Because comparing the two Inglourious Basterds films was fun, I thought it’d be cool to write a similar article comparing the original Halloween 2 and the new, Rob Zombie Halloween 2. The problem with this idea is that I had to see the new, Rob Zombie Halloween 2. Ouch.
Because comparing the two Inglourious Basterds films was fun, I thought it’d be cool to write a similar article comparing the original Halloween 2 and the new, Rob Zombie Halloween 2. The problem with this idea is that I had to see the new, Rob Zombie Halloween 2. Ouch. I’ll get to that, but let’s talk about the original Halloween 2 first.
With the original Halloween, John Carpenter and crew changed the game in horror movies, making a small, independently-financed movie about a killer in a small town. The film was so successful that it practically created the template for what would be known as the slasher genre. In its wake, many, many cheap imitations were made to cash in on the initial idea. Ironically, Halloween 2 was also an attempted cash-in. To best understand the process of creating the follow up to a classic, let’s hear from Carpenter himself:
“I will say that what got me through writing that script was… Budweiser. Six pack of beer a night, sitting in front of the typewriter saying, “What in the hell can I put down?” I had no idea. We’re remaking the same film, only not as good.”
-John Carpenter (from the 2003 documentary Halloween: A Cut Above the Rest)
That is Halloween 2 in a nutshell. Because of that fact, the film is enjoyable as a comedy. The idea is great, starting just after the first one ends. But the film is literally Michael Myers walking around trying to think of things to do, and Laurie Strode freaking out in a hospital. So much of the film centers around a hospital with several unexplained phenomenon: two people work there, there’s a room of newborn babies that’s quickly abandoned, and there are no working lights. It’s supposed to look creepy, but it’s the equivalent of Carpenter holding a flashlight under his chin and going, “Ooooooh scaaaaaarrrryyy.” I wish that had actually happened, but sadly it did not. But I do want to stress that this film is definitely enjoyable in that MST3K way…very enjoyable. I also want to stress that Carpenter did not direct this movie, he only co-wrote it.
Rob Zombie’s remake does not fair as well. It’s almost as if he read the above Carpenter quote and decided to use the same method of writing. Almost.
Zombie’s Halloween 2 opens in a similar style to the original, but quickly splits into three half-baked stories following different characters. The first being Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) trying to deal with the tragedy of the Halloween murders a year later. The second being Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) on a book tour and enjoying the fame he received from exploiting his psychological studies of young Michael Myers. The third is simply Myers walking back to the small town of Haddonfield to finish what he started a year ago and bring his family together again. The problem I have is that I really want to like Rob Zombie (I loved his movie The Devil’s Rejects) and he has a lot of great ideas, but there’s no content and no commitment to anything. There are so many plot holes and only glimpses of the greatness that Zombie has achieved in the past. There’s great casting (Margot Kidder… Weird Al!?!), great atmosphere, great music, and no suspense. By trying to get into the psychology of Myers, Zombie loses what made the original films so great….the total lack of motive. It’s a shame, because there’s a good film in here somewhere, but no follow-through. The best part is Brad Dourif’s Sheriff Lee Brackett. Every scene with Dourif is an acting master class, doing the best with what he’s got. Unfortunately he’s not a bigger part of the story.
I really wanted to like this one, but it just seems very rushed and like Zombie just couldn’t decide what he wanted it to be. He uses references in a similar way to Tarantino, but where as Tarantino references films no one has seen AND makes them his own, Zombie references films everyone has seen and doesn’t change anything. The inconsistency makes it hard, because there are some truly great ideas, but they don’t go anywhere.
In the end, both films are similar in that they are both amazingly underdeveloped. But, the original Halloween 2 IS a really fun watch. The new one is just mostly silly.