Do you want to get into an argument with all of your horror-loving friends? You do? Great! Well, it’s a fairly easy task. Just bring up Rob Zombie.
It seems as though folks either love of hate what he does. Usually, there is absolutely no middle ground. Those that love him will passionately defend his honor. Those that hate him will bash his work into the ground, referring to it as trash and tearing his entire catalogue to pieces.
Well, I’m going to blow everyone’s minds for a second here. It’s both. Rob Zombie’s work, in my personal opinion, can only be described with one term: “White Trash Horror.” I mean that in the most positive way possible, because it’s effective and it works really well for what he produces. A Rob Zombie film can be spotted a mile away; it’s not difficult. Everything in Zombie’s universe is dripping with grime, sweat, tears, and heat. Everything feels like the Sahara.
Whether taking place in the fictional town of Haddonfield, IL or in the sun-scorched desert of Ruggsville, TX, Zombie’s films have a certain “smell” to them; a fine layer of grime. It is trash of the finest caliber.
On August 31st, 2007 Rob Zombie unleashed his vision of John Carpenter’s 1978 slasher classic, HALLOWEEN, onto the world. It was, understandably met with much criticism; it seemed to many almost blasphemous to remake such a perfect staple of horror cinema. Still today, mentioning Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN often causes a fairly visceral reaction from people. Hell, even fans of Zombie tend to turn their nose up to the sheer existence of such a thing.
Regardless, I’m going to do my best to set the record straight today; on the 9th anniversary of the much maligned re-release. Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN is a wonderful film. Despite being a somewhat unnecessary remake, HALLOWEEN took the story to places not taken before and, again, while unneeded in the eyes of many, gave an interesting new dimension to the terrifying story of Michael Myers.
For those of you that have never sat down to enjoy Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN, heavy spoilers lurk below.
Perhaps the biggest bit of criticism that plagues the remake is the addition of the first 45 minutes or so of the story; the original HALLOWEEN tale (complete with Laurie and the ever-obnoxious Tommy) doesn’t start until about an hour in.
The first act of the film is entirely devoted to exposition, painting a “portrait of the psychopath as a young man” and putting the hellish conditions in which the young Michael Myers was unfortunate enough to grow up in. I’ve had many people make the case that this “reveal” of what Michael was once like was the biggest issue of contention. It allegedly turned the “faceless boogeyman” of the original franchise into a run-of-the-mill psychopath; ruining the mystique.
While that concept is definitely valid, the story of Michael’s childhood leading up to the murder of most of his entire family and his “evolution” into the boogeyman we know, love, and fear is merely a different way of telling the same story. It gives us a wonderfully different way of experiencing this character. What Zombie has done here is almost take the story of Michael Myers and tell it in the same way Thomas Harris told the story of Hannibal Lecter. We’re given an in-depth character study of Michael which almost makes him more “true to life”; bringing a horrifying sense of realism the story.
Seeing Michael grow up and become what we know him to be touches on the very real existence of people just like him.
While sure, the unkillable ghoul is a character we know is rooted entirely in fiction, the story of the abused child who, in the perfect storm of nature vs nurture, snaps – is very, very real. Historically, characters like Ed Gein, Albert Fish, Henry Lee Lucas, and Ottis Toole are proof of that. Michael Myers, in Zombie’s adaptation, become another face in that long line of notable monsters.
While this fairly large addition dramatically changed the first act of Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN, the remainder of the film remains almost completely faithful to Carpenter’s original; even making a point to utilize the entire original score (not just Michael’s theme) throughout. The scene compositions themselves paid direct homage to the 1978 classic while still adding Zombie’s trademark touch of grime.
Michael’s big reveal to Laurie, while completely original to Zombie’s film, appears to be less of an attempt to “derail” the ties to the original and more of a way to establish what we learn four films into the original franchise, as it was never the intention of Zombie or Dimension to remake the entire series film by film.
Overall, HALLOWEEN was quite the successful venture becoming more of a “revisitation” than a bonafide remake.
While the jury remains fairly divided on the quality and need for its existence, I feel as though, looking at it through the grimy lens of Rob Zombie’s directing style, it holds its own as worthwhile piece of horror cinema. It’s deliciously crude, slimy, and covered in some kind of weird mystery grime but boy is it a hell of a good time; and a well made one at that.
So with that, we close the door on Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN, released this day back in 2007. If you’ve yet to sit down and enjoy the mayhem for yourself, take some time to do so – you may not regret it. Hell, even if you have, give it another shot.
Do it for Michael.
Clearly the man needs some love.
Follow and insult Ian Donegan on Twitter @ianjdonegan.