Movies That Suck: Rob Zombie’s Halloween – by Dustin Brewer

Dustin recruits his friend Lizzy and they take a trip to Rob Zombie’s re-imagined Haddonfield by watching “Halloween” and “Halloween 2” back-to-back. Unable to contain his anger, Dustin makes his case for the films as Movies That Suck.

There are two things I’m going to preface what you are about to read with.

1)      I have seen Rob Zombie’s original films, “House of 1000 Corpses” and “The Devil’s Rejects” and yes, I enjoy them and fully give him credit for them.

2)      The original “Halloween” by John Carpenter stands head and shoulders above the rest as my favorite horror movie ever, bar none.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s dig into this.

FUCK ROB ZOMBIE.

I’m sorry I just couldn’t help it, I had to.

About a week ago as I was trying to think of a new Movie’s That Suck installment, Cameron suggested Rob Zombie’s ‘Halloween 2,’ a film I had never seen after watching his “re-imagining” of the first one and becoming so outraged I blocked it from my memory.

The idea wasn’t lost on me though, instead, we came to the conclusion that I would up the ante and watch both and do a Movies that Suck on the entirety of Zombie’s “Halloween.”

I recruited my friend Lizzy, someone who had never seen either film, and together we strapped in for a nightmare we weren’t even prepared for.

When Rob Zombie announced he was remaking “Halloween,” there was skepticism throughout the fan base because Michael Myers had long been such a sacred character to the fans, fans generally began to warm to the idea however, when it became known that Zombie would be diving deeper into Michael’s past and what it was exactly that made him evil, what shaped him into the iconic killer.

If this sounds promising then I’m sorry because any promise in the idea of a backstory is completely lost in a pool of shallow, stylized nonsense that suggests Zombie was more concerned with jarring, shocking images than crafting a movie built on tension and progression of a story. “House of 1000 Corpses” was similarly jarring and sporadic, but the “old-school” slasher feel of it worked, and “Devil’s Rejects” showed growth in Zombie as a filmmaker in terms of story structure so “Halloween” feels like a giant step backwards if you’ve seen his other films.

The majority of “Halloween” is spent showing us the life of young Michael Myers as he spends his days getting verbally abused by virtually everyone in his life; his older sister, stepdad and kids at school who taunt him for the fact that his mom is a stripper at the local club. Michael then gets his aggressions out by torturing and dissecting animals in his room, oddly uninterrupted. Soon, Michael begins to think bigger and he beats one of his classmates to death, inflicting impossibly brutal damage with a tree branch, again, unbeknownst to everyone.

Michael’s Mom is called in to meet with the principal over some pictures of dead animals that he (shocker!) thinks Michael is responsible for.

Michael’s Mom is of course, in denial about the possibility that her son could possibly be a sociopath and a monster at such a young age, so Halloween night, she leaves Michael to go Trick’R’Treating with his older sister as she works a late shift at her strip club. Side note: Myers’ mom is played by Sherri Moon-Zombie, Rob Zombie’s wife. Lizzy and I spent an oddly high amount of time imagining the conversations between the two as he told her what he wanted her to do for the scenes she is stripping and how it couldn’t have possibly sounded good at all.

This powder keg of a situation finally explodes when his sister refuses to take him Trick’R’Treating so she can have sex with her boyfriend, now is when I mention that his sister is played by Little Jenny from “Forrest Gump” so you can commence feeling old and creepy. Of course, this is the last thing Michael wants so he loses his shit and kills everyone in the house; drunk stepdad, boyfriend and sister while we get cut scenes of the Mom’s striptease at the same time for exploitative reasons. All he does is leave his baby sister unharmed, showing compassion for her and eliciting the third “bullshit” call from Lizzy and I already.

We then get the one saving grace of these two trainwrecks, Dr. Samuel Loomis as played by Malcolm McDowell, who becomes Michael’s psychiatrist when he’s institutionalized following the brutal murders. At first, Michael seems to have no recollection of the murders (“bullshit” call number four) and over time, becoming completely unresponsive and not saying a word. We’re shown that 15 years have passes and Loomis decides he’s spent enough time trying and he quits, leaving an oddly jacked and massive Michael completely alone.

For some stupid reason, two guards decide to try and rape one of the inmates in Michael’s room, which gives him the opportunity to kill everything in his path and the institution and escape.

70 minutes in and now, we are at the plot of the original “Halloween” and meet Laurie Strode and her friends as they have no idea the reckoning on its’ way for them.

The rest plays out exactly as you remember the original but devoid of any suspense or tension because they’ve got about twenty minutes to wrap up all of the events from the original story.

The first time I watched this movie that was my biggest complaint; I hated seeing the original’s story shoved to the side in favor of an unnecessary backstory only to then be dragged through the mud with shoddy execution.

Now, my scope is a little wider and the list of complaints has grown, I’ll keep it concise because there’s a whole second movie to get to.

First, Rob Zombie cannot write a character that isn’t profane, despicable and doesn’t have whatever is going to happen to them coming. I felt no sympathy to any character in this movie with the exception of Loomis and that’s more a testament to McDowell’s performance than anything else. The first time Laurie Strode is shown on screen, she makes a joke by fingering a bagel and suggesting a neighbor molests her to her mom and dad.

Second, make up your mind on what you want Michael Myers to be, when he’s a kid he seems like a spoiled brat, then he kills everyone and it’s supposed to be brutal but he spares his baby sister, suggesting sympathy. When he breaks out of the asylum, he murders a worker there that he has known his entire stay there that had always treated him kindly, which is to suggest that Myers is a complete monster now. He kills all of Laurie’s friends and family in brutal fashion and then, when he kidnaps Laurie and takes her back to their childhood home, he takes his mask off and bitches out? No, the Michael Myers I know doesn’t hesitate, he also doesn’t take the mask off or show even a lick of remorse for his actions, the point of the character has always been that he’s a completely normal guy that’s just evil, not “I had a pretty bad upbringing and that mixed with society made me the way I am” that’s just a cop-out and a lame plot device intended to sell tickets and pass Zombie off as an auteur with a new take on the character.

It’s a shame that the last shot of the film is the first one that actually resonates with you, but at least there’s one moment that makes a real effort to connect, as opposed to the music video style employed for the previous two hours.

Once the credits started rolling, Lizzy and I took a moment to gather our thoughts and discuss our immediate mutual hatred for both the film and Zombie’s style. After about five minutes, we decided now was as good a time as any, and we stepped headfirst into one of the worst movies ever made.

HALLOWEEN 2

Every feeling of hatred, disgust and just general dismay at the first movie immediately became multiplied by about 1000 as soon as two began.

Not even seven minutes into the show (not counting the credits) and it was made abundantly clear that Zombie wasn’t going to be changing his style with this one.

Michael Myers’ body is being moved to the morgue and the two drivers are spending the car ride talking about how they’d love to nail the sheriff’s daughter, who it should be noted, they’ve just seen wheeled away in an ambulance after being stabbed about two dozen times by Michael Myers. They then proceed to crash into a cow, which, kills the shit out of the driver but leaves the passenger hurt but nowhere near incapacitated. Read those last two sentences back, yep, seven minutes in, we were in cinematic hell quick with this one.

Myers then of course wakes up because, why not and he exits the vehicle, walks to the front, picks up a tiny piece of glass and uses it to cut the head off of the guy not mutilated by beef.

It should be mentioned that throughout this movie, Michael is consistently visited by visions of his mom, younger self and a glowing white horse. I can’t even think of something to say about that, it’s just so stupid.

Now, I don’t know about you but if I was attacked by a knife-wielding maniac that murdered the shit out of all of my friends except one that was stabbed beyond all recognition, I would want to cherish life, I wouldn’t become a huge bitch.

But that’s just what has happened to Laurie Strode one-year after the events of the first movie. She now lives with said stabbed friend Annie and her dad, the Police Sheriff and all she and Annie do is argue about who is more screwed up as a result of the attacks until Laurie gets pissed and kicks her out of her room. Seriously, that happens at least four times.

This thing does just about everything you could conceive in poor taste; all of the characters are awful, stupid bitches and one of Laurie’s friends asks for a “golden shower.”

I don’t think I can accurately predict our reactions to the various scenarios laid out before us watching these films, at one point Lizzy asked if it was possible to facepalm herself to death, that’s the best I can explain the feeling of despair in the room that suffocated us.

Anyways, a few more points here before I wrap this up, I’ve been avoiding these because thinking of them makes me cringe when I consider my love for the original “Halloween” and what Michael Myers once was.

Michael Myers spends the majority of this film with no mask on, he wanders around like a transient, grows a wicked beard and eats dogs to survive. As if the useless exposition of the first one wasn’t enough, we get to see a “survivalist” side to him that does nothing but shatter the mystique of the character even more, Michael Myers is not an anti-hero in the way say Freddy Krueger is. Krueger’s personality is on full display throughout the franchise, Myers’ legend is based on the mystery that surrounds him and his motives, he’s evil and terrifying because he is just a man, albeit, an unstoppable one, he is just a man. Zombie’s take gives Myers deliberate and arguably justifiable reasons for the things he does, which immediately zaps any possibility of fear from the character, he’s just a big, angry kid jilted by his rotten upbringing and the world of assholes he’s surrounded by.

Myers isn’t the only character done injustice as Zombie makes one of the dumbest cinematic left-turns in recent memory, bringing back first film MVP Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Samuel Loomis but ripping him of all that made him a good character. Whereas in the first film, Loomis held himself responsible for Michael’s victims and for Michael’s general villainy itself, in the sequel, he’s traded in his concern and beard for a douchey mustache and a “me, me, me” attitude after writing a book on the events of the first movie. He spends almost all of his screen time ordering his assistant around and wearing shitty sunglasses until he randomly decides at the end that he has to help stop Michael because his assistant and fame apparently aren’t all he wanted despite two hours of him lavishing in it guilt-free.

Not even Laurie Strode escapes the character assassination; our supposed “hero” from the first film has already become a traumatized and unsympathetic bitch but that was not enough apparently. Throughout the film it’s hinted that she shares a telepathic connection to Michael Myers (yes, Rob Zombie copped a storyline straight from “Halloween’s 4 and 5”) and eventually, she begins to see the White Horse, Michael’s Mom and Young Michael as she apparently gives in to her destiny to become crazy and filled with murderous rage. It’s a straight out of nowhere revelation that feels like Zombie just needed something to pass the time between Myers’ murder party and survival excursions.

Given Zombie’s original films that are gruesome and in horror terms “creative” when it comes to how the characters will perish, there is a surprising lack of originality in Myers’ attacks in both “Halloween” and “Halloween 2.” At least four people have their heads smashed into things, he stabs a few people, there’s the cutting off of the head with the piece of glass, and a recycled scene of Annie once again stabbed all over and left for Laurie to find. Seriously, we thought it was the same exact scene from the first movie until we realized five minutes later that they were in a bathroom. There’s a scene early on where Laurie is attacked by Michael in the hospital and when he shows up to slaughter the masses, we’re shown a really brutal and slightly racist scene of him attacking a black nurse by first cutting her throat and then stabbing her probably at least two dozen times before moving on. Maybe this seems like a stretch but when the entire film that preceded this one was spent establishing that Myers was brutal yet quick, the long, drawn out nature of this death scene is just a bit odd.

When the end finally came, we were so relieved yet drained of our life energy. We gazed around numbly wondering where the time we had spent watching these movies had gone and why we were filled with such anger at two movies, how two movies could evoke such a feeling of anger and time wasted.

Rob Zombie’s two “Halloween” films are perfect additions to Movies that Suck because they take everything that made the character of Michael Myers and the early films so classic and they bury them in favor of over-the-top caricatures, unrealistic dialogue, simple motives, suspense-less violence and spend ample time on pointless angles that fall flat.

Maybe the sequels that followed John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and “Halloween 2” became more and more hokey, but the character of Michael Myers largely remained the same and he never, ever took off the mask.

Dustin Brewer is co-creator of HefferBrew. He spent a ridiculous amount of time gathering his thoughts to write this and wanted to make sure he covered everything he wanted to about how much these movies suck and he still didn’t even get to rant about the mask. If you’d like to argue the merits of Zombie’s work with these two films, share his deep hatred for them or just want to hear his rant on Myers’ mask in the films, feel free to reach out to him on Twitter @dstnbrwr.

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8 thoughts on “Movies That Suck: Rob Zombie’s Halloween – by Dustin Brewer

  1. What I’m finding hard to understand is the presence of a 6 year old personality, selfishly wanting the same thing over and over. John Carpenter’s Halloween is truly a pioneer of all horrors. But upon watching the Original and Rob Zombies back to back, i find Rob Zombie’s absolutely amazing. I would love to see you (or anyone else for that matter) attempt to truly create the final moments of a human being’s sanity, and what brought it to the end. It’s the most raw, true, real depiction of how Michael Myers (and many serial killers) just snap. I love John Carpenters because it’s a true classic that inspired so many more horrors, but there must be something wrong with someone who “isnt scared” by their school mate, family member or someone you love just fuckin disappearing mentally and brutally murdering you and others you love when you least expect it. its amazing how Rob Zombie can make you feel Michael Myers just disappear from himself.
    Yes the amount of provocative scenes, like Mrs. Myers stripping may SEEM unnecessary, but is it? Put yourself in the kids shoes. Too many people avoid imagining having Michaels life in Rob Zombies version. They throw in flashes of his mom stripping because it’s supposed to show a big part of the push off the cliff of sanity for Myers. His moms a stripper, his Step dad is a drunk asswipe who abuses Michaels mother and flirts with his sister, and his sister is a whore. both whom treat michael like he is nothing but a shit stain, and the person he loves who defends him is made fun of and called a whore by the kids who hate him at school. Why did he kill 4 people again? fuck i dont know.
    Oh shit lets throw a tantrum because its not like the Carpenter film. Isn’t it the purpose of doing a remake? Fuck if Rob made this JUST LIKE the original, people would be bitching about it. Yes it’s different, Yes that’s the point, and Its definitely the most raw and real that the story of Michael Myers is ever going to get, and i give it 10/10 for that

  2. I did forget to add my absolute favorite example of the raw, realness of the new film. The scene of Michael’s mother committing suicide. The super 8 slides of a mothers favorite memories of her beloved son whom she lost forever, a mother who lost just about all her family, crying on the couch, picking up the gun, and sound of the gunshot, followed by the cries of her newest born. Crazy real, and as raw as it gets.

  3. I completely agree, out of both of the films, the shot that struck me the most, that produced its’ desired effect was the ending of the first film and Mrs. Myers’ suicide over the home movies as well as the overlapping of Laurie’s cries as a baby and in the present day. I’ve argued this point over with my fellow HefferBrew editor at length. He also really enjoys the first installment. My problem with the film is not with Rob Zombie and him not making it a carbon copy of the Carpenter version. To me, its’ biggest fault is none of its’ characters are presented in any sort of light that could possibly make me feel anything but relief when they are killed. His stepdad was abusive, his sister and her boyfriend selfish and his mom just unfortunately couldn’t be there with him all the time as she was the only one who obviously cared for him. When I watch the original Halloween, you get the impression that this kid just snapped and murdered everyone in the house because he was just hollow inside. Zombie’s version makes a point to spend its’ first half showing us that he was merely a victim of his surroundings and that he is the result of the effects of those around him. Maybe it’s just personal preference but I find a man with a mask far more terrifying when I don’t know anything about him, when he’s merely a shape with a blank white face as opposed to a man who seems to be warped by the treatment around him and taking out his anger and frustration on the world because he’s snapped. The unknown has always enticed me more, especially in horror movies, seeing a kid snap and murder his family is far more shocking to me than a kid bashing a bully’s head in with a tree branch because he’s been teasing him nonstop.

    I also don’t want to seem like I’m knocking Rob Zombie all-around as a filmmaker. “House of 1000 Corpses” and “Devil’s Rejects” are both sitting in my DVD collection as I write this. My problem with his handling of the Halloween franchise is that he stripped all of the innocence from Laurie and her friends and instead made them seem like ignorant brats. Throughout both films, the only death scene that truly shows Michael is gone off the deep end and no humanity remains is when he drowns Danny Trejo as he breaks out of the asylum. I found his killing of the one man who tried to befriend and respect him far more telling then any other scene. I found Zombie’s films trying to make Michael more of an anti-hero than a psycho killer and that ultimately falls on Zombie’s secondary characters being nothing more than profane and obnoxious jerks that we’re supposed to feel sympathy for when we see them killed. The problem is it’s not just the secondary characters that are obnoxious and profane, basically every character Michael comes across was in my eyes, despicable and that made it hard for me to see Michael as pure evil.

    That said, I can see why it has a large fan base and I really appreciate the time you spent with your response as opposed to just a “You’re stupid” and calling it a day.

    Thank you again,
    Dustin

  4. I liked the first Rob Zombie Halloween the “Theatrical version” a lot better than the uncut version. I can tell you the pacing was a lot better plus the rape scene was replaced with a different scene. The 2nd attempt for Halloween 2 not so good. The special effects were good but the story was not good at all. The point about a real story on why Myers killed in the first place and his family setting. i would say making him into a psycho killer like the people we see on the news everyday isn’t appealing to me. The story didn’t seem real. A kid being abused from what i can see in the movie isn’t justifiable for him to start killing. I don’t believe it for a minute. He would have had problems a lot sooner than that. If they showed he had problems ever since he started school that would have been better. You just don’t get to be a frickin’ killer because a bully wants to beat on you,a drunken stepdad verbally abuses you, and your sister wants to whore instead of going trick or treating. Killing animals is lame. Myers getting shot in the head at the end of the movie that pees me off too. It should have ended with the first movie! He isn’t THE michael myers that can keep getting up from rounds of bullets. No supernatural reborn crap. The way the story shows it, he is a human being. She shoots him in the head…..done. No sequel.

  5. Both movies suck bad..even the mask is just stupid, it looks spray painted gray all cracked a part just ridiculous! The second movie is far worse than his first..you get a spooky feeling almost scared to look in your back yard after the first time you see the original 1, and 2 Halloween with Donald Pleasance as the doctor he adds to the fear of Micheal Meyers the music the suspense the mask of the original just makes the new Halloween movies feel like your watching a bad episode of “Friends”

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