Ok so— full disclosure— I strongly disliked Rob Zombie’s initial remake of the slasher classic “Halloween.”Strongly disliked with a passion.
It’s not that I have anything against Zombie as a filmmaker. I thought his debut, 2003’s “House of 1000 Corpses,” showed a tremendous amount of potential.
The problem is that he hasn’t yet managed to realize that potential.
Actually, he’s taken a few steps backwards.
Zombie’s latest, “Halloween II,” is a noisy, bloody mess that manages to take his steady regression to an all new low.
The film opens right where its predecessor left off, with Laurie Stroud (Scout Taylor-Compton), her friend Annie (Danielle Harris) and Dr. Sam Loomis (Malcom McDowell) all clinging to life following Michael Myers’ (Taylor Mane) holiday-themed killing spree.
For his part, Myers seems to be dead but— as per horror tradition— he’s only pretending. All it takes is one unfortunate cow to bring him back to life. That’s cow, as in the animal. The kind that goes moo. Look, you really need to see it to believe it, but apparently it made sense to Zombie when he wrote it.
So after the cow incident, Myers goes missing, something that doesn’t seem to trouble anyone in the film. Loomis— whose only permanent injury seems to be to his sense of human decency— insists that Myers IS dead and that the body has only been misplaced.
Now, I would like to point out that in Zombie’s universe, Michael Myers is a 7-foot, 400 pound behemoth.
How anyone, especially a doctor, could think it possible to lose a body that large is beyond me.
Amazingly, Loomis’ opinion is shared by the local police force, led by Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif).
Naturally when Halloween rolls around again, Myers returns, but this time he’s not alone as he brings along an entourage that includes the ghost of his dead mother (Sheri Moon Zombie), a vision of himself as a small child (Chase Vanek) and a huge, majestic white horse.
There is some sort of symbolic psychobabble behind the steed and the mom that the film tries to explain early on, but no matter which way you slice it— its Rob Zombie’s wife in too much eye makeup, dragging around a horse. It looks ridiculous.
Apparently his mom, her horse and young Mikey are all co-conspirators in the killing spree. Needless to say the writing is weak.
On the acting front, Compton’s Laurie is perhaps the least likable and most grating horror heroine ever.
It’s not that you’re quite rooting for her to get wacked, but it gets to a point where you really wouldn’t mind it. She swears and drinks like a sailor and sports a quasi-dread lock hair style reminiscent of Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum circa 1992.
It seems that bathing and proper housekeeping aren’t big in Zombie’s fictional town of Haddonfield. Maybe he was going for a gritty look, but what he actually ended up with was the grimiest looking movie of all time. I promise that you’ll find yourself compelled to take a shower after you finish watching.
The home of the town’s sheriff looks more like a condemned crack den than the residence of a respected public official. The walls are covered with crudely drawn pentagrams and posters of Charlie Manson. Home sweet home, or at least it is according to Zombie.
The rest of the cast doesn’t fare any better. Dourif is criminally underused, while Laurie’s friends are cookie cutter at best. The only one of her friends with the potential to be semi-interesting is Annie (Harris). Fortunately, Zombie seemed to detect this and immediately gave her nothing to do.
This time around McDowell plays Dr. Loomis as a publicity hungry hound dog who will stop at nothing to shill his book. The Loomis character was always the best thing about the old films, though you would never guess it after watching this sad caricature.
As Myers, Mane just hulks around and looks menacing. After the film’s opening sequence, Zombie seems to run out of things for Myers to do, so we are treated to scenes of him wandering aimlessly in a field, brutally killing random, badly stereotyped characters and also shopping in Macy’s for a XXXXXL hoodie.
Whoops! I think that last part will actually be a deleted scene. Apologies.
Perhaps the only thing going for “HII” is Zombie’s eye for jaw-dropping visuals. His acidic style is on full display and despite the overall grunginess of the scenery, Zombie manages to create some pretty scenes.
Sadly, his visual flair doesn’t make up for a go-nowhere script that is chock-full of every horror cliché known to man.
Over the years Michael Myers has survived a great many things.
He’s been shot, he’s been stabbed and he’s been blown up.
He’s made it through eight movies, most of which were very bad.
He even boxed Busta Rhymes. But no one should be asked to endure what Zombie has done to him.
Thanks to Mr. Zombie’s grisly and unnecessary take on him, Myers may never be truly scary again.
R.I.P. Michael, we hardly knew you.
Colin McGlinchey is a fifth-year student majoring in English with a minor in Journalism. He can be reached at CM646588@wcupa.edu.