MOVIE: Halloween (2007)

John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) is one of my all-time favorite movies.  I have no idea why, since I don’t find it remotely scary and never have.  Nevertheless, I’ve seen it so many times I could probably recite the whole script from memory (possibly not all that impressive, since the last half mostly consists of the screamed word, “Ahhhhhhhhhh!”).

Because of my affection for the original (I also like Halloween(s) 2 and H20, by the way), when I first heard someone was making a remake of it, my first reaction was to roll my eyes and scowl.  Then I heard that someone was Rob Zombie, and that made me tilt my head with a pensive “hmmm.”

Zombie’s first film, House of 1000 Corpses, was a total throwaway.  But his second movie, The Devil’s Rejects, was one of the most exciting horror movies I’ve seen in years. It was unique, clever, and extremely effective.  Not to mention very, very disturbing.  And it put Zombie right on up there with Eli Roth in my list of horror directors I want to keep an eye on.  If anybody could remake Halloween and have it not suck, it would be Rob Zombie.

For the most part, he’s pretty successful, too.  The film starts out with a long opening act that shows us a lot more about Michael’s childhood than we ever learned in the Carpenter version.  And while it’s not stuff we couldn’t have just guessed on our own (broken family, violent father, etc. etc.), just seeing Michael as a boy struggling with childhood emotions lends an interesting dynamic to his character.  One of the reasons I never DID find the original movie scary is because Myers always seemed like a movie monster instead of a man to me, and I’m just not afraid of movie monsters.  The original Myers walks slowly yet always seems to catch up to his victims, he has inhuman strength, he wears a Captain Kirk mask — the likelihood of this person ever actually existing in my world seems fairly slim.

But, start out with half an hour of Michael as a little boy, and suddenly he seems a lot more like an actual person.  A severely damaged person.  A very severely damaged person who has ceased to have any sense of the value of life.  And if there’s one thing in this world I truly DO fear, it’s crazy people who don’t think twice about taking lives of others — or, even worse, who don’t even think ONCE about taking the lives of others (stay back, Dick Cheney!).

Another element of this movie that really impressed me was the scene in which Laurie’s friend is killed. [SPOILER ALERT — NEXT PARAGRAPH ONLY!]

In the original movie, the girl and her boyfriend are both killed fairly quickly by Michael — brutally, of course, but quickly.  In Zombie’s version, the girl isn’t dead when Laurie finds her; instead, Laurie finds her lying on the floor covered in blood and rasping wetly for breath through a throat full of blood.  The sounds she makes, the way she looks, the body of her dead boyfriend hanging behind her — everything about that scene is absolutely chilling.  It’s FAR more scary having her still be alive; it makes it so much more emotionally intense somehow.  And it gets even more disturbing when Michael comes back into the room and walks by her as she continues to gasp and beg, not even acknowledging her existence with a glance downward.  He steps over her, like she’s a discarded shoe on the rug that he might trip over.  Another killer might’ve bent down and struck the final blow — in part so they wouldn’t have to be confronted with her sounds any more.  But Michael — you can’t even say he doesn’t care enough about human life for that.  There’s no concept of “care” in any amount, in either direction, for Michael.  And that’s one of the scariest things imaginable.  [SPOILERS OVER]

Unfortunately, the movie goes downhill from there, as it progresses into an overly-long and overly-repetitive final act (Michael chases Laurie, Michael catches Laurie, Laurie gets away, Michael chases Laurie, Michael catches Laurie, Laurie gets away, lather, rinse, repeat).  The movie should’ve ended about ten minutes before it did, and I was disappointed that Zombie didn’t do more with the second half in general.

That said, overall, I was pretty impressed with this film.  It’s not brilliant — and, at its heart, it’s still a remake that probably didn’t need to be made to begin with.  But, if you’re a fan of the original, I think you’ll find this a satisfying companion.  I won’t be giving up my annual screening of Carpenter’s version (I always watch it Halloween night while I give out candy to the kiddies).  But I might start making it a double-feature.   Anybody who wants to come over next year is welcome!

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre: Horror
Cast: Ken Foree, Malcolm McDowell, Danny Trejo, Sheri Moon, Dee Wallace, William Forsythe

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10 Responses to “MOVIE: Halloween (2007)”

  1. Liz Says:

    I was also impressed by this movie. Silly me – I kept wondering why it reminded me so much of “Devil’s Reject” (even though I knew it was the same director). Well, a lot of the same people were cast! Who do you think Michael Myers’ mother was – Sheri Moon, of course! And I must confess, I actually recognized Sid Haig in a very small part! I also looked at someone in a small part, and thought, boy, that looks like Mickey Dolenz (the Monkees), but scummier, and heavier. Guess what! It was!

    I thought Malcolm MacDowell was a perfect replacement for Donald Pleasance. I also thought Danny Trejo lent a really nice human touch to the film. He certainly is an underrated actor. I also thought that casting Dee Wallace as Laurie’s mom might have been a nod to “E.T.”, in which she also played the mom.

    I also liked the second part of the movie, although I think you have to know the Carpenter version to appreciate what Zombie was doing. Some scenes are almost identical, some are seen from Michael’s point of view, and some have been altered. I do agree that I kept thinking it was over, and then there’d be another scene. Enough already!

    Well anyway, it was fun; when are you going to do a write-up on “Sweeney Todd?” (Broken record much?)

  2. Alisa Says:

    I found myself liking this movie also. I think Rob Zombie did a good job at recreating the Myers seriel (no pun intended 😉 )

    I’ve just gotten back from seeing Sweeny Todd this afternoon, and I LOVE myself some Johnny Depp, but I have to say I didn’t like the movie. I thought it dragged on. Visually it was stunning, but I really couldn’t wait until it was over. Now I’ve never seen the play so I don’t have anything to compair the movie to, but I think if I were to see Sweeny Todd again I’d rather see it in a play/musical venue. And can I ask does Timothy Spall make any movies w/OUT any actors from Harry Potter????

  3. Lorraine Says:

    Alisa – I agree with you about “Sweeney Todd”. Loved Depp & the visual look but I found the film tedious. After the first 45 minutes, the story went nowhere. The young couple could sing but they were boring. The young boy though was very good.

  4. Alisa Says:

    I’ve decided that when I go back to work on Tues I’m going to stop what I’m doing ever 10mins or so and break out in song. LOL

  5. Lorraine Says:

    Since Spall is mostly in British productions & every British actor has (or will be) in a Harry Potter movie, it’s really not his fault 😉 Have you seen “Shooting the Past” which is a Stephen Poliakoff UK miniseries available on Netflix. He is very good in that and it’s more of a down-to-earth role.

  6. Liz Says:

    Hey, Alisa – what Lorraine said! I responded to you on the “3:10 to Yuma” page, but I don’t know if you saw it. It’s true – there are SO many British actors in the “Harry Potter” films that Timothy Spall can’t really help appearing with them. The first time I saw him was in the Gilbert & Sullivan movie, “Topsy Turvy,” where he played the part of the actor who originated the role of “The Mikado” (and sang VERY well), and was also very sympathetic and a little sad. I couldn’t believe he was also “Wormtail!” But even in “Topsy Turvy” there was a “Harry Potter” actor – “Moaning Myrtle!” She was the company soprano, and sang quite well, and played a bitter young woman with a drinking problem.

    BTW, Alisa and Lorraine, I’m sorry you found “Sweeney Todd” tedious. I loved it, but then I loved the original stage musical too, and being a musician myself, I would have liked to hear more from the young lovers. The little boy who play Tobias was really a find, but he surprised me, because on stage, he’s usually a little older – I had always thought he fancied himself as Sweeney’s rival.

    Anyway, I love getting in on all this discussion, and I think we should be grateful to Meg for providing us with this forum. What do you think about having a chat room?

  7. megwood Says:

    Hey, Liz! Just wanted to mention that Dee Wallace actually has MAJOR horror movie cred (Cujo, The Howling, The Hills Have Eyes (the original), Popcorn (a spoof of classic horror movies), Critters, etc. etc.), so I think she actually shows up in roles like these in scary movies as a nod to her past as one of the big scream queens. Less so from “ET,” which I can’t imagine is actually a favorite of Rob Zombie’s (though since I know an enormous rugby-playing tough guy who adores “Dirty Dancing,” I suppose anything’s possible)! But I bet Zombie was a big fan of “The Howling” and “Cujo” (because what horror movie fan isn’t, I ask you?). Dee’s actually got three new horror flicks coming out in 2008 alone — it’s always a lot of fun seeing her.

    She was one of the things that made the movie “Abominable” a lot of fun for me, actually. “Abominable” is pretty, well, abominable, but it’s loaded with lots and lots of fun movie nods — not just Dee Wallace Stone’s appearance in the beginning (battling a big hairy beast, ala Cujo), but also pirated lines from other movies (“We’re gonna need a bigger knife,” e.g.) and stuff like having Paul Gleason’s character drink from a mug that says, “Don’t mess with the bull” on it. Awesome. “Abom” shows up on the Sci-Fi channel periodically so if that sounds fun to anybody, definitely check it out!

  8. megwood Says:

    p.s. I’d love to add a chat room, but I have no idea how to do that! Seriously, though, comments work fine for me, and I’m totally cool with you guys carrying on conversations in comments that have nothing to do with the affiliated posts. It’s fun finally getting to talk to people all together instead of just one at a time via email! Hello, 21st Century! Glad to finally meetcha!

  9. jackson Says:

    but why cant we watch the movie?

  10. megwood Says:

    No idea what you’re asking me, jackson. By all means, watch the movie!

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