Format: DVD from Franklin Grove Public Library through interlibrary loan on rockin’ flatscreen.
Less than a minute after the production company credits faded away, I knew I didn’t like the Rob Zombie remake of Halloween. I’m always at least a little disappointed in the cinematic work of Rob Zombie. He comes across as such a smart guy in interviews, but his movies—even when they really want to say something—do so at a lowest common denominator level. Zombie wants to talk about abuse and poverty as a reason for what happens to Michael? Well, we’re going to need what is essentially a parody of a terrible childhood to get us there.
It's as if Zombie thinks that we as the audience are unable to fill in any blanks. We have to be led by the nose to every conclusion that we’re going to come to, and that path has to be as simple and as firmly laid out as possible so that anyone watching the movie will have that message hammered into them. This is especially depressing considering the horror movie royalty that Zombie managed to get into this movie—Brad Dourif, William Forsythe, Udo Kier, Clint Howard, Richard Lynch, Danny Trejo, Sid Haig, Tom Towles, Bill Mosely, Dee Wallace, and Ken Foree, capped with Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Loomis. This is a massive collection of people with serious horror cred, and they are used in service of something that aspires to a force-feeding its points to the audience.
I’m not going to get into the plot too much here, because it’s a story you either already know or should already know. Myers kills a school bully, his sister, her boyfriend, and his mother’s abusive boyfriend and is put in an asylum. We get a lot here about Michael and Dr. Loomis talking and we see Michael slowly deteriorate and live behind a series of masks that he makes. Eventually, we’re going to manufacture a way for him to escape, return to Haddonfield, and start killing. The only real difference here is an attempt to give Michael a backstory more than “this is a kid who was essentially born without a soul.”
I has taken me a long time to figure out exactly what it is that bothers me about Rob Zombie’s movies, and I’ve finally figured it out with his remake of Halloween. It’s an objection that I have to a lot of Quentin Tarantino’s work, too. Bluntly, it’s that everyone in the film is a really repellant person. All of Tarantino’s characters are dirty. They’re all bad people. They’re all racist, criminal, or both. There’s no one who is worthy of redemption or who even thinks to want it. Zombie’s films are much the same. Everyone here is terrible. There’s not a good or decent person in the mix, and while Dr. Loomis comes close, he’s also the person who essentially abandons Michael before Michael’s escape.
I realize at this point I have stopped really talking about the movie here and I’m instead talking a lot more meta, but I’ll be blunt: Zombie’s Halloween remake isn’t itself worth a whole lot more effort or space, because this is a movie where a monstrous human being kills people who are, ultimately, just a different kind of monstrous. They’re all just walking ids, capable only of their own desires and nothing else. I genuinely don’t care about a single person in this movie and can’t figure out a reason to do so.
There are some movies that don’t really need to be remade. They aren’t perfect in and of themselves, but they are important and iconic enough that there isn’t really anything that can be done that will be compared with the original. It’s not always easy to figure that out, to be fair. The remakes of Romero’s Dead Trilogy are watchable if not nearly as good as the originals, for instance. But a remake of Halloween wasn’t necessary. This was a case of a guy deciding to remake a movie he liked because he wanted his name associated with the name of the movie.
Bluntly, the original stories that Zombie has made aren’t movies I like, either. I always want to like them because he really comes across as a knowledgeable and smart guy. But his movies are ugly and make me want to shower afterwards. But at least movies like The Devil’s Rejects don’t take a shit on movies that are formative for the horror genre. Having the name of Carpenter’s brilliant, genre-defining film associated with this pile is an insult.
There are worse filmmakers than Rob Zombie, but I don’t know if there are any filmmakers who are more regularly disappointing to me. I know Paul W.S. Anderson is a glorious trainwreck; I expect Uwe Boll’s films to be raw sewage. I want to like Zombie’s films, but when they are his remake of Halloween, I wonder why I bother.
Why to watch Halloween (2007): It has a Michael Myers origin story if you’re into that.
Why not to watch: Rob Zombie’s films are never as good as they should be.