I’m on a huge Rob Zombie high and I’m doing my best to not let Halloween II ruin my kick. Sadly, while I did enjoy Zombie’s second take on Michael Myers to a certain extent, the film wasn’t everything I’d hoped it would be.
Flashback to earlier this week when I had a Rob Zombie marathon. First I rewatched House Of 1000 Corpses, which I hadn’t seen since my initial viewing of it in a theatre back in 2003. It was so much better than I remembered it, and deserves it’s own write up, so hold on until later this month.
Following House Of 1000 Corpses, I watched it’s sequel, The Devil’s Rejects, for the first time. This film could be one of my favourites of the last ten years. I can’t believe I missed it when it was in theatres. Granted, it’s not for everyone’s tastes. But with great performances, an awesome Southern Rock soundtrack, and one of the best endings I have ever seen, The Devil’s Rejects is the road movie to end all road movies and is without question Rob Zombie’s greatest film to date. Once again, give me a few weeks and I’ll have something with a little more depth for you.
Which brings us to Halloween II, which picks up immediately where the last film left off. You can get my take on that particular film here, but to quickly sum it up – I thought that there were some very cool moments in Zombie’s Halloween, but it didn’t seem to hold up to repeat viewing.
First question first – is Halloween II a stronger film than the first? In my humble opinion, on first watch, I’d have to say yes. Where does it succeed? In solid performances from returning actors Scout Taylor-Compton, Tyler Mane, and Brad Douriff. Taylor-Compton is given more to do and she delivers admirably; Brad Douriff’s Sheriff Brackett is fully realized and possibly the most interesting character in the film; and this time out Mane’s Michael Myers gets to grunt a bit. Sherri Moon Zombie is also a knock-out as she reprises her role as Michael’s mom, though I wish she had more to work with.
When Halloween II shines, it’s often because Zombie is working without the need to pay homage to any of the previous Halloween films. This one is totally and completely his own monster, which allows for some of the director’s innovative set pieces to show up strong. My two favourite ones feature a Halloween party where three of our leading ladies are dressed in costumes from The Rocky Horror Picture Show ,and a bizarre Alice in Wonderland-esque dinner sequence with Taylor-Compton’s Laurie as the main course.
However, the fact that Zombie doesn’t have to play by any rules this time out makes me wonder why he wound up utilizing standard horror film clichés throughout Halloween II. For instance, Michael Myers finding the house that Laurie just happens to be staying at just doesn’t make sense. Him killing off her friends by pure coincidence doesn’t make any sense. Having a character who should know better run into the scary woods doesn’t make any sense. Mr. Zombie, you should know better than to have made those glaring mistakes.
It’s the frequent moments that recall your standard horror fare that really have left me disappointed with Halloween II. That and it’s fairly predictable ending. Not only can Rob Zombie do better, but he’s done better. Look at his first two films and you see a horror director with vision bursting out. By dealing with a simple and standard horror icon in Michael Myers, it seems as though the creative force that Zombie can be has been diluted.
Is Halloween II worth a horror fans time? I’d definitely say yes. However flawed they may be, Zombie’s Halloween films are without question several cuts above the regular horror schlock that fans are too often inflicted with these days. There are also some ridiculously brutal kills courtesy of “The Shape” that should have devotees squirming with glee. But the truth is, having rewatched House Of 1000 Corpses again and having experienced The DeviI’s Rejects for the first time, I think I’m expecting more from the director now.
The gloves were off for House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects. I’m hoping that whatever direction he takes next with his next film, Rob Zombie will return to the no holds barred, visionary horror filmmaking I know he’s completely capable of.