Halloween: Rob Zombie




Like many horror fans, and most dedicated John Carpenter fans, I cringed when I saw a poster for the remake of 1978’s masterpiece Halloween.  Not only do I feel that Carpenter’s movies are too campy and brilliant to be remade well (The Fog and Assault on Precinct 13 sucked ass), but in recent memory, horror remakes have been not only disappointing, but insulting to purist fans and amazing directors alike.  


It started with House on Haunted Hill, a special effects abortion remake of the William Castle/Vincent Price classic.  Since then, it has been a downward spiraling slide into ridiculousness.  The Wicker Man was a slap across Christopher Lee’s face.  The Ring turned a spine-tingling Japanese horror film into a delightful romp with Cousin It.  The Hills Have Eyes was two hours of boredom interrupted by 5 minutes of grotesque violence. I’ll bet even Wes Craven fell asleep.  So why in the name of George A. Romero did I give Halloween a chance?  Two words: Devil’s Rejects.


Rob Zombie’s film career isn’t even as long as James Dean’s yet.  However, from his first film (House of 1000 Corpses) to the sequel (The Devil’s Rejects), his growth was astounding.  His emphasis on music, editing and cinematography, they all improved in leaps and bounds.  At times, he even reminded me of John Carpenter.  So when I heard Carpenter, who personally performs and composes his own soundtracks, had given his blessing and his music to Zombie, I was intrigued. And I wasn’t disappointed.


Unlike most remake directors, Zombie showed considerable restraint in making Halloween a new-age gore-fest.  Aside from expanding on Michael Myer’s childhood and mental hospital imprisonment, he stuck very close to Carpenter’s original vision.  Tense and eerie, just like the first, with a killer soundtrack (when Rob Zombie and John Carpenter do it together, it almost has to be amazing), we even gain a new understanding of a young Michael we didn’t have before. 


New horror directors are safe as long as Romero, Carpenter, and Zombie are behind the camera, but they would do well to take a lesson from Michael Myers: it’s always good to remember where you came from, but sometimes you just have to go back and visit. 


Final grade for Halloween: B

Other decent horror remakes:


Amityville Horror (2005)

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

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