More of a supercharged revamp than a remake, Rob Zombie's take on John Carpenter's Halloween expands the back story of masked killer Michael Myers in an attempt to examine the motivation for his first deadly attack, as well as some reasons for his longevity as a horror icon. Zombie's Myers is a blank-eyed teen (played by Daeg Faerch) whose burgeoning mental problems are left unchecked in a horrific home environment; harassed by schoolmates, a randy sister, and his mother's deadbeat boyfriend (William Forsythe, terrific as usual), Myers' homicidal explosion seems inevitable, and intervention by Dr. Sam Loomis (Malcolm McDowell, who offers a fast-talking, hippiefied version of the Donald Pleasance character) does little to impede his development into a mute, unstoppable killing machine (Tyler Mane) bent on finishing off the only survivor of his family's massacre--his sister, now grown into teenaged Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton). Opening up the psychological motivation of a cipher like Michael Myers is an interesting approach, but Zombie's script possesses neither a depth of character nor dialogue to offer more than a clichéd thumbnail character sketch. Zombie's Halloween isn't terribly suspenseful, either; he has a keen eye for visuals and the details of chaotic environments, but his scares are nothing more than brutal showcases for his special effects team. The end result barely surpasses the original film's numerous sequels, though the Who's Who of cult and character actors in the cast (including Zombie regulars Sid Haig, Bill Moseley and Ken Foree, as well as Brad Dourif, Udo Kier, Clint Howard, Richard Lynch, Danny Trejo, Dee Wallace, and Danielle Harris) adds a touch of late-night monster movie charm. However, the film's best performance belongs to the director's spouse, Sheri Moon Zombie, who brings unexpected pathos to the role of Myers' downtrodden mother.-- Paul Gaita
The early 2000s have seen a string of big-budget remakes of classic horror films. In addition to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
and The Hills Have Eyes
, John Carpenter's benchmark slasher flick Halloween
has been given a new-millennial overhaul. At the helm of the project sits rocker Rob Zombie, whose previous films, House of 1,000 Corpses
and The Devil's Rejects
, brought a fan's touch and an auteur's vision to the director's chair. While Zombie's Halloween
is faithful to Carpenter's vision, there are some obvious changes, the most pronounced of these being the substantial focus on Michael Myers's childhood. The film posits Michael (played by a creepily vacant Daeg Faerch) as a troubled child made all the worse by a horrible home life--wonderfully illustrated via William Forsythe's performance as Deborah Myers's boyfriend--and constant abuse at school. Zombie paints Michael's pain with palpable grit and sleaze, but he isn't out to put our culture on the couch--he simply wants to show Michael killing his family. With the exception of Michael's therapy sessions while incarcerated, the film, post-massacre, stays loyal to the original.
Zombie's film is clearly the work of a filmmaker who knows and loves the genre. The director's signature is stamped all over Halloween
(most notably in the use of grainy home movie footage and a smokin' classic rock soundtrack), although remnants of Carpenter's brilliant original still remain. When it comes to remakes, it's hard to ask for much more.