It’s been nearly a decade since Michael Myers last made his presence known on movie screens. The time before, it was rock star-turned-director Rob Zombie who returned form to the public consciousness and led a new generation of horror movie fans to seek out John Carpenter’s 1978 classic and the eight sequels that followed. . Of course, Zombie’s Halloween (2007), which gave Michael Myers a backstory he never had or needed before, turned out to be controversial. Despite the film grossing just over $80 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film in the series, a record that is surely about to be broken, there was consensus that the additional exposure of zombies, grindhouse brutality and mistreatment the characters did the property no favors.
zombie’s halloween and its sequel halloween ii (2009) continue to be controversial films. And I get it, these are not easy movies to love, particularly when compared to the perfection that is John Carpenter and Debra Hill’s original. however, there is something inside the zombie-filthy trailer park that turns into an American classic that is impossible to clean. rob zombie’s halloween and halloween ii are movies that get your nails dirty and, even if you don’t like them, they leave an impression, and that’s more than many of the remakes of the era have managed to do.
remakes are almost always controversial, but perhaps none more so than horror remakes. Despite the fact that some of the genre’s remakes have become vital films in the horror catalogue, John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) and David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986) among them, horror fans fiercely protect the original films and the canon. . Rob Zombie’s Halloween came during a horror cycle marked by constant remakes, some with solid reception, but many that critics and fans alike found disposable. Emboldened by the success of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), titles like Amityville Horror (2005), House of Wax (2005), Black Christmas (2006), and The Wicker Man (2006) packed theaters. And that’s not to mention the Asian horror remakes like The Grudge (2004), Dark Water (2005), and Pulse (2006), which offered a steep drop in ring quality (2002). However, several of these remakes, while falling short of the heights of Cronenberg or Carpenter, offered an execution that lived up to the original property, sometimes exceeding it and adding to the conversation. Movies like Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead (2004) and Alexandre Aja’s The Hills Have Eyes (2006) made things like The Mist (2005) or The Stepfather (2009) worthwhile, hoping some filmmaker could make the case that if a remake wasn’t necessary, it was at least worth it. A lot of these movies were the horror movies that 20- and 30-year-olds were weaned on. Before streaming platforms gave us such wide access to back catalogues, many millennial horror fans, myself included, experienced these remakes before they had seen the originals, or at least saw them as close to seeing the originals that there was no time interval in which the seed of nostalgia or reserve could grow.
Perhaps it was this time factor that allowed Zombie’s Halloween films to make such an impression. When I watched John Carpenter’s film, though familiar with the premise and characters Michael Myers and Laurie Strode, it was in preparation for Zombie’s film. Thus, the changes that he offered weren’t so much treading on the original’s legacy but offering a point of comparison, carving out a space where both films could exist and be respected simultaneously. This is not to say that Zombie’s Halloween exceeds the quality of Carpenter’s. It doesn’t. But as a film lacking the beautiful simplicity of Carpenter’s, Halloween ’07 made a case for itself as an inelegant, raw and dirty psycho-fantasy drawn out of the idea that, as the Zombie-utilized Nazareth song goes, “love hurts.”
one of the biggest changes in the halloween myth that created the zombie was an explanation of myers disease. while the carpenter’s movie presented a blank canvas of pure evil—later reconfigured and explained in halloween: the curse of michael myers (1995)—the zombie gives him humanity, makes him the result of circumstance rather than inhumanity preternatural. Young Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch) grows up between the extremes, raised by foul-mouthed rednecks who owe more to Texas Chainsaw Massacre filmmaker Tobe Hooper than they do to John Carpenter. With a mother forced to overwork at a strip club to support her family, a homophobic and abusive stepfather, an equally abusive sister, and school bullies possessed by a level of cruelty beyond their years, Myers Boy never stood a chance. he was always going to become something. his mask simply gave her a form through which to channel his sense of loss, betrayal, and rage. Michael is, to borrow from Sam Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), the result of internal and external influences. as the film’s title card states, “the darkest souls are not those who choose to exist in the hell of the abyss, but those who choose to break free of the abyss and move silently among us.” It’s certainly a psychological babble, but one that the zombie stays true to throughout both of his movies.
Is Michael a less terrifying figure once we see so much of his childhood and are given concrete explanations that explain why he is the way he is? Perhaps. But this need to explain evil feels apt in a decade defined by looking for answers as to why people commit the acts of atrocity they do. Sept. 11, 2001, and the War on Terror that followed shaped our horror films. How could they not? Even though the events that explain who Michael is and why he does what he does takes place in the ’90s, there’s a sense that Zombie, whether consciously or as a result of the world in which he made his film, is placing our need for answers in the subtext, tying modern horrors to the past in a way that is directly traceable, though obscured. For Zombie, horror is generational and familial, and that’s something that rears its bloody head in his prior films as well — House of 1000 Corpses (2003) and its sequel The Devil’s Rejects (2005).
once halloween reaches act two and moves into the present day, revisiting much of the plot mechanics from carpenter’s original via scout taylor-compton’s laurie strode, the film still remains obsessed with michael . he is not a boogeyman, but a fully formed man driven by primal impulses. michael from the carpenter evoked a purpose without letting us know his intention. But Michael Myers (Tyler Mane) from Zombie is still a lost little boy trying to find his way back to a home, a loving family connection that never existed. Loomis and Laurie are both paths to what he seeks: a loving father figure and a kind-hearted sister, but neither has the ability to form the family he needs around himself, as one seeks to control his narrative and the other fears your intrusion. in his normal life.
The two zombie Halloween movies owe more to Halloween II (1981) than the original, with the plot of Laurie being Michael’s sister fronted in a more powerful way. But beyond Michael’s backstory and the inclusion of the brothers’ subplot, Halloween ’07 remains largely true to Carpenter’s, never refraining from an aesthetic that’s pure Rob Zombie. The movie sequel Halloween II (2009) was met with even more disdain, even though Zombie strayed even further from the carpenter and ventured into his own experimental take on the great American tragedy of babysitting through metaphor. hallucinating of a white horse. it is in zombie’s halloween ii where the director is more interesting and confident as a filmmaker. michael myers takes a backseat to laurie strode and the trauma she has suffered. Taylor-Compton’s girl-next-door vibe from the first film is stripped away and replaced with something damaged and genuinely human in her fragility. is a performance, one of the best and most surprising to come out of horror in that decade, that rejects previous notions of the final girl and her invulnerability.
while jamie lee curtis’s laurie was tough, confident, and in control even in the midst of fear, taylor-compton’s laurie is caught in a downward spiral, and not just because she looks like she belongs in a nail video. nine inches. Laurie becomes a tragic figure, echoing Ella’s brother Michael Myers, as the film seeks to explore whether a similar confluence of internal and external factors can re-create the pain and anger that created Michael Myers. . Zombie creates a dark fairy tale in which a character’s desire for a family has devastating ramifications, especially for the adoptive family Laurie has found. While Annie Brackett and her father, Sheriff Brackett, had little consequence outside of the 1978 film, here, played by horror legends Danielle Harris and Brad Dourif, they become a possible means for Laurie to escape some of the harm. , or at least share it. But Michael, and Laurie herself, rip that exit out over the course of the film, until their bottled-up emotions, both surface and subconscious, explode, leaving nothing but devastation and the shattered remains of families in their wake. /p>
While so many horror remakes in the 21st century feel like a shadow of the original, zombie managed to create two films that feel fully formed, even if audiences disagree on whether they enjoy the form they’ve taken. Halloween ’07 is a self-voiced remake and Halloween II ’09 is one of the most original movies in the slasher movie subgenre, and it ended on a much more interesting note than any of the previous sequels. it’s. the psychological aspects of horror, the trauma of the final girl, and the theme lines across the franchises that have become so key in modern blockbuster horror in movies like Get Out, A Quiet Place, and even the most haunted Halloween. David Gordon Green’s novel, were evident in zombie movies, which was rare in slasher movies. As horror fans, we are constantly looking for the new, and Rob Zombie gave us something new with his Halloween movies. Risky, divisive, and raised only by the standards zombies wished to achieve, Halloween and Halloween II are love letters to the broken figures and broken minds of horror. they hurt, they heal, and yet, in the end, they are worthwhile exercises in giving new voices to old stories.