Halloween

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Directed by Rob Zombie. Written by Rob Zombie, Debra Hill and John Carpenter. Starring Daeg Faerch, Tyler Mane, Shari Moon, Malcolm McDowell, William Forsythe, Danielle Harris and Scout Taylor-Compton.   

In Rob Zombie’s world, it’s always 1978. Dudes with hair the texture of greasy mops drive around in Trans Ams stocked with cafeteria-sized coolers of Schlitz. Dirty blonde chicks wear patchwork fur coats with secret pockets in the lining, tailor-made to store their one-hitters and weed stashes. Two out of every three words spoken are derivations of “fuck,” and Blue Oyster Cult is always playing on the 8-track.

This might explain why Zombie has taken it upon himself to remake the seminal horror event of that year, John Carpenter’s legendary Halloween. If you’re not automatically opposed to the idea of redoing a classic — after three decades of ridiculously shitty Halloween sequels, how could you be? — then it might seem a decent pairing of director and material, especially when you consider that the Texas Chainsaw remake duties went to a far less-deserving guy. But this schizoid mash-up of junior-high psychobabble, inept homage and trailer-park community theater proves that some things really are better left alone.

Zombie’s first mistake is to probe the mind of the young murderer, here played by Kurt Cobain look-alike Daeg Faerch. Has there ever been a psychopath less interesting than Michael Meyers? He’s a mythic, indestructible killing machine, yet from Halloween 2 on, we’ve been subjected to Michael under the microscope, with little more to learn than “aww, he misses his sister.” Here we get some interminable sympathy-for-the-devil analysis from the new Dr. Loomis, Malcolm McDowell, not to mention plenty of bullying from Meyers’ deadbeat stepdad (Zombie fave William Forsythe). The mega-dysfunctional family scenes – featuring the director’s scenery chewing wife, Sheri Moon Zombie – feel like Springer Show segments reenacted by Maxim hotties.

The rest of the movie is rife with Zombie’s worst impulses: Cheesy freeze-frames; cheerleaders who wear Slayer shirts and talk like Penthouse Forum letters; hilariously inappropriate uses of ’70s rock (cue “Love Hurts” after little Michael’s first bloodbath). It was also a bad move to choose the hulking Tyler Mane to play the grown-up Michael: standing almost 7 feet tall, he looks like a cross between Sasquatch and Cousin It, a far cry from the precise, contained force of the original actor, Nick Castle (once known only as “The Shape”). Any attempt at suspense — never a Zombie strong suit anyway — has been excised in favor of quick-cut, teen-friendly incoherence; even the gore is kept to a minimum. In fact, about the only useful new factoid in this otherwise pointless remake is little Michael’s rationale for wearing freaky Halloween masks: He’s a Kiss fan. Leave it to Zombie to implicate his heroes in mass murder.

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