Halloween II (2009)

August 31, 2009 - 1:51am | Johnny D
  Tags: 'Weird Al' Yankovic, Bill Fagerbakke, blood, Brad Dourif, Brea Grant, Caroline Williams, Chase Vanek, Chris Hardwick, Danielle Harris, Dayton Callie, Ezra Buzzington, gore, halloween, Howard Hesseman, Jeffrey Daniel Phillips, Malcolm McDowell, Margot Kidder, Mark Christopher Lawrence, mask, Matt Bush, michael myers, Richard Brake, Rob Zombie, Scout Taylor-Compton, sequel, slasher, Tyler Mane

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Rob Zombie
Tyler Mane, Ezra Buzzington, Jeffrey Daniel Phillips, Mark Christopher Lawrence, Chris Hardwick, Dayton Callie, Richard Brake, Matt Bush, Howard Hesseman, Bill Fagerbakke, Brea Grant, Caroline Williams, Malcolm McDowell, Scout Taylor-Compton, Margot Kidder, Danielle Harris, Brad Dourif, 'Weird Al' Yankovic, Chase Vanek

Well, what a weekend for the horror genre.  Never in recent memory have two hard R fright flicks battled it out for box office glory and if you were anything like me you sat through a sequel double feature.  Now comes the big question; which one owned and which one needs to be put out into celluloid pasture?  Originally I had contemplated forgoing an H2 review because I just didn’t want to deal with the backlash of rampant hatred that has existed even before the movie began filming.  But all the haters can go suck a dick.  Someone has to defend this movie and it looks like I’m one of the only ones willing to do that.

I can understand why this film will divide audiences.  It’s not the Michael Myers that we all grew up with and change can sometimes be a hard thing to handle for a lot of people.  But let’s get real serious, most of you didn’t even give it a chance.  You had your minds made up immediately because of the questionable 2007 effort.  And, to be honest, I was right there with you.  But what I witnessed on screen was an intense, brutal horror film that didn’t just deconstruct the slasher formula, it ignored its existence and became its own entity.  I can’t say that H2 is without faults, but I can say that it is anything but a run of the mill sequel and truly brings a unique take on the Myers legacy.

Much like the original Halloween II, this new incarnation picks up immediately where the previous one left off.  My boy Mickey is hauled away by the coroner only to awaken and escape into the wild.  We’re then treated to an homage to the first sequel with Laurie being stalked through the hospital by her homicidal brother.  And, man, was this a well crafted, tense scene.  Cut to a year later and Laurie, now living with Annie (Danielle Harris returns, saints be praised!) and her sheriff dad, is still dealing with the death of her friends and family.  This movie’s Laurie has much more in common with Curtis’ H2O Laurie than the originals sequel’s Laurie.  This chick is fucked up in the head.  The apple definitely doesn’t fall far from the other apple in this family.  Meanwhile Loomis, still alive and kicking despite appearing dead in the previous film, is promoting his new book and boy has he turned into on helluva fornicating son of a female dog.  As the 31st begins to rear its ugly head, so does M. Myers himself (in full on hobo garb) lead by visions of his mother to reunite the family.

Where the 2007 film was Zombie trying to infuse his style into Carpenter, this sequel is full on Zombie.  It’s best if you, for the sake of watching this film, forget everything you know about these characters from the older movies.  Zombie has reinvented them the way he sees fit.  As an enormous Halloween fan myself, I at first wanted to call sacrilege.  But then I remembered that the old movies are there on my dvd shelf whenever I feel like watching them.  The last thing Zombie wanted to do was to make another by the numbers sequel and I can’t fault him for that. 

The acting from the returning cast is, for the most part, leaps and bounds better than the previous installment because they no longer have to be stuck in the Carpenter formula.  They’re free to take liberties and make the characters their own.  Brad Dourif easily steals the film as Sheriff Brackett and Danielle Harris shines as usual, even though I felt she was slightly underused.  I found Scout Taylor-Compton to be ridiculously irritating and whiney in the previous installment, but she really showed me something in this one.  She’s no longer the innocent babysitter, but a pill poppin’ boozer with a truck load of emotional baggage.  Zombie still needs lessons on how to write for teenage girls, but I looked passed it because Scout still made me believe that Laurie was a real teenager.  When she gets upset with her surrogate “father” she gets fucking housed, just like a real teen would.  There was an emotional bound that I felt towards the characters and it was in large part due to these performances. 

If you’ve seen any of the trailers you’re fully aware of Sheri Moon Zombie’s reprisal of Michael’s mother, but this time in a ghostly fantasy form.  What should have been laughably retarded, somehow worked.  The scenes are frequent enough so as to not feel out of place, but infrequent enough so as to not take away from the rest of the film.  The thing that Zombie got dead on for this film, which was missing from his last one, was the feel of Halloween.  Not the movie, but the holiday.  By switching shooting locations from California to Georgia, the movie captured the autumn chill in the air and the leaves crunching beneath your feet.  The town of Haddonfield also became the Podunk, farming town that we were treated to in parts 4-6, as opposed to the slice of suburbia from the previous film. 

While I truly believe that Zombie has a great eye for directing a visually pleasing film, his screenwriting skills still lead something to be desired.  We all know about his affection for turning every character into foul mouthed rednecks.  There’s also the issue of making the opening hospital scene all an elaborate dream in Laurie’s head (this isn’t a spoiler, it’s in the trailer.)  There’s ways it could have been reworked to have not been just a dream, which is really such a cop out.  Laurie’s two new friends, Mya and Harley, are pretty useless especially since they have little to no character development.  They exist solely to be victims.  And I can’t not say anything about Myers new look.  The mask is very present during a large chunk of the film, but there are a few scenes where we catch glimpses of Michael’s face.  This is probably my biggest complaint and one element I wish Zombie hadn’t deviated from the original series on.  I understand that it was Zombie’s way of humanizing the villain, but Michael needs his mask.  

Malcolm McDowell seems like he had a blast playing an asshole Loomis, and I had no problem with the change in character.  This isn’t Donald Pleasance’s Loomis, keep in mind.  I do, however, feel that his character was too much in the background and came into the game too little too late.  There’s also the occasional plot hole such as where the hell has Michael been all year?  And how far away was he that he has to travel through all these effing fields?

Zombie has turned Halloween into his own entity and delivered one of the most unique (to say the least) entries in the series.  Superior to its predecessor on every level, Halloween II consisted of many questionable elements that somehow managed to meld together into a violent and surreal film that never loses its steam.  Go in without any preconceived notions and accept it for what it is and you might find yourself as shockingly surprised as I was.  Extra nerd points are awarded for the use of score pieces from the ‘81 Halloween II during the final shots of the movie.  This movie is out there, man, and I dug it.

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Johnny D




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