Halloween II review
Rob Zombie's second stab at the classic John Carpenter franchise is as confused as Michael Myers himself, sometimes...
Rob Zombie, not surprisingly, has a lot to say about Michael Myers. After all, the most interesting aspect of Zombie’s remake of Halloween isn’t the ending, which is basically the original Halloween, but the beginning and the middle, where we get a glimpse into the mind of, and an attempt at the humanization of, a child serial killer grown up to gargantuan proportions. It wasn’t entirely successful, but it did make for a very interesting take on the origin of Myers.
In Halloween II, Zombie basically picks up where he left off in the first one. Instead of probing Myers’ mind as a child, and what drove him to kill, the movie probes Myers’ mind in the present, as he hacks and slashes his way through the fornicating teenagers of Haddonfield, Illinois, once more. Of course, the movie doesn’t explain how Michael Myers comes back to life, but it does explain why he comes after his dear sister Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton).
Plot wise, Halloween II is kind of like another famous sequel, Friday the 13th Part 2. Both feature hulking maniacs. Both have prominent scenes involving a shack of some sort. Both feature the killer’s mother in a prominent role (and blame her for the killing spree). Both are not very good. There is one crucial difference, however. Friday the 13th part 2 takes a one-off movie and spurs it into a franchise; Halloween II is Zombie’s attempt to kill off any chance at refranchising Michael.
This is an incredibly jumbled movie. There are flashbacks, flash forwards, multiple dream sequences, multiple moves to the parallel storyline of Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) and his exploitative book tour, and the omnipresent hallucination-eye view of the two Myers children.
There is a lot going on in this movie. It’s not particularly hard to follow, but some scenes seem left in for no real reason, some sections of the film run too long, and the multiple changes in perspective from character to character really disrupt the movie.
The nightmares and hallucinations are trying entirely too hard to be strange. From Deborah Myers (Sheri Moon Zombie) and young Michael (Chase Wright Vanek) leading a white horse down a hallway to an Alice in Wonderland-type of banquet scene, it’s as if Zombie decided that the first Halloween and The Devil’s Rejects were too reality-based, so he needed to go back to the subconscious freakery of House of 1000 Corpses, except with a layer of unhelpful psychobabble to attempt and make the weirdness into realism.
In case you can’t tell, it doesn’t really work. When you’re dealing with a guy who survives multiple gunshots while hiding out in a redneck’s backyard for a year, you don’t have to try to explain post-traumatic stress disorder.
Likewise, the kill scenes are trying entirely too hard to be violent. Myers doesn’t stab. He smashes, stomps, pummels, and brutalizes, with every motion accompanied by staggeringly loud squelches, thuds, squishes, snaps, and other onomatopoeias.
Every actor shrieks. Poor Scout Taylor-Compton has undoubtedly screeched herself a throat node or two. Michael Myers grunts and groans almost constantly. He even manages to breathe loudly at several points in the movie. Not heavy breathing loud, rock concert loud. Zombie even resorts to the cheapest of scare, the soundtrack scare.
The film wasn’t all bad. I really enjoyed the interaction between the severely underrated Brad Dourif’s Sheriff Brackett and daughter Annie (Danielle Harris). Likewise, while I hate the fact that Dr. Loomis is now a sleazy publicity hound/douche bag, Malcolm McDowell does that sort of character well and has one of the better scenes in the movie during a book signing.
There are some very impressive feats of camera movement and scenework, and the film has some very intense segments that create legitimate tension. However, those are few and far between. Every good moment in the film is doubled up by bad moments, unneeded gross-outs, and straining for effect.
I can see what Rob Zombie is trying to do with this film, and it’s an interesting take on the Myers mystique. It just never quite gels into a movie, and quite frankly, Rob Zombie isn’t the guy who can handle it. His style is too heavily based on visual excess, and the fairly simple main plot of Halloween II gives him a little too much freedom to run wild.
US correspondent Ron Hogan enjoys a good game of “Spot the cult movie actor,” which Halloween II is great for. Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness and daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.