Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween (2007)

I was not expecting Rob Zombie's remake of the greatest Halloween film ever made to be this good - but it was. Concern over remakes is well-founded - especially when dealing with movies that are as good as John Carpenter's original Halloween was; but I can say that they picked the right man for this job.

Rob Zombie's version of the story spends more time on Michael Myers' childhood, building up the killer. I had heard about this, and sympathized with comments by fans who feared that making Michael human would take away much of the terror of the character, who represents an inhuman monster - the bogeyman, "pure evil" as Dr. Loomis would say. But Zombie's portrayal of the character didn't have that effect on me - he was just as terrifying. Even though I could sympathize with him to an extent (that bully totally had it coming), it's still quite clear to me that he's a monster, even as a child, and that's frightening.

And the back story adds to the tale (the mask fetish element was particularly intriguing); it makes the movie more well-rounded. Actually, the beginning was probably the most uncomfortable part of the movie. Michael's father was an abusive cripple (though his mother was a hot stripper, and his sister was just hot). But there's lots of swearing and abuse and general poor treatment between the family members, and it's very uncomfortable to watch, even more so than when Michael later goes on his killing spree. But even though you almost want to cheer him on, I think the film effectively gets across the point that what he's doing is genuinely sadistic, and whether they deserve it or not, you still can't quite defend it - and that's what keeps it terrifying.

The original Halloween still maintains its place at the top of the slasher bin, but I really am impressed with the remake. It's probably the best Halloween sequel that's been made; I wouldn't be ashamed to put them on a shelf together. I think that fans of the original will be happy with all the homages (or perhaps simply preserved plot points) Rob Zombie pays to the original film (if you're concerned, Malcolm McDowell's portrayal of Dr. Loomis is spot-on), and I was myself delighted that, in addition to picking out some great songs for the soundtrack, the original Halloween theme by John Carpenter was preserved. That is, perhaps, the greatest scary movie theme ever composed. So simple, yet frightening.

And before I close this review that's going on longer than I anticipated, I have to mention the nudity. (It's me, remember? :p) I give two thumbs up for the nudity in this movie. The film still had the same sort of modest, be-careful-with-the-camera-angle approach towards nudity that is the modern paradigm*, but with far more allowances for peeks here and there, which is what deserves my accolade. Ideally, I'd prefer an even more liberal approach towards nudity in which it is treated almost as happenstance - instead of choosing between carefully guarding it and intentionally letting it slip - but that's a lot to ask in this climate, and I'd be very happy even just to see more movies with an approach like Rob Zombie has here, with more allowances for peeking.

*An aside: Do people really have sex under the covers? Doesn't it get hot? And wouldn't it be hard to keep the covers in place with all that moving around? And anyway, looking is part of the fun, why cover things up? Though perhaps my perspective is clouded, as a voyeur and an exhibitionist...

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