Halloween (2007)
By: J.R. McNamara on January 26, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Weinstein Company (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1. English, Spanish Subtitles.
The Movie
Director: Rob Zombie
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Brad Dourif, Scout Taylor-Compton, Tyler Mane, Daeg Faerch, Sheri Moon Zombie
Screenplay: Rob Zombie
Country: USA
Remakes, remakes, remakes... the land that Hollywood goes to when original ideas apparently run dry. Some are great, like John Carpenter's The Thing. Others, not so great: Gus Van Sant's ridiculous shot for shot Psycho or Rupert Wainwright's cinematic-fart The Fog for example.

So where does Rob Zombie's much talked about remake of the John Carpenter classic sit?

Read on, dear reader....

In Haddonfield Illinois, young Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch) has a crap life: he is picked on by bullies at school, his mother (Sheri Moon Zombie) works in strip club, her boyfriend Ronnie (Willian Forsythe) is an abusive drunk, and sister Judith (Hanna Hall) is a well known slut, but Michael doesn't mind too much, he has his hobbies: torturing and killing animals.

His hobby is revealed after an altercation he has with several bullies, and psychologist Samuel Loomis (Michael McDowell) suggests he needs therapy. Michael response to this is to run away, and start a murder spree that includes his sister Judith, her boyfriend and Mum's boyfriend, leaving only his mother and his beloved baby sister as survivors.

For this, he is put away in a sanitarium, where Dr Loomis continues his therapy over the next 15 years, but Michael (adult Michael played by Tyler Mane) never responds, instead becoming silent and sullen, and retreating into his new hobby: making masks.

After Loomis gives up on him, and instead write books about his experience with him, Michael is left alone, until a mistake is made by a guard at the asylum and he manages to escape with full intention of returning to Haddonfield to track down his little sister (played by Scout Taylor Compton).

There are several things I find wrong with this film. One of them was that Zombie has spent so much time getting cool cameos that you spend a lot of the time trying to remember where you have seen this guy or that chick before, that you can occasionally lose track of the film. After finally figuring out that the headmaster was played by Richard Lynch, I had become so distracted that I had to go back a chapter on the disc to re-watch that scene!!

Michael's origin was another problem I had with the film: talk about by the numbers serial killer rubbish: tortures animals, bullied at school, suffered abuse from Mum's boyfriend, blah blah blah. You have seen it all before, and usually in low budget crap, not something as high profile (though not necessarily highbrow) as this. Rob Zombie, with his music and films, has proven time and again that he can come up with interesting concepts and new takes on old things (like with his homage to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, House of 1000 Corpses), but he really drops the ball here. I liked the idea of a bit of a back story to Michael, but I found Zombie's option a bit generic.

One other issue is that while the first part of the film shows an insight to Michael's life, the second part is little more than a rehash of Carpenter's classic, and even dialogue is stolen here and there to make it familiar. A lot of this idea was taken from the extra scenes Carpenter did for the Halloween TV version, which excised a lot of the killing and needed filler. I would have even preferred to see the movie end with his Michael's escape, rather see the old film made again, but shorter. If that had happened though, we would have missed out of Danielle Harris' and Kristina Klebe's boobs, which would have been a pity.

Having said all that, if a remake of this film has to be made; Zombie was certainly the right person to do it. His personal obsession with masks over the years has been obvious... almost every video clip he has been responsible for has had Halloween masks of some type in it, and Otis and Tiny from Ho1000C were certainly  products of that devotion. One of Zombie's talents is that he has this great way of making a woman's scream intense; there were several scenes in Halloween, particularly Dee Wallace and Danielle Harris' scenes that really gave me the heebee jeebees.

Also his back stories of some of the other characters make for interesting viewing: McDowell's Sam Loomis goes from confident psychologist, to failed miserable doctor, to successful college talk-circuit presenter. It doesn't always work though, Sheri Moon Zombie's strip club Mommy is, as I stated above, a bit cliché for the mother of a serial killer, her ultimate fate is satisfying though.

All in all though, and at the risk of facing the wrath of many John Carpenter obsessives: I enjoyed it. Was it as good as the original, or even that of Halloween Part 2? No, but it was certainly better than the rest of the sequels. Obviously Carpenter's is the better flick, by a mile, but Rob Zombie's version is different, maybe even incomparable. Carpenter is the master of spooky atmosphere, and his Halloween reflects that, with Michael portrayed as more of a 'mythical beast' than a man. Zombie's is more or less based in reality, and the man Michael Myers, is just a damaged individual seeking to eliminate his inner demons through violence.
Top shelf transfer here! Halloween is presented in a 16x9 enhanced 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and the picture is outstanding.
Awesome sound on this disc and it is presented in Dolby 5.1.
Extra Features
As with other Weinstein Company DVD releases of late, like Planet Terror and Death Proof, there are extras a go-go on this here disc.

The first disc has a director's commentary with Rob Zombie, which is pretty damn complete, and answers a lot of questions about the film, and has a lot of interesting anecdotes as well.

Disc two is full of extras!!

Deleted Scenes of which there are seventeen that can be watched with or without a director's commentary. Some of them were quite interesting, including a potential relationship between Judith Myers and Sam Loomis.

Alternate Ending with Director's Commentary has the original ending for the film where the police shoot down Michael instead of the one chosen for the film. This is a seemingly more tragic ending, but Laurie's character evolution isn't present, and Michael's demise is wholly unsatisfying.

Bloopers has some great, and extremely funny stuff in it... especially Malcolm McDowell's ad-libbing and especially his scenes with Brad Dourif and Udo Kier (fucking Nazi indeed)..

The Many Masks of Michael Myers has Zombie discuss the ideas and design of the masks of Michael Myers.

Re-imagining Halloween is broken down into three chapters that can be played separately. From Camera to Screen has Zombie talk about his ideas for remaking the film, and how he wanted to remake a classic, without kicking it in the balls. It also shows some interesting behind the scenes footage, and has Zombie talk about how he filmed the three acts of the film in three different styles. The Production Design has Production designer Anthony Tremblay discuss the look of the film. The Make Up FX, Props and Wardrobe is not the next part of the chronicles of Narnia, but instead is a look at Wayne Toth's special effects department for the film, Propmaster John Brunot's collection of wonderful toys and Wardrobe Designer Mary McLeod's talents in the clothing department.

Meet the Cast has Zombie talk about the process for choosing appropriate cast members and how it is his favourite part of the filmmaking process. It also features interviews with cast members about the role they are playing. It is interesting to hear Malcolm McDowell's take on the remake, considering he claimed to have not seen the original, and talks about the freshness of the material.

Casting Sessions shows a bunch of footage of Daeg Faerch, Scout Taylor-Compton, Danielle Harris, Kristina Klebe, Hanna Hall, Adam Weisman, Skyler Gisondo, Jenny Stewart, Daryl Sabara, Pat Skipper, Clint Howard, Nick Mennell, Max Van Ville, Mel Fair and Courtney Gains in their initial casting sessions, which is probably where they got the clever name from.

Scout Taylor-Compton Screen Test (Laurie Strode) is obviously a screen test for Taylor-Compton, and also features Danielle Harris (and maybe Kristina Klebe, off-screen). It is interesting to note her screen test must have been pretty close to what Zombie wanted, as her performance reflects what is eventually filmed.

In addition there is the theatrical trailer for Halloween 2007, as well as trailers for Death Proof, Planet Terror, 1408 and The Furnace.
The Verdict
This is a difficult film to give a score for: did I like it? I did!! Do I think it is an essential piece for a horror movie aficionado's collection? Well that's hard to say. A Rob Zombie collector would probably find it vital, whereas a Halloween collector may find it insulting. I liked it, and it is certainly a must see, but not everyone is gonna appreciate it.
Movie Score
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