Reviewing a Cult Franchise – Halloween (2007)

Frequent readers will already know my feelings towards remakes and especially my feelings towards remakes of beloved franchises of which I have invested a lot of time in. This year will be the 10th anniversary of the remake of Halloween which really makes me feel old. Let’s just say that time has not made this film any sweeter. It has remained a pointless sack of shit.

Please, allow me to elaborate.

Rob Zombie’s concept for the Halloween remake was that he was going to do what absolutely nobody asked for… he was going to give Michael Myer’s a back-story. Let me remind you that this shit was attempted in ‘Halloween VI’ and they got slated for it. The fact that we don’t know why Michael does what he does makes him more scary. There are some things that just shouldn’t be explained.

But anyway, this is what we have to work with. So lets get going with some plot.

In October of 1992, a ten year old Michael Myers is living with his skanky sister, Judith (Hanna R. Hall); his pole dancing mother, Deborah (Sheri Moon Zombie), his white-trash step-father, Ronnie (William Forsythe) and his baby sister, Angel.

Michael is being harassed both at home and at school and is starting to exhibit the early signs of being a complete basket case. He murdering his pets and even go so far as to kill a school bully. That night, Micheal murders his step-father, his sister and his sister’s boyfriend whilst his mother is at work. Only the baby is spared of which he is extremely fond of. Michael is committed to a mental house under the psychiatric supervision of Dr Sam Loomis (Malcolm McDowell). When Michael murders a nurse, Deborah kills herself and her baby is taken into care. Over 15 years, Michael (Tyler Mane) becomes silent and starts lifting weights to become a man mountain by the age of 25. Michael breaks out and goes to Haddonfield to find his baby sister, now Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton). Michael murders Lynda (Kristina Klebe); her boyfriend, Bob (Nick Mennell), Paul (Max Van Ville), and attacks his girlfriend, Annie Brackett (Danielle Harris), leaving her badly wounded but alive. Laurie is chased and kidnapped by Michael, saved by Dr Loomis and then attacked once again. Eventually, she and Michael go over a balcony and the final shot is Laurie screaming after she shoots him in the head.

Why am I reminded of Gus Van Sant?

Oh yes, because the film is basically a shot for shot remake of Halloween (1978) with some unnecessary bollocks on top of that. There are a few additions such as Michael killing Laurie’s foster parents, the kidnapping and the ending is different but Rob Zombie has gone to great lengths to re-create some of John Carpenter’s classic shots such as Laurie and Tommy walking to the Myers house, Dr Loomis discovering the missing gravestone and Laurie running across the road away from Michael after she’s attacked. There are more but I can’t be arsed listing them all.

The big focus and the big draw for this film was the promise that the audience would get a full back-story to Michael Myers and maybe discover a reason as to why he was driven to kill. The problem with this plan is that from the start of the movie to when Michael breaks out and we see Haddonfield for the first time is around 55 minutes. Around 20 minutes is young Michael, another 20 minutes is Michael in the Sanitarium and the final 10 – 15 minutes is Massive Michael and the breakout.

When I got a first look at the family, specifically the step-father and Judith, it’s not such a huge surprise as to why he killed them. They’re both fucking arseholes. Ronnie lusts over his step-daughter and verbally abuses Michael and Judith also joins in with the verbal abuse. Deborah tries to keep the peace and I’m just wondering what she sees in Ronnie. When Michael goes psycho, there’s a strong implication that he wants to shag his sister which is beyond creepy. Deborah asks Judith to take Michael trick or treating but her boyfriend comes over and she decides to stay with him instead. This upsets Michael and he starts killing straight afterwards.

After he kills his step-father and Judith’s boyfriend, Michael goes into her room and traces his fingers up her leg. She obviously thinks its her boyfriend. When she realises it’s Michael, she slaps him across the face. Then he stabs her. Several times.

There were also some problems beforehand. Michael gets in trouble at school after two bullies attack him in the bathrooms. He then say’s ‘fuck you’ to the principal which is not a good idea. A dead cat and pictures of dead animals are found in his locker which is not very hygienic. Dr Loomis shows up and he is too cool for school with his long hair and aviators. He’s a hip psychiatrist who tells Deborah that her son is crazy and this is right before Michael kills a school bully with a huge tree branch.

That’s the first 25 minutes.

The next 25 minutes is everything in the sanitarium and it shows Michael’s decent into silence and protein shakes. It starts with Michael being quite friendly and he becomes obsessed with masks. His mother continues to come and visit and that’s the highlight of his week. Why he becomes obsessed with loads of different masks, I don’t know because we all know which one he ends up with. The famous mask that he killed his sister in.

Michael starts getting depressed as to living inside the Sanitarium but that is until a Janitor played by Danny Trejo gives him some catastrophic advice. He tells Michael to not think about the four walls of his cell and to essentially live inside his own head. Danny? Are you trying to turn him into an even bigger psychopath than he already is. The only thing inside the head of Michael Myers is evil.

This is proved when he murders a nurse. Michael’s mother has brought in a picture for Michael to keep. It’s a picture of Michael and his baby sister. When Deborah and Dr Loomis leave, the nurse picks up the picture and says to Michael, ‘Cute baby… Can’t be related to you’. First off, I know that nurses aren’t complete dickheads and second, I would never say that to a kid that’s locked up for killing his family.

I should probably mention the one scene that I find particularly difficult to watch. This is after the time jump. Huge Michael is sat at his chair doing some work on a new mask. Two… security guards? … whatever they are … workers, come into Michael’s room with a female patient. They proceed to taunt Michael and go on to viciously rape the patient whilst she screams in terror. I don’t know who would consider something like that to be entertaining. It’s not even disturbing, it’s just plain wrong. It’s not even necessary in the context of the story. There could be a million opportunities for Michael to break out but it takes two Sanitarium worker to rape a young girl in front of him (and one of them touched one of his masks and apparently he doesn’t like that) for him to flip out. Needless to say, the workers get what they deserve i.e, they get squished… as does everyone else. Michael breaks out and heads to Haddonfield.

Ironically, this is where the ‘re-imagining’ part of the film ends and it becomes a ‘remake’. We all know the rest.

I don’t think anyone expected this film to be scary. I mean, everyone going to see the remake must have seen the original and knows what happens but I have to admit, even for the things that are different, it wasn’t scary. I’m sorry but it just wasn’t. Do you know why? Because this franchise has been around for nearly 40 years and at this point, everyone can sing along. And also, what’s the point of making the same film with the same characters?

Weirdly enough, I don’t Rob Zombie was on the wrong track by giving Michael a backstory. It didn’t even have to be scary but it could have been interesting. I would watch a whole movie involving Michael’s childhood and more in the Sanatorium and it could have ended with Michael breaking out, going back to his house and putting his mask on. If it was done right, I would have appreciated what Mr Zombie tried to do.

The thing is, in the original film, there is no reason why Michael went mad. He’s just evil and that’s what evil people do. But in this one, there are a million reasons why Michael went butternut squash, ranging from an abusive family, school bulllies to rejection from authority figures. All of these are triggers. Are we supposed to feel sorry for Michael? It’s all just very confusing. In the original, it was very clear who was good and who was bad but in the remake, it’s not so cut and dry and that’s too complicated for a 2 hour movie.

I want to address another very important aspect. There is an absolute fuck-tonne of swearing in this film. I like my swearing but every other line in this movie has a ‘fuck’ or a ‘shit’ or a ‘cunt’ lurking somewhere in this poorly written dialogue.

It’s obvious that Laurie doesn’t know that she’s adopted because when she’s kidnapped by Michael and taken down to his lair, he shows her the same picture that Deborah gave him. She doesn’t understand and attacks him so therefore, he tries to kill her. In a weird way, it does make sense and is probably the best scene in the whole film. It’s just feels very disjointed. On the one hand, Rob Zombie is trying to turn Michael into a sympathetic character and on the other, he’s just doing what John Carpenter did and what we get is just inconsistent.

With a budget of $15 Million, ‘Halloween’ took in $80.2 Million at the box office making it the 2nd highest grossing of the whole franchise, coming in just behind ‘Halloween H20’. However, the film received mostly negative reviews. I know why it made a lot of money and I’ll tell you all why it made a lot of money. Because it’s called ‘Halloween’. That’s why it made a lot of money.

To be honest, I don’t the idea of the remake was such a bad one if it was done right. But it wasn’t done right. I wouldn’t have attempted to encroach on John Carpenter’s original film. I would have abandoned that half of the film and focused on Michael’s younger life, gone into more detail, developed the characters a little more, not made everyone an absolute dickhead and written some better dialogue.

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