Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Terrifying to Tedious in under Two Hours!


Release: 08/31/2007
Rated R
1 hour, 49 minutes

Matinee ($$$)

In 1978 John Carpenter created a horror icon that would live for eternity. Nearly thirty years later, musician-writer-director and avid fan of all films horror, Rob Zombie, has brought audiences his re-imagining of this classic. If you are unfamiliar with “Halloween,” it is the story of young Michael Myers of Haddonfield, Illinois, who went on a killing spree on Halloween night and murdered his entire family save his baby sister, Laurie. After years of psychotherapy, pacification and prodding, Michael, played by Tyler Mane (X-Men), escapes from the Smith’s Grove Sanitarium to reunite with the now teenaged Laurie, played by Scout Taylor-Compton. The seemingly unstoppable Michael enters full stalker mode while his former therapist, the venerable Dr. Samuel Loomis, portrayed by Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations), closes in on his trail.

Delving into his pool of favorite actors, Zombie employs his wife Sheri Moon Zombie (*House of 1000 Corpses) as Michael’s caring, pole-dancing mother, Deborah, and the despicably enjoyable William Forsythe (*The Devil’s Rejects) as her live-in boyfriend, Ronnie. The duo’s spiteful relationship sets the stage for Michael’s impending greatness. Other iconic B-movie cameos include Bill Moseley, Sid Haig, Udo Kier, Clint Howard, Danny Trejo, Sybil Danning, and Brad Dourif, just to name more than a few. All these stars, along with many young upstarts, give it their panicked, outraged best effort to instill fear and panic in audiences.

Aiding that measure of fear is Zombie’s use of reactive, flinching cinematography during Michael’s malevolent exploits. The camerawork adds a nice touch of uneasiness and brutality that places Michael into a category all his own. Zombie’s focus on the young Michael’s evolution is beguiling at first. But à la his previous endeavors, Zombie has a knack for screwing up a great thing, and “Halloween” suffers from an inevitable downturn. One minute I found myself staring, unblinking, at the onslaught of carnage and the next, I couldn’t wait for the film to end (and no, I didn’t need a bathroom break!). Sadly, that ending was still another twenty minutes away and what had once been awe-inspiring was now mediocre.

Dirty Undies
There are three things that Zombie excelled at in “Halloween”: language, nudity, and utter brutality. While none of the young ladies are endowed with as much “talent” as Jamie Lee Curtis, almost all of them make up for it with lots of promiscuity, lewd dialogue and nakedness. Mrs. Zombie keeps it under wraps, and her beat-down appearance causes her to lose much of her sex appeal. The aforementioned unsung heroes of the horror genre bark at one another with enough piss and vinegar to stain the screen yellow, except you can’t tell because of all the blood stains. While not nearly matching the gorefest of his previous films, Zombie crafts scenes both excruciating and unforgettable.

The Money Shot
So Rob Zombie still doesn’t quite have it as a director. Luckily for him this is an accessible enough project that will get him much more practice perfecting his technique. “Halloween” is an earnest homage to Carpenter’s original vision that adds a good measure of bloodlust and depravity. Trapped somewhere between innovative and traditional, “Halloween” hands out its own brand of tricks and treats, satisfying but lame.

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