Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Halloween Revisited: The Resurrection of Curtis and Zombie remakes

With Halloween closing in I covered the Halloween films that featured Donald Pleasence in the Pleasence years. Take a look at 1,2,4,5 and 6 Here. Again skiping Halloween III: Season of the Witch as it's a stand alone story I thought it would be intresting to cover Jamie Lee Curtis' return, demise and founder of heavy metal band White Zombie -Rob Zombie's remakes.

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)


20 years after the events of Halloween killings Michael Myers sets out to complete his unfinished job and kill his sister once and for all.

The most appealing thing about Halloween 20 Years Later is its very title and Robert Zappia's story concept itself especially as it features the return of Laurie Strode, the heroine that started the series. It's no secret that this instalment disregards parts 4, 5, 6 and has no tie to 3. Although it side steps the aforementioned and by default Donald Pleasence's work, he's there as Sam Loomis in spirit in newspaper clippings and Nancy Stephens reprises her role as his assistant Nurse Chambers.

It takes the action from Haddonfield placing it in a private school giving the film a different feel. Even though Laurie Strode has assumed a new identity, Keri Tate, she is still haunted by previous events unwittingly passing on her fear to her son played lethargically by Josh Hartnett.

Gone is the grittiness of the first and second Halloween, it's sleeker and leaner, both in production design and direction. That said, it does feel set like at times, losing its on location feel synonymous with many of the other films. When Jamie Lee Curtis is on screen the film has weight and emotion but outside that it plays against the genre 'rules' with false scares, red-herrings and quip dialogue reminiscent of the Scream series courtesy of writers Robert Zappia and Matt Greenberg.


Note worthy is Adam Arkin playing Strode's boyfriend and LL Cool J is fine as the security guard although arguably too humorous. The rest of the supporting cast are Myers fodder. There's a nod to Psycho with a cameo by Janet Leigh real life mother of Jamie. Chris Durand's take on the Michael/Shape is realised well, he's both menacing yet oddly vulnerable this coupled with Curtis performance holds the film together. Jamie Lee Curtis is pretty much faultless as a troubled individual and over concerned mother.


Director Steve Miner gives an eerie edge at times with reflections, Strode's visions and the vanishing Shape. Miner creates some interesting set pieces, Strode hiding in the chapel like hall, confronting Michael in the kitchen and the van crash. Although the kills throughout are nerve racking and well executed with good effects it also feels glossy and staged. This may possibly be due to so many slasher films over the years numbing audiences to the blood and violence.

Halloween: Resurrection (2002)


A group of students win a competition to spend a night in the house of killer Michael Myers while it's broadcast on an Internet. However, Michael is living in a below his childhood house and the killings begin.


Continuing the continuity of H20, Resurrection takes the viewer back to Haddonfield. Halloween II director Rick Rosenthal returns with a run of the mill horror affair. It looks good and is slickly edited but disappointingly suffers from the horror trend of the day. In the vein of Scream, it has smart talking characters, packed witty quips and answers it also borrows from ogles of video feed footage horror films.


Busta Rhymes puts in a surprisingly entertaining performance as Freddie Harris who goes head to head with Michael, this time played by stuntman Brad Loree. Tyra Banks character Nora is a copycat Courtney Cox's Gale Weathers and gets little screen time. Like H20 the rest of the cast are just characters cut out from countless other films and meat for Michael to dispose of. The strong dark opening with Jamie Lee Curtis' cameo is probably the most interesting and satisfying part of the film.


While trying to appeal to the teen film goers, it becomes the trend instead of setting it, this dilutes the scare horror factor that made Halloween successful.

As a plain slasher it's an adequate ride, but lacks any of the previous Halloween magic including horror and fear.

Halloween (2007)


After being committed for 17 years in a mental institution, Michael Myers escapes and immediately returns to his hometown of Haddonfield where he begins a series of killings.

Despite how die-hard fans feel about giving Michael a background reasoning for his actions and departing from Carpenters scary unfounded killing motivations director Rob Zombie has chosen to include lengthy scenes of Michael as a young boy. This gives weight and credence to the character, Michael's killing of animals, family and school issues follow a realistic progression mirroring real life serial killers. It's clear that Zombie put some effort into the screenplays back story and its conception.


The characters have more shades of grey than its original counterpart. What Zombie does successfully is bring the fear factor back while constructing and surpassing the grittiness of the first. That said, as the perfect suburb setting is gone and the unsavoury world created by Zombie has a lesser contrast to the murderous Michael. In essence it's a dark hopeless world that Michael already resides in, as oppose to the quintessential small town in the original that he assaults upsetting the calm balance.
Without drawing comparisons to the original the cast is very good, although very unlikable. Malcolm McDowell gives depth to Dr. Samuel Loomis and notable is Tyler Mane's imposing and physical Michael Myers. There's a lot of shock for shock values sake dialogue in Zombie's screenplay similar to Devils Rejects. Some of what he puts on screen is gory and disturbing. There are many nods to the original and the inclusion of Danielle Harris from part 4 and 5 is appealing.

Overall, Zombie has made the film his own visually and retains the essence of Halloween, but arguably it's an unnecessary remake. Halloween 2007 caters for Zombie fans and is only really appealing to those who are admirers of Rob Zombies harsh and unforgiving work.

Halloween II (2009)

Laurie Strode left mentally-traumatized after the Halloween day massacre finds herself dreading the one-year anniversary of the killings, unbeknownst to her Michael Myers sets about to finish what he started.

Writer director Rob Zombie returns with his trademark style. There's more vulgar dialogue, violence and mayhem. But this time it's all the more gritty, graphic and brutal. Zombie departs from the structure in original Halloween II and very little is set in a hospital. It isn't a remake at all and Zombie takes it into a different direction.
Dr. Loomis has changed significantly hungry for notoriety, Laurie is has become an unhinged oddball and Michael a long haired homeless man who pops on a mask now and again. Michaels Mask is synonymous with Halloween and taking it away at times is like removing Freddy's glove. Tyler Mane is not doubt menacing and makes a great Myers.

There are plenty of kills but like Zombie's Halloween, there's just nothing to like, especially the character of Laurie Strode. It's not actress Scout Taylor Compton fault either, to Compton's credit and the casting director she's refreshing non Hollywood looking, its Zombie's alienating screenplay that's the issue. Oddly the visions of Michael's dead mother played by Sherri Moon are the most interesting scenes of the film even if feeling somewhat misplaced.

As a grungy bizarre serial killer film Halloween 2 may appeal but as a Halloween movie it falls short of meeting expectations even more so than its predecessor. This leave the future of the Halloween series on a knife edge.