There seems to be a trend in 80’s slasher movies about being warnings about the dangers of sexual activities, and John Carpenter’s Halloween is one of those. I thoroughly enjoyed Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, which depicted the raw and unnerving capabilities of families. Having watched the original Carpenter flick–and being genuinely scared by that one–I already had some hesitation before watching this remake, what with all the slew of the really bad horror remakes made during the last few years. For the first time, my prejudice didn’t prove me wrong.
I still don’t get the point of some remakes. Sure, you can update the story to recent times, and then what? Most of the time, these remakes don’t really add anything new to the table (we get gems like The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes). What made me love the original film is how subtle everything is, even the kills. You don’t see that much blood, and the focus is more on the emotions of the character, instead of the high-pitched sound that comes from the bowels of their mouths that makes even the most deaf of ears bleed. I appreciate Rob Zombie’s effort to provide a backstory for Michael Myers, but for me, it kind of takes the whole mystery to his character away. Now we know why he’s doing these things. He had a bad childhood, and so he started killing. Sure, it does make us feel empathy with the character, but it shifts the focus away from Laurie Strode’s life, and how she is affected by the deaths of her friends.
What makes the original Michael so terrifying is the fact that we never truly know why stalks Laurie until near the end of the film, when the big reveal is, well, revealed. Also, I think that the whole point of why Michael hides behind a mask is because it’s supposed to convey how his emotions are never truly there. He never feels normal human feelings. He’s asocial, and that’s what adds to the horror of what happens in the movie.
I get that Rob Zombie wanted to update the story, and even to amp it up, but for me, it doesn’t deliver so well. A rock metal score, even more gratuitous shots of breasts, more death scenes, and a bazillion gallons of blood don’t necessarily make for a good film. It feels like the film was trying to be offensive just for the sake of being offensive. I also felt like Zombie focused the character development aspect of his characters on those who were ill, like Michael and his family. However, when the story takes place years later, no sort of character development ever happens anymore. We are just presented a bunch of “normal” white–and whiny–people who get picked off one by one. That was a very weak spot of the film for me. Danielle Harris’ role in Hatchet proved to be more interesting than her character here (whose name I forgot because that’s how forgettable they were for me).
Overall, I think that Rob Zombie’s take on the slasher classic that is Halloween is anything but.