Did I miss the memo outlining Hollywood needing to remake movies that didn’t need to be remade? Apparently so, because just a few weeks ago, Invasion of the Body Snatchers was remade for the third time with The Invasion. This weekend (not sure why it couldn’t wait for Halloween), the 1978 horror classic Halloween will be in theaters after receiving a face lift by none other than Rob Zombie.
For those of you that are living under a rock, here is the quick and dirty: Halloween is the story of Michael Myers, the epitome of evil. At the tender age of ten he gets institutionalized for first degree murder (apparently killing family members is frowned upon). After all hope of release is lost, he closes off to the world and begins brooding. Fast forward 15 years. He manages to escape his confines and begins actively seeking the only remaining link he has left to the real world — his baby sister Laurie. Anyone getting in the way of his family reunion better have a good life insurance policy.
There are a couple of differences between the original and this version, one of which really ruins the movie for me. First and not quite so damning, is the confusion I got from Zombie’s direction. He clearly wanted his rendition to go head to head with the latest blood-glorifying flicks like Saw III and Hostel: Part II. To get there he has to get naked girls, more blood and more killings into the mix (i.e., Michael kills his entire family instead of just his sister). On its own I don’t have problems with that (I love naked girls and gore). What I did have a problem with was the fact he reshot scenes from the original movie (i.e., Michael dressed as a ghost with glasses and the ominous stare he does while shadowing his sister). Either make the movie your own or don’t – you can’t have it both ways.
My biggest issue however, lies with the back story. Rob Zombie has gone through the trouble to develop the reasons behind the creation of the psychopath and I don’t like it. Michael is now socially inept – long straggly hair and an odd look make him easy pickings for school bullies. He hails from a seriously broken household – his mother Deborah (Sheri Moon Zombie) is a stripper, his stepfather(?) Ronnie (William Forsythe) is an abusive, unloving alcoholic and his sister Judith (Hanna Hall) is a worthless slut. He does what other high risk children do too — while away their time and escape the misery that is their life by torturing and killing animals. It basically seems like Zombie read Psychology Today and copied all the outlying reasons as to why crazy people kill. If anything, break the norm and have him come from a perfectly happy home. That would have really allowed for a deeper reflection into what was going on inside this child’s mind and would have made him all that much more frightening. As far as I am concerned, no matter what he did, humanizing Michael wasn’t going to make anyone feel sorry for him.
In my eyes, remaking Halloween was a Herculean task. The genuine movie is so entrenched in everyone’s psyche that is impossible to not have comparisons (of which the original always wins). Sure the curious will go to see it no matter what I say (they saw The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake too) but it doesn’t even come close to the true horror exemplified by John Carpenter’s pioneering work. See it for yourself – it’s nearly 30 years old and still scary as hell.