This one is a remake of one of the best horror films ever made. What could be the point of remaking it other than to make a quick buck? So many people have been milking this franchise dry for several decades. Just when you thought Michael Myers was finished once and for all, he springs back with some utterly lame excuse for still being alive.
But what this “Halloween” remake has going for it is Rob Zombie who gave us “House of a 1000 Corpses” and the brilliant grindhouse flick “The Devil’s Rejects.” We all know just how much he loves John Carpenter’s original film, and we believed him when he said that he would make this “Halloween” his own. If there was ever going to be a “Halloween” remake, who better to do it than Zombie?
This reimagining proved to be polarizing for “Halloween” fans in general. They either loved it, hated it or had a mixed reaction to it. One thing for sure is that it is far more brutal than Carpenter’s original film. Zombie does not try to hide from the ugliness of violence, and there is really no campiness to be found here.
The first half is the freshest part as it deals with Michael Myers as a child and looks closely at what made him such a monster. This is where Zombie’s “Halloween” could have been disastrous as things tend to be scarier in a horror movie when the motives of a killer are barely described or explained. But what Zombie does is force us to look at Michael as a human being instead of an indestructible force of nature, and that makes his version all the more compelling.
Michael could not have a more dysfunctional family if he tried. His mother (played by Sheri Moon Zombie) is a stripper at a local bar, his step dad (William Forsythe) is an abusive prick who has nothing nice to say about anyone or anything, and his sister Judith (Hanna Hall) would rather make out with her boyfriend than take her little brother trick or treating. On top of that, he is constantly bullied at school and has this little hobby of killing animals which is usually a serious warning sign.
Zombie succeeds in making you feel for Michael even as we come to condemn him for the violence he inflicts on others. We fear him, but we also empathize with him because we see the pathetic hell he has been put through.
The adult Michael Myers is portrayed by Tyler Mane, a huge hulking individual whom you never ever doubt will leave some serious damage in his path. I thought it was genius of Zombie to cast such a tall actor in this role. When he was at a Fangoria convention in Burbank, California, Zombie explained that it made more sense to cast a very tall actor in this role as opposed to a regular height kind of guy. Michael Meyers has to be a formidable force of evil, and Mane gives us the best version of this character since Nick Castle played him in the original.
After spending a lot of time on Michael’s back story, Zombie moves us through the “Halloween” we all know and love as we get introduced to Laurie Strode and her friends from school. Many of the scenes from the original movie are repeated here which brings the movie down some as they remind us of just how great it was. Zombie moves through those scenes at such a rapid pace that the characters never seem as fully realized as they once did. Laurie Strode is played here by Scout Taylor-Compton, and she is one hell of a screamer! She may not be on the same par with Jamie Lee Curtis, but she does make the role her own and is fun to watch.
Playing Laurie’s babysitting friends are Kristina Klebe as Lynda and Danielle Harris as Annie Brackett. Harris is a “Halloween” veteran herself, having played the daughter of Laurie Strode in parts 4 and 5. It is important to note that she was not cast in this movie as a result of that, but because Zombie said he was truly blown away by her audition. She does deserve a lot of credit for playing such a believable teenager even though she was 30 when this movie was made.
Zombie also casted a lot of his friends like Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Leslie Easterbrook, Ken Foree and, of course, his wife Sheri Moon Zombie. There are also cameos from other B-movie stars like Dee Wallace Stone, Sybil Danning and Clint Howard. One of the best performances in this movie comes from Sheri Moon Zombie herself. As the mother of Michael Meyers, she shows a lot of range here that we haven’t seen before as her character proves to be the only who truly cares about Michael and what he is going through.
Another actor featured here is Danny Trejo whose character encourages the young Michael Meyers to live inside his head so that he won’t feel so boxed in inside his prison cell. The way Trejo spoke those words must have come from a real place inside of him as he has served time in prison. His performance and scenes with Michael are haunting, and I would have loved to have seen more of him here as a result.
My only real disappointment with Zombie’s “Halloween” was Malcolm McDowell who played Dr. Loomis. He isn’t bad as Loomis, but I wished he had played this character as being more down to earth and not so showy. The scenes he has with young Michael at Smith’s Grove seem particularly overplayed. Or maybe it’s just that some of us cannot get Donald Pleasance’s performance out of our heads.
Overall, I found that I liked Zombie’s ever so brutal vision of Michael Myers. It does not come close to what Carpenter gave us, but it is certainly much better than many of the sequels which were inflicted on us. Zombie has created a movie that truly shocks and unsettles the viewer. Whereas you cannot help but snicker at the usual clichés in every other slasher movie, this one throttles you back into your seat. At the very least, it is the best remake of a John Carpenter movie yet. After the dismal remakes of “Assault On Precinct 13” and especially “The Fog,” this one fares much better in comparison.