So once again we have survived.

Halloween Remake II Unrated Director’s Cut

tn_halloween2directorsSince I was one of the elite few to sort of recommend HALLOWEEN REMAKE II I thought it was my duty to inform you that I less-sort-of-recommend the new unrated director’s cut than I do the theatrical one. The new cut is quite a bit different, but mostly what’s added is unpleasantness to make you not like the characters or enjoy the experience of watching the movie. There are several scenes and extensions added so that Laurie – who had a sweet friendship with fellow survivor Annie in the theatrical cut – is angry at Annie and they’re always fighting. Most of the new material involves Laurie screaming, crying and swearing, getting in arguments with Annie, then screaming FUUUUCKKKK! She also has a screaming fit at her therapist (Margot Kidder) and calls some beer she’s drinking in her bedroom “my new best friend.”

mp_halloween2directorsI guess Zombie is trying to show the mental effect the murders had on these characters, and to make it less of a transition when SPOILER Laurie seems to be crazy later on. But all it does is emphasize Zombie’s biggest weakness as a writer: he seems to think that having sympathetic characters is some kind of sell out move and that it’s somehow subversive to bum you out by forcing you to watch obnoxious, hateful people swear at each other.

To be fair he does make it more realistic here than in the first one. The performances by Scout-Taylor Compton (Laurie), Danielle Harris (Annie) and Kidder are good, and it’s not the self conscious shock value dialogue like William Forsythe talking about skull fucking. But to me it didn’t add anything good to the movie, just gives you more you have to forgive to get to the good stuff.

And I mean, I don’t mind how everything is changed from the original John Carpenter characters, but just like with Loomis being turned into an asshole celebrity instead of a Van Helsing type you get into trouble if you stop to wonder how this version of Laurie is an improvement or worthwhile alternative. Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie was this really nice girl that you felt for. She did spend some time crying and screaming I guess, but only when she was being chased. Do you feel that she would be more interesting to watch if she was always crying and swearing at everyone and drinking and taking pills and complaining that her life sucks? Personally I gotta say no, that does not make her more interesting. And in fact in H20 we got to see a traumatized, alcoholic Laurie who was still likable.

There’s also an alternate ending that I don’t like as much. Not a completely different ending, but a different, not as good version of the same basic events. In this version the mask is completely abandoned instead of having the great image of Laurie stumbling out wearing it.

This DVD also made me realize that some of what I liked about the movie was not what Zombie intended. I really liked the ambiguousness of it. There are all these hallucinatory scenes of Michael’s mother and younger self following him around, and with what happens to Laurie at the end it’s up to interpretation what exactly is happening and what Michael’s goals are. But in the director’s cut there are some extra scenes more blatantly explaining what’s supposed to be going on – for example Loomis has a big speech about how Michael has to kill him because he’s a surrogate father figure, and Deborah Myers has a scene standing in front of a billboard of Loomis’s book telling Michael he has to go after him.

The first chunk of the movie is the best, and here the director commentary made me realize that again, the ambiguousness is not what Zombie intends. Both cuts open with a nice scene of young Michael and his mother talking in the asylum, then it says “15 years later” and there’s a great scene of Laurie walking zombie-like through the streets of Haddonfield after having killed Michael at the end of Remake Part 1. She ends up in the hospital where Michael, somehow having risen from the morgue truck and escaped, comes and massacres everyone. At the end of the long, horrific sequence, Messed Up Halloween Remake II era Laurie wakes up from a dream, screaming. But it says “2 years later.”

See, how do you interpret that? We know that it was a dream, Michael obviously didn’t kill her. But also we know that Michael did somehow survive, his body did disappear. We know that Laurie must’ve been taken to the hospital. And if it’s all imagined then how is it 2 years later? 2 years after non-existent events? I read it as saying that some version of these events did happen, but some or all of what we’re seeing is Laurie’s traumatic dream memories of it.

Nope. Zombie tells you where the dream begins and ends. It’s all a dream, he says. I liked it better when it was cool.

On the positive side, the director’s cut does add a pretty effective extension to Sheriff Brackett’s discovery of his daughter’s body. Brad Dourif’s grief here is much more human and upsetting than you usually see in a horror movie. Also they incorporate some home video footage of Harris to remind you she was the little girl from HALLOWEEN 4 and MARKED FOR DEATH.

Also, Zombie did add some new ambiguity to the movie because I sure as hell didn’t get that Laurie was actually dead and not in a sanitarium until I listened to him explaining it on the commentary track.

In either incarnation HALLOWEEN REMAKE II is a flawed movie, but as long as I try to ignore what Zombie says about it I still think it’s pretty admirable. It’s an unexpected take on Michael Myers that works better than most of the real Halloween sequels, and when it’s working it really drags you in with its naturally lit photography of all these dark, rainy streets, fields, hallways and parking lots. And I never expected a sequel to an unwanted remake to contain any images as strange and beautiful as the procession of Deborah Myers, young Michael and adult Michael carrying the unconscious Laurie away from a burning and then exploding car.

The first remake I thought was sort of an interesting failure, a bad movie that tried a few things I wish would’ve worked better. This one leans way more heavily on the interesting and less on the failure. I actually think it’s kind of good. But if you want my advice I say go with the theatrical cut on this one.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 13th, 2010 at 2:59 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

86 Responses to “Halloween Remake II Unrated Director’s Cut”

  1. I agree with your take on this film and Rob Zombie. I think he has now failed twice at telling a good story within the world of Halloween and Michael Myers, but I’ll be damned if he can’t capture some beautiful and haunting images and call it a movie. THE DEVIL’S REJECTS is the only one of his movies that works entirely on its own terms in my opinion, but there is some effective direction in all of his efforts. (Well, not in THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO as far as I can tell, had to turn that one off after five minutes.) Hubris will screw him in the long run if he doesn’t hire a competent (co-)writer and pick his projects a little more shrewdly.

  2. Saw this one the other week (haven’t seen the theatrical cut) and found it almost unbearably aggravating, mostly because of the Laurie Strode character. I don’t think I’ve ever felt less sympathy for a fictional character who has gone through a fictional ordeal. SCREAM, SHOUT, CRY, SWEAR, SCREAM, SHOUT, CRY, SWEAR, ad bloody nauseam.

    The only interesting aspect of the film was that Zombie made his new version of Michael Myers look like a steroid-amped version of himself, which lets you know where Zombie’s sympathies lie. It’s no wonder his films aren’t scary if he likes serial killers more than normal, non serial killing people.

  3. nabroleon_dynamite

    January 13th, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Do we get both versions on the dvd?

  4. I missed this movie in theaters and watched it last week as the local store accidentally put it on the shelves a week early. I thought as a movie, it was an unmitigated failure. That said, I did not shut it off and I thought a number of ideas within the film carried some weight. Also, a few of the scenes, as cut together reminded of the promise that Zombie showed in Devil’s Rejects. The scene that Vern refers to when the Sheriff finds his daughter is spot on, flawless filmmaking. But most of the rest, just atrocious with little regard for story or character.

    I did not hate Zombie’s first effort at Halloween, nor did I hate this one, but after reading Vern’s breakdown of the extra features where Zombie reveals that most bright spots in this movie were complete accidents, I can no longer believe that the parts of this movie I found intriguing were the result of any calculated effort on Zombie’s part. So maybe those ideas that I thought carried weight were actually hollow after all.

  5. Please let this guy stop making movies. Stop giving him money. At least stop him from releasing his work theatrically.

    Maybe if RZ somehow teamed up with Sandra Bullock and Tyler Perry for a project it could be an oddly cathartically self-destructive masterpiece of obnoxious, inept filmatism.

  6. i fucking hated this movie. i don’t clash with Vern often, but i’ve heavily opposed here. haven’t seen the director’s cut, and i probably won’t bother. as flawed as the remake was, it was more enjoyable to watch than this one on every level.

  7. In defense of Zombie…ok its not really one.

    He did the HALLOWEEN shit for the money. And who knows maybe after he got roasted by the nerds on the first one, he got pissed and wanted to annoy them even more the second time around. Kinda like how Michael Bay does with his Platinum Dunes bullshit.

  8. I’m tired of Rob Zombie. I’m tired of interesting new voices in genre filmmaking piss away my goodwill by embracing the glut of remakes, reboots and prequels that Hollywood is mired in. I’m tired of reading interviews where people whose movies I buy and watch over and over again take it upon themselves to insult and demean me and the other geeks I would call my peers just because we have criticisms and comments. I’m just tired of this age of filmmaking that I’m coming up in.

  9. “Also, Zombie did add some new ambiguity to the movie because I sure as hell didn’t get that Laurie was actually dead and not in a sanitarium until I listened to him explaining it on the commentary track.”

    Really? Laurie getting shot which then transitioned to her being in that absurdly long white room she was in followed by her seeing her mother and a stupid horse didn’t give away that she’s dead? At least this ending makes more sense than the theatrical when they do intend to make it like she’s in a nut house. But what nuthouse has absurdly long rooms like that? NONE.

    I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE this movie. It’s stupid. It’s beyond illogical. Rob Zombie owes me my 10 dollars back for this crap.

  10. nabroleon_dynamite

    January 13th, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    I rented this from blockbuster (yeah, I know…) And I have to say this…

    Zombie has talent, but it just comes out wrong and I can’t exactly put my finger on it.

    I have never seen any of his movies at the cinema, but I’ll keep checking for his work on dvd.

    5000 G.

  11. (SPOILERS)

    Lawrence – Well, maybe it’s because I’d already seen the theatrical ending, where you have no choice but to take it literally. But in this version I thought, “Oh, she’s dead” and then it went to the asylum so I thought “Oh, I guess she survived somehow.” I mean, it looks like the same asylum that half of the first movie and the opening of this took place in. I don’t see how long rooms is unusual in a movie.

    I mean, a character goes crazy and tries to stab somebody in front of police. Next shot: same character is now in asylum. I believe the logical conclusion is “she got locked up,” not “she is dead but her last thoughts are a fantasy about being in an asylum.” Isn’t it?

    I think the theatrical ending makes more sense, it’s bringing things full circle. Her brother’s dead, now she’s taking his place, and she’s seeing the visions now so it’s like the family is reunited. By doing the same thing but only in a momentary fantasy before death – that’s fuckin pushing it man, that’s some stupid bullshit where he makes it deliberately incomprehensible so he can later complain in interviews that people don’t get it. Mark my words, that’s coming up when he promotes his bearded remake of THE BLOB.

  12. I’m sorry if I came across as condescending in my post because it was more meant to make fun of Rob Zombie than you. If he just made his own movies I could ignore him but he choose to skull fuck the Halloween franchise so he can blow me. I thought things should have just been left alone after that horrible Resurrection film.

  13. I gave the first Halloween (remake) a pass – thought it was okay. Not a pimple on the ass of the original, but it didn’t offend me at all.

    What’s more disturbing is that I keep looking at the thumb Vern used of Zombie giving the finger, and keep thinking it’s the creepy bearded guy from the story on the right hand side of the page giving me the finger…

  14. Safe to say I’ll never see this.

    I think I read Vern say that he kind of likes the original Halloween II. I used to kind of like it too, even though it seemed to make Michael a lot stupider. I always knew it was never as good as the original, but still, I kind of liked it when it would crop up on Halloween movie-fests. I remember Siskel and Ebert calling it one of the worst movies of its year and I always thought that was unfair.

    But last year, I saw it again. It’s horrible. Everything that’s good about the first movie is pretty much lousy in Halloween II.

    And Zombie’s first Halloween just sucks. Period. It’s bad. Really, really bad. A complete betrayal of the source material. More like a complete rape & murder of the source material, complete with urination on the burned corpse. What Zombie did to Carpenter’s original reminds me of what the Excitable Boy did to little Janey after the junior prom. I hate it.

    While I was willing to grant this movie a little leeway because the first Halloween II wasn’t very good. But not one thing I’ve heard about it makes me want to see it, particularly after the debacle that was Zombie’s first Halloween.

    I think I kind of hate Rob Zombie, really.

  15. I think the remake Halloween II is better than the original one, actually. Both have their moments. This one doesn’t have anything as funny as the guy in the wrong Halloween mask getting run over.

  16. I think Halloween II Version 1.0 definitely sags in the middle, and that hurts the movie a lot. It doesn’t build dread the way the first one does; it’s just a sequential elimination of minor characters in the tried-and-true slasher style. But I like the beginning, with Michael wandering through the neighborhood while the cops are a few blocks over trying to figure out what the fuck is going on. And I think the whole climax is well done. As soon as Jamie Lee gets back into the mix, the movie is off and running again. I hold that it’s the best Halloween sequel, excepting maybe H20 (but points off for the nonsensical title).

  17. “Nonsensical title”? Wait, is H20 not set in a secret underwater base? Someone’s been lying to me? Goddamn eight year olds.

  18. I just rewatched the original HALLOWEEN II back in October during a month long horror movie binge. He’s my write-up:

    http://danandthemovies.blogspot.com/2009/10/halloween-ii-original-sequel-not-sequel.html

    If you’re too lazy to read it, basically I come out in favor of it. Its main flaw is that its a sequel to a masterpiece, but as far as crass, violent slasher movies go, it’s a good one. The part where the guy slips in the blood of one of Michael’s victims and knocks himself out is worth watching the entire movie for.

  19. It seems like there are a few versions of the original Halloween 2 out there, and since I never saw it in the theater and have never picked it up on DVD, I can’t say which one was the theatrical cut.

    In one, the nice EMT (Lance Guest?) slips on some blood and hits his head and the hospital floor and I guess he dies.

    In another – I guess some kind of edit – he gets knocked on his butt when Loomis sets off the explosion, and later you see him wake up in the back of the ambulance next to Laurie.

    Also, and I guess this was a scene added to Carpenter’s Halloween at one point, but before Loomis heads to Haddonfield in pursuit of Michael, he’s in Michael’s room at Smith’s Grove and he sees the word “Sister” scrawled into the back of the door.

    That scene isn’t the DVD I have, which is a nothing special version. I think I saw it on a TV version once, but I’ve seen Halloween so many times now I can’t remember. Anyone?

    Isn’t it true that Laurie was only made into Michael’s sister for Halloween 2, and that was never the intent of the story?

  20. Tom — well, if Zombie follows through with that metaphor it means he’ll eventually do his time for the mess he made of the HALLOWEEN REMAKES, then, years from now, get out, dig up their grave, and build a cage with their bones. Which actually sounds like something I might watch. HALLOWEEN REMAKE III, if you can be even a tenth as scary as Warren Zevon you’ve got my money.

  21. I actually think that building a cage with the bones is what he did with his Halloween 2, hopefully, even though it wasn’t 10 years.

  22. Are you saying Michael was just… an excitable boy?

  23. Dan – actually your Halloween 2 post cleared up a lot of my confusion, thanks. The whole sister bit was inserted late, although I’d still be curious to know if anyone else remembers that scene of Loomis and “sister” scratched into the door, it was years ago when I first saw and I have never seen it again.

    And I forgot that after slipping on the blood the EMT turns up in Laurie’s car and passes out, blowing the horn and conveniently alerting Michael. But I swear I saw one version where he pops up in the ambulance at the end and one where he doesn’t.

  24. I can’t for the life of me remember if that dude was alive at the version I watched in October. My gut is that he didn’t pop up in the ambulance at the end, but I can’t recall for sure. Are you maybe confusing it with an earlier scene where you see him in an ambulance?

  25. I don’t think so, because it was used as a cheapo fakeout scare. The way I remember it, Laurie is in the ambulance, still in shock but starting to come down a bit. Then a blanketed figure sits up next to her. She is startled, but the blanket slides away to reveal the EMT with a head bandage. They share some survivor-type dialogue (“we made it,” or something like that) and then it’s back to the ambulance as it drives away.

  26. If anyone out there is interested in Warren Zevon and hasn’t read “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Dirty Life & Times of Warren Zevon,” I highly recommend it. Really good read.

    Now that I think of it, wouldn’t “Excitable Boy” make a good premise for a slasher movie? Has that been done?

  27. Dan- I have always tried to ignore the whole “She’s his sister” thing. Honestly, I’ve only ever seen two HALLOWEEN movies end to end: John Carpenter’s and Rob Zombie’s. I regret exactly 50% of that viewing experience. I only watched the remake because one of my horror geek buddies/co-workers told me it was actually a good slasher movie removed from comparisons to Carpenter. Yeeaaahhh…no.

  28. I like the dude passing out on the horn and alerting Michael. I appreciateit when stupid little shit fucks everything up in movies, because that’s like life. “Why were you late to work?” “Well, I got all the way down the stairs and remembered that I forgot my leftover Thai food that was going to go bad if I didn’t eat it for lunch. So I went all the way back upstairs to get it and by the time I got to the subway I missed the train by like two seconds.” It’s like an Elmore Leonard novel where somebody will forget his wallet or something and screw up the most carefully laid of plans.

  29. Majestyk- My favorite of those kind of moments: the fucking animal rights people that unleash the rage virus in 28 days later. Same assholes that unleashed the 12 monkeys disease (well, they were responsible for distracting Bruce so he wasn’t able to find the real culprit).

  30. PS Dan: That was a really good review man. Now if only you got challenged to a wrestling match by someone you dissed, then I might be tempted to start trolling you blog daily.

  31. Tom — I hope HALLOWEEN REMAKE II wasn’t his version of the bones things because if it is its much less cool than it sounds. I think though the 10 years is an essential ingeredient because it gives people time to forgive and imagine he’s reformed, which we didn’t get between REMAKE and REMAKE II. I’d say REMAKE is more like biting the usher’s leg in the dark — unexpected and painful, where REMAKE II is the Janey thing — horrible and disturbing, but you can’t say there weren’t warning signs.

  32. by the way, have we decided it needs to be called HA22OWEEN or HALLOW22N or HAIIOWEEN or something yet? I’m always worried I’m gonna miss it when the switch comes and lose the respect of my peers.

  33. I think that is undecided, but the next one totally needs the be called HALLOWTHREEN.

  34. Brendan,

    The whole sister thing strikes me as a weird, pointless justification for why Michael would continue to go after her in part II. In my mind, the HALLOWEEN sequels are some sort of parallel “what if” universe of the original, and the original stands as a self-contained entity. Not of that sister retcon bullshit applies.

    And thank you very much for the compliment on my review. I haven’t updated the blog since I ended my horror movie marathon (Mr. Subtlety was kind enough to post a few comments on there), but I’m thinking of maybe doing some “Best of 2009” posts. The horror movie posts are worth peeking at if you’re looking for a few good recommendations.

  35. Dan – I’d definitely be interested in further non-Halloween posts, for what it’s worth.

  36. At the very least, I always do a horror movie wrap-up each year, so I just need to stop being lazy and work on it.

  37. Isn’t it interesting that Rob Zombie made the tacked-on and almost universally reviled Laurie-is-Michael’s-sister angle a key point of both of his remakes?

    Says a lot about him, when you think about it–particularly that he’s as tone deaf to what made the original Halloween so great as anyone could possibly be.

  38. I am in the what appears to be rare minority (along with Vern) of people who thought HALLOWEEN THE REMAKE II was sorta okay, although Vern’s review of the DC may keep me from ever watching it again.

    My main gripe with both of Zombie’s HALLOWEEN movies is that he doesn’t seem to be skilled enough at crafting suspense/stalk/kill sequences. Save the hospital opening of part 2, the films don’t really have any memorable set pieces or whatnot. I saw the remake twice, and both times I totally zoned out during the chase scene at the end, it was just THAT BORING.

    But I did like the whole psychological, “haunted house of the mind” approach that the remake sequel took (remaquel?). Michael’s hallucinations of monsters, his mother and young self following him around, weird details like when Laurie seems to wake up from a dream Michael is having… that stuff I enjoyed. It’s whenever the film turned into a more traditional slasher film that I thought it fell apart.

  39. Dan- See what annoys me is that he seems to be fully capable of doing those things, when he puts his mind to it. Zombie HAS the goods, he just doesn’t fucking use them. Which is worse.

  40. Brendan,

    I don’t know if I agree. I think Zombie is a talented filmmaker who has made two movies I am very enthusiastic about (HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES and DEVIL’S REJECTS), but he has many limitations. He’s skilled in building atmosphere, in disturbing or disgusting the audience, and lathering a sequence in heavy style, plus I like his dark sense of humor to boot. But I don’t think he’s much for crafting a tight, suspenseful set piece or action scene.

    And I don’t think it’s that he doesn’t try, I think he’s just not very good at it. I don’t have a copy of either RZ HALLOWEEN to look to for reference, but I recall the stalk/chase sequences mostly being being shot and edited in an ugly and muddled fashion, and that they were boring to boot. Although the hospital sequence at the beginning of part 2 would be something of an exception, at least until it becomes shakey-cam crazy and hence incoherent.

  41. Dan- I think he has plenty of limitations. But from 1000 Corpses to Rejects, there was clearly a learning curve there, he really began to hone his abilities as a storyteller and filmmaker. After Rejects, I honestly thought that the next movie he made would be the one where he put it all together and made something that was truly undeniable and great. Instead it seemed like he gave up and just started accepting automatic greenlights. His Halloween movie is bad (have not seen the second one and seriously doubt I will) and is almost utterly devoid of merit. The parts that aren’t by-the-numbers retreads of classic moments play out like self-parody. I mean, skull-fucking? The only scene in the movie that I thought was indicative of the Rob Zombie I was looking forward to was the scene where the Spy Kid gets beaten to death.

    I don’t think we disagree with each other, we’re both see him as a limited filmmaker, I think we are simply drawing different lines as to how limited he is. I honestly thought (and sortofkindof still do) that if Zombie were to go out and start creating some original matireal and try to distance himself from the Hillbilly Hell niche he’s carved for himself, he could get back on track and really shake up genre filmmaking. I mean, if the fucking SAW guys can impact the entire trajectory of horror for a decade, you’re telling me a guy with a voice as distinct as Zombie couldn’t really shake things up. I think he’s suffering from a malady that strikes many artists (coughcoughfrankmillercoughcough) where he has settled into a set of cliches that he’ll cycle through over and over again. I think he could’ve been so much more then that, but with the Blob up next, I’m losing more and more hope.

  42. Brendan,

    I definitely agree that Zombie needs to go back to developing original material. I’m not even going to bother with his BLOB remake, unless I hear good things from respectable sources.

  43. Brendan, spot on, especially with the Frank Miller comparison. I was expecting greatness from Zombie after THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, which I still hold to be one of the best horror movies of the decade. That was truly a case of a filmmaker learning from all of his mistakes on his freshman feature, and bettering himself in every instance for the sophomore effort. Vern was exactly correct when he said THE DEVIL’S REJECTS was like a sequel to that one scene he got right in HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, where Otis shoots the old guy after a super slow-motion country western standoff.

    His HALLOWEEN movies are an appropriate case study on what was wrong with horror in the oughts. Remakes that seem to miss the point of their originals, and exercises in extreme cruelty in the absence of compelling stories or statements. But they still seem like the work of a horror auteur, which is what bothers me so much. It’s like genre is giving a big Fuck You to himself by taking this work. When he corrected a lot of his mistakes after HO1KC, I figured maybe he was humble and listened to critics. But as soon as he started making HALLOWEEN he had earmuffs on, especially after the Quint debacle. His three main ideas for the series seemed to be making Michael Myers a sympathetic protagonist, fucking up the plot structure, and cranking up the shock value. If it made any sense whatsoever I’d accuse the guy of trying to ruin the horror remake permanently so that studios would stop making them. He’s a martyr, maybe.

    But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Because it seems like he’s actually trying. He’s trying to color outside of the lines. He was validated by THE DEVIL’S REJECTS because he made the protagonists cruel, merciless, sadistic sonsabitches and we patted him on the back for it. This was his Frank Miller moment, but it happened to coincide with remaking HALLOWEEN, so I guess it must have seemed like a natural fit. Well it doesn’t work for Mikey in my opinion, we need that Laurie Strode character. And he only gave Laurie a cursory study in the first movie, and made her an unlikeable bitch that turns evil in the second one. He’ll probably make The Blob the protagonist in THE BLOB, and I was looking forward to TYRANNOSAURUS REX but that looks like more of the same serial killer hillbilly hero type of thing.

    Most of these problems have to do with writing, which is why I think he should urgently seek collaboration on that side of things. Because I will defend him as a director. HALLOWEEN 2 is his best looking film and I found so many things to marvel at aesthetically and technically, but the story was such a disappointing hash that it was all for nothing. He seems to get great work out of many of his collaborators, especially actors (Brad Dourif is a joy to watch), so it seems reasonable to assume he could get great work out of a talented writer who could perhaps make his movies a bit more palatable and sophisticated. Richard Kelly has the same problem, these guys get convinced that they have to be these auteur Renaissance Men and do everything themselves. The best work always comes from creative impediments, ie. collaborators who will call you on your bullshit.

    Ah well. Who knows, maybe The Blob will be cooler with a beard?

  44. oops: “It’s like genre is giving a big Fuck You”, uh, It’s like ZOMBIE is giving a big Fuck You.

  45. Gwai Lo: Just curious, would you include Shyamalan alongside Richard Kelly on your list of directors who would benefit from someone to call him out on his bullshit? Someone told me recently that LADY IN THE WATER was a masterpiece that would eventually be appreciated. I never saw it, so I have no opinion.

    Brendan: Good point about Zombie needing to move away from “Hillbilly Hell.” I agree that if he doesn’t, he’ll be a self-parody, if he isn’t already (I haven’t seen his HALLOWEEN movies).

    I wonder if he can, though. I agree that he has talent, but when you look at his scripts and his casts, I don’t see any indication that Zombie has much of a grasp on anything outside that particular niche. I don’t know if he simply refuses to work outside of his comfort zone, or if he is incapable of relating to a world that isn’t “Hillbilly Hell.” I wish I could say that he has a world view that he is articulating, but the truth is I suspect he is just that guy who insists on wearing his leather jacket all the time as a statement of his individuality.

    I mean, it’s no accident that the Rainn Wilson character in 1000 CORPSES is both the most poorly rendered and the farthest from Zombie’s sensibility. Likewise, Wilson the actor is about as far from Zombie’s preferred type as you could get. And that sequence with Wilson and his pals at the beginning of the film is just awful. I honestly wonder if Zombie has enough range in him to write a believable part for a “normal” character, like asking Tiny Tim to sing like Chris Isaak.

  46. Shyamalan definitely falls into this group of guys who started drinking their own Koolaid as soon as they made their first hit, although he has done more to piss away his goodwill with me than Kelly or Zombie. I think he shit the bed with SIGNS (can you think of a cinematic alien invasion more illogical than the one SIGNS presents? I can’t. At least the PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE aliens had a series of plans, the SIGNS aliens decided to show up on a planet that’s practically made of the one substance that instantly kills them and ran around naked, lurching into Mexican birthday parties and skittering around on Midwestern barn rooftops, their only weapons being little gas puffers on their wrists.) and has shit it repeatedly ever since. I’ve read a number of his scripts. THE SIXTH SENSE is a tight, economical piece of writing, you can tell it was honed down to a science through a rigorous rewrite process. Compare that script to THE HAPPENING, which feels like an amateur writer struggling to eek out a feature’s length worth of pages with flabby, undisciplined writing, and calling it a day as soon as he types FADE OUT on his first draft. Nevermind the ridiculous conceit of the story.

  47. I never read the script for “The Happening,” but after seeing the finished product, I’m not at all surprised it reads that way. Now THAT was a bona fide, Grade-A cinematic turkey. Flat, suspenseless, poorly acted claptrap. A weak episode of the 80s-revival “Twilight Zone” show (the anthology one) stretched to barely feature length.

  48. In THE HAPPENING’s defense, I’d rather see it again than THE VILLAGE. Few movies have ever pissed me off as much as VILLAGE did. Forget about the laughable story, the bad acting, the tedium. I can’t think of many other movies that display so much contempt for the audiences’ intelligence. SPOILERS if you haven’t seen it, but remember when William Hurt explains to Bryce Dallas Howard that the monsters are all fake? It’s a fairly major plot twist. And then in the next scene, Shyamalan tries to scare you by making you think that Howard is being attacked by a monster? I mean, seriously, the man must think we’re all morons, easily manipulated by whatever bullshit he throws at us.

    At least THE HAPPENING is bad in a fun way.

  49. I like Rob Zombie; I like the “Hillbilly Hell” niche and hope he keeps working in it; and I think he’s one of the few horror film-makers out there who’s doing anything even remotely interesting. But, I couldn’t stand the director’s cut of Halloween II. As far as ruining a movie goes, it’s probably one of the worst director’s cuts since “Miami Vice”.

    In a weird way, Zombie reminds me a lot of Ralph Bakshi. They both have cool ideas. They’ve made some great movies (Bakshi’s best work is probably “Heavy Traffic” and “Hey Good Lookin'”) but they also have these weird quirks that sometimes work against what they’re trying to accomplish. Also, they’re both capable of being really awful. Bakshi’s worst movies are probably “Fritz the Cat” and “American Pop”. (I know that movie has its fans but I’ve never been able to watch it for more than a few minutes). For me, Zombie’s worst is this director’s cut.

  50. This is the first Zombie film I not only don’t like, but flat out fucking hate.

    I tried Rob, really I did.

  51. I will agree with you on Brad Dourif’s performance. He’s always good.

  52. Brad Dourif is my personal favorite B-movie actor. I love this new “crusty old voice of reason” phase he’s grown into, but I still wish he’d bust out the old mega-acting chops every once in a while.

  53. I will disagree with Gwai Lo’s statements that Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies are case study in terms of everything that is wrong with remakes these days. I would say Zombie’s filmmaking represents what I want out of a remake: somebody putting a new spin on things.

    If I had to criticize remakes for anything it would be that new writers and directors don’t bring anything to the original and that the remakes are simply made to update the hairstyles of the original. What I like about Zombie’s Halloween movies is that he brought a unique vision. Whether you like his vision is another question, but I agree in principle with that approach to a remake.

    I haven’t seen this director’s cut of H2, I saw it in the cinemas and thought it was okay but kinda dragged in a lot of parts. These decisions to add footage that makes all the main characters all unlikeable does sound like bad judgement to me.

  54. I think the Texas Chainsaw movies are representative of everything that is wrong with Double-Ought horror.

  55. Dan — 100% agree on VILLAGE. There are lots of awful movies out there, and a lot of pretentious movies out there, but VILLAGE may be the single worst movie ever made which is also absolutely insufferably convinced of its own genius. Except maybe Madonna’s FILTH AND WISDOM, but at least that has Eugene Hutz in it to make it borderline watchable. I mean, the central premise of VILLAGE is an insult at least equal to the aliens plan in SIGNS (they thought the modern world was too violent,so they… recreated a period-accurate version of the 1700s, down to the clothes and religion? And also made a bunch on monster costumes and ran around sometimes?), and its made worse by its profoundly lazy execution. The part where they try to scare us with the monster after already telling us there are no mosters is already maddeningly insulting, but its made even more so by three factors.

    1) So they know the retarded guy is a killer, and so they lock him ungaurded in the room with two open windows and a monster suit? 2) Now said mentally unstable person wants to scare poor Bryce Howard, but suddenly he becomes a great actor, mimicking the “moster” movements and shuffling around and whatnot instead of just grabbing her and 3) Why the fuck even bother with the suit when SHE’S FUCKING BLIND!?

    AARRRRGHH!!! THE IDIOCY!!!

    Also Shyamalan’s appearance as officer exposition at the end is one of the laziest, self-congratulatory pieces of writing I’ve ever seen put on screen. It’s been years since I’ve seen the movie and I’m still this angry about it!

  56. Holy shit! Subtlety! I totally blocked out of my head the fact that wearing the monster suit made no fucking sense because THE GIRL WAS BLIND. That made me so fucking angry at the time I think I must have repressed it during the last 5 years.

    Although to be fair, he was retarded, maybe it didn’t dawn on him.

    More vague: I seem to recall Brody’s SPOILER death scene between almost unwatchably, embarrassingly bad. Like a weird perfect storm of hammy deathbed acting and Tugg Speedman-style full-retard acting.

  57. My favorite thing about The Village is how we are expected to believe that Brendan Gleeson would allow his young son to die from an easily treated disease rather then climb a wall and go to a pharmacy. Come on M. Night, that’s Brendan Gleeson, he called Ralph Fiennes a cunt to his face and got away with it, he wouldn’t let that shit slide.

  58. I mean, its kind of an all-you-can-eat-buffet of idiocy, but the thing that actually makes me the most mad is the idea that they accurately recreated the 1700s, down to costumes and religion and medicine. Why the hell bother to play dress-up dress up and convice the young generation it’s 200 years ago??! They could tell them its the year 3000 if they wanted, what difference does it make, since they control all the information they’re getting. Obviously, TV and the internet are out, but they couldn’t just be forrest-dwelling hippies? I mean, think about it. These modern people are out in the woods trying to remember every day to pretend they talk in old-timey speech and think sniffles are caused by witchcraft. Jesus, man! It adds an even more ludicrously complicated layer to their already idiotic plan. The idiocy! It burns!

  59. It would have been a lot better if there had been motorcycles involved.

  60. Perhaps the the Villagers perfectly recreated an 18th century village down to every last detail, EXCEPT that everyone had motorcycles.

  61. Honestly, though, I don’t hate THE VILLAGE. Maybe it’s because I saw it a year after everyone had already declared it the worst shit ever shat and my expectations were pretty low. The situation is pretty nonsensical but I don’t know, I thought a lot of the individual scenes were really well done. I guess that’s Shyamalan’s style, though. Great trees, shitty forest.

  62. Wolfgang: I agree with you that, if there has to be remakes, something new should be brought to the table, like what Altman did with THE LONG GOODBYE. And on the surface Zombie is certainly different from the Platinum Dunes hacks.

    But let me ask you this: what is Zombie’s vision? what is his world view? Does “Hillbilly Hell” constitute something meaningful, or is it just a hodge podge of stylistic fetishes? As Vern has asked in his Zombie reviews, is there a message in these films about violence?

    I’m not saying that Zombie is required to have much more going on than a visual style. Other directors have coasted for years on less. I just really have this nagging suspicion that the guy is, for lack of a better word, immature.

  63. Wolfgang – my response is a bit late, and it’s really only a niggling semantics issue, but I said: “His HALLOWEEN movies are an appropriate case study on what was wrong with horror in the oughts. Remakes that seem to miss the point of their originals, and exercises in extreme cruelty in the absence of compelling stories or statements.”

    I agree that he’s not really an appropriate case study of what’s wrong with remakes, just what’s wrong with horror in a more general sense. THE STEPFATHER, PROM NIGHT, BLACK CHRISTMAS, THE FOG would be good examples of what’s wrong with remakes in the oughts, and would probably fit your criteria a lot better. Zombie still missed the point of the originals, but no one can really say he was just packaging the original for the modern teenager. Maybe I should have said “remakes that nobody wanted”. Anyway I was just trying to highlight the two main trends I noticed in 00s horror: remakes nobody wanted, and unmitigated cruelty.

    And horror is still alive and well of course, lots of bones to pick in the 00s (mostly with studio films) but lots of quality films came out of the decade as well so I can’t complain too much.

  64. I also didn’t hate hate hate THE VILLAGE. I think it was because the stupid twist was spoiled for me beforehand though. And I had already angried up the blood ranting about SIGNS for two years prior to seeing it, I must have tuckered myself out.

  65. I had to post some of the script for THE HAPPENING just for shits and giggles. I forgot how bad this thing is. It’s like he completely forgot how to screenwrite, he wrote the thing in Times New Roman for crying out loud. Anyway, here’s an example of what I mean by “an amateur writer struggling to eek out a feature’s length worth of pages with flabby, undisciplined writing”.

    WOMAN ON CELL PHONE
    It’s okay honey. It’s okay.
    (to group)
    She’s so scared.
    (to daughter)
    You just stay in that room. Don’t open that door for nothing.
    (listens)
    …It’s okay there’s a tree outside your window baby. It’s not going to do nothing.
    (she listens and then tells the group.)
    She keeps saying everyone’s dead outside.

    Elliot and Alma exchange a look.

    WOMAN ON CELL PHONE
    (to daughter)
    You just stay in your room baby.
    (listens)
    …What I can’t understand what you’re saying?
    (listens)
    …What?
    (listens)
    …I can’t understand what you’re saying.
    (listens)
    …What baby?
    (to group)
    She’s not making any sense.
    (listens)
    …Baby I can’t understand what you’re saying.
    (beat)
    …Stacy?
    (beat)
    …Stacy?
    (to group)
    I can’t hear anything.
    (yells into phone)
    …Stacy!
    (beat)
    …Stacy Ann you answer me right now!

    If I recall correctly the scene was even longer in the movie, and Wahlberg actually takes the phone from her and starts yelling at the daughter. Still, that exchange is over a page long in the script! I dunno about M. Night, but I learned pretty quickly as a screenwriter that any wasted space on the page, shit like (beat), (listens), X and Y exchange a look, repeated lines of dialogue, unnecessary lines of dialogue, etc. etc…

    IS VALUABLE REAL ESTATE! Waste only if absolutely necessary!

    …. It boggles the mind. This is what you might expect from a first time screenwriter, not a supposedly A-list director who wrote a script that’s as lean and mean as THE SIXTH SENSE (which I don’t even like that much, but from a writing standpoint it’s a textbook example of economy)

  66. Possible Alternate title for “The Happening”: “Canadian Public Service Announcements: The Movie”.

  67. Jareth — dude, did you see SUPERBEASTO? Immature doesn’t even begin to describe it. “Sub-adolescent hormonal binge” comes closer, but sill undersells it. And that was his passion project!

  68. “Sub-adolescent hormonal binge” – ouch. Thanks for clearing that up. Somebody has to start paying you for these razor-sharp observations, Subtelty. They’re exceptional.

    Can someone tell me if there is a fanbase for Zombie down there in the US, and, if so, what they look like? Like how do you characterize the typical Zombie fan? Is he from a rural setting? a southern state? Does he dress like a Hell’s Angel? Or do his fans just sort of look like your average Insane Clown Posse or Limp Bizkit fan? Or is it more the sort of thing that pissed off suburban kids listen to, like Eminem?

    His music doesn’t really have an identifiable fan base up here in Canada, at least not one that I’ve seen.

  69. Rob Zombie singin “Thunder Kiss ’65”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPNFVj-pISU

    He always dresses like that. No real mainstream fan base that I can tell in USA, he’s just kind of a sideshow. He strikes me as the kind of guy who just likes to shock people’s parents (like Marilyn Manson) without having a hell of a lot of talent. As you would expect, most of his “fans” are teenagers, especially teenage misfits.

  70. Oh wait you asked what his fanbase dressed like, not him. Sorry. His fanbase seems to be either the goth / emo horror movie fan stereotype, or the social outkast skater type with baggy clothes and Anthrax / Black Flag stickers on their 3-ring binders.

  71. Yeah never really got into the guy’s music. I’m from Canada and I know exactly who rainman is talking about, I’m just surprised the guy is still attracting new fans with his music career. I think I bought one of his albums back in 1996 or so, but I was twelve so I can’t really be held responsible for my actions. I thought a graceful segue into a career as a horror director was a pretty mature thing to do, but then he bukkake’d the HALLOWEEN franchise.

  72. Thanks, rainman. I’ve always wondered if the kids of parents who were into Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers listed to Zombie. Based on your remarks, I’m going to guess the answer is “no.”

    According to Wiki, Zombie was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, and currently lives in Connecticut, but based on his looks, his music and his films I would have put him closer to Alabama.

    I guess I just wonder why he chose his particular persona, and why it seems to run so deep into everything he does.

    And what would happen to him if he actually walked into a rural bar in Kentucky.

  73. I will respond to both Jareth Cutestory and Gwai Lo in one longwinded answer.

    If I had to say what Rob Zombie’s vision was for his first Halloween remake, it was to take a slasher movie and remake it as a character drama. I’ve seen Vern frequently say he enjoyed movies on the basis of liking the idea, such as his enjoyment of Gus Van Sant’s Psycho remake and I guess that’s how I feel about Zombie’s Halloween. It was a fun experiment.

    I would also say that his message about violence is that it is ugly. I think this is pretty clear, I don’t find any of his movies to take joy from their many kills.

    I will definately agree with you guys that Zombie is immature. But I think that is a prerequisite for working in exploitation cinema.

    I’ve also got to come clean on something so that most of you guys can go ahead and write me off completely: one of the big reasons I liked what Zombie did to Halloween is that I have never been a slasher guy. I’ve never loved that sub-genre. I can enjoy some of those movies a bit, but they are byandlarge not my thing. I will agree that Carpenter’s Halloween is one of the better ones, but I also think that a lot of this sentiment I read where people say that horror sucks now but was good in the 80s is more based on people just siding with what they grew up with than artistic merit. I see those old movies and I see the new ones and the only differences I see are purely superficial. I’m not going to bust your chops on account of you having a soft spot for grainy filmstock or Farrah Faucet hairstyles, just say so and we’re cool, but when you start trying to tell me that the average slasher movie’s writing, directing, and acting have gone down hill, I’m just not buying it.

  74. On another note, I have not seen any of M. Night’s films since Unbreakable. Even though I’m a big Mel Gibson fan, I just didn’t get around to seeing Signs because I was busy or some shit. I hear most of them have become embarassing.

    My question: Are any of them embarassing enough to be enjoyable on that virtue alone? Lady In The Water did sound funny in that whole vain thing where Night casts himself as the world’s greatest storyteller or something, but is it funny on a scene by scene basis or just overall groanworthy because of its concept?

  75. Hey Wolfgang, you articulated your point quite well. If I came across as hectoring you, it’s just because I’m genuinely curious about what makes Zombie tick.

    I actually like the idea that the violence in a horror movie would be brutal. It’s this aspect of his first two movies that I like the most. I just don’t get why he’d find it necessary to situate a remake of Carpenter’s film in Hillbilly Hell. What’s the thinking there? Is it just the guy’s comfort zone to be playing around with white trash archetypes?

    For the record, I’m not much of a slasher fan either.

  76. For the record, Haverhill is a nice town, quiet and small. It was what they based Archie and Jughead’s home town on. I am not shitting you.

  77. Jareth;

    I can’t really comment on Rob Zombie’s psyche. I never listened to his music and haven’t read anything about his life. I watched one of the long special features on the DVD for the first Halloween remake and found him pretty interesting to listen to as he talked about re-shooting almost half the film and dramatically restructing it (in my opinion for the better).

    I’ve seen most of his movies and yes, it’s pretty obvious what his obessions are: serial killers, Nazis, trailer trash, hillbillies, rock music, the “fuck” word. He inserts these things into everything he does, and as many people would criticize him for doing, I too think he sometimes shoehorns these obsessions in places they don’t fit.

    What I find fascinating about his films is that even though it so transparent what Zombie’s obsessions are, I don’t feel like he’s ever trying to sell the audience on them. I feel like he just puts them in his films in this weird neutral way. I mean, take a guy like Quentin Tarantino, you watch any of his movies and you definately feel like you’re being made to feel like a loser for not being into the shit he’s into. Watch True Romance and it’s pretty obvious he’s trying to sell you on his interests when you listen to Christian Slater blather on about Sonny Chiba and how he’d fuck Elvis etc. Zombie is odd about his compulsiveness in inserting his obsessions into his films but then not glamourizing them.

  78. Wolfgang: You’ve got a good point – I never felt like Zombie was trying to sell me anything. Seeing one of his films is pretty much a take-me-as-I-am kind of proposition.

    One of my favorite directors is Guy Maddin, and, like Zombie, you’d never confuse a Maddin film with anyone else’s, but Maddin’s aesthetic agenda is pretty apparent; his reanimation of archaic cinematic styles and devices serves several purposes that I won’t bore anyone by going into. Where Maddin’s projects exist in isolation, Zombie is part of a much larger trend in trash cinema revival. I guess I’m hoping someone will one day tell me that there’s some purpose to what Zombie is doing similar to all the things going on in Maddin.

  79. I don’t know why so many people are complanning about Halloween II 2009 they should like it after all
    without Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2007 film- Halloween II 2009 would not have happened. Also I haven’t
    seen it yet but I know it’s good and great it’s a really a shocking masterpiece like Stephen King
    and John Carpenter and Frank Derbot. Rob Zombie’s name should be right up there.
    This movie should’ve lasted on October 31st Halloween. I’m also posting web Pages
    of Halloween 2007 movie Trailers and Halloween II 2009 movie trailers
    On February 6th comes out the Part 1-Part 13 of Halloween 2007 and and then on May 2nd I realese
    the end Part of Halloween 2007. On May 13th I realese Part 1-Part 9 of Halloween II 2009!
    Then on June 14th I realese Part 9-the end of Halloween II 2009 and that’ll be it
    for my web pages of The Halloween 2007 and Halloween II 2009 movies
    it’ll stay on Google and Pageflakes well mostly Google but both sites for a long
    time. I’ll remove my web pages on November 3rd 2010. Until I get ready to
    realese the Halloween 2007, Halloween II 2009 and if avaible Halloween III
    So I can realese my web pages again in 2011!

  80. Bailey tells it like it is!

  81. I actually caught a good chunk of the original Halloween II on the Chiller Channel (which continues to disappoint with its thoroughly uninspired programming — “The Tommyknockers” miniseries on Halloween night?!? Really?!? Where’s “Night of the Living Dead?” Or the original “Thing?” Or Carpenter’s version?!? Hell, you can do Stephen King TV miniseries if you want — “‘Salem’s Lot?”)

    (ahem)

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that I think I actually like the movie better all cut up and full of commercials because it reminds me of a TV movie with its acting and production values. And it retains just enough of the original’s juice (especially in the first 15-20 minutes) to create the illusion of being up to snuff. I mean, I love a madman in a tiny town story as much as anybody. It’s like squinting at an ugly girl and being able to imagine if she were actually hot.

  82. Bailey Giannini: Please post more often. We all need more of your wisdom.

  83. I gotta give my fellow New Englander Rob Zombie credit. HII: Remake isn’t great, but it’s certainly interesting. The guy truly has talent and real distinctive artistic vision. I agree with pretty much all the criticisms voiced so far: terribly unpleasent characters, limited stories in many ways, but great at conjuring atmosphere and amazing, almost mystical images and moments. There are times when his visuals in HIIR approach, no joke, Lynch, Scorsese and Spielberg for sheer mysterious, archetypal power. I’d love to see him do something involving ancient myths and pagan gods–like adapting Alan Moore’s SWAMP THING or Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN. (As long as Death didn’t walk into the Hall Of The Endless yelling, “What up, cocksuckers! How’s my little fuckin’ bitches today?” or something.)

    And he’s a true genre fan with real respect for the great horror films of the past–like the INVADERS FROM MARS ’55 type Menzies-esque elongated room at the end, or the visions of Mama Myers, which had a major Val Lewton – CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE type vibe.

    Again, I agree: he needs better scripts, or at least collaborators to take his basic ideas and stories and improve and refine them. I wish he’d take on something that no one would expect–like a superhero film or a period-peice historical drama. If he could just put those directorial skills to work on some really top-notch material, then I think he’d be capable of something REALLY special.

  84. I remember that Rob Zombie once talked about making a not higher than PG rated movie version of “The Munsters” a few years ago, but just shortly after that, the Wayans Brothers were announced as writers/directors and then the project disappeared.

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