Dimension Films // 2007 // 121 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 21st, 2008
"You haven't talked for 15 years. In a weird way you've become my best
-- Dr. Loomis
Rob Zombie's controversial re-imagining of the legendary John Carpenter proto-slasher lands on Blu-ray in time for Halloween 2008. Is it a treat...or a trick?
The film opens with a look into the Myers family, a dysfunctional cluster-F of a household: we have young Michael Myers, an introverted little boy who tortures rats, his oblivious stripper mother, the drunken, abusive step-father, the horny big sister and his little, baby sister, who will eventually grow up to Lori (Scout Taylor-Compton), the teenaged target of Michael's psychopathic, murderous stalking, 17 years later.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, here's the skinny: young Michael goes off the deep end and goes on a miniature killing spree, landing him in a mental institution for the rest of his life where he stews in silent solitary, making masks and not washing his hair. An opportunity presents itself and Michael (Tyler Mane) breaks free from captivity and makes a beeline for his Illinois hometown to spread his stabbing mirth.
Wow. I'll give Rob Zombie this much: he's got balls. Sure, everybody remakes popular movies these days, but to tackle Halloween and re-envision it to the extent he has, fella, that's daring. It's like messing around with the Ark of the Covenant.
But he went and did it and crafted a Halloween that retains a handful of familiar elements from the original -- the theme music, the characters, the location, the mask -- and a whole lot of new stuff. It's that new stuff that is the sticking point and what sent a shock wave through the horror geek crowd. In the original, Michael Myers of course was the soulless, mysterious, invulnerable killing machine who just sort of showed up, terrorized everyone around him, and roll credits. All that craziness -- none of it happens until the 50-minute mark in Rob Zombie's Halloween. No, for nearly half the runtime, we get a Michael Myers origin story -- we see Michael's traumatic childhood, the awkward conversation with his principal about his sociopathic tendencies, the grisly fate of the school bully, some more grisly fates, a concise wrap-up to his trial and an extended, probing analysis into Michael's psychosis courtesy of his psychiatrist (Malcolm McDowell). That is a lot of exposition to endure and Zombie, as he confesses in the bonus features, is intent on belting it all out because getting behind the mask and understanding why Michael is the way he is makes it all the more scarier.
I disagree and this is the major pitfall when you're doing any kind of remake, especially in this case, when the original was such a groundbreaking effort. Fair or not, it's just impossible to not compare the two films, and the 2007 just doesn't measure up. The scare value of the first film was precisely the unknown nature of it all -- who was Michael Myers and what was his problem and Holy Crap no one can stop him!!! I didn't care about his family life, how much of a dumbass his stepfather was, or how hard the security guard in the insane asylum worked to be a pal to Michael Myers. The thrill was found in the moment, the relentless pursuit of a screaming young woman by an unstoppable killing force.
To be fair, there are some thrilling elements in the 2007 remake. Rob Zombie is a skilled director and excels when staging these stalking scenes. Once Michael Myers gets into the thick of the hunt, the film moves fast and furious and really kind of rocks hard. The ending is okay, more the typical slasher finale than anything terribly memorable, and the typical genre convictions of all horror movies are still intact (um, yeah, he's not dead buddy). But all that growing-up-Michael tomfoolery strikes me as completely unnecessary.
If you're into this film in a big way this two-disc set is for you. The high-def picture (2.35:1) is strong, robust in its color treatment (the fall foliage of the outdoor scenes are great eye candy) and the detail resolution is sharp, even in the myriad of dark sequences -- and there are a lot. From top to bottom, an impressive visual presentation. Audio: TrueHD 5.1 and an aggressive one at that, blasting out the refashioned iconic soundtrack and the boisterous sound effects with vigor. Tons of extras, including a feature commentary by Rob Zombie, deleted scenes and the alternate ending with optional commentary, a blooper reel, featurettes focusing on the cast, the re-imagining of the film, and "the many masks of Michael Myers," and, finally, casting sessions. But the real centerpiece is the second disc, which contains the most detailed, comprehensive making-of documentary I have ever seen. This thing clocks in at over four hours. If there was anything you've ever wanted to know about this movie, you will find it here.
There are some authentically thrilling moments here, but the inevitable comparisons to the original won't do Rob Zombie's origin-heavy relaunch many favors. Maybe if it was an original property...
Anyway, the Blu-ray is good and that huge documentary is overwhelming in its scope.
Yeah, just short of being let off the hook.
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Dimension Films
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 121 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Deleted Scenes
* Making-of Documentary
* Casting Sessions