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Friday, August 31, 2007

The Beast Reviews: Rob Zombie's Halloween


Rob Zombie didn't lie. This is certainly a re-imaging.

My prediction for the film has, in fact, turned out to be true. Zombie has used an overabundance of brutality, both in the forms of violence and sexuality, to re-create the original story which lacked excessiveness of each. Here are the things that stand out from the picture in my mind:

1. Zombie has produced much more of a "Cause & Effect" storyline to provide a foundation for the horrific desire of Myers to act in the gruesome and violent ways he does. The first 20 minutes of the film, which were difficult to watch, is a landblasting of vulgarity, sexuality, mental abuse, and physical abuse that is apparently commonplace at the Myers home when Michael was 10 years old. His father is abusive in every imaginable way, his sister wants nothing to do with him, his mom, although loving, is a stripper, and he is constantly humiliated at school. Although Zombie allows for the possibility of something else, some hidden element of Michaels psyche to be the cause of his madness, for the most part the viewer watches him unfold because of his unbearable living conditions. Dr. Loomis even writes a book called "The Devil's Eyes" (which is a nod to the original) in which he explains psychologically the method and reasoning to Myer's condition. Compare this with Carpenter's version and the difference is staggering. Loomis would never write such a book in the original. He has long since written off Michael as "pure evil" from which there can be no such psychological determination. Carpenter does not set up the drama by showing us what Michael goes through at home because there is no real sense of correlation between the two. In other words, what drives the original is not a sense of "here is why Michael is killing people" rather than it is "Michael, for no apparent reason, is killing people." The viewer, in the original, begins to piece some of the reasons together as the story unfolds, thanks to Dr. Loomis' brilliant conversations with Sheriff Brackett concerning Michael's ontological sense of "evil." But in Zombie's film, the viewer sees the purpose from the start, so subsequent conversations between Loomis and Brackett are not near as tension filled as the original. So, although Zombie is perfectly in his rights to make a change of this magnitude, since he is re-imaging the film, the change is, for this fan, not helpful and in fact hurts the power of the story.

2. Where Zombie makes considerable changes in his film, such as the previous one mentioned, the addition of gore, etc, only makes us tip our hat once again to Carpenter's classic. Watching this movie was similar to reading the Gospel of Mark (not in a life-changing sense). Scenes move quickly from one "death scene" to another and Michael is always standing right there in full frame. The tension that is created by waiting for the dreaded moment of attack which Carpenter masterfully achieved is painfully missing from Zombie's attempt. In the original, Myer's is referred to in the credits as "the shape" and for good reason. You never really get a good look at him. He is always looming, you can hear his breathing, but when you see him, it is only for a second or two, and then he disappears once again. That is one reason why the closing montage of Carpenter's film, where he shows the different rooms and scenes where Myers once was, is so effective. You feel him in those rooms even though you can't see him. Zombie's Myers, on the other hand, does not have that same sense of "where is he?" Not only is Zombie's Myer's about 7 feet tall, the mystery surrounding his presence is just no longer a real mystery.

3. There are moments of forced dialogue, and when Zombie is bold enough to try to capture a few "scene by scene" shots, such as Laurie, Annie, and Linda walking home from school, it just simply doesn't work.

What about the film did I like?

1. It starts with "God of Thunder" by Kiss.
2. There are some neat references to the original, such as the way the young Michael walks as he stalks his first killing and an orderly (played by Danny Trejo, nod to Michael Mann) who tells Michael to "look past the walls." Of course, as I mentioned in a previous post, only those with a good knowledge of the original will pick up on those lines.
3. The killing scene inside the Smith's Grove Sanitarium was gorgeous. This was the best scene in the film. I felt like I was Watching Zombie at his best, and rightfully so. This scene had very little to do with the Halloween storyline. Zombie uses the siren from the Sanitarium as his only music during the 4 minute scene. Very good.

All in all, this Halloween film will be quickly forgotten, probably by the time Halloween rolls around. But, Zombie, I hope, will be quick to get behind the camera and direct another original film. He has great talent, but his "House of 1000 Corpses" surpasses this effort in virtually every possible way.

The Beast Paw Rating: 1 1/2 out of 4 Paws.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Paul, in Bethel Park said...

Hey, Beast !

I saw it Friday, also. My short take on it:

The adult Michael Meyers was great. His room with all the masks was even better.

On the down side, I felt like "meeting your great prom date 25 years later, only to find that the years were not very kind to him/her".

September 03, 2007 6:50 PM  
Anonymous Dezi said...

I thought the scenes in the hospital were great but after that I never really got into it . Did you hear it took in 30 million! When we went it was interesting because a lot of teenagers are usually at horror movies and the people there were all our age 30- 40 I guess everyone who loved Halloween growing up.

September 04, 2007 9:49 AM  

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