After massacring his family on Halloween, disturbed 10 year old Michael Myers is committed to a mental institution. 17 years later, he violently escapes and heads back home to Haddonfield to find his baby sister Laurie, brutally murdering anyone who crosses his path.
In November 2005, Halloween producer/peddler Moustapha Akkad and his daughter, Rima Akkad Monla, were killed at a wedding party when Al-Qaeda bombed the Grand Hyatt in Amman, Jordan. As the champion of the series since its inception, his death was a blow for the future of the franchise. This, coupled with Dimension Film execs realising (maybe) the error of their ways with Halloween Resurrection, looked set to see the end of the Halloween films. However, following a trend of remaking old horror films from the Seventies and Eighties such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Black Christmas, Dawn of the Dead, The Hills Have Eyes, The Amityville Horror and When A Stranger Calls, producers recognised that Halloween was still a marketable name and decided to reboot/re-imagine/remake/reconceptualise John Carpenter’s landmark slasher. Greedy execs. Tut.
It came as no surprise then when he announced his intention to remake Halloween and explore the childhood of its antagonist Michael Myers. Villains have always been the more fleshed out characters in Zombie’s films – he shows more of an interest in them than his bland, thinly drawn ‘heroes.’ This aspect of probing Myers’ fractured mindset and background is the basis of his remake and perhaps it’s most original and compelling segment before it eventually descends into extreme violence and tensionless bloodletting.
Myers is presented as a sensitive, shy child with severe self-esteem issues. His mother works as a stripper to support her family, his sister is the town slut and his tyrannical step-father abuses the family, physically and emotionally. In his presentation of Myers’ dysfunctional family, Zombie seems to be saying that though many people have been dealt a shit deal in life – it is only a few whose inability to deal with it and see beyond it that become inherently corrupted. That’s not to say that Halloween is an insightful and nuanced deconstruction of human psychology. It isn’t – far from it in fact, as sometimes it feels a little one-dimensional, even caricaturish – but it’s all carried off with such besmirched aplomb, Zombie makes it work. It’s pop psychology by numbers, but in the context of a Rob Zombie film, it further showcases the director’s willingness to explore sleazy, disturbed characters and the sordid surroundings they wallow in.
The performances are all suitably rough edged, exaggerated even. As the young Michael Myers, Daeg Faerch brings a strangely sympathetic touch to the fledgling killer. As his put-upon mother, Sherri Moon Zombie actually delivers a very decent performance, highlighting Deborah Myers’ down-beaten resignation and acceptance of her red-neck life. Malcolm McDowell is an interesting Dr Loomis, though he isn’t given much to do except spout Donald Pleasence-isms about Myers’ inhumanity and devilish black eyes, and to say Tyler Mane’s adult incarnation of Myers is an imposing, formidable sight is an obvious understatement. Gone are Carpenter’s subtle placements of the killer at the edge of the screen, and in evidence are Zombie’s presentations of Myers as a barraging, relentlessly brutal bulldozer.
While Zombie’s Halloween has its flaws, it still manages to exemplify the directorial showmanship of Zombie and mark him as an interesting filmmaker with unique vision. His Halloween might not do as much justice to Carpenter’s original as many would have hoped, but as a Rob Zombie film, it follows on perfectly from the likes of The Devil’s Rejects, in the director’s ongoing obsession with submergence in the sick, seedy underbelly of American society.