Saturday, August 29, 2009

Halloween II

It has been well established that John Carpenter's Halloween was not what today's movie-goers would consider a typical slasher film. Although Halloween inspired many of those horrible Friday the 13th type films that horror fans like these days, at its time, Halloween was considered a very smart thriller with a highly suspenseful build-up that included memorable characters. In 2007, director Rob Zombie attempted a remake of the film, which didn't measure up to not only the original, but it wasn't even an enjoyable film. I still refuse to write Zombie off as a director even if House of 1000 Corpses and Halloween were poorly conceived gore-fests. I actually really enjoyed The Devil's Rejects. Yes it was bloody, disgusting, and perhaps certain moments were done in poor taste, but Zombie had such a handle on his characters. I know I'm in the silent minority (the only other mainstream "critic" who I've seen agree with me on Rejects would be Stephen King) but those Firefly clan characters had a very interesting arc that all made sense in the messed up world that Zombie created. When I heard that for a sequel to his Halloween film, Zombie would create his own original story-line and not follow the sequels to Carpenter's outing, I became enthused by the prospect. However, once again, Zombie not only failed but he further disappointed me because of the potential that actually exists with this film.

Halloween II picks up immediately after the first Zombie film, with Michael Myers (Tyler Mane), who was shot in the face, being loaded into an ambulance. Of course the ambulance crashes and Michael lives. Oh yeah, remember the girl Annie (Danielle Harris) who was left for dead? She is alive. Oh and Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) had his head squished/imploded and he somehow lived as well. So with those extremely unreasonable returns aside, the film once again focuses on Michael readying to go after his sister while Laurie (Scout-Taylor Compton) worries about the return of her brother. Both characters are experiencing these dreams that often revolve around their birth mother (Sheri-Moon Zombie) and a horse (?). Michael dreams about reuniting with his surviving family while Laurie slowly begins to realize her connection to Michael. All the while, the character of Loomis does an about-face and writes an exploitive book on Myers, making himself come off as a total sleaze-ball (which is hard to believe since he was a moral character in the first film, but apparently surviving a killing spree makes you a dirtbag).

Zombie demonstrates his understanding of using "evil" as a character as so many other horror filmmakers have done. Craven and Carpenter understood that good didn't always exist in everyone and would use this to add to the themes of their films. Zombie also seems to notice and understand the deep twisted connections between the members of the Myers family (I could only imagine if a truly skilled, high-class filmmaker got a hold of these characters). Yet, as Myers gets ready to go after Laurie, he runs into some teens or police or whoever and he of course has to kill them for most of the film. This is where the film turns into your typical nonsensical gore-filled slasher and it's a damn shame. Like Jason Voorhees and Freddy Kruger, Myers has a deep history that can make for some damn good characterization but that is all sacrificed for the blood and guts. Horror really only tends to work when he can care about either the predator or the prey but everyone here is so one-dimensional. Zombie films this all in a very close (almost claustrophobic) manner with his camera peeking around corners or through windows while his characters all lurk in conveniently placed shadows. There really isn't anything worth watching to be found in this film, at all.

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