Okay, I’m going to put this out there right from the off – just so we know where we all stand.

If you agree, then great, but if you are so violently opposed that you plan on quitting reading right there and then – well, I’m fine with that too.

Here goes:

I like Rob Zombie’s Halloween.

There, I’ve said it, and I really hope you don’t hate me for it.

Don’t expect me to change my mind, as I’ve watched the thing a fair few times now and still fail to grasp just why it has attracted so much venom from the fans (well, I sort of can – more later).

But one of the things we pride ourselves on at Movie Ramblings is the fact we stick to our guns and if that means getting mocked by the bulk of the horror fraternity – then so be it.

Just to qualify my statement, I’m not about to write a piece about how Zombie’s take is better than John Carpenter’s original, as it quite clearly isn’t.

There are also a number of issues I have with the film (which I will write about), but give me this 2007 edition over parts 5, 6 and 8 (and Zombie’s lame follow-up) any day of the week.

Zombie’s reboot is one of those films that attracted haters as soon as it was first mooted – understandably to a certain degree.

After all, why would you want to mess with a stone-cold classic?

But, let’s not beat about the bush here, by 2007 Carpenter’s vision had been well and truly sullied by a wave of either boring or insulting sequels, so the image of the Halloween franchise in the eyes of the cinema-going public was already at a low.

And it would be pretty hypocritical of me to whine about a remake when I count The Thing and 1978’s Invasion Of The Body Snatchers among my favourite films (as well as enjoying the high-tempo Dawn Of The Dead remake).

Zombie went on record as saying Carpenter wished him well in his endeavour, and simply told him to ‘do his own thing’.

Which is exactly what the director does, with the 2007 version essentially a film of two halves – the first, a grim, violent, explicit look at Michael Myers’ white-trash upbringing leading up to him carving up his sister, and the second a not-quite-but-pretty-close retelling of the 1978 original (from Michael’s asylum escape onwards).

It’s the first section that definitely seems to have people up in arms, and, as I said at the outset, I can sort-of see why.

We horror fans like to think of Myers as ‘the shape’ – a mysterious, impenetrable killing machine whose motivations and thought processes are only really hinted at.

But here, Zombie gives us a (very dirty) kitchen sink drama, with the young Michael caught in the crossfire of abuse between his warring parents, the director wallowing in the grime, over-the-top explicit language and despair trotted out by mom and dad (played by William Forsythe and Sheri Moon Zombie).

In a way, amidst all this degeneracy, Michael becomes a figure to be pitied rather than feared, a figure that appears to have been shaped by his environment, rather than having been ‘born evil’.

This, I believe, is what sticks in the throat of most fans, but I’m fine with it.

After all, there are enough touches here to show that perhaps Michael isn’t quite the young innocent – murdered cats in rucksacks anyone?

Anyway, after this build-up of frustration and aggression, the youngster snaps, dishing out a vicious beatdown to his school’s resident bully, before returning home and then slicing up his father, sister and sis’ boyfriend.

Halloween 2007 1

 

Naturally Myers is shipped off to the funny farm, where he is visited regularly by Dr Loomis (this time played by Malcolm McDowell), who actually gets drawn to Michael’s case while the kid is still at school.

Then the film handily jumps forward 15 years, in preparation for Michael’s escape and the night ‘he came home’.

Myers is now played by the imposing Tyler Mane as opposed to Deag Faerch, and, after butchering a handful of guards, Michael sets off for Haddonfield.

From there on in there is a real whiff of familiarity, as we are introduced to Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) as well as the likes of Annie (played by franchise veteran Danielle Harris) and her father Sheriff Bracket (Brad Dourif) as Haddonfield prepares for Halloween.

Zombie is well aware that a bulk of the audience will be second-guessing (or even flat-out predicting) what will happen scene-by-scene, but keeps up on our toes by tweaking things slightly along the way – especially in terms of the bodycount.

Sadly, that also includes scenes that come very close to straying into misogyny, notably in terms of the female nudity on show.

But the basics are still in place – Laurie babysitting Tommy Doyle, Michael turning up, Loomis running about ranting and plenty of false scares and jumps.

Even though we pretty much know where we are going, I’m fine with that, and what really elevates Zombie’s work in my eyes is the sheer viciousness of Myers himself.

Having seen the masked one stopped by Paul Rudd throwing stones on the floor, or Busta Rhymes unleashing some martial arts moves in previous entries, it is deliciously refreshing to see Michael return to the brutal, violent, near-unstoppable killing machine he was back in 1978.

The kill scenes are expertly handled and high on bloodshed, and make the most of Mane’s impressive physicality.

The acting is pretty strong all round, with the likes of Dee Wallace and even Danny Trejo popping up in minor roles.

Taylor-Compton and McDowell are no Jamie Lee Curtis or Donald Pleasence, but they are perfectly serviceable in their roles.

The soundtrack echoes the original (with a slight update), and just hearing the theme is often enough to get the hairs on the back of my neck on end.

But all of that could be achieved by a simple frame-for-frame remake and I for one think Zombie should be applauded, rather than slaughtered, for his dark, violent, gritty and downright nasty slant on the Myers saga.

 

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.