No one will ever really accuse “H2” or “Rob Zombie’s Halloween” of ever being a masterpiece. I mean, while they do have the vision of a man who has something to say in the horror genre, they’re not the indicators of someone who can firmly grasp what a remake is supposed to be. John Carpenter’s “The Thing” worked so well because he had source material to work off of, and re-imagined the Howard Hawks original in creative ways. Zombie’s “Halloween” movies felt like repackaged leftovers disguised as a meal. Heck, I don’t think Zombie ever grasped what filmmaking was supposed to be.
His trailer for “Grindhouse” was ridiculous, especially considered about ninety-eight percent of grindhouse trailers never announced their all star line-up. Zombie, Zombie, Zombie. In “Halloween” he offers audiences a run-of-the-mill groan inducing tale of a trailer trash young teen who becomes a hulking killer (if he just sat around making masks for decades, how did he become a hulk with super strength?), then Zombie proceeded to show his vision of a “Halloween” movie that could never decide if its killer was supernatural or all-man, and then he basically just truncated the John Carpenter film in the final thirty minutes. I’m still not sure how Michael could identify his sister Laurie when the last time he saw her she was only a newborn baby.
But “Halloween” offered Sheri Moon Zombie the chance to expand her acting reel, so I’m guessing Zombie doesn’t consider the first film a total loss. Meanwhile, “H2” just seemed to peter out and go on auto drive, turning a simple story about fate and evil into surreal Lynchian farce, while Zombie proceeded to turn the universe into an even more cynical mess. “H2” is just unwatchable. Zombie spent most of his early movie making career trying to get some studio to fund “House of 1,000 Corpses,” and then stepped in to an underrated action thriller with “The Devil’s Rejects.”
He was able to tap some gold from that mine because he avoided every single element from the first film. It’s a sequel to “House” but a very loose one. There’s no supernatural elements, no scary movie trappings, no goofy prologues, no music video interludes, and no Dr. Satan. He’s not even mentioned. You don’t even have to watch “House” to enjoy “The Devil’s Rejects.” You just know that the trio of baddies are runaways from a lunatic family, they’re being hunted by a vengeful sheriff, and there’s one kick ass soundtrack for classic rock fans to enjoy. If you can ignore the inexplicable sad finale, and Zombie’s continued insistence on parading Sheri Moon Zombie around, it’s an enjoyable movie. Later in the years, Zombie showed that he was willing to play ball with the studios, much like Kevin Smith. He directed an episode for a popular TV show, and even tried his hand at a cult film with “El Superbeasto.”
But his walking in to the Halloween universe and peeing all over it to declare it his new territory was a travesty. And frankly infuriating. This is a man who learned the studio game, and he spent months talking around fans who wanted to know if Zombie was making a sequel to “Halloween.” Zombie is noted for proclaiming remakes unnecessary and absurd unless the film is awful, and then replied with “The next Halloween is definitely not a sequel.” Lo and behold, it was a remake. And not just a remake, but a remake definitely intended to bank roll whatever projects he wanted to create in the future. You wouldn’t believe how many dunderheads I came across who declared “Zombie isn’t doing this for the money. He has something to contribute.”
I am so happy they were proven wrong years later. Zombie not only seemed to do it for the money, but he also seemed to take the jobs on the basis of getting in good with the studio system. I mean, hell, I’m sure any aspiring filmmaker would be willing to remake a hallowed classic film if promised a picture deal and potential carte blanche. The “Halloween” movies are only really notable because they’re the antithesis of Carpenter’s horror film. Carpenter strived for subtlety, poetry, terror, suspense, build-up, exposition, dread, ambiguity, and shocks. Zombie flipped the coin and went for the opposite. Hell, not even casting a “Halloween” alum with Danielle Harris panned out in the long run. Zombie says about directing the “Halloween” remake: “I didn’t have a good time making them. It was actually a kind of miserable experience.”
Well, that’s a shocker. I mean, that’s what happens when you sell your scruples for a free ride with a studio. That’s almost like the guy who joins the mob, and is surprised to discover you have to do much more dirty work than sitting around in fancy suits. What? I have to kill people too? D’aw! I wonder if Zombie actually had some projects of his own panned out in the vein of “Lords of Salem” and the studio just wanted more man-for-hire jobs on long stalled remakes. After all, Zombie was touted to remake “CHUD” and “The Blob” for a very long time.
In fact, there were heavy rumblings that “The Blob” remake Zombie was planning didn’t even have an actual alien blob for most of the film. That’s almost like an “Alien” film with no Alien. But hey, those who can’t do, right Zombie? Eli Roth quit aping directing styles from his heroes and is now helping actual talented directors get their projects up and running. Maybe you could do the same. Run a horror film festival, or a convention. Start a label for aspiring horror filmmakers. You can pay homage to the genre without abusing us with your terrible filmmaking, you know.
Zombie has allegedly sworn off of filmmaking for a very long time after “Lords of Salem.” To that I say: Arrivederci, Zombie. Let’s hope you’ve gotten all that movie making business out of your system, for now. I’m sure you’ll eventually drift back to the movie making bug when Sheri needs a new credit for her resume. You did lie bold faced to your fans about never doing a remake, after all.