Film Review: Halloween II

In the interest of full disclosure I need to point out that:

I am a big fan of the “Halloween” series. Out of all the famous slasher icons Michael Myers is my favorite.

I do not particularly like Rob Zombie as a director (or as a musician but that is another issue). I think the films he has made previous to “Halloween II” were utter garbage with little in the way of redeeming qualities. It says something when I think the best thing the man has ever filmed was a two minute “fake” trailer entitled “Werewolf Women of the SS”.

With that said I go into each movie with the expectations that they will be good, regardless of who is directing or acting in them but if you feel the need to call me a Zombie hater after my review feel free. because it’s true.

    Rob Zombie has passion and vision. His passion is for a bygone era of horror films, the likes of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and his vision is unique for a filmmaker in today’s world. I commend the man for his passion and knowledge of 1970s horror and even his vision to bring the feel of those films to today’s audiences. Unfortunately Rob Zombie is just not a particularly good director. I like pie, that doesn’t mean I should make them.

    As you can probably tell I did not particularly enjoy Zombie’s 2007 reboot of the franchise, however I did enjoy a few aspects of the film. In particular I enjoyed the added insight into Michael Myers, the sheer brutality that Zombie reaffirmed in the character and Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Loomis. For the most part though I found the film to be overwrought sewer sludge. So I’m not entirely sure if it was my love of the “Halloween” franchise that enticed me to go see Zombie’s second take on the series or an utter hatred of myself but regardless I found myself sitting in a fairly filled theater at 11AM on a Friday morning waiting for “Halloween II” to begin.

    The film starts off immediately following “Halloween”. Michael (Tyler Mane) is seemingly dead. Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton) is badly injured and she is taken to the hospital. And then all hell breaks loose. Michael escapes from the coroner van after an accident and heads to the hospital to finish off Laurie. Michael brutally murders everyone in his path as he tracks down Laurie cornering her in a guardhouse. It is a tense and horrifically exciting sequence of events. Most importantly its unnerving and scary and ultimately (for horror fans) fun.

    Then as Zombie has the audience in the palm of his hand and an opportunity to truly embrace “Halloween” as his own, ultimately changing the direction the series could progress, by killing Laurie Strode he chickens out and reveals it all to be a dream sequence. None of it happened. From this point on Zombie delivers a run-of-the-mill low-budget slasher flick. It has every single genre cliché you can think of; naked promiscuous women, random inconsequential kills, kids getting high in a van, you name it its in this film.

    If it was not bad enough that Zombie decided to make a standard cliché ridden slasher film he also trashes the legacy of one of the great characters in horror. No, not Michael Myers but instead Dr. Samuel Loomis. Many horror fans, me included, would include Dr. Loomis (as portrayed by the late yet great Donald Pleasence) as an icon and Zombie destroys the character in his film. Dr. Loomis this time around is a money hungry, fame seeking, arrogant individual. Malcolm McDowell plays the role perfectly but he serves no purpose other than for people to hate him and as a highly convenient plot device for late in the film.

    The inconsequential Loomis storyline takes up a good third of the film with the rest of the film focused primarily on the bond between Laurie, Michael and their dead mother (played by Zombie’s wife Sheri Moon Zombie). It is implied that Laurie is heading towards a psychotic break and Michael is the catalyst to drive her there. This might have actually worked if Zombie made Laurie a character that the audience could care about. Sadly, due to the way Zombie chose to progress the story, you are never given the chance to even like her, let alone care about her. It makes the ending ultimately fall flat and makes an already disappointing film even more so.

    Speaking of Laurie and Michael’s mother she shows up in vision and dream sequences throughout the film to both of her children. She seemingly is pulling the strings of her brutish, psychotic son with these visions and for the most part the strings she pulls are within character for Michael except for one particularly out-of-character sequence late in the film that implies that Michael rapes a victim. The implication is completely out of character for Michael and while I understand that Zombie wants to attempt to make Michael human the scene is so far out in left field and serves absolutely no purpose I can only fathom Zombie included it to shock audiences.

    I don’t want to sound entirely negative because the film wasn’t a complete waste of film. The first fifteen minutes of the film are truly inspired and the best sequence of events in the series since 1981’s “Halloween II”. Michael is truly brutal in this film and I was genuinely afraid of him. He looked like “The Shape” of legend and that was nice to see but in the end there just way more putrid material in this film than there is good stuff.

    I can not in good conscience recommend this film to anyone. “Halloween” fans will hate it because of how the material is handled and new horror fans will be bored by the cliché riddled structure Zombie took. Rob Zombie’s vision for the “Halloween” franchise is a failure, maybe now its time to just let Michael Myers rest in peace.

    2 out of 5

    Fun little note: Danielle Harris, who played Michael’s niece Jamie in Halloween 4 and 5, plays Laurie’s friend , Annie Brackett in Zombie’s films.

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