Modern day Hollywood loves remakes. And more recently many classic (and some not so classic) horror movies have been reappearing on our Cineplex screens, repackaged and refilmed for a new generation of viewers.
From the pointless, such as the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre, to the dreadful 2005 version of The Fog, to the downright bat shit crazy 2006 remake of the Wicker Man (which is worth watching for its hilarious incomprehensible absurdity in my opinion) again and again these films pale in every comparison to the originals that they spring from.
The original Halloween is one of my all time favourite slasher movies, and John Carpenter is a masterful director. Not only is he responsible for some of the best horror films ever made, but also one of the best remakes of all time, The Thing – his 1982
reimagination and reinvention of the 1951 B movie.
Halloween is also a film which is in my humble opinion ‘perfect’ from start to finish. So how do you improve on perfection?
As far as Rob Zombie the writer and director of this remake is concerned, you fill in the blanks. Which in this case is the back story to how the young Michael Myers became the masked maniac killer, who terrorises teenagers on All Hallows Eve.
Growing up in a clichéd broken home with a stripper for a mother, an alcoholic abusive step-father and a promiscuous sister, 10-year-old Myers is bullied at school. He soon develops disturbing signs of deranged and psychopathic tendencies that child psychologist Dr. Sam Loomis (played perfectly by Malcolm McDowell) tries to warm his mother about.
Unfortunately the warning comes too late, and Myers massacres most of his family, ending up locked away in a mental hospital where Dr Loomis attempts to heal (but fails to unravel) his warped mind.
Skipping ahead 15 years to the date of Myers’ transfer to a maximum security prison, the murderer escapes to return to his childhood home to reap havoc and tie up the past he had left undone.
As you can see from the plot outline, this really is a movie of two halves. The first part an original and interesting investigation into what made Myers into a psychopath, and the second part a familiar and often identical reshooting of the original film.
Zombie’s sympathies lie firmly with the monsters in his movies, a fact he has shown in both his previous pictures House of a Thousand Corpses and the Devils Rejects, and as with those, this is his failing and the giant flaw in the Halloween remake.
Although it is fun to find out Myers’ back-story, Zombie so desperately wants us to sympathise with him that it is hard in the second half of the story to be scared or frightened of him.
The triumph of Carpenters original was to make Myers a mystery, and the fact we could neither comprehend nor understand his maniacal motivation made him all the more menacing.
Zombie also spends so much time filling in Myers’ story that he skims over any character development for his victims, and therefore we feel no identification with them nor fear for them – a fatal mistake in any horror film.
Adding more gratuitous, realistic and frequent deaths proves pointless when we don’t care about who is being killed.
Ultimately the remake of Halloween is not all bad, and Zombie is respectful of his source material, which is a good thing. He keeps not only the original mask, but Carpenters classic theme music, and cleverly reuses a plot twist from one of the Halloween sequels in his own story.
Some of the ideas are well executed, such as the young Myers’ obsession with masks, and the cast does a good job, the acting beefed up by some great cameo’s by the likes of Brad Douriff and Danny Trejo.
Like Myers himself, Hollywood is unstoppably on a mission – to remake masterpieces such as Halloween – a worryingly lazy and greedy trend that will sadly prevent many people from seeing the original and far superior films.
The hope is however that more directors follow Zombie’s pattern adding and paying their respects to the originals rather than trashing and rehashing them, and that people will seek out the inspiration behind the remakes and discover the original movies for themselves.
Additional film information: Halloween (2007)