And it has nothing to do with a Halloween 1978 purist attitude. The answers have come to me thanks to multiple viewings of the film.
From the very start, I pretty much separated this film from the original (not surprisingly a favorite), so I’ve accepted the remake for what it is (I won’t even confess some of the more recent remakes that I actually like very much—but will admit that Prom Night and April Fool’s Day are not among them). I saw Rob Zombie’s Halloween in the theaters, own both cuts of the film.
For starters, there’s nothing terrifying about the whole “making of a serial killer” first part (like, literally the entire first half of the movie), nor is it entertaining or engrossing enough to watch again and again. I get it. Michael had a messed up childhood. But an hour of the killer’s background just isn’t what satisfies my need for a horror movie fix.
And the “white trash” upbringing is just painfully cartoonish. It actually makes me laugh, which really kills the mood. And the original eerie John Carpenter score feels completely out of place during this segment of the film. Of course, so is the use of classic rock tracks like Nazareth’s “Love Hurts.” And every second young Michael Myers spends on screen, expect him to bust into a chorus of “MMMBop.”
Then comes the second half of the film, the “slasher movie” part. Thankfully, it feels like a completely different movie than the first half and captures much of the holiday atmosphere of the original film. And for quite a while, it’s a pretty damn good, slightly re-imagined homage to the original. Danielle Harris is amazing as a more lively Annie. The chick playing Lynda is a bit harder edged than PJ Soles but it works for a modern film. And Scout Taylor-Compton is actually a sweet Laurie, if not less innocent and a bit more typically teenaged than prim and proper Jamie Lee Laurie. Scout’s interactions with Dee Wallace as her mother help her good school girl image a bit. But little Tommy and Lindsey are definitely charmers. They’re both total smart asses and have some great lines, and Laurie’s interactions with them are much more playful than in the original.
As the original plot plays out with some alterations, I was totally into it. Nice change having Lynda and her boyfriend sneak into the Myers house for sex and their murders. Annie’s sequence of being attacked is refreshingly altered so that you don’t feel like you’re just watching a scene-by-scene remake. Even when Michael’s pursuit of Laurie first starts, it is intense, suspenseful, and loaded with scares. And Michael is incredibly dark, ominous, and terrifying.
It’s when Zombie adds on to the original plot that the movie starts to falter again, moving all over the place and taking us away from the isolated setting of the two houses. The police are introduced, which removes the “Laurie vs. the Boogeyman” feel. Michael takes her back to the Myers house into a little shrine with Linda’s body and tries to communicate with her. Then she gets away. Then she falls into an empty pool. Then Dr. Loomis shoots him. Then they think they’re free. Then Loomis quotes the famous last line, altered no less and spoken in a car, and then the movie continues! Back in the house for Laurie, crawling through walls, through ceilings…all the simplicity of a babysitter being stalked in the very house at which she was safely babysitting and using things like knitting needles to ward off a maniac is exchanged for overblown dramatics.
But I guess I could live with that added content to push the movie further if it was recut to remove all that nonsense at the beginning, from the white trash boyfriend of Mrs. Myers lusting after Judith Myers to Mrs. Myers dancing at a strip club. I cringe just typing that….