Few things are more horrifying than Rob Zombie’s Halloween – and that isn’t meant as a compliment. To watch this film is to witness a desecration of the movie many horror fans deem the finest ever lensed.
And about that film, just for context: Contrary to popular opinion, John Carpenter’s classic original Halloween didn’t birth the slasher film; 1973’s Black Christmas, or perhaps even Hitchcock’s 1960 Psycho, are more appropriate for that honor. But what the original Halloween did was coalesce everything the slasher genre would become known for: a beautiful “last girl”; a masked, superhuman psychopath; and a bevy of promiscuous teens served up for the slaughter.
But even given the horrid spawn it “inspired,” Halloween did these things in a wholly classy way: the cinematography and atmosphere were terrific, the acting more than passable, and Carpenter’s characters were actually likeable, and sad to see killed.
Rob Zombie’s characters, by comparison, tend drop the f-bomb every time they blink and scream a whole whole lot.
So much has been written about the film’s flaws, but here’s the major problem: Like all of the (count ’em, seven) sequels the original inspired, Zombie’s remake has no clue what made the original so brilliant.
In the original, an almost unbearable tension was given emphasis over (the nearly non-existent) gore; in Zombie’s film, there’s so much blood and raw violence, it almost veers into Torture Porn territory. In the original, there was an assured artistry, a real elegance even to the violence; in Zombie’s film, the killings are cruel, mean-spirited, and the final chase scene so over-the-top one half-expects Vince McMahon to show up and cry “Let’s get ready to rumble!”
On top of that, Zombie seems to believe leaving Michael’s motives a mystery in the original stemmed from budgetary problems and not artistic choices. Note to Mr. Zombie, then: Michael Myers is evil because he really is the bogeyman, not because his mama was a stripper.
Behind the Mask
Look, it’s fine that Zombie as a director is enamored with “trailer park terror” and theatrical horror, but that doesn’t mean the characters can be totally stereotypical and uninteresting, or the story hackneyed, or the final experience so thoroughly unpleasant.
So, a final thought for Mr. Zombie: A horror film is meant to make the audience feel scared and sorry for the characters – not for their own, suddenly-lighter wallet. Keep that in mind next time.