Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #128
Number of Views: Two
Release Date: August 31, 2007
Sub-Genre: Cult Film
Country of Origin: United States
Box Office: $80,249,467
Running Time: 109 minutes
Director: Rob Zombie
Producers: Malek Akkad, Rob Zombie, Andy Gould
Screenplay: Rob Zombie
Based on Characters by: John Carpenter & Debra Hill
Special Effects: Mark Byers
Visual Effects: Paulina Kuszta
Cinematography: Phil Parmet
Score: Tyler Bates
Editing: Glenn Garland
Studios: The Weinstein Company, Nightfall Productions, Spectacle Entertainment Group, Trancas International Films
Distributors: Dimension Films, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount Pictures
Stars: Scout Taylor-Compton, Danielle Harris, Brad Dourif, Daeg Faerch, Sheri Moon Zombie, William Forsythe, Malcolm McDowell, Kristina Klebe, Skyler Gisondo, Danny Trejo, Hanna Hall, Bill Moseley, Leslie Easterbrook, Tom Towles, Dee Wallace, Max Van Ville, Udo Kier, Richard Lynch, Clint Howard, Pat Skipper, Sid Haig and Tyler Mane as Michael Myers
Suggested Audio Candy
Tyler Bates “Halloween”
Folk can be so fickle. Increasingly of late, it appears that the daggers are out for Rob Zombie. His latest feature The Lords of Salem has been largely bludgeoned by detracting critics, dismissed by so-called disciples, and to me it all seems a tad despicable. After hitting the ground running with the blackened Rocky Horror-sensibilities of House of 1000 Corpses, then following it up with the majesty of The Devil’s Rejects, he has proved precisely what he is capable with. Yet still he is called into question, cross-examined to the nth degree, and dismissed out of hand as a one-trick pony.
It twists my innards to witness the inverted crucifixion of one of our own. It has recently become reported that Zombie intends to take an indefinite hiatus from horror so thanks a bevy naysayers. He has always had the most honorable of intentions, that being to serve the genre that he grew up adulating. However, the mutineers couldn’t resist getting involved and shunned him like a leper in a swinger’s convention. Are memories really that short? Was The Devil’s Rejects alone not reason enough to cut him some slack? Fucking tool bags.
It is hard to know exactly where the tide began to turn against him but the announcement that he was set to remake John Carpenter’s Halloween likely did him no favors. Buoyant from the success of The Devils’ Rejects, he bit off a whole hunk of buffalo rump with this particular labor of love. It’s one thing being a lifelong fan, but how does one even attempt to update such an iconic masterpiece? This would take balls of steel and he just so happened to have a couple of those lying around.
The only way was up as Rick Rosenthal’s unmittigatingly disastrous Halloween Resurrection had single-handedly obliterated any hopes of the franchise continuing. The drawing board seemed the only place left to go, thus handing Michael Myers over to this safe pair of hands seemed like a masterstroke. As a lifelong devotee of the muted madman, Zombie knew which angle to take when taking the reins of this stalwart of slasher. His aim was to strip back the years and forget Freddie Harris never existed. Moreover, he would take it farther still, fleshing out the back story and offering further insight into The Shape’s vacant humanity. Game on.
His wife Sheri Moon Zombie has been an ever-present in his films and done more than enough to convince that it is more than simply preferential treatment as has been suggested. Here she dons the apron strings of Michael’s mother Deborah and does as commendable a job as always. While her mere presence is enough to fire a few rounds off in our shorts, here she plays down her sultry looks and reveals her maternal side instead. Her task with keeping her son on the straight and narrow is a thankless one but she brings sufficient warmth to the role.
Daeg Faerch impresses as young Michael and has just the right degree of vacancy about him. Although gifted with insightful background we still don’t learn what drives him and that is job done as far as I’m concerned. Zombie takes a gamble in spending the entire opening act exploring any potential method to his madness and, while this ultimately heralds no real answers, it’s well-played and his decision justified. This is our first indication that his wish is to supply an alternative blueprint and that this is no mere retread. Instead it pays homage whilst changing the direction and is reverent, all the while steering into a new course.
Meanwhile, his casting of Laurie Strode is no less well-informed. Scout Taylor-Compton has enough edge to pull off the unlikely by offering a spunky female protagonist whose only resemblance to Curtis’ Laurie is the steely resolve that keeps her a step ahead of her assailant’s advances. Her best friend is daughter of Sheriff Lee Brackett (the ever-dependable Brad Dourif) and most interesting perhaps is the casting of Danielle Harris as Annie who Zombie elects to bring back to where it all began for her. It will come as no great revelation that she is captivating as always.
Zombie leaves himself a mountain to scale after such an extended opening, in comparison the latter half of his film feels a tiny bit shoehorned in to me. There are standout moments, but more could possibly have been done, an extra ten minutes would have alleviated such concerns. That said, it also indicates that it never outstays its welcome. Rob Zombie’s Halloween treads the boards with self-assurance and direction. It doesn’t hold a candle up to the original but to expect that would be unworkable as Zombie is only human (albeit of the shuffling variety), and eats and shits like the rest of us.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Grue Factor: 3/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: The content of Zombie’s work is always questioned; more seems to be expected of him with regards to grue. The deep red flows candidly here and, while not nearly as merciless as his follow up, I’d gratefully accept that over Malcolm McDowell’s obliteration of Donald Pleasence’s Loomis second time out. As for pleasures of the flesh, we are well catered for courtesy of the delectable Kristina Klebe, and also provided a prolonged peek at the marvellous wares of Danielle Harris which is never less than welcome. That said, it’s hardly the most erotic of scenarios.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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