Halloween II

Director    Rob Zombie
Starring    Tyler Mane, Sheri Moon Zombie, Scout Taylor-Compton, Malcolm McDowell, Brad Dourif, Margot Kidder
Release    28 AUG (US) 9 OCT (UK)    Certificate 18
1 stars


11th October 2009

Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Sliced, diced and buried. Friday The 13th? Unlucky for all. A Nightmare On Elm Street? Marked for death. The recent stab of horror remakes have certainly yielded grisly results. John Carpenter's hallowed Halloween has already been butchered once at the hands of Rob 'I'll never do a remake' Zombie, but like a genre-savvy horror hero, he's returned to the franchise for the final kill; one last blast to the head to make sure the villain won't be getting up again this time.

Although obviously we all know he will.

As The Devil's Rejects proved, Zombie has more in common with the grindhouse grot-horror '70s set than he does with the music video graduate class of the noughties - he's as sick and twisted as they come. But while you could never bemoan the lack of brutality in films like Halloween II, there's nothing else here other than cold, empty violence. People don't go to abattoirs to be entertained; they want tension, excitement and suspense. They want to be scared, not sickened. Where's the value in watching a stripper have her face smashed into a mirror over and over again? Ask yourself: am I really enjoying this?

[gallery]Halloween II picks up where Zombie last left off, with the soon-to-be animated corpse of Michael Myers slapped in a body bag and carted off to the morgue, while freshly-tenderised babysitter Laurie Strode is rushed to the hospital. When news of the sequel breaks, Myers un-deads himself and escapes, only to return exactly a year later to be reunited with Laurie - who learns she is actually his sister. Yadda yadda yadda, people die, faces appear in windows, supernatural sat nav, tits, blood, paycheque please. See you next year for Halloween 3D, yeah?

There's a fundamental failure here to comprehend what made the original Halloween so terrifying - the threat of violence and the fear of that which could not be understood. Here, every kill is lasciviously lingered on with pornographic glee - Zombie's lack of tact and style is overpowering. Worse, he's shoe-horned in some incredibly ham-handed symbolism, attempting to give Myers a motive by having his mother (coincidentally Zombie's wife, Sheri Moon Zombie) appear in ethereal form to guide his hand. Does this add anything to canon? No, it's a big fat minus with bells on.

Even the role of Laurie has been botched. She's supposed to represent the audience: helpless and hopeless. In Halloween II, her character arc is all over the place; one minute she's a snot-nosed punk with issues, the next she's a gibbering wreck, seconds later she's dancing her cares away, then she's a basket case again. Aside from Brad Dourif's Sheriff Brackett, every other supporting character is entirely loathsome and exist purely so they can be offed by Myers without the audience feeling guilty. There's not a single sympathetic character in the whole sorry mess.

There's really very little difference between Halloween II and the slick, mass-produced, MTV-friendly re-releases - films you suspect Zombie despises. At least in the Platinum Dunes movies you could see what was happening; H2 is swathed in perpetual darkness and misery, Zombie coating his movie in a thick layer of grime in an attempt at creating something 'real'. The result is a thoroughly depressing slog through familiar ground; you'll grow more and more numb to the violence until every slash of the knife is like being tickled with a flaccid noodle.

The irony, of course, is that in attempting to breathe new life into Michael Myers, Rob Zombie may be the man who's finally killed him. Let us hope that in this case, the bastard stays dead: Halloween II might just be the bullet in his brain.

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