Sheri Moon Zombie
Chase Wright Vanek
Remake to the sequel to the mother of all slashers
Trivia There's tonnes of cool trivia about Halloween II on imdb, so rather than copy it here's a link.
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Halloween II (2009)
6th Nov 09
Michael Myers is now ten feet tall, has a beard and won’t just stab you once in the heart when there is time to stab you 345 times in the head while simultaneously stomping on your penis, eating your pet dog and butt-fucking your half-sister with a truncheon. It’s a Rob Zombie Halloween flick, folks.
The sequel Rob Zombie said he would never make turns out to be a superior film to the 2007 box office hit that revived the ailing Halloween franchise. Writer-director Zombie pares down that film’s distracting cameos and is released from its awkward structure, which rendered it in a halfway house between prequel, overly reverential remake and “re-imagining“. He expands on that film’s (underrated) strengths, including visceral attack scenes reinforcing the ferocity of the reinvented Myers and the evolution of his take on Dr Loomis.
The results have already earned the worst reviews of Zombie’s career and news of a Zombie-less Halloween 3-D. Too bad, because this is a scary and bold sequel which impressively refuses to take the very formulaic sequel path pursued by the Carpenter-scripted 1981 incarnation of Halloween II . Despite the identical titles, the only major connections (save for the obvious ones) between the two films are the use of clips from Night of the Living Dead and a hospital massacre at the outset that Zombie negates almost immediately.
It’s a shame that one of the most impressive aspects of Zombie’s earlier Halloween - the performance by Daeg Faerch as young Michael Myers - is now, through necessity (the kid had a major growth spurt), absent, but otherwise Zombie’s H2 is full of nice touches. There’s a great interlude with Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) on a chat show, for instance, that’s reflective of the fresh approach. Loomis appears disgusted to be sharing the stage with Weird Al Yankovic (whom he refers to as “Mr Weird”) while Weird Al gets confused between Michael Myers and the Mike Myers of Austin Powers fame.
Incidental details are strong: the previous film’s “Rabbit In Red” strip-bar now heavily promotes itself as being the former home to the dead stripper-mom of an infamous mass murderer. And, while the volume of genre-significant cameos has been wisely reduced, it’s still disarming to see the uber-weird Margot Kidder amusingly cast as Laurie Strode’s shrink. They don’t get any bat-shit crazier than Margot Kidder…though who else remembers fancying her to an embarrassing degree after watching that aerobics scene in The Amityville Horror ?
Zombie’s script resumes events, just like the original Halloween II , from where we left them in his Halloween . A blood-caked and hysterical Laurie (the returning Scout Taylor-Compton, potent in a take on Laurie that’s the polar opposite of Jamie Lee’s drugged-up, zoned-out Halloween II portrayal) is discovered walking the streets. A year later, she’s an understandable mess, living with fellow survivor Annie (Danielle Harris, clocking up her fourth Halloween franchise appearance, equal to Jamie Lee) and her Sheriff dad (Brad Dourif). She is eternally haunted by the killer whom she will later discover (through reading the sensationalistic books of Dr Loomis) is her brother. Meanwhile, driven by the persistent supernatural / psychological presence of his dead mom (Sheri Moon-Zombie) and his younger self, Michael Myers (Tyler Mane) returns to Haddonfield to kill.
For an R-rated horror sequel released by a major studio, this is a remarkably grim and misanthropic piece - and is shot in dirty, grainy 16mm to boot. Intense horror scenes, even more so than the 2007 film, play down crowd-pleasing splatter and the funhouse-scary feel of earlier Halloween films in favour of unpleasant, gruelling bouts of outright brutality. This incarnation of Michael Myers (played by the very imposing - and second billed - Mane) towers over everyone, wanders around without mask looking like some monstrous giant hobo and, far from the playful quick-killer of the John Carpenter original, comes off as a brute with major rage issues.
He doesn’t just stab his victims, he stabs them repeatedly or offs them sadistically with whatever happens to be lying around, or pummels their heads to mush with his foot. When Mane does don the infamous mask, it’s a sinister, roughed-up version of the ghostly visage we’re used to seeing that adds a further disturbing under-current to the character. (Zombie also depicts on-screen Myers devouring a dog, an event that happened off-screen in Carpenter’s film).
Meanwhile, McDowell builds on good work done on the previous film and, like Zombie himself, is let off the remake leash that, in Halloween , saddled him with the job of awkwardly rehashing hammy Donald Pleasence lines and doggedly following his former patient. Now, Loomis is a media whore who takes the whole film to realise what a parasite he is…and then, in a last ditch bid to show some heroism and redeem himself, dies horribly. McDowell gets the best of Zombie’s typically cynical dialogue: “Bad taste is the petrol that drives the American dream” (though full marks to the sleazebag who tells the joke: “What’s the difference between jam and jelly? You can’t jelly your cock up a dead girl’s ass!”).
Zombie remains the only filmmaker who has been able to put his own individual stamp upon the traditionally generic, interchangeable format of the Halloween sequels. The coarse yet witty dialogue is very much his own, as are the Charlie Manson posters adorning bedroom walls, the retro-rock soundtrack (Alice Cooper, “Love Hurts”, a genuinely creepy repetitive use of The Moody Blues’ “Nights In White Satin” in the first reel) and the discomforting close-ups of unpleasant flesh wounds. He remains fascinated by trashy, hateful, irredeemable characters (including a doomed, leery necrophilia-prone paramedic) and is fond of giving character bits to under-used players like Daniel Roebuck, Sean Whalen and Caroline Williams from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 .
One of the most pleasing aspects of the new film is the way Zombie recovers from the cluttered Halloween script, which gave too little screen time to too many interesting actors. Here, the expansion of Brad Dourif’s take on Sheriff Brackett enables the veteran actor to portray his warmest, most human role to date (with a Lee Marvin impersonation to boot). He’s a loving father caught up in an escalating, recurring nightmare, and his tortured depiction of a broken, dismayed, rage-fuelled Brackett following Annie’s death, is extraordinary to behold.
Sometimes Zombie falls back on specific slasher clichés (notably the bathroom mirror scare), but is most content fooling around with the format: Laurie’s surrealistic dreams and the eerie, ethereal hallucinatory moments with the white-clad Moon-Zombie and a white horse are unlike anything in the Halloween series. Avoiding the usual back-from-the-dead shenanigans with Myers, Zombie bows out with a genuinely creepy, resonant ending that riffs on the strongest aspect of Halloween 4 (and, to some extent, the final image of H20 ).
For a horror sequel, there is unusual, and impressive, emphasis on the impact of the previous film’s events. Zombie isn’t interested in wheeling on a busload of new teens, but is more compelled to spend time catching up with the emotionally / physically scarred survivors. There’s an extremely effective sequence in which a grief-stricken father (of the 2007 film’s Lindsey) attacks Loomis at a book-signing, lamenting the doctor’s exploitation of personal tragedy. Compton’s washed-up, bravely unsympathetic portrayal of a drug-dependent Laurie one year on is a credible echo of what Jamie Lee Curtis did in Halloween H20 . These people look and act like people that went through a living nightmare that refuses to go away.
Refusing to deliver the routine sequel thrills you might expect, Zombie has turned a potentially soulless cash-in into something surprisingly powerful; major kudos to him for getting a major Hollywood studio to distribute something so nihilistic and relentlessly ugly. On an unrelated note, does anyone else feel strangely like a paedophile for really fancying Danielle Harris, even though she is now about 30? Damn those abiding memories of her as a child in the earlier Halloween flicks. Damn them all to Hell!
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