he came home." The general consensus is that he succeeded far more with the first half of the movie than he did with the second half, and I'm guessing he agrees, because H2 is essentially a remake of the second half of that first film. (Woo! Confused yet?!) It's basically Laurie's friends getting slaughtered one by one as she tries to avoid the same fate herself; however, it is scarier and more interesting than it was in the first movie. There are a few flashback sequences and some very bizarre glimpses into the psyche of Michael Myers; these are less successful than in the first movie, I think mainly due to the absence of Daeg Faerch, a.k.a. young Michael Myers. He's been replaced in this film, and the new kid is way too cute to look adequately disturbed.
Scout Taylor-Compton plays Laurie Strode, and while I wasn't particularly impressed with her in the first movie, I think she did a fantastic job in this one. There's also a nice twist near the end that calls Halloween 4 to mind. Oh, and as for the kills, which Zombie has trumpeted as particularly brutal this time around? They are - mostly because of the sound! As my boyfriend put it, "It's like he's punching people, but with a knife." Prepare yourself for lots of crunching, snapping, squishing noises, and a lot of jump moments (including two that actually made me clutch my chest and hiss, "Oh my God!").
The premiere itself was rather thrilling; we managed to spot a number of the film's stars, including Malcolm McDowell, Danielle Harris (who was sitting two rows behind us!) and, of course, Rob and Sheri Zombie. My favorite celebrity sighting of the night, however, was Ace Frehley of KISS, who was practically anonymous without his signature "Spaceman" makeup.
I did like this movie, but I'm not sure it was better than the first. However, if you enjoyed that film, I would definitely recommend this one, but I don't think it's going to win over any Zombie detractors. You have to be a fan of his whole mean, dirty, disgusting aesthetic...which I am. One note: While I think Zombie is a very talented director, sometimes his dialogue can be a little cringeworthy. It works in a movie like The Devil's Rejects, which centers on a family of deranged outlaw serial killers, but it seems a little out of character for suburban, Midwestern teenage girls.
Essentially, here's how I view "the two Halloweens," Carpenter vs. Zombie: John Carpenter's original version is a masterpiece, a love note to autumn and the terror of childhood/adolescence, a fantastic example of elegant filmmaking that illustrates just how far the economy of imagery can take you. Nothing goes to waste. Every shot is a keeper. Rob Zombie's version, on the other hand, is in your face, over the top, loud, wild, colorful, filthy and bizarre. While Carpenter's Michael Myers is a boogeyman, "the Shape," Zombie's is a crazy, hulking, angry monster. They're both scary, but Carpenter's is iconic. You may not want to marry them, but if you take Zombie's movies for what they are, they can definitely show you a good time.
Halloween 2 opens everywhere this Friday, August 28th.