Rock-star turned splat-brat-auteur Rob Zombie doesn't so much remake John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN as use the 1978 horror classic as a framework on which to hang his own ideas about serial slaughterer Michael Myers. And he brings in three elements that were famously absent from the original: blood, backstory and a very high body count.
Haddonfield, Illinois: Ten-year-old Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch) is the psychotic by-product of his stripper mother's (Sheri Moon Zombie) imperfect love, which left him exposed to the very worst that childhood has to offer, including a slutty sister (Hanna Hall) and Mom's sadistic boyfriend (William Forsythe); the only person moonfaced Michael really seems to care about is his infant sister. And school isn't much better. The school bully (Daryl Sabara) routinely picks on Michael, and the principal (Richard Lynch) calls in psychologist Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) after discovering a dead cat and photos of tortured animals in Michael's backpack. On Halloween night, Michael snaps, bludgeoning his tormentor to death in the woods behind school and returning home to slaughter everyone in the Myers household, except his mother — who luckily was pole-dancing to "Love Hurts" at the time — and the baby. The following year, Mrs. Myers puts a bullet in her head after Michael murders a nurse at the psychiatric facility where he was remanded to Dr. Loomis' care. Fifteen years later, Michael is a hulking pituitary case who hasn't spoken since his mother's death and hides his face behind papier-mache masks. On the night Michael is to be transferred to another facility — Halloween night — he escapes and returns to Haddonfield just as high-school senior Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) is preparing for a night of babysitting while her friends Annie (Danielle Harris) and Lynda (Kristina Klebe) sneak off to have sex with their boyfriends and... well, you know the rest.
John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN (1978) was the $300,000 indie that launched a thousand imitators, each gorier and more ludicrous than the last, its own sequels being among the worst offenders. Zombie's challenge was to return the character of Michael Myers to his roots as "The Shape," an evil force that, while no longer as abstract, could terrify jaded, post-torture-porn audiences. He succeeds admirably, mostly by bringing his own style — rooted not in Carpenter's elegant restraint but in the savage, greasy-haired '70s cinematics of Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper — to bear on the now-familiar material. Zombie includes some nods to the original — Michael's mother dances at the Rabbit in Red lounge, "Don't Fear the Reaper" is on the soundtrack, and the kids are watching Howard Hawks' THE THING on Halloween night — and tweaks a few of the more famous set pieces while using a plot twist from HALLOWEEN II to fuel the second half. But he pointedly skips any references to Carpenter's style, including the famous opening four-minute tracking shot and its already copied-to-death behind-the-mask POV. In the end, Zombie delivers a scary horror movie immediately recognizable as his own — something that will come as a welcome relief to fans who've diligently sat through seven HALLOWEEN sequels in hopes of one day reliving the original's terrifying magic. leave a comment --Ken Fox