By Karen Benardello
Director: Rob Zombie
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Brad Dourif, Tyler Mane, Daeg Faerch, Sheri Moon and Sid Haig.
Original Release Date: 2007
Scores: Technical: 80, Story: 95, Acting: 90, Overall Score: 89
Halloween has come early this year for all horror fans. With the help of several veteran horror actors, some who have previously worked together, including Tyler Mane, Sheri Moon Zombie, Sid Haig, and Bill Moseley, adults have gotten a treat for themselves, while once again questioning who the kids next door really are. The prequel/remake of the original Halloween has slashed its way into theaters, beating down all of the competition and box-office records in its path.
With all of the recent remakes, prequels, and sequels of classic Hollywood horror movies from the 1970s and â€˜80s, including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street, it only seemed natural for movie studios to want to continue the trend, and begin to capitalize on classic holiday horror movies. While some horror fans might have questioned this idea after last yearâ€™s remake of Black Christmas failed miserably at the box office, Dimension Films decided to continue with its plans to finance a remake of the original Halloween, hoping it wouldnâ€™t suffer the same fate.
After the success of Rob Zombieâ€™s previous two mainstream movies, notably 2005â€™s The Devilâ€™s Rejects, Dimension evidently recognized his writing and directorial talent. The studio wanted him to write and direct the new version of Halloween, even though heâ€™s stated that he doesnâ€™t believe in making remakes and sequels. Zombie said no to the idea at first, but the studio rightfully so pressed him until he agreed. (To try to fool people, he even changed the original name of his second movie, the sequel to 2003â€™s House of 1,000 Corpses, from House of 2,000 Corpses to The Devilâ€™s Rejects, and made it easy for everyone to follow, even if they didnâ€™t see 1,000 Corpses.)
Zombieâ€™s version of Halloween, the ninth installment of the popular and successful franchise that helped launch Jamie Lee Curtisâ€™ career, looked promising since it was first announced. Even though it was released during Labor Day weekend, a full two months before the actual Halloween holiday, and did not have very much advertising, or any names in its cast that are recognizable to the general public, Zombieâ€™s version didnâ€™t seem as though it would disappoint horror fans.
For example, the small ad campaign relied heavily on word-of-mouth, making it seem as though both he and Dimension wanted to mainly draw in the seriesâ€™ true fans. This made it easy to believe both felt the final movie came out well; if not, they would targeted more people to come see it, in an effort to make more money. Zombie also doesnâ€™t rush to finish his movies, just so that he can quickly move onto the next one, and Halloween wasnâ€™t any exception. This allowed him to really develop the characters, especially the movieâ€™s villain, Michael Myers, as well as the plot.
Zombie, who decided not to make a straight remake, instead capitalized on the idea of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, and make his movie half a prequel, explaining what provoked Michael to kill, and half a remake. The first half shows Michael as a child at home in Haddonfield, Illinois, where he was verbally, emotionally, and physically abused, not only at home by his motherâ€™s boyfriend Ronnie, but at school as well, by a bully named Wesley. After getting into a fight with Wesley in the bathroom on Halloween day in 1963, Michaelâ€™s mother Deborah (Moon Zombie) was called down to the principalâ€™s office again. Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) suggested to her that Michael get psychiatric help, after he discovered pictures of mutilated creatures in his backpack, but Deborah denied there was anything wrong.
Meanwhile, Michael escaped from school, and followed Wesley home through the woods. He ambushed Wesley, and brutally beat him with a tree branch, despite Wesleyâ€™s pleas for mercy. Later that night, while Deborah was working at a strip club, Michaelâ€™s older sister Judith decided not to take him trick-or-treating as promised, as her boyfriend came over unannounced. After returning home from trick-or-treating alone, Michael murdered Ronnie, due to his numerous episodes of abuse, as well as Judith and her boyfriend, for not taking him trick-or-treating. He does however, spare his baby sister, Laurie.
Michael is taken into police custody, and is found guilty eleven months later, despite the fact he claims he doesnâ€™t remember anything about that night. He is taken to a psychiatric hospital, and has sessions with Dr. Loomis everyday. Deborah does indeed visit him once a week, but winds up killing herself, as she canâ€™t deal with being the mother of the child the media calls â€œthe devil.â€
Fifteen years later, Michael, (now played by Mane), is to be transferred to a new cell, after the hospital deems his treatment with Dr. Loomis to be unsuccessful. But he managed to break free of his restraints halfway through the transfer, killing the five armed guards who were escorting him, as well as four additional hospital employees, and escaped. Much to Dr. Loomisâ€™ fear, Michael goes back to Haddonfield, and retrieved his knife and mask that were hidden in his old home.
Michael starts to stalk his sister Laurie (now played by Scout Taylor-Compton), as well as her adopted family, the Strodes, and her best friends. After either beating or killing her friends and new family members, he confronted Laurie, and showed her a picture of the two of them as young children. Since Laurie doesnâ€™t realize it was the two of them in the picture, and doesnâ€™t know what Michael wants from her, she tried to get away from him, which just angered him. As Laurie continued to try to get away from Michael with Dr. Loomisâ€™ help, Michael became even angrier, and attacked them both.
Zombieâ€™s creative idea to mix both the prequel and remake of the original Halloween into one movie served both the audience and himself well. Since the focus of most of the movie, particularly the first half, was on Michaelâ€™s life, the audience was given a more in-depth understanding of what he went through as a child, particularly the abuse and neglect he experienced from his family, and his determination to stop it at any cost. Even though Michael didnâ€™t speak during the second half of the movie, and his face was always covered by one of his home-made masks, it was still easy to see why he wanted to hurt Laurie; though she never had the chance to hurt him before he was convicted, as she was only a baby, Michael was resentful that she never experienced the same abuse that he endured.
Zombie also had the smart idea of keeping Dr. Loomis as Michaelâ€™s psychiatrist during the 15 years he was in the hospital. This showed that Dr. Loomis cared for Michael, and felt that he had some redeeming qualities, even though the hospital considered the therapy to be unsuccessful, which was proven to be correct after he escaped. This is true to life; many Americans are only concerned at convicting suspected criminals, that they donâ€™t care what the causes of, or circumstances around, the crime were, or what happens to people once they are convicted.
Halloween has already become another success for Zombie, as it broke all previous Labor Day weekend records. It brought in $31 million in its first four days, over double the $15 million budget. It even topped the previous Labor Day weekend record holder, 1999â€™s The Sixth Sense, which earned $29 million. Halloween has renewed hope for the horror genre, as most recent horror movies have underperformed at the box office.
Zombieâ€™s success as a movie writer and director seems to rely on making horror movies that are filled with sex, nudity, violence, gore, profanity, drugs, and alcohol, as evident in Halloween, and his two earlier mainstream movies. While this prequel/remake focuses on Michaelâ€™s life as a child, it isnâ€™t suited for children, as it is rated R, specifically for strong, brutal, bloody violence and terror throughout; sexual content; graphic nudity; and language, itâ€™s a must-see for all adult fans of the Halloween franchise.