There's no Zombies in Zombie's Halloween
John Carpenter's "Halloween" may not be the greatest movie ever made but it's a horror movie which helped define the whole slasher genre and as such it's one of those movies which to me is untouchable. But then my opinion doesn't count and in 2007 we got Rob Zombie's re-imagination of John Carpenter's "Halloween" a movie which took the basics and tried to expand on them. Did it work, well kind of because the way certain elements of the storyline are developed are quite good, but then all the tension and atmosphere which made the 1978 "Halloween" so brilliant is missing, replaced by in your face violence for a new bunch of movie fans.
It's October 31st and whilst his mother is working as a pole dancer 10 year old Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch - Hancock) flips and brutally murders his mums boyfriend, his sister and her boyfriend, leaving just his baby sister alive. Committed to the Smiths Grove mental institution and put under the care of Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) Michael declines into a world of silence until 17 years after being committed Michael (Tyler Mane) manages to escape and returns to Haddonfield to finish the job he started 17 years earlier as he searches out his sister, who has since been adopted and become Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton).
So the good thing is that Rob Zombie's "Halloween" is not just a remake, he's developed elements of the storyline most notably that of Michael Myers as a boy and his childhood spent in the mental institution under the supervision of Dr. Samuel Loomis. It adds a sort of interesting angle as we watch Michael's decline from a young boy with an unsettling side into a full blown monster. I say sort of because whilst this focus on Michael's childhood differs to the original it ends up nothing more than an excuse for a few violent scenes culminating with his break out from the institution.
Once you get past the focus on Michael's childhood Rob Zombie's "Halloween" almost ends up a straight remake, only varying with some different scenes whilst following the original storyline. Which isn't a criticism as the story about Michael hunting down Laurie Strode is perfectly good enough. The variations he throws in, the extra characters, murders and so on helps it to feel just different enough so that you have to watch despite knowing how things end up.
But whilst the new angles and embellishments make Rob Zombie's "Halloween" different to the original I can't say that I like his approach to the horror. The original "Halloween" was all about atmosphere, tension and for the most perceived murder which let your own imagination frighten you. Where as Rob Zombie's "Halloween" is full of in your face violence and we are not just talking about Michael Myers murdering several people as there are rape scenes as well. It's too in your face for me as it tries to scare you with brutal visualizations as throats get slashed, skulls get crushed and so on instead of letting your own imagination scare you. In fact in the whole movie there was just one scene which made me jump, whilst most of the others just made me cringe through their brutality. But Rob Zombie's "Halloween" is a horror made for a new generation of horror fans who lust for violence and gore and as such it delivers exactly that.
And of course being a horror movie for a new generation Rob Zombie's "Halloween" has sex and nudity, much more than the original. But of course the rule of horror is that once you've done it you will end up a victim. And that is one of the things about this "Halloween", it's very predictable and not just because it's a remake or re-imagination as even the new elements are pretty predictable. So we meet new characters such as one of the workers at the institution played by Danny Trejo and you know what will happen to him, the same with Laurie's parents, friends and so on.
What is very noticeable is there seems to be a lot more characters in Rob Zombie's "Halloween" thanks to the storyline developments, but when you strip them away it boils down to just those 3 important characters Laurie Strode, Dr. Samuel Loomis and of course Michael Myers. Scout Taylor-Compton who takes on the enviable task of playing Laurie Strode, a character which will forever be associated with Jamie Lee Curtis doesn't do badly. She certainly is pleasant to look at with that almost homely nice girl style but she is no scream queen lacking that believability when it comes to showing fear in her battles with Myers. Malcolm McDowell has just an enviable task taking on Dr. Samuel Loomis but he does quite a good job giving Loomis his own style making him even a little creepy whilst also friendly.
But of course the main man is Michael Myers and first up is Daeg Faerch playing Michael as a child and what a good job he does. You get that expected side to the childhood Michael, the good kid living in a seriously dysfunctional household yet you get to see the darker side of him, that murderous instinct which only comes out in private. Faerch does a great job of delivering this and he most certainly creeps you out when he switches into the murderous child with what has to be said is a very sick mind when it comes to violence. Then of course you have Michael as an adult and we get WCW wrestler Tyler Mane putting on the mask. Now to be fair to Tyler he doesn't get to say anything but between the sheer size of him and the way he delivers those acts of brutal violence he creates a scary Michael Myers for modern audiences.
What this all boils down to is that whilst Rob Zombie's "Halloween" develops some interesting storylines as it focuses on the young Michael Myers it's not a patch on John Carpenter's original. It's very much a horror movie made for a new generation of horror fans who get their kicks from in your face brutal violence and blood spurting action but for me it lacked atmosphere and those scares you get from the unexpected.