Release Date(s)2007 (September 23, 2014)
Studio(s)Dimension (Anchor Bay/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: C
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: A
As Benjamin Franklin once said, in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes and remakes. In an age when everything from Dawn Of The Dead to Last House On The Left has been remade, it was inevitable that sooner or later, somebody else was going to slip on Michael Myers’ mask. And when the Halloween remake was first announced, it didn’t really matter who was going to be in the director’s chair. Fans were going to be outraged over an attempt to remake John Carpenter’s classic no matter who made it.
When it was announced that rock star-turned-filmmaker Rob Zombie would be behind Michael’s new incarnation, even those who were most vehemently opposed to the idea of a remake had to admit to at least a little curiosity. Zombie’s House Of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects were nothing like Carpenter’s movie. If nothing else, Rob Zombie’s Halloween promised to be different.
And indeed it is for the first hour or so, focusing on the hellish home life of 10-year-old Michael (a genuinely impressive performance by Daeg Faerch). The Myers family of Carpenter’s movie was decidedly middle class. Zombie’s Myers clan is, perhaps unsurprisingly, firmly in the Poor White Trash mold, complete with alcoholic, abusive stepfather (William Forsythe) and stripper mom (Sheri Moon Zombie). After Michael graduates from killing animals to most of his family, he’s locked up in Smith’s Grove Sanitarium under the care of Dr. Sam Loomis (Malcolm McDowell).
Sixteen years later, Michael (now played by Tyler Mane) has transformed into a hulking, mask-obsessed mute. He escapes the sanitarium, thanks to a couple more of Zombie’s beloved hillbilly halfwits, and heads home to Haddonfield in search of his long lost baby sister. Meanwhile, a high school student named Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) is getting ready to spend Halloween night babysitting young Tommy Doyle and this should all start sounding very familiar.
Unlike most horror remakes, Rob Zombie’s Halloween is at least interesting. He’s on more stable ground in the first half, getting good performances from his cast and establishing a believable backstory for Michael that may not be strictly necessary but is nevertheless fully realized. The problem is that Zombie spends so much time in the past that it’s hard not to feel sorry for Michael. Obviously this isn’t the first movie where the audience is meant to sympathize with the monster. Trouble is, Michael’s actions are truly monstrous.
We aren’t given nearly as much time to get to know Laurie before she’s fighting for her life. As a result, the second half of the movie just feels like a retread of the original but without any real investment. We don’t really know Laurie or care about her. We’ve spent a lot of time with both Michael and Loomis. One’s a mass murderer and the other’s an ineffectual, egomaniacal prick. You almost hope they all just wipe each other out, which seems possible given the level of brutality. But violence and terror are different things and you need to actually care what happens to the characters on screen in order to feel fear. Here, you really don’t.
The Blu-ray included in the Complete Collection appears to be fundamentally the same one that was issued previously by Dimension with one odd anomaly: the art on the disc itself marks it as a Region B release. Don’t worry, it’s not, it’s just a weird mistake. Video quality is very good and the Dolby TrueHD audio is excellent. No complaints on the technical aspects of this disc. Unfortunately, the disc includes only the unrated director’s cut and not the original theatrical version. The same holds true for Halloween II. Anchor Bay and Scream Factory tried to include both versions but alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
Extras kick off with an extremely well-done audio commentary by Rob Zombie, which also carries over to the deleted scenes and alternate ending. Disc one also includes 10 minutes of bloopers, half an hour’s worth of casting sessions covering 16 different actors, Scout Taylor-Compton’s screen test, and the trailer. There are also a few featurettes: The Many Masks Of Michael Myers, Re-Imagining Halloween and Meet The Cast. You can feel free to skip these appetizers and move on to the main course on disc two: the four-and-a-half-hour production diary Michael Lives: The Making Of Halloween. This is an extremely in-depth look behind-the-scenes, covering location scouts, casting, production and costume design, literally every single shooting day, and post. This is probably extremely valuable if you’ve never been on a movie set before. If you have, four and a half hours of this gets a little numbing after awhile, and if you work in the industry, you’ll probably never want to watch this because it’s just like being on the job. Still, it’s hard not to be impressed by the project’s thoroughness.
No one doubts Rob Zombie’s knowledge of and affection for horror. That gets him a long way with his take on Halloween, arguably further than most filmmakers would have gotten. But when it comes down to the basic story of Michael Vs. Laurie, he’s never quite able to wrestle it away from John Carpenter’s grip long enough to make it his own.
- Adam Jahnke
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