[Review] Rob Zombie’s Very Personal ‘Halloween II’

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Rob Zombie’s 2007 HALLOWEEN had zero focus (it was half remake, half prequel, and a complete mess). There were a rash of annoying cameos forced in, with scares that were replaced by loud noises and screaming. Beyond the opening sequence, where young Michael beats the crap out of a bully, the first HALLOWEEN is unwatchable.

Enter HALLOWEEN II, a film I expected to be even worse than the first. From the beginning I had never expected Zombie to listen to the naysayers, and learn from his mistakes; he proved me dead wrong. From the lack of cameos to the ultra-violence that replaced a barrage of loud noises, Zombie listened to critics and delivered a focused and vicious punch that’s both personal, and will make (most) HALLOWEEN fans happy.

This is why I will defend H2 until the very end – Zombie clearly made his movie, and not the studio’s. There’s a moment when an ambulance hits a cow and leaves two bleeding to death. One sits there, gushing blood, screaming, “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck…” I took this as Zombie’s literally telling the MPAA, Dimension Films, critics, and even some fans of the franchise to “fuck off.” I loved that about the film. It’s extraordinarily personal, and isn’t pandering to anyone.

In Zombie’s mind-fuck of a HALLOWEEN film, he decides that he needs to visually portray Myers’ motivations by bringing Deborah Myers (Sheri Moon Zombie) back as a ghost. Also joining the family reunion is little Michael Myers (recast with Chase Vanek), a visual representation of the death of his “living” self. Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton) is now living with Annie Brackett (Danielle Harrie) and he father, the Sheriff (Brad Dourif). Michael was being transported away from Haddonfield, and after the ambulance crash, it walking his way back home. Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), on the other hand, is promoting his new book that’s demonized him as a self-centered narcissist.

The biggest issue for me is that Loomis’ character has NO place in H2, other than to be a device for Laurie to find out she’s actually Michael’s sister. This is easily something that could have been explained by having Laurie read Loomis’ book, instead of forcing the audience to suffer through his boring ass monologues. Zombie could have easily chopped him entirely from the movie, as he does absolutely NOTHING.

Speaking of Laurie, Zombie makes the mistake of making her completely fallible (although, in the director’s cut, she’s more edgy). After the events from the first film, she’s a mess and on the brink of complete self-destruction. We don’t relate to her, we don’t like her; in fact, we don’t care if she lives or dies. What H2 was missing was a strong female lead, or at least a moment where Laurie becomes that (surprisingly, Zombie added this to his director’s cut).

It’s incredibly obvious how quick this movie was put into production as Zombie kills time between scenes by having Michael Myers randomly come across local folk and then decimating them, twice over. While some of these scenes are incredibly cool, there’s just no purpose for them other than to have Michael kill three more people before he finds Laurie. In fact, there are two scenes I vividly remember that wasted a good 10-15 minutes of screen time, achieved nothing, and didn’t do anything to drive the plot. Still, they’re oddly entertaining, beautifully shot (I love that Zombie uses crane shots to show scope), and easily the most vicious scenes in the entire HALLOWEEN franchise.

Speaking of mayhem and murder, Zombie traded in the banging and loud noises displayed in the remake for extreme savagery in the sequel. H2 is a straight-up exploitation flick filled with violence for the sake of violence. In my book that’s typically an immediate FAIL, but there was something remotely entertaining about it in this film – maybe it was just nice to see Michael stabbing the living sh*t out of someone instead of banging a piece of wood against the ceiling for 10 minutes (like at the end of the remake)? Just wait until you see the opening scene – holy fuck wait until you see it!

Along with the editing, the look of the film was creepy, dark and uncomfortable; Zombie’s lack of score only intensified the effect. In retrospect, H2 felt like a Rob Zombie mind-fuck music video where nothing makes sense, yet you’re completely entertained for an hour and a half. That’s the odd beauty of Zombie’s sequel… as ugly as it gets, you can’t stop from looking. Whether it’s Deborah with a white horse or Laurie Strode screaming, “I’m Michael Myers’ sister!,” Zombie always has your attention. For better or worse, it’s damn near entertaining. I didn’t look at my watch once, never sighed, and never thought to myself, “Please, end already!” In fact, I found myself amped to see what came next.

Technically, H2 is loaded with problems, and yet, I had a great time in the theater. In fact, I might even go see it again. This speaks volumes as I rarely (and I mean rarely) see a movie twice. There’s just something about HALLOWEEN II that’s peculiar, odd and even intriguing. Maybe it’s the fact that Zombie made HIS movie instead of OUR movie, or maybe it’s the sheer simplicity and brutality of it all? Whatever the case may be, H2 is a mesmerizing one-shot of a HALLOWEEN film that will stand the test of time and live on forever.

 

Official Score