Ten-year-old Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch) has more than a few problems: his beleaguered mom (Sheri Moon Zombie) works in the sex industry, his crippled stepdad (William Forsythe) is an abusive alcoholic, his big sister (Hanna Hall) doesn't care about him, and his other sibling, Laurie, is only a helpless baby. There's a badass bully (Daryl Sabara) at school, and Michael's Kiss tee-shirt is two sizes too big for him. It's enough to drive a kid crazy. Or at least: that's the excuse, after it's discovered that the cherubic-looking child is actually a committer of demented and deadly offenses.
Incarcerated young Michael comes to know love and attention for the first time within the walls of the Smith's Grove Sanitarium. His mother Deborah realizes the error of her ways; he meets a truly compassionate psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell); and he even makes a lifelong friend in the form of guard Ismael (Danny Trejo).
Cut — literally — to 17 years later, when Michael (Tyler Mane) busts loose from the bin and goes on a slaying spree in his search for solace in sister Laurie (Scout Taylor Compton). Laurie, adopted into a new family shortly after Michael's core-shaking childhood crimes, has no idea he even exists — but Michael isn't aware of that. All he knows is, the two of them are blood and they should be together.
Rob Zombie's movies have, to date, been divisive. I don't know many people who've seen House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects, or Halloween, and later said, "Meh. That was okay." They seem to either love it, or hate it. I'm definitely in the love it group, but I have always found that my feelings and opinions continue morph and evolve on the hard-rocking auteur's works the deeper I delve. It all depends on my mood, and how malleable I am when I'm watching.
When I first saw Ho1000C, I didn't really buy into its vibe, but something about it compelled me and upon repeated peeks I like it more and more. The Devil's Rejects, still my favorite Zombie flick, blew me away and left me breathless the first time I saw it. The second time around I enjoyed it, but the first-blush, shock and awe factor was missing. Now, on subsequent viewings, I'm always hooked.
When I initially saw Halloween at a press screening, I was rapt from start to finish even though I didn't fully take to the midway tonal shift. Now that I have watched it for a second time on DVD, my feeling is reinforced but with a better grasp as to why that is. I still deem it a masterpiece in many ways; but only pieces of it.
In the first half of the movie, we get to know Michael, Loomis, and Deborah. There's a dreamy, timeless feel to the setting, drawing us into this wrecked world. We see the eyes of a killer, and we care. Then, BAM! everything goes de-saturated, hand-held, hard-edged, and masked. I get the idea, but now, after being lulled into the lives of three interesting people, we're thrown headlong into snarky teen-land with Laurie and her high-school friends: People we don't know, and don't really care about. Michael is now a faceless killer, and Loomis is a loon. Deborah is out of the picture. So… we have been all set up to be invested in them, then we're handed over to strangers. While I applaud the audacity of Zombie's choices, I still much prefer the character moments to the carving madness.
As far as the DVD product itself goes, it's unbeatable. It's available in both R-rated theatrical and 2-disc Unrated editions. The 2-disc version is the one to get, obviously. As always, Zombie's commentary is detailed, explanatory, candid and unrehearsed.
The writer/director points out some noteworthy trivia (Forsythe says "Hey, clown" to Michael in this movie, a line he also said to Capt. Spaulding in The Devil's Rejects; he reveals the fact that he has The Thing playing on TV in his movie, because it was also what was playing on TV in the original 1978 version of Halloween). He talks about some of the more slippery slopes (How will a little kid believably kill adults? How do we hide all these Hollywood palm trees?). He tells some funny stories (Faerch was very keen on "killing" people, but had little interest in fondling half-naked victims; Trejo calls his acting style "The Juan Strasberg school of acting"). And finally reveals, to all those dissenters, Malcolm McDowell really did "phone in" his performance! (Well, for one scene, anyway… you must listen to the commentary to find out which.)
It's interesting to learn where the film ended in the script, and Zombie's reasons behind filming more. While I'm sure Gloria Steinem would be pleased about those decisions, for cinematic purposes and emotional punch, I personally would have preferred the originally planned finale.
More Bonus Features –
• 17 Deleted Scenes With Optional Director’s Commentary
• Alternate Ending
• A Conversation with Rob Zombie
• The Many Masks of Michael Myers
• Re-Imagining Halloween
• Meet the Cast
• Casting Sessions
• Laurie Strode Screen Test
= = =
Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson
Be sure and watch Horror.com's exclusive video interview with Rob Zombie