Shame on you, Rob Zombie
Of all the pointless, gratuitous remakes that have come pouring out of Hollywood in the last few years, the only one I had any real hope for was Rob Zombie’s re-envisioning of Halloween. While his first film, House of 1000 Corpses, was a bit of a mess, it had a sort of quirky charm to it, and its follow-up, The Devil’s Rejects, boasted a more consistent tone and showed that Zombie was growing as a filmmaker. The original Halloween is also not a sacred cow for me (I like it, but I don’t consider it the best slasher movie ever made by any stretch), and, in any event, I don’t see the notion of remaking a classic film as being a complete act of blasphemy. If a director with his own vision steps up to the task, then “Go nuts!” is my response. Zombie, an offbeat and unpredictable filmmaker, is nothing if not unique, so I genuinely did think he might do something interesting with this remake.
How wrong I was. I got a copy of the Region 1 Unrated Director’s Cut release to review, and my only consolation is the fact that I didn’t pay for it. This is essentially a film of two halves, neither or which works on its own and which fail to gel together into anything meaningful. The first half is Zombie’s usual “grungy 70s hillbilly hicks saying ‘fuck’ a lot and acting despicable to each other” shtick, and it actually manages to be quite engaging. I certainly won’t pretend that I didn’t laugh out loud on several occasions, although you get the sense that Zombie is going for easy laughs. It’s also irritatingly smug in its use of stars from Zombie’s previous films. Oh look, there’s Sheri Moon. Hark, it’s Bill Moseley. Is that Sid Haig? Wah-hey, William Forsythe. Howdy, Danny Trejo. Most directors take at least a couple of decades before becoming this self-referential. Zombie has managed it after less than five years.
Initially, the film tries to give something of a psychological backdrop to Michael Myers, but then promptly throws this away in the second half when it becomes a straight remake of the original, making him the same soulless, faceless shape as in the original film - which leads me to wonder what the point was of the first half, other than to fill time. As a remake of Halloween, this second half is particularly embarrassing, cribbing entire set-pieces without any of Carpenters skill. This film is really, and I mean really, badly photographed, with more or less every second shot looking as if it has been misframed, almost as if it was filmed for the 1.85:1 ratio and then matted to 2.39:1 at the last minute. The best I can say about it is that Scout Taylor-Compton does her absolute best as Laurie Strode, but even with her screaming her guts out, the whole thing just falls flat. Malcolm McDowell, on the other hand, ransacks all of his credibility in the Dr. Loomis role.
Expect a full review in the not too distant future. Mr. Zombie has an awful lot of making up to do.
Oh, and my rental of Omen IV: The Awakening has arrived. Crumbs.
Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2007 at 10:18 PM
| Comments: 19
I actually like this remake of Halloween. I just don't know, but, Zombie just clicks with me as a director and I enjoyed his work immensely. Sheri as an actress is always improving and it shows. The girls in Halloween are a lot more convincing, both in their language, acting ability, so natural when compared to Tarantino's cardboard cut-outs in Death proof. I don't mind the star spread either, and you have to admit McDowell is super cool in his psychologist role.
Michael, what did you think to the alternative ending?
Posted by: Avanze
, December 18, 2007 11:00 PM
You know you'll have fun with Omen IV really...
Posted by: Baron Scarpia
, December 18, 2007 11:08 PM
I haven’t had a chance to look at the alternative ending or any of the other extras yet, but I’ll do so in due course.
Posted by: Whiggles
, December 19, 2007 7:27 AM
Oh dear another bad review. I have been waiting a long time to see this, hoping that giving Zombie a sound narrative structure would help marshal his talents. Oh well... I guess I'll still watch it and be disappointed again. On the 1.85 to 2.39 comment; 2.35 etc isn't narrower top to bottom, it's wider left to right, which is why the curtains open further from the sides. It's either anamorphically produced and projected or it's framed across a narrower section as super35 before being printed as a wider image, therefore you can't crop someones heads off, etc due to bad framing as the heads are always there - UNLESS, of course, you have a terrible camera operator and DP, then shoot super35 without using any of the viewfinders or decide later to crop that way (which is impossible really as you could still push images up and down in the frame during the edit, which is why lots of people shoot 'masked' these days instead of 16:9 for example, they intend to 'reframe' in post), so the chances of the bad framing being accidental are virtually nil...
Posted by: chris cooke, December 19, 2007 11:17 AM
i feel much the same about this re-make, i liked the first half (alot more than you did), but felt Zombie fell flat on his face with the second half. i didn't think the casting was irritatingly smug. why is it that when directors of genre movies use the same actors they did previously it is considered self-referential? Bergman was never accused of being self-referential when he cast Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin or Luv Ullman.
Posted by: neil fc, December 19, 2007 4:15 PM
Chris, I meant that it looked is if the image was being over-matted: as if it had been shot with 1.85:1 in mind but then matted at the last minute.
Posted by: Whiggles
, December 19, 2007 6:23 PM
Wasn't the very first Trailer that surfaced in 1.85:1? The movie's cinematography already looked dire in those few tightly edited minutes.
Posted by: Kamyar-MZ, December 19, 2007 6:37 PM
"Chris, I meant that it looked is if the image was being over-matted: as if it had been shot with 1.85:1 in mind but then matted at the last minute."
That's certainly the impression it left me with in the cinema...
Posted by: , December 19, 2007 8:42 PM
What exactly do you consider the best slasher film ever made, Whiggles?
Posted by: Marcus, December 20, 2007 2:01 AM
An atrocity of a film!
By over explaining everything, Rob Zombie completely missed the whole point. Now Michael Myers is a fat 12 years old that masturbates to his daughter... a shame.
Posted by: ARCVILE
, December 20, 2007 2:27 AM
I personally think it's wrong for a 12 year old to be depicted as having a daughter anyway!
Wait - what?
Posted by: , December 20, 2007 8:53 AM
That was me with the awesome 'zing' above. Wouldn't want *that* little gem going unattributed. When Rob Zombie remakes it, he'll need to know who to send the checks to.
Posted by: Jeffrey Allen Rydell, December 20, 2007 8:57 AM
You know, that’s a tough one. I suspect that, if you include non-North American variants like the giallo as slashers, then Deep Red is my absolute favourite of the bunch. However, if your definition of “slasher” is narrower, then it becomes a bit more difficult, and I’m at a loss to say which would be my favourite. I suppose I’m ultimately not that enamoured by the American slasher movie, although (and here I’m setting myself up for a lot of ribbing) I am fond of Scream.
Posted by: Whiggles
, December 20, 2007 9:30 PM
I meant sister.
And SCREAM was ok, nothing exceptional or not done before. Its main problem is the last act where the film actually falls into the elements it points fingers at.
Posted by: ARCVILE
, December 21, 2007 2:05 AM
ARCVILLE: I know, man. I know. ;)
Whiggles: No shame in SCREAM. It was rather refreshing when it appeared, and the cycle of Kevin Williamson cash-ins that followed shouldn't be held against it.
Posted by: Jeffrey Allen Rydell, December 21, 2007 5:43 AM
Thanks for clearing up the 1.85 'matted' note for me...
Posted by: chris cooke, December 21, 2007 6:27 PM
I have got the Halloween workprint, which is supposed to be very different to the actual cinema version, So I wonder how the unrated version is. The workprint includes a rape scene which is how Michael escaping the prison. Is this version included in the underrated version?
Posted by: Nadeem Rasool, December 22, 2007 4:21 PM
The rape scene is indeed in the unrated version.
Posted by: Whiggles
, December 22, 2007 5:49 PM
"Is this version included in the underrated version?"
There is no underrated version, on grounds of impossibility. ;)
Posted by: Jeffrey Allen Rydell, December 23, 2007 1:29 AM
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