For our third entry in the Revisiting Remakes series, we take a look at Rob Zombie's retelling of the all time slasher classic Halloween. Is it worthy to share the name or the disaster that everyone makes it out to be?
The original Halloween film from 1978 is an absolute classic in the horror genre. It took the idea of a slasher film and perfected it with mystery, suspense, drama and a haunting musical score that made it instantly recognizable and an inspiration for generations to come. This really is a near perfect slasher movie. It didn't rely on over the top gore to get the scares. It provided genuinely creepy moments. No one can forget the moment that Laurie Strode thinks that Michael Myers is dead when he suddenly sits up behind her like a robot. Director John Carpenter understood that gore wasn't needed to make a compelling slasher. Unfortunately, Rob Zombie didn't get the memo.
Zombie's version of Halloween is a generic slasher that tries to be more than it is. Given any other name, this one would be forgotten but not hated to the extreme that it is today. Half of the movie is spent with young Michael Myers and really fleshing out his back story on why he became the William Shatner masked killer that we've all come to know and love. The only problem with that is that we don't need that motivation. One of the things that truly made Myers a scary killer is that we don't know his motivation. We don't understand where the kid went wrong and decided to kill his sister on Halloween. He was just a force of nature. The later movies in the franchise strayed from this idea, but initially, we just didn't know. This fear of the unknown is what made Myers frightening.
By showing us his abusive family and shitty life, it almost seems like it wants to make us feel sympathetic for this character. It's nature vs. nurture. Myers was groomed to be this way. In the original, he just was this way. I don't want to feel sympathetic for such a shitty person. And this version of the kid is pretty shitty. In fact, damn near every character in this film is shitty. That's another huge problem with it. With the possible exception of Malcolm McDowell (as Dr. Loomis), I don't care about anyone here. The original version built up Laurie and her friends and the kids that they were babysitting. The remake spends so much time on young Michael Myers that by the time it gets to the present day, there's not enough time left to make compelling characters. They're all just fodder. Obscenity spewing fodder. It's just no fun.
The over the top gore is fun to look at and overall, the movie is shot well. It just doesn't tell a very good story. We didn't need a Michael Myers prequel. I have no interest in what made him the way he is. Taking away the mystique is stripping the character of some of what makes him The Shape.
It seems like I'm not the only one that thinks that way. John Carpenter himself doesn't seem too fond of Zombie's version of the film. While talking to students at the New York Film Academy he said,
“I thought that he took away the mystique of the story by explaining too much about [Michael Myers]. I don’t care about that. He’s supposed to be a force of nature. He’s supposed to be almost supernatural. And he was too big. It wasn’t normal.”