In Defence of... Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN 2
The HALLOWEEN franchise has had many ups and downs. The first film is an undeniable classic and pioneer for the horror genre. John Carpenter's score and lack of blood at a time when video nasties were the genre's top dogs was both brave and bewildering and yet behind his synth score and perfectly cast ensemble, gave birth to an icon.
The years that followed tried to replicate that success and HALLOWEEN 2 somewhat managed to match the look and feel, from part 3 the series took plenty of diverging paths. Witches, robots, nieces, cults, there's never been a more disconnected series of films despite some sort of continuity outside of SEASON OF THE WITCH.
In 2005 when Rob Zombie was helmed as the saviour of horror, his "reimagining" of the series was more akin to taking the base formula and plot and adding more gruesome murder the director is famed for. The film was a commercial success and came at a time where movie goers wanted more gore. As a result, the director was commissioned for a sequel and in 2007 it arrived. However, this time around, having set up the premise, now took a complete left turn and took the series into a completely new direction with ghosts and horses now taking centre stage. The film was panned by critics and movie goers but few were enticed by Zombie's fresh direction instead of the predictable mayhem his previous film had created.
Picking up moments after Michael's escape at the hands of Doctor Loomis, this time played by Malcolm McDowell in a slice of casting that is matched by Pleasance and the role many years before. Quick to cash-in on the Myers massacre of Haddonfield, he's now become a bit of a celebrity cashing in on a monster he once despised which really allows McDowell to make Loomis his own. It's a strange take for such an iconic character to turn him into an unlikable parasite but one that really starts to separate Zombie's universe from Carpenter's.
HALLOWEEN 2 gave Michael a story, a meaning, a motive. Something the audience can latch on to and like Frankenstein, actually gives some semblance of heart as the monster becomes the hunted with Malcolm McDowell's Dr Loomis becoming an egotistical celebrity cashing in on the Myers family ties, no matter the cost. H2 gives a lot of new lore exclusive to Zombie's timeline and the introduction of Myers visions and backstory of wanting to go home with his family is a lonesome one.
The camera tones (the blue aesthetic) is near dreamlike, the haunting replaying of Nights In White Satin and a compassionate reunion all add something fresh to Myers and actually gives audiences something that makes sense despite the absurdity of it all. Scout Taylor-Compton's Laurie is a different one here, one with severe trauma who never recovered yet still plays a driving force in this take while Brad Dourif as Sheriff Lee Bracket is a standout performance from the entire series.
It's ironic that this was Michael's most violent outing until KILLS but every death is provoked, this Michael is in a mission and will not have anyone stopping in his way. The scene of Tyler Mane's character standing unmasked with beard and betrodden look is a reminder he is human, something the most recent reset has taken away from Myers. This has Zombie's dirty South all over it but the theme of family which has been a core element to his best films is stamped all over this giving it a more sombre yet captivating exploration of the monster.