Here we go again- Halloween (2007)

Halloween-Remake-poster

You want to know what this film is? No? Well, I don’t care, I’m telling you anyway. It’s cinematic necrophilia.

Resurrection had killed the series, again, but much like it’s protagonist it simply couldn’t stay dead. The concept still made money, so there was a desire to continue it in some way. Thankfully, Busta Rhymes v Myers was so piss poor that it killed the idea of a sequel in that continuity stone dead, but there’s one thing Halloween has always done: latch on to current trends. Sadly, the trend in the second half of the last decade was driven by Platinum Dunes and involved heinously awful plastic remakes of classics (or otherwise) of the genre. We’ve had Nightmare on Elm St, The Fog, Dawn of the Dead (obligatory fuck you Snyder), Day of the Dead, Prom Night, The Hitcher, Hills Have Eyes, The Crazies (arguably the best of the trend), The Omen, Black Christmas, My Bloody Valentine, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and so on and so forth. What this dismal list has in common (aside from that a significant number of them were date based slashers spawned by the original Halloween), is that only The Crazies is a decent film, and most of them not only miss the point of the originals, but manage to be shiny, polished but ultimately entirely boring entries into the genre. 

Young Michael deeply resented the 95th Swirly of the week. Mostly because it was only Tuesday morning.

Young Michael deeply resented the 95th Swirly of the week. Mostly because it was only Tuesday morning.

When it came to Halloween’s turn to ride the remake carousel, events took a bizarre twist towards the surreal. “Musician” Rob Zombie had been hard at work carving himself out a niche in redneck torture porn gross out horror with movies such as House of 1000 Corpses and the ridiculously overrated Devil’s Rejects. However, as much as I hold his previous work in disdain, there’s no doubt that he was/ is a comparatively original director (in comparison to the others) and that he certainly, at least, understands horror and knows how to make horror movies. Albeit a particularly sordid type of horror that I always feel like I need a shower after watching. This was not, let’s be honest, the man to entrust Halloween to- his earlier films suggested that he simply doesn’t have the sensibilities to produce a suspense based horror movie (which is what the original was). Yet he landed the gig.

Inevitably professing to be a huge fan of the original, and I actually believe him on this for reasons that I’ll come to later, Zombie went to seek advice from Carpenter. In my head, I have visions of an epic quest up a snow-blasted mountain range to learn at the feet of the master (sat on a sofa, smoking weed, and playing the x-box), but I have to concede that it probably wasn’t like this. Anyhoo, the advice Carpenter gave him was the somewhat gnomic and Yoda-like direction of be true to yourself, and “make it your own”. This tells me three things: firstly, Carpenter has smoked far too much weed and it has rotted his brain. Secondly, Carpenter never really understood why the original Halloween was so good (this is more confirmation, really, as his “additions” to the second film arguably ruined it), and thirdly that he’s never seen a Rob Zombie film. Because if you’d ever seen a Rob Zombie film, there’s no way in hell you’d tell him to draw Halloween into his world. It just doesn’t fit. Nevertheless, Zombie took Carpenter’s advice to heart and the result was….

Painful.

Using the mask here is the film totally blowing its spuds early.

Using the mask here is the film totally blowing its spuds early.

Taking the series back to its roots, and then chopping the roots out and looking at the roots of some other series that he’s interested in, Halloween opens in the Myers household. However, instead of being a nice middle-class family, they’re now the worst type of trailer trash scum. Deborah Myers (Sherri Moon Zombie) is a stripper, and the house is a den of squalor. Her boyfriend (William Forsythe) is a colossal asshole and beats and berates young Michael (a horrible performance from Daeg Faerch- who lacks both the menace and any sense of sympathy as the young Myers. This very much is a kid you believe could be a serial killer in the making. But only if he strangled puppies or something, as he looks like he couldn’t fight his way out of a plastic bag), who shows worrying signs of being a sadist by torturing animals and having problems at school. His elder sister Judith (Hannah R. Hall) is a massive slag, quelle surprise, and little Laurie is merely a baby. Anyhoo, young Michael is being bullied at school and at home (and everywhere really), until one day he snaps and messily kills the school bully before turning the knife on the rest of his family, bar Deborah and Laurie. This is a close to a textbook Serial Killer upbringing as you could want to imagine.

Dr. Loomis was the recognised Daddy when it came to Power Point Presentations.

Dr. Loomis was the recognised Daddy when it came to Power Point Presentations.

Once incarcerated, he falls into the care of Loomis (Malcolm McDowell- outclassing everyone else in the film), and develops a fixation with masks. After an unfortunate incident with the fork based murder of a nurse, Deborah kills herself and young Michael never says another word, although he does grow into the hulking Tyler Mane. This “background” is, by the way, roughly 2/3 of the movie, and while Zombie’s intentions here were good, you know what they say the road to hell is paved with. Digression aside, he eventually busts out and returns to Haddonfield to stalk and kill the new cadre of babysitters- Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton), Annie (Danielle Harris- about 10 years too old for the part, but I don’t care) and Lynda (Kristina Klebe). The rest of it plays out like the original movie.

This dude is fucking HUGE. Bear in mind that Danny Trejo (on the left) isn't exactly small.

This dude is fucking HUGE. Bear in mind that Danny Trejo (on the left of the photo) isn’t exactly small.

This is a bad film, but worse than that it’s both horribly ill-advised and immensely misguided. Zombie felt, rightly, that Myers ranks up there with the likes of Jason Vorhees and Freddie Kruger in that overexposure has reduced the menace and terror of the character. His solution, therefore, was to attempt to reboot not just the series, but Myers himself, and to take it in a new direction. And this is his mistake. Carpenter’s original works because Myers is an unknown. He’s the boogeyman- a motiveless and unstoppable killing machine. Zombie, on the other hand, has gone to great lengths to explain absolutely everything about the character and it’s too much. Instead of creating a new monster; a Shape for the jaded 21st Century, what he has in fact done is totally eradicate what was left of the mystification of the character and rendered him both mundane and boring. Were this not a Halloween film, and the last third substantially different, then it could be quite an interesting Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer style look at what makes a monster. But it isn’t, it is a Halloween film, so is instead a colossal failure.

Hey there, victims in waiting. Actually, the casting here is all wrong because Danielle Harris (left) should have been Laurie. Chance to create a cokey mcfrankensteinhead reference missed.

Hey there, victims in waiting. Actually, the casting here is all wrong because Danielle Harris (left) should have been Laurie. Chance to create a cokey mcfrankensteinhead style reference missed.

Secondly, there’s a hideous tonal jarring between the first “story” in the film and the retread of the second. The original killings are messy, gritty and incredibly nasty. They’re “Rob Zombie” murders. However, the killings in the Haddonfield sequence are comparatively clean and much closer to the stylised killings of Carpenter’s original.It could be my imagination, but I think the second half is shot differently as well- the first half feels immediate and close up, as if it was shot on a hand held (although this is pure supposition on my behalf, as I know fuck all about this sort of thing unless I’m getting motion sickness from the film), but many of the sequences in the second, notably the killing of Lynda’s douchebag boyfriend (straight from the original), are set back- there’s distance between the object and the camera. It’s weird, but the second half, and the way it is shot (especially that scene), makes me think that Zombie did, actually, understand the original, but felt a need to fit it into his own oeuvre, and as such effectively ignored his instincts and forced it to places that it doesn’t fit.

TITS! ASS! MINKY! FTW!

TITS! ASS! MINKY! FTW!

The film is full of “Halloween” touches, from the effective use of Carpenter’s seminal theme, to the “ghost with glasses” schtick, the disbelieving police force and the numerous shots of Myers lurking in the background (to which Laurie again proves to be the most observant by actually spotting him- a nice touch), this reeks of almost worship of the original. Zombie is clearly and obviously a fan, particularly given the way he films the murder of the douchebag which is almost beat for beat (with added profanity and nudity of the full frontal variety) the way Carpenter shot the original. Hell, even the soundtrack and background contain nods to the original with Don’t fear the Reaper featuring and the kids watching the original Thing from Another World.

Arguably the last of the Scream Queens...

Arguably the last of the Scream Queens…

The acting is variable. McDowell is on fire as Loomis- it’s a great performance combining a monstrous ego with an overwhelming desire to do the right thing. This is as pitch-perfect a 21st Century Loomis as you could possibly want. Tyler Mane is a massive, hulking physical presence and does the business in the Shatner Mask, much like Kane Hodder bought something extra to Jason, while Harris is as solid and professional (and gets them out as well) as a long-term genre veteran should be. Taylor-Compton is an odd, but not awful choice, and Mrs. Zombie is decent as the emotionally traumatised Deborah. However, the support is, frankly, crap, but not anywhere near as bad as Faerch as the young Michael. He’s not frightening, there’s no feeling of contained rage to him, and he’s not sympathetic either. What he comes across as is a petulant little turd who has thrown the destructive king of wobblies because his dad wouldn’t let him listen to Marilyn Manson anymore.

Cuddles are well known as being the ultimate serial killer deterrent

Cuddles are well known as being the ultimate serial killer deterrent

Overall, as a film, this is a mixed bag. The acting contains enough high points to warrant a mild recommendation, and the attempt to make a “realistic” Halloween film has some merit, sort of. So, in my usual spirit of using any means to avoid dishing out an Orangutan of Doom, I’d ordinarily be giving this one,  possibly even one and a half, spooky Halloween pumpkins out of four. Nevertheless, it’s impossible to consider this as a film in its own right. It’s so heavily, intentionally, tied to the series, and is so beholden to the original that I have to think of it as a Halloween film, and as such it’s a monumentally wrong-headed, ill-conceived disaster; a gigantic misfire of almost epic proportions. The final demystification is now complete, and any menace or interest that Michael Myers held has now been totally diluted. As such, this is a nailed-on, bona fides platinum stinker, and I’ve no excuse but to dish out the monkey. Have one of these, Halloween remake:

Orangutan of Doom

And as to why it’s cinematic necrophilia? This is the final molestation of the corpse of the series. There is now literally nothing left that could be done to debase the original. If Rosenthal’s ironically named Resurrection killed the franchise, then Zombie’s remake, frankly, fucked the cold, dead, body. And fucked it hard.

Last film to go- the sequel to the remake. Then I’m finally free. FREE! I shall celebrate by getting drunk and setting fire to a William Shatner effigy.

Until then,

Jarv

Halloween logo

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

23 responses to “Here we go again- Halloween (2007)”

  1. Jarv says :

    Christ this is long. A bad case of verbal diarrhea.

    Sorry.

    • Echo the Bunnyman says :

      Good review Jarv. Hows the kid doing?

      To be fair to Carpenter, “make it your own” is the kind of advice you are wont to give someone who’s already planning to cash-in on your idea and screw it over. I doubt he cared whether or not Zombie had a worthwhile style, but that he might as well do his own thing, instead of just painting-by-numbers over what Carpenter did originally. As an artist, I’d be more indignant about something like that. At least, you can stand back and shake your head at Zombie’s attempt and say “make it your own, but it’s not mine, at least.”

      I agree with the review at large, and that it was a bad idea to “explain” Michael Meyers, and that Danielle Harris should have been Laurie, just for the heck of it. Of course, as Laurie you wouldn’t have had DH’s usual “exposure” but she’s by far the best actress in the lot there.

      All of the other ill-intended stuff aside, what chafes me the most is the way that there’s virtually no sense of the holiday of Halloween at play in this one. I mean, yes, the visual motifs are there and it’s happening at that time of year, but Carpenter really personified the holiday in his film and here it might as well be St. Patrick’s Day, all we get are some decorations thrown around.

      • Jarv says :

        Cheers Jonah

        He’s great. Just need his mother to recover asap now, because she’s missing out and it’s getting her down.

        Has DH got a track record for dropping her top? Because I’ve seen an unhealthy amount of stuff that she’s been in and this is the only one I can think of with unleashed (surprisingly good) juggs.

        I kind of do and don’t agree about the holiday stuff. Zombie makes a hell of an effort to tie it to the day itself (twice), but the big difference is that the original’s opening was a snapshot on the one day, whereas Zombies first 2/3’s takes place over weeks and weeks. Then the day itself at the end doesn’t feel like “Halloween” because of the extended first section. The vast majority of Carpenter’s effort took place on the day itself.

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        Jarv, I wasnt referring to the effort to tie it to the day, but the ambience of what Halloween is. That’s such a large and essential part of the first film–it’s in the atmosphere and approach–and all of the things you describe are exactly why Zombie’s film misses it. If you ask me, one of the things most of the sequels missed was the idea that Carpenter’s hook was a film set across Halloween night, that was about the monsters in the dark, not necessarily about Laurie Strode and Michael Meyers first and foremost. The first time through, they are just the players we see. I think I’d have preferred sequels more in line with the concept of the third, each new story a different Halloween night somewhere with different players. Every sequel after–bugnuts part 3 aside–approached it as a movie about Michael Meyers that just happens to take place at Halloween. Then along comes Zombie and decides that Michael’s story is the most important thing about it.

        The last movie, for me, that captured anything close to what Halloween achieved was Ti West’s atmosphere on House of the Devil.

        Zombie is a hack. I started Lords of Salem optimistically for the first thirty minutes or so, and then it went straight down the MTV toilet.

      • Jarv says :

        Ah, gotcha.

        The thing about this series is that there have been about 4 attempts in 8 sequels to move on from myers, or at least to do something different , but not one of them work.

  2. tombando says :

    Ohh this is dire am sure….where does it rank, say, vs #4 and the Busta Rymes atrocity(which i saw some of last nite-quite sad)?

  3. Continentalop says :

    I’ve only seen a couple of minutes of this but saw no reason to continue watching – it just seemed like a weak remake, using the exact same plot.

    The thing about THE CRAZIES, and THE THING and THE FLY (the GODFATHER’s of Horror remakes) is that they all added not only a new angle but a new context to the entire films. These platinum dune shit just seems like watching a bad cover band who decides it’d be great to do KISS songs acoustically, but add nothing else.

    • Jarv says :

      That’s the thing Conti, it isn’t a tread by numbers remake.

      It’s a pre-explanation-make. Or something like that.

      Basically a godawful hybrid of everything bad that Hollywood churns out when doing remakes and prequels etc. He’s “trying” to add a new angle and context to Myers, and he was right that Myers was played out, but what he comes up with is so, so wrongheaded that it’s simply awful. As a generic, albeit grimy and nasty, redneck slasher, this is quite good. As a Halloween film it’s a total disaster.

      • Continentalop says :

        I know I am in the minority, but I think NuCARRIE succeeded in this, coming up with a new angle and context even as it follows the exact same plot as the original.

  4. Judge Droid says :

    I’m going for the 4th reason. Carpenter simply doesn’t give a fuck anymore. Make it your own is the epitome of beige advice.

    Not many horror slashers work when they spend half the time demystifying the threat.

    • Jarv says :

      Carpenter is, apparently, “friends” with Zombie. It’s beige advice for sure, and I tend to agree with you that having flogged off half his legacy he simply didn’t give a toss and didn’t want to tell his mate not to do it.

      What I meant, though, is not the reasons for the advice, but what the advice tells us about Carpenter. I still maintain that the original was a massive fluke and he didn’t really understand why it was so good.

  5. Just Pillow Talk says :

    I never saw this or any of Zombie’s flicks. This one sounds worse because it seems to have bits that work, whereas some of the others were complete fuckups.

    I will still pass.

  6. Continentalop says :

    BTW, HOUSE OF A 1,000 CORPSES is the worst POS ever. It is also fucking insulting – making the audience pay to see basically Rob Zombie’s student film (one that a fucking studio paid for).

  7. Toadkillerdog says :

    Good job Jarv.
    I am not a fan of these films, but i do appreciate you taking one,two,three,four,five ,six, seven? for the team! Good gravy how many of these are there?
    Time to get ready for the last two eps of GoT which i am loving.

    How is Finn? How is the Mrs.? I read you said she was not feeling too well. is she over that now?

  8. kloipy says :

    Good review Jarv. I didn’t like this movie at all either. I like House and Rejects alright. Not that they are really good, but not offensive really. If Zombie could have remade anything, he should have done a Texas Chainsaw film (which in my opinion ‘House’ is a version of that)

  9. ThereWolf says :

    I kind of want to see this – but I don’t want to watch ‘the making of Michael’ and if that’s 2/3’rds of the flick then I guess I’m out. Pity coz I’d really like to see Malcolm McDowell outclassing everyone.

    Top review, Jarv. Give my best to the Mrs – hope she’s fully recovered now…

    • Jarv says :

      Cheers Mate.

      It’s fucking terrible, don’t bother. McDowell is really good, as he is in pretty much everything, but the film is so misguided that it’s a chore to sit through.

  10. franzwesten says :

    Dammit, I had managed to erase the Busta Ryhmes / Myers fight from my mind.. now it is right back in there, sadly the recollection of Resurrection always generates some kind of gag reflex.

    Saw the first of Zombie’s remakes, and thought it was grimy miserable poo, and that is not some grungey reverse ‘how dark can it be’ compliment

    I may have been biased. His other films made me want to go and wash my head.

  11. franzwesten says :

    Did I mentioned the poster was poor in every way possible, except presumably the printer, who knew his business.

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