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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Halloween Pooh

My original Destination on Friday night was meant to be a Final one, but due to an error, my buddy picked up tickets to the 2-D showing of The Final Destination as opposed to the "in yo face" version of the film. So with time constraints lingering over our heads, we opted to check out Rob Zombie's second incarnation of his rebooted Halloween series. I am one of the few that didn't completely hate the first Halloween remake, I thought the theatrical version had some solid moments, but the film mostly suffered from too much being crammed into one uneven story. The DVD release on the other hand, was different enough from the theatrical release to almost make the film unbearable, but I would rather not spend time on remake past, so I'll just get into my thoughts on Halloween II already.

I'm not planning on spending too much time on this film, because it is clearly not worth spending too much time on, and I would gather that most that have seen the film would agree with me, though I haven't seeked out any one else's thoughts on the film to really know what other horror fans think. I actually liked the first 35 minutes of Halloween II; it was going along at a good pace as it took off right where the first film had ended. There are some grotesque little touches that were satisfying to the sadistic horror fan in me, and the way everything is shot and presented is quite impressive. Halloween II's first act, if you will, works as a pretty solid Slasher film, a Slasher that is very mean spirited with some harsh moments strewn about, but then, the 35 minute mark hits.

If you have, or if you will see Halloween II, you will know what happens at the 35 minute mark that made me think to myself "Are you fucking kidding me right now?!" And things just went downhill from that moment and just continuously got worse the longer the movie went on. Story wise, Halloween II is basically Michael Myers (Tyler Mane) coming back to life, where he then proceeds to spend almost the entire film, making his way back to Haddonfield so he can have a sort of "family reunion" with his kid sister, Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton). With her parents murdered in the first Halloween, Laurie is now living with Sheriff Lee Brackett (Brad Dourif aka CHUCKY!) and his daughter/Laurie's best bud, Annie (Danielle Harris) who survived a brutal attack via Myers, but lived so she could serve the plot of the very film we are discussing here.

The other main character from the first Halloween making a return is Dr Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), who amazingly still has eyeballs after what seemed to be his demise in the first film. To me, Loomis seems to have absolutely no point in this film except to serve as the catalyst for Laurie finding out that Myers and she are siblings (via his new book). Other than that, he serves no other real purpose except to be a separate story line that is just meant as filler material for when Myers wasn't eating dogs, or when Laurie wasn't hanging out in crusty bathrooms covered in graffiti and draped in bad florescent lighting.

Another recurring character is Misses Voorhees err...I mean, Misses Myers as played by Sheri Moon Zombie. I personally have no problem at all with Rob Zombie using his wife in his films, she's not a great actress, but at times she is serviceable, plus I think she's pretty hot, though she unfortunately refrains from showing her butt crack in this movie. Butt...her character in this film is that of a ghostly apparition, and how her ghostly appearance serves the plot is just plain terrible, on top of her showing up five times too many - with a horse to lame it up a bit. I won't go into detail as to what purpose Mama Myers serves, but it is one of the bigger issues with Halloween II's story line.

Another big problem with the story is situations are created for the soul purpose of having someone to kill for Michael Myers. This happens in plenty of Slasher films, sure, but it seems like it happened more in Halloween II, than in your average film of the genre. I did get a kick out of the kills for the most part, they are very mean spirited, and there isn't anything silly, or unrealistic about them - every murder is very harsh and simple, but still disturbingly satisfying. I was honestly kinda shocked at how much violence got by the MPAA, and for them to garner Halloween II an R rating is a big surprise. While I did like these kills, I think many horror fans will find them off putting, especially in the context of a Halloween movie. I don't mean Zombie's Halloween, but the original series. It may offend some of those fans, but this isn't the original series, so I'm fine with it.

Michael Myers look is something that should certainly get a shit load of classic Halloween fans all riled up. I think it's funny to be honest, so many complain about the essence of the original Michael Myers being completely disregarded, and how it's a travesty and an embarrassment to the original Boogeyman character from Halloween past to handle Michael Myers the way that Zombie does. However, if Zombie had made his films in the same vein as the original series, and stuck to those characteristics of Michael Myers, we would have something like Gus Van Sant's Psycho all over again...how did that one go over? I appreciate that Zombie has tried to make the character different, and his own; going a different direction gives us something new to watch, instead of treading the same shallow water that has been gone over numerous times in the original series. On top of that, in the sequels, Michael Myers usually looked pretty shitty in comparison to the '78 Carpenter film, so I would prefer a drastic change to the characters look over a moronic over sized mask like the ones found in the middle of the original franchise.

Personally, I thought the new, revamped, Myers looked very badass and it was nice to see a realistic take on the character. There are three different versions of Myers to be found in this movie - the first would be the classic look, the second would be the homeless Myers, and thirdly, a hybrid of the two styles. As I said, I like the realistic aspects of the character, and when you see Myers walking around in the woods without his mask, but rocking a seriously dope beard, it may be a little strange for some. But why would Myers be wearing a mask when he isn't killing people and no one is around? In addition, having a beard is much more plausible than having him shave - out in the woods - with no bathroom - let alone a mirror or a place to keep his Mach 3 and shaving gel (his skin is very sensitive).

As for how the movie is actually made, on a technical level, Halloween II has some seriously impressive scenes, with a style all Zombies own. This dude has real talent, and people who say other wise are being obnoxious for the sake of being obnoxious. There are moments where his grimy white trash look shines through in fantastic ways, but there is this other side of him that drops the ball completely. It's almost like Zombie has two styles: One being the very pleasing to the eyes, subdued, gloomy, trashy look that shows his strength as a filmmaker. On the other hand, he has a repugnant side that is an overblown version of his trashy style of movie making. This is the style that was very prevalent in the utterly terrible House of a 1,000 Corpses. These are the scenes when everything becomes orange and the camera gets all wacky and wild! so distracting, and unbecoming of what is done in the rest of the film.

These loathsome techniques are mainly found in the strip club scene...yes, Zombie has once again found a way to fit in a strip club scene. But he really didn't find a way to fit it in, as it has nothing to do with the story line of the movie. Then there's the party scene. Ugh...I was so all done by time the party scene came to be - what part of Haddonfield would I look to find a place with hot girls dancing topless on separate stages, while some rockabilly band plays music...that everyone seems to like?! The scene reminded me of the Titty Twister found in From Dusk Till Dawn. However, the Titty Twister was in the deserts of Mexico, not in a fucking suburban area neighborhood!

In the end, I really wish that we had gone to see The Final Destination instead...at least I know what I'm getting out of that movie, and it is something that I usually really enjoy. I am a very forgiving person with my cinema, and can find some good in many movies that I probably shouldn't. With Halloween II, even though I dug some of the kills, Myers' look was appealing to me, and I liked most of Zombie's film style, there just wasn't enough good to offset the bad. I wouldn't say not to see Halloween II though, it may be worth it for some of the positive aspects I mentioned, and maybe you will be more forgiving than I. I'll probably watch it again, and chances are I will like it a little bit more, now that I know it sucks, and my low expectations are completely nonexistent.

11 comments:

  1. I did not read all of the review, lest I taint my own viewing of the film as I haven't seen it yet, but great humor throughout. I enjoyed the first, but it seems as though H2 is not going to live up to that expectation.

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  2. Wow, yeah you should have seen The Final Destination. It's not great, but as you said, it's what you would expect. I was planning to go see Halloween 2 later this week, but I think my money might be better spent seeing Inglorious Basterds again or checking out District 9. Some of the things you talked about Zombie putting in the film made me sigh audibly several times. I can't wait for his Blob remake where The Blob was brought up in a trailer park, sold meth for a while, and wears a collection of grimy wife beaters before it gets drunk on PBR and proceeds to dissolve people inside of itself.

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  3. I avoided spoilers as much as possible, Ryne which is what I always try to do with every review. But I personally read very little in terms of reviews before seeing a movie. You never know what you may read!!

    H2 has some great moments wasted on a terrible script, filled with ridiculous happenings and some poor style choices. I would still give it a shot, but lower those expectations for a better viewing!

    Thanks for the compliments and for reading!

    I wish I did see FD4 instead, Bugg...but like I said, I would never want to deter someone from any film, while I think the general consensus will be negative with H2, some folks will enjoy it I'm sure. Then again, I did see Inglourious Basterds twice, and would very much encourage a second viewing of that movie. It's even better the second time around!

    What you said about The Blob is soo funny, and sadly, it may be true! One of my buddies said something about Sheri Moon Zombie having to gain 450 pounds to play the Blob! Wonder if they'll find a way to get the Blob into a strip club at some point? Can't wait to find out!

    Thanks for dropping by, Bugg!

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  4. I saw it last night and have similar thoughts, Matt. It's a complete mess, but still more interesting than something like, say, the F13 reboot. I'll go in depth when I get my review up tonight, but a few points:

    1. I love me some Malcolm McDowell, but it really did feel like Zombie just happened to have him so he tried to force his way into the story. There really is NO point whatsoever, except for the revelation in his book which could have been done differently.

    2. So Chris Hardwicke has a talk show in Illinois, conveniently set 10 minutes from Haddonfield?

    3. Ditto Sherie Moon. I actually really liked her work in the remake, but here, she was literally a costumed ghost. With a white horse. (Side note: halloween 2 is a ready made drinking game: sip every time snow or a white horse appears, to start)

    4. I've never traveled much through Illinios, but is it a ready-made redneck community as well? (I actually had these questions about The Final Destination as well; why do horror films insist on using southern accents and attitudes for their lesser characters and bland well-spoken actors for their leads?) The kills en route to Lori were just mean.

    5. I won't go into spoilers here, but my friend and I were THOROUGHLY confused by the ending. I liked the last shot, but at one point we looked at each other and tried to figure out exactly what Zombie was saying. Were we just overthinking it?

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  5. So I won't see this movie because I really disliked Zombies first Halloween.
    I have yet to see the alternate version (of Halloween numero uno) but I read the screenplay online and watched some clips on youtube. That alternate one was SO MUCH better.

    I am saddened that this film seems to be getting such a poor reception. More accurately I am saddened that Zombie can't focus his obvious talent. I love Sheri. She is super cute.

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  6. Yo, I forgot about how Loomis had his eyes gouged out at the end of Halloween '07! I thought at the time it would be cool to have Loomis return as some kind of blind prophet, ranting about the Evil of Michael. There's so many ways that Zombie could've gone with this sequel but what he ended up doing was so lame, lazy, and forgettable. He really needs to step back and not feel as though every idea he has is gold because based on the junk that makes it into his films, that's what it looks is happening. There's no filter, no self-editing going on.

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  7. Just to play off of what Jeff Allard up there said, Loomis coming back as a blind prophet definitely would have kicked some serious ass. Or better yet give him two glass eyes that keep changing positions in every shot without explanation.

    So far the majority of things I've heard about H2 have been "eh, it's ok I guess". That's still not enough for me to drag my lazy ass into a theater to see this, but at the same time I feel like I need to just see it for myself so that I can be one of the cool guys who has seen Halloween 2 and can officially rag on it. Just kidding. Great write-up, man!

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  8. Thanks for the comments every one!

    First I should add, that I work in restaurants, and they have big ass knives, but not nearly as big as the knives that can be found in the average Haddonfield kitchen! Seriously.

    Emily: I'm always down with McDowell, but his character was nothing but a waste of time in H2. It almost seems like he was just shoved in there to have Dr. Loomis in the movie.

    All I thought through the ending of the movie was what the hell is going on right now! It was so strange and completely ridiculous and just made the film that much more unbearable to sit through. At least it was the end!

    And I highly doubt that Haddonfield has a local TV station with enough pull to bring in Weird Al! dude is a super star!

    Also, I look forward to your review of the movie!

    Christine: What is put on the screen is a complete wast of talent, and it's almost worth a watch just to see some of the brilliance and talent that Zombie has in him. That's up until he ruins it with a lame plot device, or some over done stylized crap, thus ruining anything of value that he previously put on screen.

    Jeff: I have seen the first Halloween a couple of times, and his (Loomis) eyes are completely gouged out of his head. And the blind prophet would have been the way to go, instead of making him a celebrity scumbag along the lines of Octomom!

    Zombie could have stripped out a lot of the bullshit that's in H2 and just went with a simple chase movie between Myers, and Laurie, and it would have been fine. There is no threat to Laurie, or she is not aware of a threat whatsoever until almost the end of the movie!

    Aaron: I agree with you, agreeing with Jeff! And if Loomis had two glass eyeballs, Myers could have squeezed his head until they popped out of the sockets!

    What you have heard is pretty accurate, and i am as forgiving as it gets when it comes to a majority of horror films, but H2 is weak. Still, I would never want to completely discourage some one from seeing a movie, so give it a shot if there isn't anything better to do. Like knitting, or reading the Bible, or doing laundry, or eating carrots, or....

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  9. Comparing Loomis to the Octomom is a touch of brilliance my friend.

    Yes, Haddonfield does not strike me as worthy of Mr. Yankovic, but how did McDowell get to town so quickly? Was his limo part hover car? Do Jewish assistants drive really fast? (I don't know why, but I found the 'as my people say, kosher' line absolutely hysterical).

    I have a theory about the ending, but I'm hesitant to post it with spoilers (although the ending is so confusing that a spoiler might not actually ruin anything). I mention it at the end of my review. Perhaps the likely 9 hour DVD release will develop it more.

    I almost wonder if, like M. Night Shayamapoop, Zombie should shake things up and just direct someone else's screenplay. He's in a serious rut.

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  10. Alright, Matt. I wasn't going to see this film until maybe it appeared on cable or netflix. I sighed audibly after acknowledging its television trailer. But, when me and my cousin couldn't make it to Monster Mania, I promised him we'd go see it together. So H2 are my weekend plans. Whether I like it or not.

    This was a perfect review, because for me there weren't any spoilers. I applaud Zombie's original works (yes, I liked House of 1000 Corpses) and his homage to the horror/western/70's style slick of cinematic cool but I don't think he has any business touching OPP's because they tend to be way too wrapped up in his own narcissistic ideals of storytelling. Tell me: am I nuts or does all his films follow a similiar vein?

    The essence of Halloween is lost. The fright factor for me was the mystery of Michael. Even with Part 5 which I love shamelessly, where they tried to zero in on the method of Michael's madness.

    I didn't particularly care for the first and felt awful for the friend I dragged to see it with me. Now my 17 year old cousin is dragging me and I'm sure, he'll love it. Kids...

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  11. Still planning on seeing it, so I will have to reproach the review, though my expectations are in the gutter..

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