February 8, 2013

A Revisitation: Rob Zombie's Halloween I and II

I am not going to lie, I am a Rob Zombie fan. I have been me almost since I first heard White Zombie so many years ago. With that being the case, suspect my judgment may be a little clouded when it comes to his work. There is something about his approach, be it music or movies, that just draws me in. His passionate about his creations, he believes in them, there is love behind what he makes. This goes a long way and, love him or hate him, puts him ahead of the race when it comes to the moves he makes compared to those made by studio suits looking for a quick buck.

This is not a review, probably won't be long, and definitely won't be well written. I just got the urge to revisit Zombie's Halloween films recently and of there had been an doubt about my liking of the films, it has all been erased. I know there are a lot of divided attitudes towards his treatment of the legendary character, but I quite like what he did. At the same time he may have done some new things, the original is still there, complete, intact, untouched, and ready to be enjoyed as the absolute classic that it is.

The first film is essentially comprised of two distinct parts. Rob takes us back Michael's childhood, takes us behind and before the mask to see what happened before that fateful night. Sure, it takes away some of the mystery of the silent killer, perhaps turning it into a parable on the effects of bullying and solitude. It is anchored by Daeg Farch who delivers a rather creepy performance as the young killer. The second half of the film turns into a near copy of Carpenter's film.

It is a good film that gives a different look at Myers. It lacks a lot of the quiet suspense that Carpenter was able to create. Zombie takes a much more in your face approach with loud, colorful characters, in your face violence, and a decidedly un-Carpenter approach.

I will also say that while I prefer the unrated cut, I very much prefer Michael's escape in the theatrical cut. The rape sequence just seems unnecessary, I much prefer him taking out shotgun wielding guards.

Where the first film played out like a mash up of Zombie and Carpenter ideas, the sequel feels more like pure Zombie. Yes, it is still Myers, but it feels more fully of one man's vision and less one that is being forced to conform partially to a predetermined path. Of course, it was not exactly well received.

The thing is, you cannot expect something fresh and want something just like what you have seen before. At some point you need to let go of the older films and realize they will always be there and there is room for another vision.

Rob Zombie's Halloween II picks up a year after the events of the first film. Michael (Tyler Mane) is believed dead and Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton) and Annie (Danielle Harris) are dealing with the aftermath. Unfortunately they are not doing all that well.

The sequel is filled with all manner of dream and nightmare sequences, people struggling to deal with the scars of their experience, and a killer who is still on a rampage. Let us also not forget that Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) is still around, turning his work with Myers into a payday.

It is a strange film that does not shy away from Myers viciousness. It is a brutal film that delivers the blood and tales us inside a number of different characters as the confront the reality of Michael and his brand of terror. Zombie brings some interesting character stuff as he explores the role of victim and killer, digging a little into the psyche of what drives them to act the way they do.

Something I do find interesting about this take on Michael versus the original is that the Carpenter creation has a very realistic approach to the presentation of a killer who is the equivalent of the shark in Jaws while Zombie's vision has a decidedly unrealistic vision with a killer who has a more believable background. There is definitely something in the compare/contrast of approaches.

In the end, I guess this really isn't and shouldn't be about the comparing of the two. It should be more about the merits or lack thereof of Zombie's vision. I like what he did, particularly in the more bizarre second film. He brings enthusiasm and ideas to the table rather than just regurgitating the past. It is still Michael Myers, just through a different filter. It is a vision that doesn't trample the past just examines a different angle. I like the idea of classic characters being filtered through different visions. There is no reason why different creative types shouldn't be able to show their love and respect for these characters by infusing their ideas.

I know there are a lot of people who don't like and may even hate these films. I am not here to try and change your mind, just say that I am a fan. Like this version. No, nothing will ever take away the awesomeness that John Carpenter accomplished so many years ago and that first film will always be first when I think of Halloween. But I like these too and will not hide or be ashamed of fact.

I hope you enjoyed this or got something out of it. One day I will try to do proper reviews of these films, they are definitely worth the time. I think what I ultimately want to say is that would rather a creative talent take a stab at these sorts of films and fail than a studio hack do it for a paycheck, whether the film sucks or not. Oh, I also think Zombie's best film is The Devil's Rejects.

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