Thursday, March 21, 2019

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Because we have been waiting for you for a decade


It was never about suspense

With the highly-anticipated release of Rob Zombie’s Halloween, I found myself crammed into a crowded theatre full of self-appointed horror experts, all asking the same questions about whether or not Zombie’s take on Michael Meyers could live up to John Carpenter’s 1978 original. It’s almost like horror geeks think that a sub-par remake of a classic will somehow result in the original ceasing to exist. The guy behind me even compared it to remaking “Episode IV.” Right.

Personally, I don’t care about any of that. My favourite film in the Halloween series will always be Halloween III: Season of the Witch (the one without Michael Meyers) and I was just hoping that what I was about to see would be of the same caliber of Zombie’s first two films, The Devil’s Rejects and House of 1000 Corpses. I mean, how could he not be able to pull this off? Those films were practically littered with references to classic horror and his fake trailer for Werewolf Women of the S.S. was amazing. In any case, Zombie’s remake does add to the original with a much fuller exploration of Meyer’s dysfunctional childhood (no doubt drawn from Zombie’s own vast knowledge of serial killers), but ultimately stands as a movie that probably didn’t need to be made.

Now I’m not saying that the original was untouchable, nor am I saying that Zombie didn’t do his job. As with all of his films, Halloween was technically perfect and showcased Zombie’s ability to create complex, magnetic characters that transcend beyond traditional notions of good and evil. He was also smart enough to recruit a lot of his usual suspects like William Forsythe, Sid Haig, Danny Trejo, and Zombie’s own wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, who, by the way, is at her best as Michael Meyer’s troubled mom. One of the greatest strengths of Zombie’s Halloween lies in his ability to make his audience care about Michael Meyers in a way that John Carpenter never did. Like Jeffrey Dahmer, the young Michael Meyers represents “a perfect storm” of the external and internal factors required to make a “monster,” and we see him evolve from a pre-pubescent social outcast mutilating small animals to a gigantic, silent, killing machine, which is right about the point where this movie goes from being awesome to just decent.

However, any failings of this version of Halloween come from the character of Michael Meyers in general, and not from Rob Zombie. Seriously, once you see that giant, masked psychopath stalking toward you with a knife, while the original Halloween score plays, you pretty much know that you’re going to die. It’s not like you’re going to reason with the guy – he refuses to talk. Oh yeah, and did I mention that he is basically unstoppable, even by bullets? I mean, yeah, it’s terrifying. Getting slashed up and having your body drag on the floor while you’re half alive is totally scary, but save for a few interesting deviations (like cheerleaders that wear Slayer shirts), the second half of the movie plays out a little too much like the original. That’s why I don’t understand people who criticize Rob Zombie for a lack of suspense with this one. Halloween was never about suspense. Halloween is all about freaky Michael Meyers recreating his original murders by slashing up teenagers that have sex, and anyone else that gets in the way. So, while Rob Zombie’s Halloween does improve upon the original, I still just can’t help wondering what he was trying to prove with this one.

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