Love it or hate it,
I know the sequel to Rob Zombie's re-imagining of Halloween left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths; the incluon of a giant white horse, the ghostly presence of Michael’s dead mother, and the excluon (in a lot of scenes) of the infamous mask as a whole. I mean, what gives?
You could argue that what makes most slashers so distinctive from one another is the villain himself. We go to see a Friday the 13th for Jason. We go for Jason because of the hockey mask. The same can be said for Halloween. We want to see Michael Myers in action, and “The Shape” just ain’t “The Shape” without that pale, blank, emotionless piece of latex, right?
Like a lot of folks I was apprehenve about Rob’s vion for the remake. When I first saw it in theatres I didn’t know what to make of it. I bought the unrated director’s cut when it came out on DVD, and have nce watched and re-watched it more times than any of the other so-called remakes that have been shoved in our eager little faces. It just got better with each viewing.
I’m not disng the Friday the 13th remake by any means, or any of the many others. I loved them. I just happen to feel Zombie’s vion was the boldest, most daring remake of any modern horror film, made all the more audacious because it is a re-imagining of a much beloved clasc¬--the father of all slashers…Halloween.
And I enjoy the sequel even more.
I’m not going to get into the plot details, as most of us have seen the film. I will, however, point out the genius of this sequel, and why I feel it is superior to the first.
Like the original sequel, ade from a brief flashback to little Mikey’s childhood, explaining the origin of the white horse, Rob Zombie’s Halloween II picks up directly where the first left off.
Talk about bling rivalry, Michael really fucked Laurie up. She is bruised, battered, and broken; something we’ve never really seen of our heroines before, at least not with this kind of detail. She’s bloodied and deluonal, and the surgery scenes to follow are definitely cringe-worthy.
Where the first movie was very much Michael’s, Rob Zombie’s Halloween II is Laurie’s, and Scout Taylor-Compton does a bang-up job. I’ve heard people complain of Scout’s portrayal of Laurie as whiny and annoying, but I disagree.
Not only do I think she did a great job portraying a real Teenage girl in the first and the sequel, but I can’t imagine who could’ve done it better. Scout’s a little known actress, an up and coming talent, and I think she really got to shine with H2. She showed us how a “normal” teenage girl, with posble suppressed rage, might react to the nasty circumstances of Zombie’s first Halloween.
Of course, Laurie in Halloween II is a world away from the cute, bubbly, glasses-wearing gal in the first.
This new Laurie is seriously damaged, rightfully and believably so. She is sleep deprived due to nightmares, she’s angry and might fly into a fit of rage at any given moment, and she’s having psychotic hallucinations about killing Annie. Plus, she’s most likely addicted to prescription drugs, and she drinks, too. She is in moral and emotional decline, teetering on the very edge of sanity. All of these are a nice touch, adding a new dimenon to an old character, and demonstrating Michael’s power over her, adding to the idea that she could be just as fucked up, if not more so, than her big brother.
I bought what Scout Taylor-Compton was trying to sell, hook, line, and nker. She made me believe she was Laurie. She made me feel sorry for her. She made me fear her.
So, to all the naysayers, you’d be whiny too if you had endured the tragic and traumatic events Laurie had suffered.
Malcolm McDowell is back as the self-important Dr. Loomis, who is more of a supporting character this time around, but no less gnificant to the story. Now a best-selling author of “The Devil Walks Among Us”, Dr. Loomis has traded his trench coat and .357 magnum for limo rides and talk show appearances. Though he spends the bulk of the film promoting the tasteless book, it is the officious Dr. Loomis, a stark contrast from the raving depiction of the late great Donald Pleasance’s quack that drives Laurie truly over the edge when she learns her true identity in his book.
Malcolm McDowell does a great job coming off as a pompous prick with an over inflated ego. I wanted to hate him. I wanted to kick his smug ass. Certainly not the Loomis I know from childhood screenings of the original Halloween series, he's mean, nasty, selfish, and quite posbly more of a monster than Michael Myers himself. Even he evolved from the first, and continued to do so right to the bitter end, redeeming himself (or at least attempting to) in the final moments of the film.
As always, the lovely Danielle Harris is a wonderful addition to any horror film, and her return as the phycally scarred, more reserved Annie Brackett serves the film well. She too is changed from the wild party girl of the first to a health conscious mother hen type who tries to keep it together for not only herself, but for Laurie, and in many ways, her father, too. Depending on which veron you watch, theatrical or unrated, there is a lot of tenon between Annie and Laurie.
Annie serves as a constant reminder to Laurie of the tragic Halloween massacre they survived, and you really get a sense that Laurie hates Annie for being stronger than her, for being able to cope with all of this better than she can.
Unfortunately, Annie is not strong enough to survive a second encounter with Myers, and ends up with the bloodiest death in the film.
Brad Dourif returns as Sheriff Brackett, and I have to say he is truly one of the film’s biggest and brightest highlights. The brief scenes at the beginning, the dinner table scene with the pizza, and the moment he discovers Annie’s bloody naked body, are a wonderful demonstration of the voice of Chucky’s comprehenve acting ability. I love this guy. He really plays on the emotions and vulnerability of the character. Like the rest of the characters, Brackett has definitely evolved. He appears more fragile, as if fighting a long battle to keep it all together, and Brad does a bang up job capturing the emotions. I'm especially fond of the scene where he discovers his daughter's body. The way he conveys the pain of a father who lost his only child is heart-wrenching, especially for a horror movie. No one else could have played a better Sheriff Brackett…at least not in Zombie’s vion. I really wish Rob would do a third, making it about Sheriff Bracket, with Brad returning of course.
And then there’s Michael Myers himself, the reason we go to see a Halloween film. He, too, is evolved. He is even angrier than in the first film. He’s become somewhat of a drifter, taking redence wherever he may roam, stealing supplies when he needs them. He’s biding his time, waiting for the right moment to move in and reunite his family. This Michael is truly disturbed, living inde his own head, suffering with milarly frenetic vions as his baby ster.
You could argue that nasty gunshot to the head only served to make things worse, even bringing about hallucinations of his dead mother and that white horse.
Tyler Mane cuts the most terrifying, angriest of all Michaels. This is one scary S.O.B. I would not want killing me.
He’s angrier in this film, grunting and growling as he stabs his hapless victims with such violent aggreson. Some folks took issue with a vocal Michael, but to me, it only serves to enforce the anger and fury present in the character, and is a nice extenon of the young Michael Myers, who didn’t hold back vocally as he beat and bludgeoned his victims.
Compared to the original series, Rob Zombie's Michael Myers is altogether a completely different animal. He's a somewhat tragic and very human figure whose murderous rage cut a path of terror and heartbreak through the lives of his many victims. A far cry from the original shape I knew as pure evil on two legs, Michael is no longer like the shark in Jaws, mply stalking the shadowy streets of Haddonfield, trolling for the next victim. He's the little boy next door who loves animals. He's that kid in my class. He's that rumor whispered throughout a shaken town...
I love how this film brings everything together. Michael goes to the strip club he felt exploited his beloved mother, brutally slaughtering its inhabitants. He then sets his ghts on Annie. With her dead, Laurie is truly alone, thus, I would imagine in Michael’s twisted mind, leaving her no choice but to look to him as "family". Don’t forget the scene Michael comes across the billboard adverting Loomis’s book, effectively sealing Loomis's fate.
The frenzied ending brings everything full circle, and is quite intense. You have a shack, which is a small area leaving Laurie at the mercy of her murderous brother. She literally has nowhere to go. Outde are bright lights and loud sounds from police choppers, oh, and the shack is surrounded by well-armed police.
It's just frantic chaos. At this point you should be emotionally invested in these characters. Michael is a tragic figure in his own right. Laurie is broken and on the verge of totally long it forever. You feel the anger and drive for revenge courng through Sheriff Brackett’s blood. You know Dr. Loomis trying to diffuse an already nasty tuation inevitably puts him on a clear path with fate.
A few folks took issue with the ending set-up. Laurie is held captive by a young Michael as she deals with the ghost (?) of Deborah Myers. How could she posbly know about Deborah, what she looks like? Well, if you remember, Laurie looked through Dr. Loomis’s book, having a nice little freak out in her car. With her already fragile mindset, the images in the book, along with the revelation of her past made these ghostly vions more perceptible…at least for me.
Again, the ending depends on the veron you watch. Personally, I like both endings. Either way Loomis and Myers are killed. Interestingly enough, Loomis's death is more brutal in the theatrical veron, along with Michael’s, but Laurie survives, albeit, even crazier than before.
Loomis is repeatedly stabbed in the face. Michael takes a sniper's bullet, is impaled by farming equipment, and is brutally stabbed to death by a distraught Laurie. Michael never says a word in the theatrical cut, keeping his mask on until he's dead.
In the Director’s cut, Michael removes his mask and shouts "Die!” just before stabbing Dr. Loomis in the gut. Michael is then gunned down by police. Laurie emerges from the shack, picks up Michael's knife, and just as she is about to finish Loomis off, is gunned down by police. All three appear dead and the film closes on the angelic voice of Nan Vernon as she croons her rendition of “Love Hurts”.
The director's cut ending is much tamer than the theatrical veron, but truer (I would imagine) to Zombie's intention. Strangely enough, I don't have a preference. The veron of the film I watch all depends on my mood.
The whole film unravels like an unanticipated acid trip in true Rob Zombie fashion. From Laurie’s wrecked psyche to the swaggering Dr. Loomis’s growing arrogance, to mother hen Annie, and a shaky but strong Sheriff Brackett, to a twisted, more frightening, more angry Michael Myers, Rob Zombie’s Halloween II may be the best in the series…for this writer anyway. It certainly could be the most shocking. So much so that it turned off a number of horror fans, but for the wrong reasons. Some hated the white horse. Understandable. The story is no better with it, and certainly would have survived without it. Others looked for reasons to pitch a bitch, even cutting down Sherry Moon-Zombie’s incluon in the film. I liked that Michael had vions of his mother, and himself as a child. I like how these vions served to motivate Michael, as he was likely suicidal at the end of the first film. I really felt these vions drove him to continue pursuing his ster.
I could further deconstruct the film, cutting into the often colorful dialogue, the gruesome effects, and the overall look of the film, but I won’t bother.
While these things only serve the film, they’re not what make the film work. Rob Zombie is a visual artist, but he also understands subtlety, and the importance of character. This is a very character driven piece—arguably the most character driven of the entire series, even the first one.
Laurie is the focus of the story, and her descent into madness. Those around her try to save her, but end up driving her further into insanity and despair.
Crazy, insane, loud, and chaotic…maybe even far removed—not only from the original series, but even from Zombie’s first venture with Michael—the feverish Halloween II is what it is…a shocking and effective concluon to Rob Zombie’s extreme interpretation of the seminal clasc.
Remember, this is just one horror fan's humble opinion. Many of you disagree with my assessment, thinking the film is total shit, and I respect that. You’re entitled to your opinion. I understand why many hate the film, but it is for those same reasons I love it, and then some. It's dirty, grungy, cruel, mean-spirited, and hauntingly beautiful.
And that’s why I’ll be watching it again this coming Halloween.
Happy Halloween, Bidites.