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>> Friday, September 11, 2009

Weird Al tells McDowell's Loomis to just "eat it"

Two years ago around the same time, I sat in a theatre with my friend Luke, my ex-manager and her beau. Why were we there? I'd scored four tickets from the local radio station to go to the premiere of Rob Zombie's Halloween. At this point I'd been a fan of the Halloween franchise (minus a few dismal flicks here and there) for about ten years. Although I wasn’t big on a Halloween remake, I was interested in seeing what director Rob Zombie could do with it. I loved The Devil’s Rejects and figured he could bring some realism to the story. Pull a 'Christopher Nolan' and reboot what had become a very stale series.

Since I just started this blog and you haven't heard my thoughts on the first Halloween, I’ll tell you what I thought of it. It sucked. Now, it wasn’t completely awful - I’ve seen worse. It was, however, awkward and unrealistic. Upon watching it again a few nights ago, I didn’t mind it as much as the first time I had seen it, but it still lacked the eeriness so present in the original 1978 flick. My mistake was perhaps walking into Rob Zombie's Halloween expecting something better and being too critical. But all I remember from watching that movie the first time, was looking at Luke and seeing him constantly rolling his eyes or shaking his head at me. So, I’m publicly stating an apology to Luke Fandrich of Editing Luke -I’m sorry. Even though it was free, its two hours you will never get back. Two hours which could have been spent playing Lego Star Wars on your GameCube.

That said, this is the frame of mind I had walking into Halloween II. The first thing I see? That Daeg Faerch has been inexplicably replaced by Chase Wright Vanek (yes, obviously no kids have normal names anymore). Now, when I say it’s the first thing I saw, I don’t mean it’s the first thing I noticed. I mean it’s literally the first shot. I don’t know why the other kid didn’t come back (perhaps he was too busy talking smack to Hancock with a really, really bad French accent). We catch up with Michael Myers is in Smith’s Grove Sanitarium being given a white horse by his mom, played almost decently Sherri Moon Zombie. It’s frivolous and seems to be only in the film to set up that little Mikey has a white horse fetish and mommy issues. Sure its artsy, I’ll give it that -(as are many shots in the film) which is probably Zombie’s biggest strength. As single frames, some of his work is breathtaking.

Scout Taylor-Compton
returns as Laurie Strode now all grunged up and party-happy. In contrast, her friend Annie Brackett (Danielle Harris) has now tamed down considerably and worries less about partying and more about her father’s calorie intake. Her father is Sheriff Lee Brackett, and he's played by the one and only Chucky, Brad Dourif. It’s an odd thing watching Dourif in another film, when all you're wanting the Sheriff to yell is “F***ing woman drivers!”.

Halloween II takes place one year after the first film, and follows Laurie as she struggles to deal with the horrific events of last Halloween,and an apparent psychic (or psycho, hmmm . . . ) connection she has with her maniac brother, Michael Myers. She has a breakdown when she discovers her lineage to Michael by reading it in Dr. Loomis’ new book “The Devil Walks Among Us”, or something like that. Loomis is played by Malcolm McDowell and has gone from a know it all doctor to an ego-driven writer, who gets his comeuppance handed to him on a TV talk show by none other than Weird Al! That’s right, Weird Al Yankovic is in Halloween II and might just be the best part of the film- or the least expected, one of the two.

As usual, Michael randomly ends up finding all the characters he needs to by walking through well-lit and smoky fields. As this is a modernized version of the series, perhaps he has GPS. When he does find what he’s looking for, it doesn’t take long for him to stab or curb-stomp his way past his victims, moving on until he finds Laurie. Now, I won’t tell you how the film ends (Laurie stabs Michael in the face and goes crazy) but it’s as expected.

The main reason I feel Zombie keeps getting these movies wrong is because he’s humanizing Michael too much. The original had Michael walking around, stabbing babysitters and doing it without batting an eyelash or saying a word. In the new Halloween series, he does the act but grunts and stabs his way through his victims - all while following his hallucination of a mother (and that damn white horse). The reason Michael was scary in the first place was because he was a shape, a shadow, a mystery. It didn’t matter what drove him, he just simply was there. You could either accept it or you could sit there and die.

Halloween (the holiday) is coming up in less than two months and if you're as into celebrating this end-of-October event as I am, you’ll notice that movies centering around this day are in short supply. So, although I can’t recommend seeing this movie in an expensive theatre, it might be worth a lazy Sunday look at the discount screen near you - should you get in the Halloween spirit in the coming weeks. Then again, you can also pop in the original 1978 Halloween DVD and watch that instead, which I would recommend.

Halloween II
, however, isn’t as bad as the first one and if you like Rob Zombie films, you'll notice his work and his skills shine through in Halloween II much more than it’s predecessor. That means you shouldn’t have any problems getting through this film without constantly looking at your watch (or your eye-rolling friend next to you). As another plus, this film is a half hour shorter than the first and it moves much more quickly. But just because a film isn’t as bad as a person expects it will be, it doesn’t mean one should see it. I have to leave the door closed on this one, especially with Oscar season coming up. Since there are better films in theatres right now, there are better ways to spend your money. If you’re bored though and you have nothing else to watch one day - then yeah, maybe Halloween II will suffice, but not for $10.

*Stills courtesy Dimension Films


Editing Luke September 14, 2009 at 2:46 AM  

Finally, the long awaited apology! haha. Luckily, my tastes have advanced from Star Wars Lego to Indiana Jones and Batman Lego on the Wii :)

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