film reel image

film reel image

Sunday, September 29, 2013

H2: Halloween II 2009 * * Stars

Halloween IIDirector: Rob Zombie
Year: 2009
Rated R
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Tyler Mane, Sheri Moon Zombie, Scout Taylor-Compton

I no doubt applaud Rob Zombie's vision when it comes to making movies. I read somewhere that he was a huge fan of the horror genre when he was a kid. It's obvious that he pays homage to them ever since he made his first film, 2003's House of 1000 Corpses (it's also obvious that based on the film I'm now reviewing, he seems to really like the darkest images of the Halloween holiday). "Corpses" upset me but in a good way. It's a very effective, unsettling sort of evil stepchild to the masterpiece which is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. So ever since I saw this underrated debut, I was eagerly awaiting his next slasher/horror experiment. He hasn't totally delivered since then (The Devil's Rejects was mildly amusing though) but like I said earlier, he is a visionary filmmaker who would rather reinvent or reimagine a classic as oppose to just remaking it.

As a director, Rob Zombie also has plenty of trademarks too. His films always seem to have a carnival-like atmosphere complete with dirty, grubby, grungy, and totally devilish characters. And although it seems like H2Halloween II (the film I'm reviewing) appears to take place in present day, that doesn't stop him from throwing in a 60's or 70's am radio tune as background music. Oh and he generally uses the same cast members in all of his endeavours (notably his wife, Sherri Moon Zombie) and he loves to film scantily clad women from the front and the back.

Not expecting anything different from a Zombie flick this time around, I watched his 2009 remaking (I meant reimagining) of 1981's Halloween II. Where as that 1981 sequel had famed killer Michael Myers terrorizing a Haddonfield, Illinois hospital the same night after the events of 1978's original Halloween occurred, this time around, he has the brutal events take place exactly one year later after all the murder and mayhem from 2007's inaugural rebooting of the franchise (although very little took place in a hospital in the 2009 version, I was however, annoyed by the unnecessarily long murderous dream sequence in the first 10-15 minutes). H2Halloween II is similar to its early 80's predecessor in only one really obvious way. It announces to the audience (spoiler alert) that Laurie Strode and Myers are you guessed it, brother and sister. Other than that, they seem like two completely different films altogether. I'm not saying that Rick Rosenthal's (director of Halloween II (1981)) early effort was a masterstroke (they're were some interesting and quite effective murder sequences though) but it is to this day, a much better, more focused vehicle than Zombie's loud, excess-ridden mess this time around.

He tries his darnedest to grab and enthrall the audience, but it doesn't ring true. The gore and gratuitous violence are mainly for shock value and don't really generate many scares (I do give him credit though for making a valiant effort to give the Myers character an admirable back story, especially in his auspicious 2007 reboot). Let's just say that when this 2009 Michael Myers goes on a killing spree, it's as merciless and robotic as ever. You know that he is headed for Haddonfield (it feels like it takes him forever to get there too) but on the way, he commits so many random kills (a few people at a strip club, a couple of farmers in a truck, a couple of party goers in a small van, etc.,etc...) that it feels like Zombie needed these scenes to use as filler so the movie could round out to an unnecessarily long running time of 2 hours. Then there is the acting (and the overacting) by the entire cast (with the slight exception of Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Loomis) which is mediocre at best (enough f words in this exercise to fill a 100 page script I'm thinking). Granted, this horror film has got all the usual cliches, plenty of annoying hap hazard screams, and a huge 6 foot 9 yet unintimidating actor to play Myers (played by Tyler Mane who's greatest gift to the acting world is grunting every time he stabs a victim). Once more, its got director Rob Zombie filming flashbacks and present day hallucinations. They are between the Michael Myers character and his dead/alive mother along with a younger (child) version of himself. This seems like a nifty idea at first but dissipates with every interrupted, over-the-top bloodletting toward the most annoying (not to mention mean spirited) set of victims a slasher picture could ever be crammed with.

When it's all said and done, in reality, the Halloween franchise should have stopped years ago. But hey, Rob Zombie said it best in a documentary when he reiterated that horror fans are so thirsty for more meaningless blood and gore that they'll do anything to watch another installment (even if it's as lousy and as lumbering as this one). Well Rob, you maybe right. Halloween III is probably coming soon to a disillusioned theater near you.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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