Wow. I had waited almost a year to see the sequel to Rob Zombie’s Halloween because I was fairly certain I would not like it. And believe it or not that idea bothered me.
I’ve staunchly defended the man’s films for years: In my book House of 1000 Corpses and Devil’s Rejects are (pretty much) beyond reproach, with any little amounts of eye-rolling ‘bad’ far far far outweighed by the good. I even stood up for his first Halloween when it came out (despite the simply awful ‘set-the-white-trash-stage’ opening with William Forsythe). It felt a bit like sacrilege but if it was going to be done who better? I tried to reason. But time wore on and my initial impression of that first remake wore out, so that by the time of its release on DVD I had no use for it. However, as my good friend Dennis pointed out, “You’re always going to watch Carpenter’s when you’re in the mood for Halloween, but when you’re in the mood for Zombie and you go through House and Rejects, that’s when it’ll come in handy”.
Well said, however I still never got around to buying it*. And then the sequel came out and I became suspicious of an impending weakening in the fan-armor I had held onto so vehemently for Mr. Zombie and his movies.
First, and this is mildly unrelated but I have to get it out of the way in the interests of full disclosure, I have never fully forgiven Rob Zombie for breaking up what was possibly the best metal band of the nineties to veer off into a solo career that was blatantly calculated to make him the next Ozzy Osbourne-sized icon of metal, especially when said solo career kicked off with a weak solo album that, if I remember correctly, took a number of years to be released and clocked in at something like thirty-eight minutes. I wasn’t too much of a fan of White Zombie’s earlier, minor label stuff, but La Sexorcisto and Astro Creep 2000 are both two amazing albums, one more classical-style metal, one veering off into new territory by embracing technology. I saw them live for both tours and they were the real deal on stage.
Anyway, now that my prejudices are on the table, this brings us back to the original point of my digression, I think. I’m currently imbibing Bushmills and cannot be completely sure of anything anymore…
So something about the idea of a sequel to the Halloween remake struck me as off-kilter. I mean, I’m not stupid. We’re talking about Hollywood here – we all knew they were going to do one. But the fact that I distinctly remembered Mr. Zombie saying that he would not be involved with any sequel stuck with me upon the release of the first remake. And I truly believe that he originally had every intention of maintaining that position. Rob Zombie is a very talented director with what probably amounts to hundreds of ideas, so why not do a big studio remake to ingratiate himself to a major film company and then rack up the monetary backing, right?
Then The Weinstein Company spent a year or two fighting off what was reportedly dangerously close to bankruptcy and suddenly I can only imagine Mr. Zombie began getting called in for meetings that went something like this:
“Ah, Rob. About funding that original idea you have for Tyrannosaurus Rex? Well, we’re kinda broke and we need you to bring in a bunch of money before we can back something like that so…”
I don’t blame Zombie** – but now the weakened spots of the armor are really starting to show blood because this past Saturday night I had Takashi fire up the ol’ time macheen and it was off to last year where we sat in a dank, lonely theatre and watched a dank and lonely movie – Rob Zombie’s Halloween II.
Verdict? To use Mr. Zombie’s own persistent vernacular, “Fucking fuck fuck awful.”
First though, the good (yes, there is good here!). Halloween II is beautifully shot. I loved every second of imagery I saw on the screen. I stand by my earlier assertion that Rob Zombie is a very talented director. However, this fact of course makes it especially heartbreaking when the characters move and open their mouths; the dialogue and plot get under way and you realize it has essentially been written by a seventeen-year old boy. I like to swear too, a lot in fact, but once again invoking that white-trash badge he seems so obsessed with simply kills the Lori character, the Loomis character (didn’t he have his eyes pushed out in the first one?), and most assuredly the white trash that proliferates at the edges of the ‘story’, i.e. the stripper and two cigarette smoking, sideburn-sportin’ douche bags who Michael Myers tears through like lettuce on a raw hamburger patty***. Every interaction is as vile, profane and terse as imaginable and thus, pointless and unbelievably frustrating for anyone over the age of seventeen who takes their horror films seriously.
And I know it’s probably been said a million times by now, but since I’ve only just joined the jeering party on this one, was there some confusion in the studio that Mr. Zombie was making a sequel to the Halloween franchise and not Friday the 13th? Because the unstoppable psycho killing for mommy…
Oh wait! As I write this I just realized it’s more homage, yeah, that’s the ticket, no doubt tying his Halloween back into Friday the 13th and of course the original, Hitchcock’s Psycho.
Wow. Anybody interested in getting together and re-recording dialogue and sound for the entire film? Or better yet, maybe in another couple years some innovative high school stoners bored of setting The Wizard of Oz to Dark Side of the Moon will figure out that Rob Zombie’s Halloween II goes perfect with The Flaming Lips’ In A Priest Driven Ambulance.
Or, perhaps more appropriately, some obscure, shitty Skynard album would be a better place to start looking for a soundtrack?
* I don’t want the ‘Unrated’ version with the rape scene goddamnit! Other than the fact that I think its in unbelievably bad taste to use rape in movies, esp. horror movies that usually just use it as a now-acceptable breaching of a social taboo, I want the one with the awesome break-out scene I saw in the theatres! With that high-pitched sonic iteration that accompanies one of the most striking visuals in that film.
** Not that he would care if I did. I recognize that this entire post threads dangerously close to scary nerd fan discussion forum.
*** And why, exactly, does the strip club even enter into the film? Because seventeen-year old boys love tits!!! And really, I don’t want to be insulting, but did anyone else get the feeling that Mr. Zombie saw My Bloody Valentine 3D and was impressed with the ten minute sequence of the stripper/hooker whatever trying to outrun the killer in nothing but high heels? Great scene but it looked a bit lifted in Halloween II. More homage, I guess…