I don’t usually talk about movies here, but I’m really baffled by the reception to Rob Zombie’s Halloween and I feel the need to redress the balance somewhat. It’s been sneaked out in the UK with no notice (a week and a half before it was eventually released it still didn’t have a confirmed release date that I could find), minimal publicity and no reviews. It’s got an exceptionally poor rating of 25% on rottentomatoes.com and the IMDB score is a reasonably-okay-but-not-great 6.1.
The reason I’m baffled is that it’s clearly a nine out of ten movie. (And it’s not that I can see any reason to mark it down from a ten, a nine just feels better.) The only way I can see people not liking the movie is if they were never going to like the movie.
Okay, if you don’t like boobies and/or blood, then you won’t like the movie. But then your criticisms are of horror movies, not of this movie.
If you don’t think movies should ever be remade then, well, maybe this will change your mind. The remake of The Wicker Man wasn’t a bad movie because it was a remake of a classic movie, it was because it was a quite incredibly awful remake of a classic movie.
I’m sure I’ll be pulled over by the movie thought police for saying this, but the original Halloween isn’t without its problems. The main one being that it drags. Zombie’s version never does. He’s made the story from the original movie the second half of his version and filled the first half with more back story for lil’ Michael and family. It’s a decision that works well. Michael Myers was never a character whose mystique came from his history. We knew a lot about him in the original movie and now we know more. As well as being interesting in its own right, this allows the second half of the movie to move along at a cracking pace. It’s not all super-fast quick cuts, though. Rob Zombie is a talented director, who’s as adept at using stillness and easy listening as fast motion and loud rock.
It’s interesting, it’s tense, it’s scary and it walks the fine line between horror and comedy that Zombie seems to have chosen as his own particular path. A lot of people seem to have missed that in quite spectacular fashion. You may be able to get through without laughing out loud if you’re particuarly stone-faced, but I don’t see how you’d get through without craking a smile. It does, I’ll admit, settle down on the horror side of the divide for the majority of the second half, but until then it’s one funny film and isn’t without amusing moments even near the end.
In a sense, I feel that Zombie’s movies are for healthy people. They may sound odd to some, filled as they are with guts, screaming and death, but my theory is that you need to have a well-balanced mind to be able to appreciate all the dark shades he uses. The comedy in his movies is often very, very black, but it should be easily discernable if you’re open to it. Halloween is on another level to his earlier movies, though, I think. He seems to have toned down the scattershot approach of House of a Thousand Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects. Enjoyable as they both were, they didn’t hang together nearly as well as this movie.
And to top everything off Halloween’s sprinkled with appearances by Zombie regulars, Brad Dourif and the mighty Malcolm McDowell in a big, crunchy role.
As I said earlier, if you don’t like modern horror then, no, you probably won’t like this, but Halloween is on another level other recent makes, like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes, and there’s more story and life to it than the likes of Saw and other gorno features.
It’s the masterpiece of the current wave of post-post-modern, seventies-influenced horror movies, it’s actually better than Carpenter’s original and it sure as hell deserves far better than it’s got.