So I Think I’m Done With Horror For While….
….or, “Man that Rob Zombie “Halloween” flick was pretty meh.
I’m not quite sure what I was expecting. The online buzz was pretty brutal ever since the script leaked a while back, and Friday’s edition of the Globe’s Arts and Entertainment section proclaimed that the “movie was not filmed for critics and would be reviewed in Saturday’s paper. Never a good sign.
Still, I loved the Devil’s Rejects. It wasn’t so much a horror movie as it was a revenge fantasy spattere dwith over the top quoteable dialouge and hysterically cartoonish carachters and gore. And John Carpenter’s original Halloween remains one of two perfect horror films, alongside the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
So like a glutton for punishment I convinced my sister, neckbrace and all, to come with me opening night. And for the first half hour, you get a pretty sweet flick. I’m not going to go into a full on review here, but I did like the first 3o minutes with young Mikey laying waste to his family that fateful Halloween night. There were some genuinely creepy, knot-in-the-stomach moments, such as a serene Michael Myers calmly chewing on candy corn at the kitchen table before sighing to himself, pulling down his mask and nonchalantly opening the kitchen junk drawer to snag some duct tape and kitchen knife. In fact, aside from the unintentionally hilarious use Nazareth’s “Love Hurts” juxtapozing scenes of young Michael forlornly sitting on his front steps with no one to take him trick or treating while his mother, Sherri Moon, gytrates for truckers at the strip bar and the hippy-dippy turtle necked Malcom Mcdowell as Dr. Loomis, nearly everything up to the point that young Michael is carted off to the asylum works. If this was a short film I’d give it a solid A-
But it’s not a short film. It devolves into a crapfest soon after. Zombie decides to take everything that was fantastic and groundbreaking about Carpenter’s original work and launch it about a mile off screen like it was launched from a potato gun. The suspense that kept you on the edge of your seat whenever Michael Myers would pop onto screen for a few seconds then be gone beofre you could blink an eye, the simple acceptance that he was just evil incarnate, and the fiesty, wholesome survivor that was Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode have been jettisoned for bleak, depressing death, rote one-note characters who exhibit your typical horror movie poor decision making and Zombie’s patented “I’ll show you for not letting me remake the Chainsaw” tribute. On the plus side there is a lot of boobs in this movie. Oh, and boobs. Lots of boobs. So much so that the first word that comes up on IMDB.com’s “plot keywords” section is “topless”.
Two quick notes: The kill scenes in this film aren’t fun at all. I don’t know if Zombie is making some sort of commentary on the folks that plop down $10 to see on screen carnage or if he secretly has a snuff film fetish, but every death in his Halloween is hyper realistic, brutal and not for the squeamish. In the first kill, a young junior high bully is beaten to death with a tree limb, rolling aroundin the dirt screaming until he can only whimper, cowering and covering himself until he cannot move his limbs, and finally, pleading for his life until he can no longer speak, move or feel. The camera takes his own P.O.V. for his last moments, as the tree limbs seemingly close in around him and all fades to black. It’s too brutal. Part of the fun of a good slasher film, is the over the top kills. The kind that make you scream and shriek and cover your eyes, but also make you laugh due to their over the top absurdity. There’s none of that in this film.
Finally, let’s briefly talk about Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie Strode. I’m sure she’s a good kid and I’m sure she has a nice, long profitable career ahead of her in Disney films, but man her character is plain awful in this film. Jamie Lee Curtis made her Laurie, tough and innocent and root-for-able. Even early on in the film, when she spots a hulking Myers lurking her, she’s the only one that seems to have the sense to point him out and ask if he doesn’t seem out of place and maybe they sohuld report him or at the very least stay away. Zombie’s Laurie runs right up to him to taunt him. We rooted for Jamie Lee to get away because she made sense and made good snap decisions while thinking on her feet. Plus, you felt like you knew her. The updated Laurie is just Anygirl from Anytown, USA and as a result she’s about a million times less interesting. . Let’s not get too deep into the logic of running up a flight of steps into the dead end of an attic, rather than booking down stairs screaming bloody murder and tearing ass down the street and out the front door when you have a chance to get away. And please, please, please never ever ape the brilliant end of the original TCM ever again. It’s just cheap.
You know what, the less said about Malcom McDowell as Dr. Loomis the better. Truly awful.
Despite all that, this opened up to record breaking Labor Day box office numbers and will be over fifty million at the box office by the time this is posted. It’s because as an audience, we’re demanding next to nothing out of the genre and the studios are give us exactly that in return. Another franchise devoid of any creativity, common sense, chills and compelling reason to watch is the Saw franchise. These films exist for no other reason except to as fast as humanly possible churn out assembly line quality gore and print greenbacks. A sad state of affairs it is then when the trainer for the upcoming Saw IV debuts to the tagline “If it’s Halloween it must be Saw” and a theater full of yahoos cheer their heads off. A sad sign of the times indeed.
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