Written & Directed By: Rob Zombie
Scout Taylor Compton
In a purely hetero way, I love Rob Zombie. More than a few songs regularly find their way into my daily playlist, and when he became musican-turned-filmmaker, I was more than psyched. However, maybe it was the immense hype that surrounded his first film House of 1000 Corpses, but my first reaction to the film wasn’t good — in fact, I disliked it immensely. I appreciated parts of it, but overall I just wasn’t sold on his directorial abilities. I guess that’s perhaps the danger of making your first feature film a throwback movie that owes many of it’s scenes to earlier films: back in the day, I’d rather have just sat down with the first two Texas Chainsaw movies than watched House of 1000 Corpses.
And then Devil’s Rejects was released. If I had any doubts about Zombie’s abilities as a filmmaker, they were certainly set straight. I was so blown away by his style and talent behind the camera that I became an immediate fan again. And upon going back and watching House of 1000 Corpses again, I loved it.
When it was set that he was directing the “remake” of Halloween, despite the fact I was against remaking a seemingly unremakable horror classic, I knew that it was in good hands. Perhaps the best hands in the industry, since I knew he wasn’t going to spoon feed us an identical version of the original (ala the Psycho remake), but instead put his own savage twist on it. And boy was I ever right. The Halloween remake was less a remake than a re-envisioning, using the mythology as the springboard to launch into a new version of the Michael Myers tale unlike any we had seen before. It was graphic, well written, well acted, and simply put: well done.
And then came along the sequel.
In all fairness, the original 1981 Halloween 2 fell short of the first film as well. It’s not that Halloween 2 (either of them really) were bad films, it’s just hard to be a follow-up to a film that just got it right and was magic on celluloid. Both Halloween films were excellent, and as we all know, it’s near impossible to completely recapture the same level of excellence when it comes to sequels. In John Carpenter’s original Halloween 2, the film is essential in that in many ways it forms the crux of the series, establishing the relationship between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers (even though in Carpenter’s own words, he came up with the idea after sitting infront of the typewriter for hours drinking beer). In Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2, there is nothing particularly essential about it, aside from the fact that it continues the “new” mythology that he began to create in the first film.
So, by now you’re obviously aware that the film isn’t fantastic. But how “not fantastic” is it? Well let’s take a look at some of the negative aspects. Firstly, I, like any other red-blooded male, will admit that his wife (Sheri Moon Zombie) is a beautiful woman to look at (and with good acting skills as well), and I appreciate the fact that he manages to cast her in all of his films. But her character in this film was more detrimental than anything else. What most horror fans walk away with is the feeling that her character has almost transformed into that of an attractive Mrs. Voorhees, commanding her boogeyman son to continue his gruesome killing spree. Furthermore, let’s take a minute to talk about that disturbed boy of hers. I have no problems with the overall look of Michael Myers — it’s darker, grittier, and really reflects Zombie’s style well. But the decision to have Myers sport an enormous forest beard through the film, well… it just wound up looking like a late-in-his-career Jim Morrison going on a bloody rampage (and don’t get me wrong, I too had always assumed that if such a scenario were to happen, it would be really awesome). Lastly, without delving deeply into it, I will only add that the direction in which Zombie took the character of Dr. Sam Loomis was, although different, in my opinion deviated too far from the spirit of the original character, and was so different in treatment that he might as well have not even shared the same name.
There’s a surprising amount to analyze and discuss in Halloween 2, particularly the concept of the white horse and the actual role that his mother played in the film. But unfortunately there just isn’t enough time in this review to tackle all the issues. I would like to end by saying that although this probably seems like a scathing review of the film, it wasn’t all bad. It was just unfocused, and seemed like Zombie didn’t have a perfectly clear vision of what he wanted to achieve with the film. Stylistically, it was 100% Rob Zombie. But coming from the brilliance of the first film, it’s difficult not to be just a little disappointed with his follow-up effort.
That said, I look forward to his next movie, because I know he’ll manage to successfully redeem himself. Just like Michael Myers, you can’t keep the guy down, and that’s why I love him (again… in a purely hetero way, of course.)