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Halloween (2007)

Why Does Rob Zombie Hate His Audience?

That is the only question/conclusion that I can come to after watching the Unrated Director’s Cut of Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake/re-imagining (a cop-out word meaning “shitty remake” most of the time)/rehash of Halloween. Zombie must hate his audience, or think so low of them that he can keep presenting to them the same tired, obnoxious redneck characters he used in his previous two films, House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects. Okay, maybe they aren’t the exact same characters, but they’re all pretty much cut from the same cloth: perpetually filthy, living in ramshackle environments, unable to utter two words without an obscenity. Do these people not know about soap? Even when we first see young Michael’s face, it’s smudged with dirt. It’s morning! He hasn’t been outside or even had breakfast yet!

I’m getting ahead of myself. Allow me to preface my RAGE a bit: I rented the Unrated Director’s Cut of Halloween from Netflix, because that was the only version they had. I’d wanted to see the Theatrical Cut so I could pretend I just came back from watching it at the theater. But instead I was saddled with a two-hour masturbation session that opens with a charming scene set at the breakfast table and ends with somewhere around twenty minutes of incomprehensible screaming. Let’s take a look at some of Rob Zombie’s inimitable dialogue culled from this breakfast scene (Copy-pasted from IMDb’s memorable quotes page. Memorable, indeed):

Deborah Myers: Jesus Christ, Ronnie, you know I have to work tonight. Someone around here has got to make some money.
Ronnie White: I'm all broken up here bitch, I can't work.
Deborah Myers: Yeah, and who's fault is that? You're so pathetic.
Ronnie White: You know that new waitress over at the Bingo Lounge? She's been giving me the freaky eye.
Deborah Myers: You mean the whore the big tits hanging down her knees?
Ronnie White: Maybe I will choke the chicken and purge my snork all over those flappy ass tits.
Deborah Myers: Yeah, well have a great fucking time.
Ronnie White: I will.
Deborah Myers: I hope she likes cripples.
Ronnie White: Bitch, I will crawl over there and I will skull fuck the shit out of you!
Deborah Myers: Oh, I will get the crutches for you.
Baby Boo: [Baby Boo starts crying]
Deborah Myers: See what you did loud mouth?
Ronnie White: WAAA! WAAA! That's all that fucker ever does is cry. WAAA! WAAA! Cry and shit, cry and shit.
Deborah Myers: That's what you do all the time is cry and shit.
Ronnie White: Fuck you, sit on my pole right now bitch.

Wow. Thanks, Rob Zombie. This really speeds the process along, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s not like you forgot the old adage of “show, not tell” when it comes to filmmaking, right? We don’t need to be subjected to all of this to know that Michael comes from a horrible home life. Why do I get the impression that Zombie’s sense of dialogue stopped developing somewhere around age 12 or 13, when it was cool to say things like “choke the chicken” and “skull fuck the shit out of you.” I get it now: Zombie doesn’t hate his audience; he just thinks they’re all teenage boys living in a trailer park. He’s trying to impress teenage boys. He just forgot that his audience is so much more diverse than that. And that’s most of the reason why I felt so insulted by this remake.

I suppose some of the blame can actually go back to John Carpenter who apparently, when informed by Zombie that he was interested in doing a remake, told Zombie that he should make it his own. But from what we already know about Zombie it should have been clear to see that he would: a) present us with an unbalanced white-trash family, as he did previously with HO1KC; and b) try to force us to sympathize with the villains, as he did previously with TDR. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s just what he does here. The problem is thus two-fold: Zombie paints himself into a character-corner by using the same stock stereotypes as he did in his first two films, but unfortunately he isn’t able to find the right actors to rise above and give us someone (or someones) with which to sympathize.

This leads me to my next touchpoint, the acting. I tried to find one character, ANY character, that I could relate to or sympathize with, but I couldn’t. Part of this goes back to the fact that Zombie seems to outright refuse to create any characters outside of the redneck stereotype, but a large majority of it stems from the fact that Zombie can’t seem to pick the right actors for the parts. Or maybe he’s too enamored of certain actors to see that they can’t carry the material in such a way as for us to want to care. Indeed, Zombie is guilty once again of populating his films with cameos from his favorite people, including a completely inexplicable appearance by Mickey Dolenz, formerly of The Monkees. You know, typically when a movie uses excessive cameos from character actors, the film is angling for a little lighthearted fun. Here, there is no fun. Zombie has surgically removed all fun.

But I digress. The main acting offenders here are Daeg Faerch, playing young Michael, and Scout Taylor-Compton, playing Laurie Strode. How awful is it that the audience can’t connect with the two characters Zombie wants us to connect with, and mostly because the actors just plain stink? Faerch brings absolutely nothing to a character we’re meant to relate to; I mean, I thought we’re supposed to relate to him, given the fact that the entire first half (and then some) of the film is dedicated to his upbringing in a mental ward. For lack of a better phrase, he acts like a little brat who could have used one or two good ass-beatings. Faerch doesn’t give us much to chew on as young Michael, plain and simple, as far as creating a character we are compelled to identify with.

Taylor-Compton doesn’t fare much better, although for entirely different reasons. She nailed the part of an obnoxious teenage girl, all giggles and shrieks and naughty sex jokes at breakfast. The problem is, she’s supposed to be playing Laurie Strode, All-American Good Girl, not some annoying clod who finger bangs a bagel in front of her mom. Oh right, Zombie solves this problem by putting Laurie in glasses, because everyone knows that the bookish Good Girl wears glasses. Never mind she acts like a totally unlikable moron.

The complete absence of likable characters brings me back around to the “no fun here” complaint. Now, I will be the last person in the world to defend that awful Friday the 13th reboot from earlier this year, but I will say that it had two things going for it: one, Jared Padalecki (no explanation needed here, I assume); and two, a cast of unlikable characters that I wanted to see killed in creative and horrible ways because they were all insufferable assholes, but they were fun assholes. I actively, cheerfully hated them so much that I rooted for Jason to destroy them. But here, with Halloween, I felt nothing. I felt no sympathy towards Michael, so there was no need to cheer him on, and I felt no sympathy towards his victims, because they were pretty much all jerks. I just didn’t care.

Also, was anyone else creeped out by the fact that, after Michael kills a nurse at the mental ward, his mom kills herself, totally ignoring the fact that she has an infant child to care for? And not only that, but the lead-up to her suicide includes her weeping like someone who lost a lover over old home movies of her and Michael together? She didn’t kill herself over losing her first daughter? How is this scene supposed to make me feel? I’ll tell you how it made me feel, it made me feel like Deborah Myers is a selfish woman who had some kind of sick obsession with her young son. It didn’t make me go, “Aww! That sucks!” It just made me rage.

So that brings me back to the beginning. RAGE. I have a lot of rage towards this movie and towards Rob Zombie for thinking that your average horror fan is going to eat this up and enjoy it. I feel like he’s laughing in all our faces. And what’s worse, much worse, is that he’s not challenging himself as a writer or a director. He’s creating the same thing over and over, if you boil it down to its essence. It’s frustrating to me, because I did see a spark of creativity in him with House of 1000 Corpses. It might not have been a huge spark, but to me it was a fun movie experience that tried to take its audience on a ride through a dark carnival. But now, with Halloween, Rob Zombie has blown that spark completely out. He hasn’t brought anything fresh to the story, or to his body of film work.

All he’s done is taken a giant dump on the screen, then wiped his ass with Carpenter’s original film.

Review by Rev. Anna Dynamite