Cast:Malcolm McDowell, Brad Dourif, William Forsythe, Daeg Faerch, Sheri Moon Zombie, Hanna Hall, Tyler Mane, Dee Wallace Stone, Pat Skipper, Adrienne Barbeau, Lew Temple, Courtney Gains, Ken Foree, Clint Howard, Danielle Harris, Danny Trejo, Daryl Sabara, Kristina Klebe, Udo Kier, Scout Taylor-Compton, Jenny Gregg Stewart, Richard Lynch, Sybil Danning, Richmond Arquette, Tom Towles, Mickey Dolenz, Richard Fancy, Ezra Buzzington, Nikki Taylor Melton, Daniel Roebuck, Sid Haig
Rumors of another Halloween film surfaced back in 2003, and series producer (for all the movies) Moustapha Akkad made sure that they never stopped coming. The storylines (much like the subtitles -- Family Reunion, Retribution, Asylum, The Missing Years), changed throughout the years, passing from one screenwriter to the next. They ranged from following Loomis' son "David", to focusing on Michael's last years in prison before he's executed, as lame as that sounds. Sadly, on November 11th of 2005, the producer and man who kept the series alive, Moustapha Akkad, died along with his daughter and 57 other people from a bombing in a Jordan hotel. This led the next installment in the series to go through a standstill.
A year later, writer Jake Wade Wall (The Hitcher, When a Stranger Calls) revealed that he had been busy working on a new Halloween script that would be a prequel and revolve around a young Michael Myers. The studio apparently loved the idea and had a "big named director" lined up. The problem? The director had his own vision in mind, which meant Jake's script would have to be scrapped. Luckily for them, Rob's vision wasn't too far from Jake's, only instead of just focusing on a young Michael, it would also retell the original story. Given an estimated $20-million budget, as opposed to the $300k from the original, filming began late January '07. Rob Zombie is a fan just like the rest of us, and also like us, knows that it had its share of flaws. Like, how did Michael learn to drive? one of the biggest questions that plagued the original, and until now, we had to just accept the fact that there weren't answers for everything. Rob knew that he couldn't top John Carpenter's vision, but he would at least try to fill in the gaps and maybe show his take on the story.
So, the movie begins in the 70's with a young Michael Myers (played by unknown young actor Daeg Faerch), who's clearly brought up in a broken home -- a stripper mom (Sherri moon), a drunk foul-mouthed step-father (William Forsythe), a whore-in-the-making older sister (Hanna Hall). Growing up without a real father, and when Michael wasn't being bullied, he would pass the time by killing and taking pictures of dead animals -- a clear sign of a serial killer in the making. One Halloween Michael decides to beat the crap out of one of his bullies with a stick, and later that night he offs his stepfather, older sister, and her boyfriend (he was busy that day). He's then sent to a local mental institution with the supervision of a certain Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell). We follow Michael in his progression from a seemingly innocent child (yeah right), to a distraught young boy with a unusual fascination with masks.
Deborah Myers kills herself, and we're thrown 15 years later. Michael has mysteriously grown from a short chubby child to a six-foot-something behemoth, who hasn't said a word since his mother's death and has passed the time by making countless masks in a confined room. He makes his escape on Halloween eve, when a handful of armed guards attempt to transport him out of the institution. He takes care of the guards and walks to a nearby truck stop where he encounters a man by the name of "Big Joe Grizzley" (Ken Foree), who happens to be the same size, so he takes his jumpsuit. Michael heads back to his old home, where he secretly hid the knife and mask that he used when he murdered his sister. While there, he comes across his younger sister Laurie, as she delivers some unread mail to the home. Thus, the stalking and killing begins.
A workprint made its way online (much like what happened with Hostel: Part II) a week before the film was released in theaters. This version would contain a series of different scenes from before Rob went in to reshoot new sequences involving an alternate escape and ending. This version of the film was boring and bland, and was luckily changed before it hit theaters. Originally slated for an October release (which would have made more sense), it was then pushed forward to August (probably due to Saw IV) and opened to $10-million on its first day, with estimates that it'd make $30-million through the Labor Day weekend. The film received mixed reviews from critics and a lot of negative slack from veteran fans of the original. I'm also a huge fan of the original, but I'm also a fan of cinema itself, and I know when to watch a movie for what it is, as opposed to what it's not. I knew this movie wouldn't top the first before seeing it, so I went in not comparing it to Carpenter's classic vision, and saw it for what it was -- a good and brutal slasher.
Although my feelings are generally mixed with this movie, I did enjoy it. I don't necessarily agree with Rob's vision of "The Shape", but I did like how he filled in some of the gaps. The whole back-story of Michael was interesting, but unnecessary and took up too much of the film's running time (using up almost the whole first hour) in my opinion. Did we really need a reason why Michael was such a ruthless killer anyway? The dialogue is horrible at times, and everything that spewed out of the step-father's mouth in the beginning was incredibly annoying. There's one thing that Rob could work more on and that's dialogue. Since we're shown Michael's past he loses his mystique and any potential creepiness, and by showing him as a whiney little boy that (admit it) kind of looked like a girl, it hurt the character more than help him. Even grown up, the fact that we can see his eyes in his mask makes him seem more human than he should be. The legendary figure known as "The Shape" is nowhere to be found here.
Just by looking at the cast list you can tell that Rob pretty much tried to put as many genre favs. in one film as possible. He pretty much brings back the entire Devil's Rejects cast. Danielle Harris also returns to the series, but this time as Laurie's friend, "Annie", after playing Laurie's daughter in the fourth and fifth film. As for Dr. Loomis, no matter how you swing it, no one can top Donald Pleasance, but Malcolm McDowell's portrayal of the character was pretty decent, and probably the only character in the movie worth a damn. Aside from Michael, Loomis, and a brief, but hilarious appearance by Ken Foree, I really didn't care much for the other characters, especially Laurie and her slutty friends. Rob spent so much time on the back-story, that he didn't care to put much into other essential characters. However, had more character development been given, the running time probably would have stretched for more than two-hours, as it was 10-minutes shy of 120-minutes already.
The original movie had very little blood (and was effective without it), while this film had a lot of it. Numerous stabbings and slit throats are only a couple of the ways people die in this flick. The slow-paced first half is made up with the fast-paced second. Sadly, also with the second, we're brushing over all-too-familiar territory. Rob tries to throw in some new tricks by making Michael faster and more ruthless than the original, but (as I said before) he loses his creepiness. This vision of Michael is definitely not scary, but I'm sure Rob wasn't aiming to scare the audience. The sequences towards the end and ending itself are almost entirely different than the original. The workprint ending was pretty boring, so Rob extended the scenes of Laurie trying to escape Michael's grasp in the old Myers home, which lasted too long and became tedious after a while. I still prefer the original ending over this one, but Rob's version wasn't half-bad either.
The original John Carpenter music that we've grown accustomed to has pretty much remained the same, but with some very slight tweaks to give it a slightly more modern twist. I'm not a big fan of the close-up shaky-cam technique that Rob used in some of the action sequences, and all the scares the original had has been replaced by quick bursts of violence. So in the end Rob's vision doesn't top Carpenter's, but it does serve as another interesting take on the Myers legacy, and it's still a lot better than the last few movies. Regardless of whether fans hate the flick or not, it's still going to make bank at the box office and likely spawn more sequels. However, Rob has expressed no interest in doing a sequel, but that won't stop the studios from dishing'em out.
So, is this a good movie? Yes, it is, but is it a good remake? No, it isn't. I saw this film for what it was -- a good slasher, and obviously isn't better than the original. However, it is an interesting take on the Michael Myers story and successfully fills in some of the gaps that were left in the first flick. Sadly, the Michael we knew in the original is lost in Rob's vision, with this long and somewhat unnecessary back-story. The foreboding and creepy atmosphere from the original has also been replaced by a fast-paced slasher (second half anyway), with a quick and brutal killing machine at the wheel. If you're a die-hard veteran fan of the original then you'll probably hate this, but if you can accept it as a movie on its own (like I did), then you may find yourself enjoying at least some of it.
|Posted on July 11, 2009 - 5:10am | FrighT MasteR|