Friday, September 4, 2009

A long, rambling rant about Halloween II (2009)

First let me say this.
Why do these movies come out in August?

I like Rob Zombie. Despite the fact that he cannot sing, I enjoy his music.
And I think he is a decent director. It is obvious he is a bonefide horror fan and it comes through in everything he has done so far. He has a real feel for horror, I won't argue with that.
Regardless of the fact that House of 1000 Corpses felt like an extended music video... I'll give him a pass, it was his first feature.
The Devil's Rejects was good. The story flowed better and the gritty 70's grindhouse feel of the film completely worked in that case.
Okay. Then came the remake of the original (and sacred in my book) Halloween.
If you watch them back to back, it does make you pause, a rather sick feeling deep in your gut...

But if you watch Zombie's Halloween and pretend you've never heard of or seen the original, it works. I actually enjoyed it, delving into why Michael is the way he is. (Till the end, which is too drawn out.. too much screaming and too much hide and seek).

All that being said, Zombie's Halloween II is, for lack of a better word, a disappointment.
Just crazy.
Let's reconsider the original Halloween II. Never on my favorite list, I though it was completely and utterly boring. All that damn time spent in the hospital! Ridiculous flashbacks and methodic one-by-one killings that liken him to Jason Voorhees! It really made it look like they were just grasping at straws to bank a few extra dollars by pushing out a sequel. Bad. I don't even own it.

While we're at it, I will mention that though it was typical late-eighties horror fare that simply capitalized on a dead series, I liked Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. The acting wasn't great, and they had the mask all wrong (!), but it was semi-atmospheric and we hadn't seen Michael since '81. (I won't even make mention of the unrelated Halloween III. Moot point.)
The rest of the sequels were vastly inferior.
So here we are.... Halloween II as done by Rob Zombie.
Who, if I am recollecting correctly, swore he wouldn't do a sequel. Hmmm....

I liked the trailers I saw for the movie - especially the Zombie-fied one that leaked on the internet and had extensive use of Nights in White Satin....

So yesterday I sat down in a theater (with only 6 other people....'course it was only 11am on a thursday, but should have been a sign) and watched as trailers for such fare as 'Sorority Row' (isn't that a remake too???) and 'The Wolfman' played. My anticipation was actually pretty high. I was stoked. I should know better.

I knew from the first few scenes that it wasn't going to make my top ten list.
We see young Michael, back in the sanitarium. Mommy (Sheri Moon Zombie, in a completely unnecessary role) gives him a gift. A white horse statue. Okay. Right there. Weird gift for a kid who is confined to a nut house for killing people. Those freakin' legs on that horse could be used as a weapon. I'm just sayin'...

Michael tells his mother he likes the gift - it reminds him of a dream he often has.
We get to see the dream, of course. It's his mom, dressed in a white gown like some sort of morbid princess, and leading a white horse down a white (no doubt padded) hallway.

Flash-forward to the exact moment we left off in the first Zombie Halloween. Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton) has just shot Michael (presumably in the face) and is now wandering the streets of Haddonfield, injured and bloody. As we see Sheriff Brackett (the always good Brad Dourif) pick her up and her ensuing gruesome hospital care, we also see Michael (Tyler Mane) being loaded into a Coroner's van. He's supposed to be dead, right?
Ahh... I think we all know better.

Actually this film borrowed more than once from Halloween 4. In it, Michael was also being transported and something goes awry. In this case, they hit a cow. (There's where the cow from Twister landed! I knew it would eventually turn up!)

So to make a long story short (too late...) - Michael escapes and there is a long sequence that, in similarity to the original Halloween II, finds Michael searching the hospital for Laurie.

Then, to really piss a person off in a 'Dallas' kind of way, we find out the whole hospital pursuit was all a dream. How Wizard of Oz can we get, here?

So now it's a year later (almost Halloween, natch) - Laurie is now living with the Bracketts (because though Annie was hacked up by Michael, she survived. Why? Because it's Danielle Harris, people). Laurie is a mental wreck because her parents were murdered in the first film, and of course because Michael's body was never found. She is going to therapy on a regular basis, working at some trashy looking record (?) store and has some equally trashy-looking friends.
These same friends convince her to attend a Halloween party with them.

Okay, stop. If I'd been pursued by a maniacal killer who wore a mask and stalked me on October 31st, the very last thing I'd want to do is celebrate Halloween. There's not enough Jim Beam in the world that would make me do that. I'd probably move to a country that didn't even celebrate it.
But Laurie goes to the party.

Michael, meanwhile, is busy working his way back to Haddonfield. How he ever got so damned far away is beyond me anyway. He has recurring visions of his mom and himself (as the clown-faced killer kid) that tell him to find Laurie (a.k.a. Angel, her given name) to bring her "home".

Seriously a poor excuse to use your wife in a movie. There could have been flashbacks, yes. And they could have been done well. But I felt like I was watching the video for 'Living Dead Girl 2' or something.
In the midst of all this fun, we get to see Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), who has also survived the mayhem of the previous year, capitalize on the story of Michael and the killings. Granted, it was actually a bitter reminder that that is, indeed what this world has come to. I'm surprised Zombie didn't have him starring in a reality series. That would have been totally akin to how this society rewards and utilizes victims and freaks. Loomis has written a book, and is touring and doing the talk show circuit.

(BTW- The part where Loomis is on a late night talk show and the other guest is Weird Al is hilarious.)

The culmination of all this... Michael finally makes it home. First he ends up at the very party Laurie is at and dispatches of a few of her friends. The he finds the Brackett's house (with his built in Homicidal GPS system) and Laurie arrives there after the party. The 'inevitable chase' part starts here, ending in a shed where Michael holes up, holding Laurie hostage while Mommy and little Michael look on.

Confusion. Dismay. Contempt. Disdain. And most of all, hostility. These are the emotions I felt at the end of this film. Gosh, I so wanted to at least accept it. To not be thinking about how glad I was that the matinee was only $4.75.

In the end, it just goes to show you the franchise in indeed, DEAD.

But alas, that is the same word Dr. Loomis used about Michael. He even spelled it out for a large crowd.
He went as far as to say Michael Myers is "fucking dead"!!
And I fear he may still be wrong.

I have heard (and shook with fear and had night sweats afterward) that there will be another Michael installment. Halloween 3D.
Say it with me: Oh. My. God.
Rob Zombie has even bowed out of this one.
That should say something.

And because others have done so (please see my fave list here at the Vault of Horror), I give you the top ten things that pissed me off about Halloween II (2009):

1) How many times can someone say 'fuck' in a row until it really doesn't mean anything anymore? When the coroner's assistant is in the car accident while transporting Michael... he says the F-word like...427 times. Continually. Only stopping to drool blood. Come on!

2) They hit a cow in that accident. It died. I hate that.

3) When Michael disposed of some local hillbilly types, they had a dog in a cage in the back of the truck. He killed it. Then ate it. I hate that.

4) Laurie's friend Harley (yes, seriously) is really goddamned ugly. Whether she is going for the Rocky Horror Picture Show look or not. Ugh.

5) Hated the whole 'Michael's mom is a creepy yet inherently sexy ghost' crap. No No No.

6) Mini-michael. Unnecessary as well. Flashbacks would have been fine. This new kid just didn't have the raw nastiness of Daeg Faerch from the first one.
Chase Vanek/Daeg Faerch

7) B-Sol mentioned this on his blog (see link above) and I agree. Not enough Danielle Harris. She can act rings around Taylor-Compton, and she was underused here. Basically she was just there to cook for Daddy and clean up Laurie's vomit.

8) Michael made noise. He grunted, sometimes fiercely, when he sliced and diced. The Shape does not speak, in any capacity. Basic Halloween knowledge, Rob. Hello?

9) I never thought I would ever write these words: too much violence. I don't mind gore. I like it, even. But there was waaaay too much overkill here. She's dead, Mikey. Enough's enough. Do you really need to stab her repeatedly twenty times?? Move on. And the damn sound effects to all the slashing - almost nauseating. In and out, in and out. Gushing blood and sloppy wet deaths. Wow.
Michael (the original) would never made such a spectacle of killing someone. It wasn't who he was.

10) The one dude in the coroner's van discussed actually screwing a dead girl's body. Was that really necessary? They were already weird enough. Do we have to think about that kind of thing, even though I'm sure it happens somewhere, sometimes.
He was the same dude that shouted the F-bomb so many times, too. Figures.

And to end on a positive note, I will mention what I did like about the film.
I really liked the white horse. It was pretty.

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