(D)evil Can’t Be Killed!
Just as we were about to celebrate the 30th anniversary of John Carpenter-the-legend’s 1978 classic, we were peek-a-booed by the Rob Zombie remake of Halloween.
I will be upfront before I move on, dear reader.The movie is a success as far as remakes go. However, it attempts to define the why of evil and this is where it fails.
Pure evil needs little to no definition in horror! The fact that it is simply evil is what makes it horrifying.
The last decade of 70s and 80s were fruitful as far as science fiction and horror in cinema go. Many iconic slayers including Alien, The Thing, Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees, Predator and Pinhead were introduced and highly regarded by the audience yet it was no big surprise that they were diabolic and popular.
Our basic nightmares are usually short, striking and include either us running from something/someone or falling from a high point. Teen slasher is a genre that is based on the former and Halloween is the movie that is credited for starting it all.
The main reason why classic horror movies like Halloween and its successors were and still remain a success is that the movie that gets the ball rolling hardly spends time on trying to explain why the psychopath is a psychopath. Let’s take Freddy Krueger the child killer, for instance, and give a big cheer for the man behind it aka Wes Craven. A Nightmare on Elm Street spends like 5 minutes towards its finale to describe that this guy who is clad in ambustion and has a wicked sense of humor was set aflame by the families of the children he had slaughtered. And that is that! Period. Then, the bloodbath continues. Just how he became a dream chasing maniac is left to the sequels that are always destined to earn less in the box office and are made to simply polish and refine the merchandise.
You see, the more details of the story are revealed the less interesting it gets.
Take Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979). We have a spaceship wreck full of eggs. Just where do the eggs come from is a mystery. Just why does the Alien is a fierce creature is a mystery.
These elements of unrevealed enigma behind the entire plot intensify the terror component within these movies. You are afraid of what you don’t know. You are afraid of a psychopath who escaped the asylum and runs free out in the streets. You are afraid of the chance that he might pop up in your kitchen while you enter it to pour yourself a cup of coffee after a relaxing shower (scenehomage to Friday the 13th Part II).
Rob Zombie takes us to Michael’s childhood which is basically troubled because… well… he obviously has a dysfunctional family. Step dad is an alcoholic troublemaker who keeps quarreling with the mom who is an exotic dancer who is trying to keep the older sister who is a hormone-oozing teenager away from the hungry hands of the step dad. If you could follow that sentence, you get the idea.
So, we feel sorry for Michael who starts his career by killing animals before moving on to those who bully him at school until he looses the plot with his family. You see, until he grows up you already have victimized Michael and pitied him enough as a child and with his not remembering any part of his murders or simply wanting to go home but never allowed to, you loose your chance of building some sense of fear towards the senseless murder machine he would later become.
We keep getting these shots of little Michael (and Daeg Faerch as young Michael is an actor that well deserves recognition) with his masks on while the voice of his famous shrink aka Dr. Sam Loomis keeps saying some scary things about Michael retreating into himself, behind his masks and shutting down all of which fail to build the terror behind mystery (in this particular case, terror behind the mask).
The film is successful with its slaughter scenes, though. If you can forget about the troubled childhood of Michael and stick with John Carpenter’s good-ol’ “The Shape“, then you are faced with a brutal killer who likes to play with his victims, especially female victims, by dragging them along the floor before killing them. The scenes where the female victim helplessly tries to find an object or something to hold on while being dragged on the floor by her attacker are effective. Two shots of Michael carrying her female victims like a groom (of death) carrying his (dead/unconscious) bride(s) through the doorstep (of terror) were remarkably presented. Male victims, on the other hand, end up like almost all other male victims in teen slashers. They get a clean and quick death. They’re like annoying details that get in the way. They’re like “pfft.. whatever!”.
All in all Rob Zombie definitely tried to comply with John Carpenter’s wish by making [Halloween] his own. He wanted to give Michael Myers an edge, a definition and dive into his mind instead of keeping him as The Shape he originally was. With that alone, he paid his homage to a movie that is considered by United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant“ (source: wikipedia).
It is simply a matter of choice.
What do you choose?
To care about Michael Myers or to fear Michael Myers?