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Laurie's crazy and someone even hits a cow
on July 27, 2010
The Amazonites have spoken and this movie got killed, lambasted by some as 'the worst Halloween movie', though there's no way it can approach the horror of the botched Curse or the Busta-Rhymes-was-the-best-part Resurrection.
I'm still not sure why this was given an August '09 release rather than...October/Halloween. Presumably, they didn't want to run up against the latest Saw offering, and perhaps they sensed the buzz of Paranormal Activity. Instead, they ran it against The Final Destination 3D, which still fared better.
Folks seem to love or hate the Rob Zombie Halloween excursions. Say this about Zombie...he is a horror movie fan and he tries something more personal this time around. Yes, we all know and (presumably) love the original Halloween II, where Michael Myers stalks Laurie in the eerily empty corridors of Haddonfield Memorial Hospital. And yes, we all know that it was revealed that Laurie was, in fact, Michael's sister, a plot twist conceived by John Carpenter when he ran out of ideas. So what should we expect when someone remakes 're-boots' or jump-starts a series and then remakes the sequel, too?
Yes, there are similar elements and plot points from earlier Halloween films, including the original Part II (the hospital, the sister angle, which we knew from the first Zombie installment, etc). But this is not a remake of the original Part II. Rob Zombie is going his own way with the blessing of the Akkad clan, and I think he does some interesting things story and plot-wise. There are clearly some expressionistic nods to Italian horror directors (Bava, Argento), and there's a strong nod to the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and general insanity after you've been chased by a knife-wielding lunatic. The early scenes---again, picking up right after the events of the original---are well done, if unsettling. There's the frenetic activity of the paramedics and authorities, the hospital atmosphere, the loving close-ups of emergency surgery and various injuries, and the spooky recurrence of The Moody Blues on TV. There's a very nightmarish feel to everything and the looks and sounds are appropriately unsettling. There's a focus on the trauma---the screaming! the terror! The film is much more concerned with the idea that this Laurie Strode is losing her marbles, and is hardly the wholesome and pure Laurie of the previous series. Zombie prefers some of the more disturbing elements of the material over the 'scary ones'...which in his world are nearly one and the same. There is always the risk of wallowing in the downbeat versus showing that the filmmakers actually had any fun making this. I think they did, but Halloween II definitely toes the line.
Like most horror flicks, this is not the sum of its parts, but I always give points for atmosphere and demented touches. Actually, the weakest part of the film is the stalking and slasher action itself. It is predictable, methodical, absolutely brutal, and dare I say...sometimes boring. Michael stabs...and stabs...and stabs...and then stabs again...and again...and again. We get it. Am curious what they cut, because it's a hard R rating here. No, Mr. Zombie does not ease up on the slasher gore, and we get at least one close-up of a knife in the head.
The better elements are the psychological angles (exploring...well, insanity), and the Loomis plotline. This is not the same Loomis, tireless in his effort to stop evil on two feet, but rather a burnt out, cynical, media-obsessed sellout who may or may not have an ounce of altruism left in his shell. Again, Malcolm MacDowell is excellent if underused this time. There's also a bit of plot-timeline fudging toward the end during the 'final showdown'.
The movie is demented, and extremely violent and brutal...perhaps too much in that it distracts from the fresh or different elements that Zombie tries to infuse. I still liked this better than most of the rent-a-hack horror output that comes along. Give credit to a horror fan making horror films and trying something else. Of course, you can't win in this genre. You will be condemned if you make the same old movie (which people want to see) or you'll be condemned if you try something out of left field (because people want something fresh). If you want the old Part II, go watch it, it's a different film. But lordy, this is a heck of a lot better than the latter stages of the original Halloween series.
The DVD looks and sounds great. I believe Zombie shot this on 16mm and converted it, so the images look grainier and darker...it's a very stark and appropriate look for this film. The extras include a plethora of deleted scenes, most not essential but some interesting bits, plus the inevitable alternate ending. Note that the ending here differs slightly from from what you saw in the theater (if you were such a fanatic), since this is the 'director's cut'.