Halloween II (the 'new' one, of course)

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Remo D
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Halloween II (the 'new' one, of course)

Post by Remo D » Sun Sep 06, 2009 2:54 pm

Let me get one thing clear from the start: I am not in the least concerned with whether or not Rob Zombie honors "John Carpenter's vision." It's Rob Zombie's vision now. I don't give a damn if we hear Michael speak as a child, or if we see him without his mask as an adult. If Zombie makes it work in HIS movie, then kudos to him. And if he fails to make it work, well, that's his to deal with, too. But "he's not SUPPOSED to" isn't an effective argument where I come in.

As far as I'm concerned, Carpenter's vision was sullied when they did the first HALLOWEEN II way back in 1981. I didn't need to know that Laurie was Michael's sister or any of that stuff. Michael was scary because he was the "boogeyman," pure and simple. The more plot you give him, the less scary he gets. Law of diminishing returns and all that. I didn't like Rosenthal's H2 much at all. I thought it was ugly, slow-paced and over-written... but of course I already knew going in that there was no way that it would be SCARY like the original.

I liked III, but that's another story altogether. I continued to weary of Michael Myers and his convoluted family tree over 4, 5, and 6, and I wasn't overly impressed with the "reboot" of H20, either. Believe it or not, the only Myers sequel that managed to engage me was Rosenthal's RESURRECTION! Most people hated it, and I certainly didn't find it legitimately frightening, but by that time I had more or less resigned myself to it and found myself enjoying the movie's look at the place of the series in pop culture. It wasn't profound, but for once it was actually FUN. For me, anyway.

Okay... then came the controversial Rob Zombie remake. I wasn't interested in a remake of Carpenter's film at all, but I WAS interested in seeing what the man who made the legitimately impressive DEVIL'S REJECTS was going to do with the material. And at the very least, he made things sufficiently different to hold my attention... even if the last third of the film was pretty much the rehash I was dreading. I was suitably impressed with Zombie's look at Michael's childhood, I thought Sheri Moon Zombie was more than sufficiently sympathetic and effective as his mother, and I also felt that Malcolm McDowell was a fine replacement for the late Donald Pleasence (no faint praise, that). And most significantly, I noted that Zombie clearly intended his remake as a "one-off" story and not as a franchise reboot. The "surprise" family relationship of the original H2 was covered the remake, and the story came to a definitive end. At least it COULD have been definitive.

But Dimension and the Weinsteins wanted a sequel anyway. The guys who made INSIDE were going to do it, and Rob Zombie was to move on to his pet project TYRANNOSAURUS REX. Except it didn't work out that way. For some reason (guess), Zombie was "persuaded" to do the sequel he didn't originally want to do... to the remake he originally didn't want to do. So what were the results?

The very first thing we get in Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN II is a textbook "dream psychology" explanation for the significance of a white horse. See, in most cases, a white horse in the movies signifies heroin. But this time, it doesn't. And Zombie (or SOMEBODY at Dimension) realized this and made sure the audience understood that the white horse they were about to see represented repressed rage and power. THEN they gave them the white horse. And Sheri Moon Zombie as the ghost of Mommy. See, THAT'S what's driving Michael now.

Zombie then plays to the people familiar with the original series and sets us up to expect an actual remake of H2, set in an understaffed, underlit hospital. For twenty minutes or so, Michael (Tyler Mane) stalks the wounded Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) around Haddonfield General Hospital... but when he catches up to her, she wakes up. Yeah, it was all a dream. We're almost half an hour into this thing and now the REAL movie starts. Laurie's living with Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif), and the surviving Annie (Danielle Harris) now. McDowell's Sam Loomis has also survived, and he's on a major book tour, exploiting the Michael Myers story for everything he can get out of it. And Michael comes back home to find his sister because his ghost Mommy (and his younger self, and the white horse) want to be a family again.

Here's the breakdown.

Cameos are mercifully restrained. Nice to see Margot Kidder as Laurie's therapist, and Howard Hesseman has a nice bit as the owner of a hippie-themed music/java spot (named for Frank Zappa's "Uncle Meat"). Weird Al Yankovic shows up, but he's playing himself on a talk show, so that's not a "hey, look at me!" cameo such as Zombie routinely indulges.

Michael's homicidal rampage has been made more brutal and ugly than ever before. Relentless butchery set to grunts, groans and human leftovers--far more than has ever been necessary for any of these films. The point, undoubtedly, is that real-life murder isn't about Hollywood slickness or suspense. It really IS brutal and ugly, imagine that! Except... didn't we cover that in the first one?

McDowell has become a cartoon character in his zeal to sell books and exploit the Michael story (I kid you not, he actually uses the Chuck Norris line "When I want your opinion, I'll beat it out of you" on his agent!!!). Towards the end of the film, he realizes (largely thanks to his humiliation by Weird Al and the talk show host) the error of his ways and returns to the scene of 'his' crime to try to make amends. Wait a minute... isn't that exactly what he did in the first one? Minus Weird Al and the ridiculously exaggerated dialogue? Well, I guess that's what happens when you sell the "sizzle" and not the "steak," eh?

Now, Scout Taylor-Compton I'll defend, and I'm not impressed by anyone who complains that she's not Jamie Lee Curtis. She's not supposed to be Jamie Lee Curtis. She's a bright, charming actress who really does engender sympathy as her character tries to regain her happiness and some sense of normalcy. Of course, the story offers her nothing but the experience of being cruelly driven out of her mind while she watches her friends and loved ones get hacked to death. But for the love of God, DIDN'T WE ALREADY DO THAT IN THE FIRST ONE???

Do we get ANYTHING in this sequel that wasn't adequately (and more realistically) covered the first time around? Yeah, we get the white horse. And we get Sheri Moon Zombie as the ghost mommy popping up all over the place. And since we already know that Laurie is Michael's sister, the revelation here is that, thanks to Loomis, Laurie finds the truth out for herself. Except that we've also already established that she has a psychic link with her brother. So she gets sick when he eats a dog. And she's constantly dreaming of putting on a Halloween mask, killing her friends, and appearing on a Satanic music video altar under the watchful eyes of young Michael, grown-up Michael and the ghost mommy (words such as 'overwrought' don't begin to describe this business). It's not that John Carpenter didn't deal with psychic links, ghost moms and white horses. It's that this material simply fails to WORK.

Carpenter's original worked because it was scary. Zombie's original worked (for a good while, at least) because it was well-acted and interesting on its own.

Rosenthal's HALLOWEEN II failed to work for reason I've described above.

And Zombie's HALLOWEEN II fails for all of the above and then some. It's not scary--it's simply sick and completely unnecessary.

So you might imagine what I've got to say to this film... but I must admit that there has NEVER been a better opportunity to follow that up with "...and the horse you rode in on!"
My dog's breath smells like peanut butter...

...and I don't even have a dog!


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mickey brown-eye
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Post by mickey brown-eye » Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:41 pm

So, if somebody liked the first Zombie Halloween do you think they would like this one?
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Griff [Mola]
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Post by Griff [Mola] » Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:17 pm

What if they hated it? Not as a remake - just as a stand alone film. I thought it was embarrassingly juvenile.

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Remo D
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Post by Remo D » Wed Sep 09, 2009 9:52 pm

mickey brown-eye wrote:So, if somebody liked the first Zombie Halloween do you think they would like this one?
Well, if box office business is any indication, that's a resounding "NO!" I liked Zombie's 'original' more than some and was reasonably kind to it... and I didn't go in to this one with my knife drawn, as it were...
My dog's breath smells like peanut butter...

...and I don't even have a dog!

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mickey brown-eye
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Post by mickey brown-eye » Sat Sep 12, 2009 4:52 pm

Remo D wrote:Well, if box office business is any indication, that's a resounding "NO!" I liked Zombie's 'original' more than some and was reasonably kind to it... and I didn't go in to this one with my knife drawn, as it were...
Bummer! I will probably wait for DVD relase
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Darth Tanner
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Post by Darth Tanner » Sat Sep 12, 2009 8:20 pm

I actually didn't mind this one that much. Then again, I was one of the few people that didn't hate Zombie's HALLOWEEN remake. I pretty much agree with what Remo said above for the most part. While I didn't hate this a whole lot, I just thought it paled in comparison to FINAL DESTINATION 3-D. But I am curious as to how they'll pull off the upcoming HALLOWEEN 3-D (even more so since it is rumored that Zombie won't be involved this time....or so they say).
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Post by RockMyMonkey » Fri Oct 09, 2009 3:00 pm

Here is my interview with Tyler Mane talking about Halloween and his upcoming very independent movie Penance Lane http://www.rockmymonkey.com/interviews/ ... Tyler_Mane
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