"We're both so messed up. I don't know which one of us is worse."
- Duane Bradley, Basket Case

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rob Zombie's Halloween 2 - David Lynch for Rednecks

Remember the last time Rob Zombie made a watchable film? No? That’s okay, because neither do I.

Don’t chalk it up to having a bad memory either, it’s simply because it’s been more than four years since audiences experienced one of his movies without wanting to walk out of theaters in disgust.

Before I begin my review of his most recent “effort,” I will tell you straight out: I HATE both of Zombie’s Halloween films.

Now it’s not because I don’t like Zombie. I really enjoy House of 1000 Corpses, and I still think The Devil’s Rejects is one of the best horror films of 2005. Hell, I don’t even mind his music.

It’s also not because I detest all remakes. Sure, do I wish Hollywood was a little more original nowadays? Of course. But once in a great while, I actually enjoy them – and I’m not just talking about the classic examples, like John Carpenter’s The Thing, but more recent entries, such as Dawn of the Dead (2004) and The Hills Have Eyes (2006).

No, I hate Zombie’s Halloween and its sequel purely on the basis that they are awful, awful films.

Here are just a few things I learned about Zombie after watching Halloween 2:

1. He can’t write dialogue – i.e. also known as the ability to create one sentence without using the word “fuck” or “cocksucker” multiple times.
2. His idea of tension or suspense involves scene after scene of Michael Myers plowing through the scenery and quickly dispatching his victims with a series of grunts and a mere 25 stab wounds.
3. He has to showboat his wife in every movie he makes, no matter how worthless or retarded the role.
4. He thinks Haddonfield is in Alabama, not Illinois.

And so on and so forth. It’s a shame too, because I actually didn’t mind the first 20 minutes of the movie. I thought the hospital scene was well-done, and even though it was shot in a way that made you think the song was 10 minutes of chorus, I liked the use of The Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” as well.

From there, however, the film plummets downhill. What follows is an aimless, frustrating movie that mainly consists of Michael wandering the countryside back to town, Laurie having a nervous breakdown every five minutes (and about 17 nightmares), and Loomis, well, Loomis is just an all-around dick, and his entire subplot could have wound up as deleted scenes.

Plus, there’s countless plot-holes abound. No one really thought to tell Laurie before Loomis’ book was published that she was related to Michael? Snipers really couldn’t get a shot off at Michael when he and Laurie were surrounded by SWAT teams and helicopters inside a barn with no roof and half the walls rotted or missing?

I know that some of this sounds like nitpicking, but trust me, I wanted to like this film. After gouging my eyes out after the first one, I thought to myself, “Self, there’s no way this can be any worse. Surely, I’ll be able to at least tolerate this second outing.”

But no, I can’t. And that’s mainly due to the fact that Halloween 2 is the same exact goddamn movie, with the addition of a white horse and the Earl of Pumpkin.

Yes, it’s as dumb as it sounds. And maybe in the hands of a capable director, the concept could have worked better. But to show The Shape’s inner thought process as Zombie portrayed it didn’t bring any new, deep insight into the character; instead, it resulted in nothing but unintentional hilarity and a distracting, groan-inducing mess.

Don’t show shocking or unusual imagery just for the sake of it. And don’t explain the whole meaning behind it by using a definition card at the beginning of the film. The audience could have understood Michael’s twisted sense of family without Sheri Moon’s wide-eyed mug popping up at the most inappropriate times. Its overuse throughout the movie is just another example of lazy writing and really adds to the rushed feel of the whole production.

It’s almost like Zombie made the film as a “fuck you” to the horror community. Instead of fixing what was wrong with the first movie, he ignored the numerous flaws, added a few more problems and made an exact carbon copy.

Besides the aforementioned hospital scene, the only other diamonds in the rough are Brad Dourif (but come on, when isn’t Dourif amazing?) and Laurie and her friends’ Rocky Horror Halloween costumes. Other than that, I can’t think of any other reason why I’d subject myself to this garbage again.

In short, I don’t hate Zombie’s “unique vision” because it’s different. I hate it because it sucks. The whole thing is a forced, half-assed affair and here’s hoping that after its disappointing opening weekend box office gross, this is the last we'll see of the Halloween series for a long time.

Here's a suggestion: you want to see a fun "remake" (or rip-off, depending on what side of coin you land on) of the Halloween story? Check out Joe D'Amato's Absurd (aka Rosso sangue, Grim Reaper 2, Zombie 6: Monster Hunter - God, I love the Italians). It has George Eastman in it as "the Boogeyman," so right there you know you can't go wrong.

And in regards to Zombie, I really don’t know what to say. I don’t want to call him a hack, because judging from interviews he seems like a true horror fan and a pretty nice guy.

But much like the way the new Michael offs his victims, Zombie has killed this franchise 10 times over – perhaps it's best to keep it that way for now.

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