Friday, August 31, 2007

Halloween (2007)

Fear 1/5
Gore 4/5
Entertainment 2/5
Creepiness 0/5
Nightmares 0/5

I won't blabber on and on about how the first Halloween re-invigorated the horror genre, how it single-handedly invented another one, or how amazing it was in all its Hitchkockian intense build-ups, camera angles and overall suspense. We all know how incredible the original was and how much it continues to send shivers down our spines. Turn out the lights, put on this flick, and you can't tell me its not one of the most unnerving films you have ever seen--much like Psycho, no matter how many times you see it.

Rob Zombie's 're-imagining' of this classic film focuses on what the first one didn't. Namely, how Michael was raised, tormented by his mother's abusive boyfriend and daily tauntings from the kids at school. He escapes his daily torments into a world in which he kills small animals (the film never fully explains why) and this is what alarms his teachers and a mother that is initially in denial. Combined with his tortuous home and school life, Michael lashes out, killing one of his classmates and then turning his violent rage onto his family.

Upon killing his sister and mother's boyfriend, Michael is shipped off to an asylum where he is analyzed and 'befriended' by Dr. Sam Loomis (played very well by Malcolm McDowell). No one can seem to break into Michael's mind as he finds comfort in making masks out of paper mache and wearing them to hide what he calls 'his ugly face' (the masks bearing striking resemblance to those worn by the shit nu-metal band Slipknot). Fifteen years pass, Michael does not utter a word and he ends up breaking out of the asylum and returns back to his home town of Haddonfield.

That's the basic gist of the background that is supposed to justify Michael's psychopathic behavior. I got picked on a shit load when I was a kid, always the smallest kid in my class growing up and I know plenty of kids that were verbally abused by parents that turned out alright.

Getting down to it, this was a movie that did not need to be remade. The suspense of the original is completely lost and is instead traded in for Mr. Zombie's brand of brash brutality which the movie certainly had a ton of. But after about scene 10,000 of brutality (enough already, I fucking get it Rob) it starts to wear thin and this one trick pony needs to be taken out to pasture. Not only does he bastardize an original classic (oddly enough, much like the remake of Psycho), he actually alludes to Myers having some semblance of humanity left. What made the original so great is that we knew Myers was a psychopathic killer with 'devil's eyes' that had shown no humanity and THAT's what made him frightening. Zombie instead dumbs him down, no matter how much brutality is shown on screen, in the single moment in which he shows Myers attempting to reach out to his sister. The horror was completely sucked dry and we are left instead with a truly brutal film but hardly resembling anything like its predecessor.

I don't know what was more disturbing about this film. The fact that it was remade or that some parents at the theater dragged their 5 year old son to watch it with them. My nominees for parents of the year right there. The kid was screaming during certain parts and the father covered the kid's mouth. Truly horrific. I saw this once and can say I did but this will not get a repeat viewing, ironically enough, like the Psycho remake. And it's the original Psycho which clearly influenced the original Halloween, giving it inspiration for intense build-ups and creepy camera work. Sadly enough, the same influence did not carry over with this boring and lackluster remake. Mr. Zombie, I appreciate that you are a fan but please, stay as such and don't dumb down another franchise.

Cortez the Killer

* * * *

Fear 2/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 1/5
Nightmares 1/5

Being neither a fan of Rob Zombie's music nor his two other films, and the fact that Halloween is one of my all time favorite films, it's safe to say that my expectations were very very low for this. For starters, I agree 100% with Cortez on the fact that remaking a classic like John Carpenter's 1978 independent masterpiece is completely unneeded and, maybe even slightly insulting and cocky. It's like saying, "yeah, that Mona Lisa painting is pretty good, but I bet I could do it better." And given Zombie's track record I have to say it's a fairly baseless boast. House of 1000 Corpses was a cheap, weak and dull "homage" to 70's schlock-shock and The Devil's Rejects was just as pathetic (Beard will totally defend that film to the death, but this is me talking here). So, yeah, I went into this expecting a stinky turd burger.

Well surprise surprise, not only did this exceed my expectations, I actually really liked it. All of the above stands true, but I think Zombie's "re-imagining" was enough that it felt like a familiar, but totally different movie than the original. The story line is creative (if not a little obvious at times) and it is certainly violent. A lot of people have been talking about how gory the movie is, but it really isn't. There is certainly a lot of blood, but gory...not really. It is, as Cortez notes, pretty brutal, however. The body count is pretty fucking high in this and the murders are generally drawn out and lengthy which makes it a little hard to watch at times. But then, this is a horror movie and that ickiness makes it all the more effective.

The big difference here, aside from the copious amount of blood (the original is, essentially, bloodless) and the fact that, except for Dee Wallace and Scout Taylor-Compton, all of the female characters wind up naked, is that the focus of the character development is on Myers and Dr. Loomis. Loomis, played marvelously by Malcolm McDowell, is no longer a wacky doctor who, despite being 100% correct, comes across as a weird kook that no one should believe. Instead, he seems to know what's up here. The Laurie Strode figure is almost an after-thought, just another victim who just happens to be Myer's sister (everyone knows that right?). This is kind of cool as, again, it feels like a new movie and not a remake.

There are some cool cameos from older horror films too - Brad Dourif, Clint Howard, Udo Kier, Danny Trejo, Sybil Danning, Adrienne Barbeau, and for some crazy reason,Mickey Dolenz from the Monkees. Trying to spot all of these people is part of the fun. And Myers is played by the hulking Tyler Mane who played Sabretooth in the X-Men films. Finally, of course, nearly the entire cast of both 1000 Corpses and Rejects (yes, including Sid Haig) are here too.
The films starts well, gets a little plodding in the middle, but then picks up big time in the finale of the film where things get really intense. There were a lot of "surprise" scares that made me jump and laugh out loud and Zombie successfully worked in a lot of "no-way-out situations" that were clever and scary.

Overall, this was really good and I really had a good time. So, without further adieu, I am happy to announce that I finally like something by Rob Zombie. Well done. Now, just stop playing music.
- Complaint Dept


Fear 1/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 4/5
Creepiness 0/5
Nightmares 0/5

It's a given that this "re-imagining" was needless. Like him or not (I personally do), Rob Zombie was setting himself up for failure from the moment he signed on to do this. But we here at planet of terror have beat this point into the ground, so let's look at the film for what it is.

Almost every aspect of this remake has a good and bad side to it. The backstory showing Michael's "tortured" (I'm with Cortez here, it wasn't like the kid had the worst childhood, it was no picnic but it didn't warrant turning out as a psychopath either) past does in fact make you feel more connected to the "character" of Michael, but that was one of the things that makes the original story so frightening is that that entire portion is missing. It was not knowing what had happened to Michael all those years in confinement, and only Loomis' impression of why we should be scared that made the story work so well. There was power in the not knowing. Still, the interactions here between Loomis and Michael were interesting.

Zombie explores some interesting ideas with the masks. The idea that Michael needs to wear masks to become someone else, someone capable of killing is interesting, but do we really need to know that about him to be afraid of the dude the in the mask with the big knife? Perhaps Zombie was really focused on the humanity and struggle within Michael, and bringing that out so that the audience connects with him, which I think worked to a degree. The scenes before he breaks out of the hospital were some of the most frightening as Zombie does close up shots on the eye holes of Michael's mask where you know that somewhere in there is a person instead of the relentless killer from the original franchise.

Then there were the things that were just silly. Honestly, Michael sitting on the sidewalk forlorn while "Love Hurts" plays in the background was just fucking stupid, and yet, a highlight of the film. Also, Zombie takes great pains to remove any ambiguity about the connection between Laurie Stroud and Michael. Thanks dude, I get it. Sherry-Moon Zombie was atrocious, and the young Michael made me shiver. BUT, I was honestly surprised and relieved that the score was the original one done by John Carpenter, and not a Nu Metal version redone by Zombie. I all but expected that.

The saving graces were the performances of
Brad Dourif and Malcolm McDowell. Both were spot on. Also, my movie-going experience was priceless. Folks in Long Beach take their horror movies pretty seriously, and we had a peanut gallery of about 200 obnoxious people who held no restraint in screaming out such gems as "bitch got some flat ass titties", "look at that broke ass old cracker" "RUN BITCH RUN", and other beautiful moments such as the group of four ladies responsible for all of the above statements leaving during the climax of the film, only to scream, wave their hands int he air and literally run out of the theater after the false ending gives way to the obligatory second climax. What was once a respected and cherished genre of film has been reduced to a madhouse in Long Beach, but I'll be damned if it doesn't make for an enjoyable evening.

The real question here is should you see this. And honestly, I can't make a definitive statement on that. At best you will still most likely just be asking yourself why it was made in the first place, and that's just not a good sign. It's like trying to find the specific combination of scents that makes poop smell bad; sure it's a good thing for someone to explore and to know the answer, but in the end it doesn't really matter cause you already know poop smells bad. I suppose if you don't care that much about the original, and you thought that the Texas Chainsaw remake as good as or better than the original, then sure go for it. But if that's the case, why are you reading this blog? And if that isn't the case, odds are you already threw down 10 bucks to see it opening night (as apparently all of planet of terror did) and left the theater asking yourself: "why"?

- the fucking beard

1 comment:

Jewcifer said...

The Mona Lisa is overrated and sucks. Ill take anything by Luis Royo in a heartbeat over that lame painting.