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IRS auditors and repo men have encountered cheerier faces than those seen leaving a screening of Rob Zombie’s latest magnum opus. Where is Michael Myers, and what has Zombie done with him? Instead of a horror icon, we’re given a shambling hulk who looks like a homeless man with a pituitary problem.
“Halloween II” picks up just after Laurie Strode blasted Myers point blank in the face. Found covering in blood and wandering dazed on the road, she’s taken to the hospital. In a reverent nod to the original sequel, Michael Myers reappears to wreck bloody havoc upon the nursing staff–then on the parking lot attendant when he runs out of nurses. But in a flash it turns out to be only one of Laurie’s nightmares; two years have elapsed and she’s gone from being a good girl to looking like she buys her outfits from vendors at rock concerts. She’s in therapy, haunted by Myers and the death of her parents; her therapist must have been working wonders since she works at a beatnik bookstore and has a mouth an ocean of Scope wouldn’t wash out.
Michael Myers has been busy as well. Despite being presumed dead, he’s apparently taken advice from Henry David Thoreau and living in an abandon farm in the woods. Now sporting a mountain man beard and doing God could only guess what to occupy his time, he gets a call to action. It seems ever since his mother died, she’s appeared in visions leading a white horse imploring him to kill Laurie so the family can be reunited. The past two years have now been kind to Dr. Loomis, he’s turned into a media whore in order to promote his new book on Myers no matter whose wounds are reopened.
The inevitable happens and Michael Myers is back in action, intent on slaying Laurie and warming up by leaving a gory trail in his wake. Laurie reads Dr. Loomis’ book, and learns something that she could really do without knowing; meanwhile said author finally comes to the realization his behavior has been, to put it kindly, wretched. All three paths are on a collision course that will end in a deserted shack. Only one will walk out, but will never be the same.
If there are any therapistist looking for some high profile pro bono work, Rob Zombie would be an ideal candidate. His insane fixation with white trash culture was tolerable in his first two films and his “Halloween” remake, but now its’ simply become tiresome and at times repellant. A scene in which two ambulance drivers discuss necrophillia goes on way too long, as if Zombie was trying to convince eHarmony to add a new dating category. With any Rob Zombie film there’s the requisite past their prime players showing up for one last film that’ll get theatrical release, a Felliniesque parade of faded stars from the 70s and 80s there to snag a paycheck even though they serve no purpose to the film. Weird Al Yankovic, Margot Kidder, Howard Hesseman….they’re all in the this film for roughly 3 or 4 minutes. Naturally, you can’t have a Rob Zombie film without Sheri Moon-Zombie, once again playing Michael’s mother. Since’s she died in the previous film, she appears now as an apparition leading the Lone Ranger’s horse around and imploring Myers to kill a sibling. While she tries to look cold but etherally beautiful, she only succeeds in looking like the understudy to the White Witch from “Chronicles of Narnia”.
While Rob Zombie may have failed as a writer, there’s a chance that he could succeed as a director. Those hope are dashed pretty quickly, while he can stage a few well crafted scenes, on the large he make the leap from helming a five minute sequence to being responsible for a full length feature film. With this being Zombie’s fourth film this is bordering on inexcusable. With him planning on remaking “The Blob”, it verges on criminal.
But what is even worse is Zombie’s treatment of Myers. For practically all of Michael Myer’s return to Haddonfield, he shambles around wearing an old parka with the hood up. Since his mask is mainly obscured, the killer ceases to be the iconic Michael Myers; this is a massive problem since everyone in the theater came to see Michael Myers. If we wanted to see a big guy in a hooded parka, we could go to the park after dark and see one for free–or at least for a dollar if he asked for one. Hasn’t anyone learned from the debacle of 1998’s “Godzilla”, that you don’t re-imagine an icon? It’s bad enough we’ll have to suffer the sight of Dwayne Johnson as “The Tooth Fairy”, this this keeps up there’ll be a run on tranquilizers.
Malcolm McDowell and Brad Dourif give fine performances with the material they have, which isn’t much. Tyler Mane has little to do under a mask and hidden under a hood, but does have a spectacular moment near the film’s climax. Face to face with Laurie, both with knives, he gives her a pleading look to release him from an existence of constant butchery. The monster has a soul, and Mane finds it despite all Zombie does to hide it.
No doubt, Zombie will release a “director’s cut” on dvd, and everyone will suddenly have enormous respect for whoever responsible for the cutting. In the meanwhile, it has been announced that next summer will bring “Halloween 3D”. Hopefully, it’ll undo all Zombie’s damage, and do it right in your lap.
Rob Zombie (director) / Rob Zombie (screenplay)
CAST: Sheri Moon Zombie … Deborah Myers
Scout Taylor-Compton … Laurie Strode
Brad Dourif … Sheriff Lee Brackett
Caroline Williams … Dr. Maple
Malcolm McDowell … Dr. Samuel Loomis
Tyler Mane … Michael Myers