Halloween II (2009)
Film review by: Witney Seibold
I don’t even know where to start on this one…
So, heavy-metal ghoul, animator, and filmmaker Rob Zombie directed a remake of John Carpenter’s 1978 classic “Halloween” in 2007. In his remake, which he wrote, Zombie explained the origin of Michael Myers, the undying, masked serial killer. Evidently his mother (Sheri Moon Zombie) abused him, possibly had sex with him, and condoned his murderous activities. Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) spent his career trying to keep Myers locked up, but, as is the case in horror films, Michael escaped to wreak havoc on teenagers in Haddonfield, IL, most notably a straight-laced girl named Laurie (Scout Taylor-Comton from “Sleepover”).
All well and good so far.
Now in his new film, “Halloween II” (which is a sequel to the remake, and not a remake of the 1981 sequel of the original), Zombie has bee allowed to make the “Halloween” film he clearly always wanted to make, ignoring a lot of the premises opened up in his first film, and going a little batcrap crazy with his freedoms.
Michael Myers (Tyler Mane) is depicted not as a cold, unstoppable, soulless killer, but as a filthy, brutal hobo. He wears dirty clothes, sleeps in the woods on a bedroll, and his scraggly bead sticks out from under his mask. Zombie has always been less drawn to the cold, uncalculating supernatural monster, and more toward the uncomfortable, greasy, dangerous drifters that he, no doubt, met a lot while spending his childhood in a traveling carnival.
Michael also has ghostly visions of his dead mother and the 10-year-old version of himself (Chase Wright Vanek), who instruct him where to go and tell him when to kill. It’s not clear if these are vision of his insanity or outright ghosts. Either way, were treated to many shots of Sheri Moon Zombie walking about in an angelic white robe, leading a large white horse. The appearance of the horse is just as disorienting as the appearance of the unicorn in “Blade Runner.” That we get a dream dictionary definition of a white horse in the pre-credit crawl (it represents both power and incest) only serves to keep us further off-balance.
Anyway Laurie is now staying with the local sheriff (Brad Dourif, playing is straight), and works at a coffee shop called Uncle Meat’s Java Hole. She works with two Suicide Girls (Mary Birdsong and Brea Grant), and they have big plans to go out to a topless horror-themed rockabilly club dressed as Columbia, Magenta and Dr. Frank-N-Furter from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” In this universe, there are such things as topless horror-themed rockabilly clubs.
Of course, Michael shows up in town to kill all of Laurie’s friends and relatives and various strangers. The kills, while brutal and bloody, are not really creative, nor are they the least bit scary. This is probably the first slasher film I’ve seen with no tension at all. Betsy Rue, the nude one from the “My Bloody Valentine” remake appears as a victim.
Oh, and Dr. Loomis has been transformed from a concerns psychiatrist into a gold-digging hack who is shamelessly and rudely promoting his book. He makes unreasonable, movie-star demands, flirts with women far younger than he is, and whores himself for a buck. I’m not exactly sure why Zombie felt the need to turn this character into an asshole. Maybe so there are no emotions when if dies.
Also in the film: A stripper gets smashed to death on a glass wall. A guy gets his face kicked in. Michael Myers flips over a car by himself. He cuts off a guy’s head with a shard of glass. He eats one of his victims (!). And, just to make sure we have no sanity left, there’s a cameo by “Weird Al” Yankovic. And Margot Kidder.
The ending implies that Laurie will, herself, become the next Michael. Whatever. I’m sorry if that was supposed to be a surprise. There’s really nothing surprising about this film.
Rob Zombie seems able to work in only two notes. The first is that sickening feeling you get when you realize that the guy talking about necrophilia has probably actually done it. The other is that horrible desperate sadness you get while watching a beloved pet die in front of you. Zombie spends much of “Halloween II” alternating between these two notes. Oh, and occasionally throws in a hallucinatory white horse that would seem in place in “Twin Peaks.”
I’ll give him this, though: Zombie is improving as a director. He no longer directs his exposition scenes like they were action scenes, allowing time between edits, and letting the characters grow. “Halloween II” is nowhere near the quality of his B-movie phantasmagoria “The Devil’s Rejects,” but it’s still better than his “The House of 1000 Corpses.”