The first cut is still the deepest
HALLOWEEN Directed by Rob Zombie. Starring Scout Taylor-Compton, Tyler Mane, Malcolm McDowell, Brad Dourif, Daeg Faerch, Sheri Moon, William Forsythe, Udo Kier, Richard Lynch, Danny Trejo, Dee Wallace, Sybil Danning 18 cert, gen release, 109 min
THIS is a very odd beast indeed. It hardly needs to be said that remaking John Carpenter’s Halloween, one of cinema’s very greatest experiments in creative tension, is an idea that should remain in the same locked drawer as curried raspberries and chocolate oven gloves. And, sure enough, Rob Zombie’s noisier, less nuanced version of the story does ultimately crash and burn.
But, against the odds, Zombie (a better film-maker than that surname suggests) does find something interesting to do with the first half of his film. Filling in two big gaps left by the original picture – the period immediately before Michael Myers’s first slaughter and his time spent in the lunatic asylum – the new work imposes a strange kind of hyper-realism on the action and, in so doing, almost manages to explain why Michael became the lurching atrocity we so love.
As in his two previous pictures, House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, Rob Zombie imagines a world entirely peopled by embarrassing street lunatics with terrible noses. Michael, the son of an erotic dancer, is bullied by idiots at school and by a cackling ham of a stepfather at home. Eventually, he makes the leap into lunacy, chops up most of the family with a carving knife and, eerily comatose, gets dragged off to a mental asylum to be studied by Malcolm McDowell’s predictably peculiar Dr Sam Loomis.
These scenes showcase Zombie’s talent for discovering jet black humour in the most appalling situations and suggest that he might just be capable of making the material his own. Sadly, about halfway through, we find ourselves at Halloween in the present day and the picture suddenly turns into yet another depressingly routine remake.
Several of the Carpenter’s best bits are unearthed – Michael wearing a sheet and spectacles; Michael pinning a victim to the wall and peering quizzically at him – as the action is rapidly taken over by a confusing orgy of running around and shouting. Still, this Halloween is a more interesting failure than we had a right to expect.
What an atrocity