I just returned from a private preview midnight screening of Rob Zombie’s remake of John Carpenter’s horror classic Halloween, scheduled to open tomorrow, August 31. I’d have been better off getting the sleep that I missed. If you came here looking for details of the film itself, I apologize. But I’m sure there are literally hundreds of reviews out there to let you know the basic plot line and who plays whom in the film. Instead, I’m going to lay out exactly why Rob Zombie should not be allowed anywhere near another horror classic.
For those who haven’t heard (somehow), Rob Zombie has remade the film that redefined horror in 1978. Unfortunately, it resembles the original only in names; the film’s the characters’ and the locations. In all other ways it draws too heavily on the same template that Zombie followed in his previous films, House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects. Namely, people with bad childhoods grow up to be thugs who kill people in bloody, gory ways. Despite Zombie’s repeated assertions that he’s a fan of the original and his acknowledgment that it is a classic and Michael Myers is a horror icon, the new film shows zero awareness of why this is the case.
Michael Myers was not a “slasher” or “psycho killer” he wasn’t even human. Come on, Rob, it’s right there in the scripts – both the original and your remake. Dr. Loomis regularly tells those around him that Michael “isn’t a man” and that he’s “purely and simply… evil“. There’s a reason that horror fandom refers to the lead character of 1978’s Halloween as “The Shape” more often then as “Michael Myers”. It’s because the human child that was Michael Myers was, indeed, the first victim of “the shape”, well before horror came to the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois.
The Shape was frightening because it was an inhuman killing machine slashing its way mercilessly through anyone and anything that attempted to slow its inexorable path. The Shape was not only devoid of reason and compassion, but also of any sense of urgency or concern. It knew it would prevail and acted accordingly, thus showing us, the audience, that it would prevail regardless of the struggles and frantic actions or pleadings of the mere humans it encountered. Zombie’s Michael Myers is just another (over sized) thug out to kill whoever’s handy. He thinks, acts and moves like any other mundane, though crazy, killer: plotting and planning instead of inherently being in the right place to slaughter the (not so) innocent; chasing his victims rather than following, fully aware that he will reach them before they reach any sort of safety; struggling through obstacles as opposed to merely passing through them unharmed and without losing momentum.
But, The Shape isn’t the only thing that made John Carpenter’s film a horror classic. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) wasn’t just any ordinary sexy babysitter. She was a fighter. Despite the fear and confusion induced by having The Shape bust into the house where she’s babysitting on Halloween, she still manages to fight back. And to do so valiantly and effectively as well. As the audiences representative on the screen she gives us a “good guy” to cheer for. Zombie’s Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) has almost zero fight. Instead acting as the wimp that Zombie seems to think all “good guys” are. There is no one to cheer for in this film but Michael Myers.
Some of these things were to be expected, but Zombie isn’t done letting us down. One would think that the combination of a famous musician and the second greatest horror music of all time (Psycho stills beats it out) would mean that at least the soundtrack would be put to good use. Instead, Zombie wastes John Carpenter’s famous music in irrelevant scenes. Instead covering the “suspenseful” parts of the film with overloud, distracting garbage (for the record, I am a fan of Zombie’s albums). Speaking of suspense, this film has none. Every horrific move is telegraphed far enough in advance that it’s amazing Michael manages to kill anyone at all. There is only a single moment in the entire film which may startle some members of the audience, and that’s probably a result of an editor with genuine horror experience rather than any direction on Zombie’s part. There is, however: plenty of blood to turn the audience’s collective stomach; a rape scene thrown in for no apparent reason other than Rob Zombie seems to insist on (at least) one being in all of his films; and no small amount of nudity for those who think breasts are one of the top three reasons to watch horror films.
If you have any desire to see anything related to John Carpenter’s Halloween, then do yourself a favor and rent the original. But if you’re looking for the next installment of The Devil’s Rejects, then this just may be your film.