Sunday, January 2, 2011

Horror Movie Review: Halloween II

Halloween II

Starring: Scout Taylor-Compton, Malcolm McDowell, Tyler Mane, and Brad Dourif

Directed by: Rob Zombie

Written by: Rob Zombie

Production Companies: Dimension Films, Spectacle Entertainment Group, and Trancas International Films

Release Date: August 28, 2009

This is really two reviews, because there are two ways of looking at Halloween II. One review is Halloween II as its own, original horror film. The other is as the remake/sequel that it is.

If you look at Halloween II as its own beast, it's a pretty good horror flick, although not Rob Zombie's best work. Michael Myers, serial slasher, returns to Haddonfield to kill his sister, Laurie Strode, originally Angel Myers. The world has thought Michael dead since the last movie despite his missing body. Laurie, on the other hand, is struggling with post traumatic stress disorder from the attack in the first film. Scout Taylor-Compton does a pretty good job as the emotionally distraught, manic-depressive Laurie Strode. The revelation that Michael is her brother sends her into a tailspin of self destructive behavior. She and friend Annie are exceedingly annoying, but very realistic.

However, Laurie has dreams and delusions which beg many questions. She sees visions of her real mother, played by Sherri Moon Zombie, and a clown mask identical to the delusions that Michael has. How does Laurie know what she looks like? Two people, even related and having the same familial memories, would not likely have the same identical delusions, much less two people who grew up completely separated. Which begs the question, is Michael really just a tool for a metaphysical Deborah Myers? Does she return from the dead as an evil spirit seen only by Michael to drive him to kill?

Speaking of, Michael's kills are generally unimaginative here pretty much sticking with walking up to a person and stabbing him or her with his big knife. But he's effective nonetheless as a serial slasher. Creative kills are nice, but not essential. Less forgivable is his arrival at a massive Halloween party where he kills two people and disappears. The kill is utterly pointless when it could have been something significant. It could have added tension to the character of Laurie Strode, but the deaths go unnoticed and the friend of Laurie's who got killed, her disappearance was easily dismissed as having run off with some guy, so even not finding the victim dead, Laurie was not concerned about her disappearance. The killings at the strip club just outside of Haddonfield at least showed us that Michael killed whomever he came across. The fact that he had a smorgasbord of victims and he just moved on took that away. He didn't even take the van they were making out in.

Despite this, there are some disturbing dream sequences and some of Laurie's delusions are really quite captivating and creepy. And the ending opens up some interesting possibilities for the next film of the series.

However, as a remake/sequel, the questionable things become worse when viewed in comparison with the original. Jamie Lee Curtis's Laurie Strode was a teen scared by an ever following mad man out to kill her, but despite that she found the strength to fight back. She poked him with wire hangers, she shot him in the face, and with Loomis's help, set him on fire in an explosion. Scout Taylor-Compton does nothing but run. Well, she screams and cries, too. Taylor-Compton's may be a more realistic portrayal, but it lacks what every good horror film has. That point where the scared to-be victim fights back. In Halloween II
Michael is not beat by someone finding the strength to fight back, but by numbers.

And Malcolm McDowell's Loomis is, well, lame compared to Donald Pleasence. The differences don't bother me. Zombie's Loomis is a shallow, annoying media monger. I'm ok with that. I mean, I can see the point of having annoying characters. They are supposed to annoy you and hopefully show you through stereotypes real people whom we have grown accustomed to not being annoyed with whom we probably should. But why was he in Zombie's Halloween II? There's no point of revelation to his misguided and selfish actions being wrong. He profiteers off of his experience with Michael, then he confronts him at the end, which is easily dismissed as him trying to secure his rights as the Michael expert and vanquisher, not some noble attempt at redemption, which it should have been.

Tyler Mane's Michael, compared to Dick Warlock's Michael doesn't compare either. Dick Warlock and Nick Castle and Tony Moran before him in the original, were silent, unstoppable killing machines. Tyler Mane's Michael, despite being physically more intimidating, is a grunter and that simple quality makes him more human and less frightening. In the director's cut he even talks, ever so briefly, another stake in the fear caused by our slasher.

But whether you go with more review of Halloween II as a poor remake/sequel, or my some good, some bad review as its own animal, both reviews agree on one thing. Brad Dourif is phenomenal here. As Sheriff Lee Brackett, Dourif gives his best performance. We see that he can do more than be creepy. Brackett, played by Dourif, needs to keep coming back as long as they are planning on making this new Halloween series.

Rob Zombie had said he did not intend to do another Halloween, but when he heard there were plans for a Halloween II, he signed up to help preserve his vision. Sounds like a half hearted reason to do a movie. And that's what Halloween II looks like...a half hearted movie.

Related Trailers

Life Blood
- Scout Taylor-Compton also appears in Life Blood.
Forty years after committing a murder and inexplicably dropping off the map, lesbian couple Brooke (Sophie Monk) and Rhea (Anya Lahiri) are back -- although not necessarily in the form you'd expect. They're as beautiful as ever, but now they're vampires, too. And the ladies' newfound bloodlust, coupled with their killer looks, makes them a deadly pair in this sexy horror flick from director Ron Carlson.

Suck - Malcolm McDowell also appears in Suck. Singer Joey (Rob Stefaniuk) and his band, the Winners, will do anything for rock 'n' roll immortality. So when vampire Queeny (Dimitri Coats) bites into bassist Jennifer (Jessica Paré), the musical wannabes prove that vampires can rock, but stardom too often sucks. Malcolm McDowell stars as a vampire hunter, Henry Rollins as a radio show host, Iggy Pop as a producer, Alice Cooper as an evil bartender and Moby as a rock band's lead singer.

The Devil's Rejects - Tyler Mane has an uncredited role in Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects. Enlisting the aid of two vigilante brothers, Texas sheriff John Wydell (William Forsythe) seeks vengeance against his brother's creepy murderers in this Western-flavored sequel to writer-director Rob Zombie's bloody House of 1,000 Corpses. With payback in mind, the posse heads out to the Firefly homestead to take down Otis (Bill Moseley), Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), Tiny (Matthew McGrorey) and Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) once and for all.

Chain Letter - Brad Dourif also appears in Chain Letter. When a group of tech-savvy high school pals receives an electronic chain letter that demands they each forward the message or face consequences, they laugh it off as an online prank and delete the posts. But when the deranged sender of the message starts hunting them down one by one, they find themselves in a fight for their lives. This tense horror film from director Deon Taylor stars Nikki Reed and Keith David.

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