Theatrical release 8.31.07
Written & Directed by Rob Zombie
Let’s get this over with before people start sending hate mail and calling my mother names. Zombie’s Halloween is not a definitive entry into the Michael Myers universe that in any way takes away from the original 1978 film, which is my favorite horror movie of all time. This version is an updated version that no one besides Zombie would have the balls to do. Challenged by John Carpenter himself to do Halloween his own Zombie way, Rob Zombie definitely puts his own spin on this timeless horror classic. I’ll be reviewing the original later in the month, so I don’t want to spend too much time on John Carpenter’s perfect piece of celluloid right now.
Halloween begins with a dark passage from Dr. Samuel Loomis’ book about Michael Myers.
The KISS song, “God of Thunder” is playing as the camera pulls back on the Myers home. It’s October 31st in fictional Haddonfield, Illinois. I was hooked from the opening scene. I grew up in a small Illinois town that could have been Haddonfield itself. I also thought KISS were more superheroes than musicians at the time, so the nostalgia factor hit close to home.
Michael (Daeg Faerch) is in his room, his creepy clown-mask donned, and “playing” with his pet rat, as his mother, Deborah (Sheri Moon Zombie) and her boyfriend, Ronnie (William Forsythe) argue over breakfast. Forsythe is amazing. His portrayal of the crippled, pill-popping, hard-drinking, boyfriend is a little too real for my tastes. The guy is a pig, and we quickly learn to hate him. The dialogue is all Zombie, rich in vulgarity and perversion. Before Michael comes down to breakfast, we see him cleaning blood from his scalpel and hands in the bathroom. He tells his mother that his pet “died”.
His school life is about as successful as his home life. Already rebellious with authority issues, he nearly gets into a fight with another student who mentions his mother’s stripper lifestyle. The principal calls his mother to the school where we’re introduced to Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) who agrees to meet with Mrs. Myers. Michael has a dead cat in a bag as well as an extensive catalog of dead animal photos he’s taken. Myers’ reaction is hardly as severe as most parents would be. Michael runs away and waits for his schoolmate to cross his path. When he does, young Michael mercilessly beats him to death with a thick tree branch. Michael has his first human kill.
Back at the Myers home, his mother “reprimands” Michael for his animal killing and almost doesn’t let him go trick or treating. I know, Mother-of-the-Year award, right? Deborah insists that Michael’s sister, Judith, (Hannah Hall) takes him out for the evening. She doesn’t, but opts for doing her boyfriend instead. There’s a great scene of young Michael sitting on the curb of the home with his Halloween goodies while we see scenes of his mother stripping to Nazareth’s “Love Hurts”. Zombie really drives Michael’s broken home to heart, sitting up some early empathy for the kid.
Ronnie is passed out in the recliner and Michael sees a chance to take care of him permanently. He duct-tapes Ronnie in place before he eventually cuts his throat. Blood gushes from the wound while Ronnie fights to no avail. Next on the list is Judith’s boyfriend, Steve, who is beaten to death while eating a sandwich at the kitchen table. I counted a total of thirteen baseball-bat strikes to the head. Michael’s frustration and ferocity are growing.
He finds the classic Shatner mask that Steve discarded while getting it on with Judith, and slips it on. The huge mask on the small kid is really a chilling scene. Kind of how kids get clothes that are too big and they’ll grow in to them. We all know he really grows into that mask.
Judith assumes Michael to be Steve before she turns around to see him. When she does, Michael stabs her repeatedly until she collapses in the hallway. You can’t watch this scene and not think about the original where our viewpoint is through the eye holes of the clown mask. Michael drops his knife and picks up his infant sister. “Happy Halloween, Boo…”
Deborah arrives home to her son sitting on the curb with his younger daughter in his arms. The police quickly arrive as she’s asking her murderous son what happened. Michael turns to the camera from the back of the police car and the screen flashes to SMITH’S GROVE: ELEVEN MONTHS LATER.
Michael is found guilty of murder and placed in the care of Dr. Loomis. Michael claims to have no memory of killing Ronnie, Steve, or Judith as Loomis delves into Michael’s therapy. Myers becomes increasingly obsessed with make paper-mache masks and isolating himself from everyone, including his mother who loves him and visits every chance she can.
Deborah is leaving from a visit when Michael is left with a less-than-compassionate nurse. Michael murders the nurse, which leads to a very sad scene where Deborah kills herself while watching home movies of happier times. The movie shifts forward fifteen years and Michael is now portrayed by the towering Tyler Mane. I’ve read reviews where people questioned how Michael has gotten so large “all of sudden”. Are we to believe the guy has no access to lifting weights or exercising? Not to mention this young kid’s height isn’t restricted by the random movie watcher’s imagination. I’m guessing Michael was meant to be a tall adult and grew into one. Is that a stretch, hard-to-please-internet-randoms? I like the monstrously-large Myers. It explains his insanely-inhuman strength, for starters.
Michael keeps making masks, decorating his room with an assortment of colorful and dark selections. Loomis decides there is nothing left to do with Myers and closes the case. He’s waiting to be transferred to a maximum-security facility, when he escapes. He cuts down the staff like wheat as he prepares for freedom. The thing that bothers me the most is when he kills Ismael, (Danny Trejo) an employee who tries to befriend Michael from day one at the institution. Ismael finds Michael roaming the halls and asks if he can handcuff him. Myers slowly offers his naked wrists to Ismael, who is literally shaking in fear. Of course, Michael turns on him. He tosses him across the room like a ragdoll, and partially drowns him in a sink before ripping a television off the wall and smashing Ismael’s skull with it. Michael escapes to his childhood home and finds the stashed mask and knife from the night of his first murders.
The story now shifts to the character of his little sister, Laurie Strode, (Scout Taylor-Compton) who has been adopted by Mason (Pat Skipper) and Cynthia (Dee Wallace). Michael finds Laurie and watches her and her friends, Annie, (Danielle Harris) and Lynda (Kristina Klebe) as they go about their day, unaware of the murderous Myers.
Loomis is alerted to the escape and returns to Haddonfield hoping to stop Michael. In the meantime, Michael finds Lynda and her boyfriend and slaughters them. Zombie doesn’t pass on the chance to recreate the eerie scene where he impales the boyfriend into the wall with a kitchen knife and then tilts his head like a dog trying to understand what is happening. Michael goes to the Strode home and kills Laurie’s parents. The RZ version is really falling into place compared to the original now.
Laurie is babysitting Tommy Doyle (Skyler Gisondo) and Annie is doing her best to convince Laurie to also help babysit Lindsey Wallace (Jenny Gregg Stewart), of course so she can go have sex with her boyfriend. As anticipated, Michael finds the couple having sex and kills the boyfriend immediately. He bloodies Annie, but she leaves here alive. Laurie returns to the home and finds the bloody Annie and calls 911. Laurie is attacked by Michael and he pursues her back to the Wallace home. Loomis and Sherriff Brackett (Brad Dourif) hear the 911 call and race to the Wallace home.
Michael takes Laurie back to their childhood home and tries to tell her she is his younger sister. He shows her an old photo of the two of them, and takes off his mask, but she doesn’t understand. Michael falls to his knees and slumps down, showing his feelings in an odd, but believable way. Laurie feigns interest that she wants to help, but is inching her way towards his knife. She grabs it from the floor and drives it into his shoulder. He falls to the ground and she attempts to escape. Michael comes to and chases her, but Loomis shoots him several times.
Loomis and Laurie are leaving the house when Michael grabs Laurie again, Loomis tries to prevent it, but Myers nearly crushes his skull with his bare hands. Laurie gets Loomis’ gun and runs, screaming, upstairs. Myers finds her and spears her off the balcony to the lawn below. Bleeding and gasping for breath, she comes to on top of Myers. Straddling him, she shoves the gun into his face and pulls the trigger several times with dry-clicks. Myers comes to as well and grabs her arm at the exact moment the gun finally charges. Zombie pulls us back to young Myers and Baby Boo in happy, loving times, and the film ends.
The version I watched was the extended Blu Ray edition, which is packed with extras, included several deleted scenes, and a four-hour “making of” documentary.
I liked this film a lot. Zombie is about the same age as me and loves his music and horror-film purism. This will never replace the original, but it is an excellent retelling, in my opinion. I love the set design, brimming with lit jack-o-lanterns placed atop televisions, and movie classics like Forbidden Planet, House on Haunted Hill, and Vincent Price’s classic, White Zombie, are playing in multiple scenes.
I love Zombie. His heart is in the right place, and he truly loves horror. I watch this film every October and will continue to. Sipping a seasonal stout with Halloween decorations providing ambient lighting, makes this movie a true October treat.
Stick around for my review of the original and thanks for indulging me, fiends.