As theatergoers know, Halloween came a bit early this year, in August, in the guise of Rob Zombie’s reinvention of the genre classic, Halloween. While quite different from the original by John Carpenter, the movie was met with a mixed reception. And now, we get another shot with the DVD release of Halloween, street just a week before Christmas Day. So, after much hype and a pretty good run at the theatre, is this movie worth checking out and owning on DVD? Well, fans of horror movies may really enjoy the movie, but Halloween purists? Maybe not so much. Before we go further, let’s breeze over the synopsis.
Horror filmmaker Rob Zombie reinvents the horror classic Halloween with this updated and startling update of the John Carpenter classic. The residents of Haddonfield don’t know it yet… but death is coming to their sleepy small town. Sixteen years ago, a young boy named Michael Myers brutally killed his stepfather, his elder sister and her boyfriend. Now, he’s escaped from the mental institution and makes his way back to his hometown intent on continuing his murderous rampage.
So, again, Zombie reinvents the classic original Halloween, updating it for today. All this basically includes some cell phones and different clothes. Well, if I wanted to be superficial, that’s what I’d say. What Zombie does is take the source material and makes it his own. His fingerprints, his style, is all over the movie. And while there’s some good to Zombie’s approach, there’s also some bad. What really strikes this movie as a reinvention is how the title character, Laurie Strode, is handled. Strode, here, isn’t quite as innocent as we’ve come to aspect from our leading lady, and, and I hate to say it, she’s a bit of a brat. While Strode, expertly played by Jamie Lee Curtis in the original, was sympathetic and established a bond right away with the audience, here, Strode is almost difficult to sympathize with, and somewhat of a nuisance. As Myers chases her down, you find yourself not caring about her.
But that’s just one of the problems I had with the movie. Now, right away, I want to say that I don’t hate the movie. I think Zombie did a great job in updating it for today. However, by updating it, and being incredibly realistic to how teens and young adults act today, he revealed a big flaw. The flaw is? Well, basically, the innocence from the lead in the original Halloween is in no way found here. Then again, one could argue that things are much different today then they were thirty years ago. While the innocence we saw in the original fit that time, it would have been really out of place in the movie Zombie was creating. Therefore, by using a somewhat superficial realism with the main character, we end up with a lead who isn’t completely sympathetic to the audience.
The big pull in this movie was Zombie’s attempt to humanize and get into the mind of Myers, show us why he was doing this. Sadly, his motivation seems to fall flat, his anger born out of the clichéd broken home and constant bullying. If I recall correctly, in the original Halloween, Michael came from an ordinary home, which, in fact, makes him a bit more creepier than evil born from bickering parents. Michael Myers doesn’t need a back story. He’s pure evil. That’s it. But here, Zombie tries to add it, and it doesn’t really work. Like I said, clichéd, but it starts to improve when Zombies showcases young Michael’s homicidal tendencies, tendencies which eventually lead him to be institutionalized. His tendencies, of course, escalate when he escapes and goes on a rampage, killing a host of teenage, sex-driven kids as he heads to kill his little sister, Laurie Strode. Of course, Strode has no idea who he is, but, one way or another, it all comes to heads in the final moments. Then again, in the original Halloween, we had no idea what the back story was, only to have it filled in later. But Carpenter just had a better hand at making everything work. Here? Zombie, even though he is talented, just can’t bring all the jumbled pieces together (much like me with the above paragraph). I can see what he’s trying to do and how he’s trying to establish Myers and his story, but is it necessary?
Like I said above, and will say below, I have a few problems with the movie. But, the biggest, for me? Well, what was Zombie thinking by genuinely scoring a scene to “Love Hurts.” Just . . . not good.
It’s unfair to compare it to the original, even if it is a remake (or “reinvention”), but it goes without saying that fans who love the original Halloween movie will likely not be amused with the updated take here. After a somewhat exhausting opening, even after a tedious fight between the Myers’ parents, the first half is actually pretty good. But, once the rampage truly starts and Michael starts offing people, it sort of goes into autopilot. Some of the death scenes are tense, and handled well, but the information we’re given in the first half, of Myers’ past, is never really addressed in the second half in the proper fashion. However, I do really like what Zombie was trying to do with Myer’s mask, with Michael using it as a place to escape from his pretty crappy life. Still, Zombie, I believe, could have done a lot better here, and should have. He has talent and a great vision, but, sadly, it all somehow got chopped up and we end up with is basically an alright remake of a genre classic. I will say that Zombie has guts to remake such a classic, and while I understand what he was trying to do with the movie, I wish the end result was a bit better. Still, it makes for a fine weekend rental.
But, still, the movie raked in a nice amount of dough, so, naturally, the nice DVD release was to be expected. And, well, it does not disappoint. Arriving in both an unrated two-disc widescreen edition and a theatrical full screen edition, the movie itself looks sharp. The video is clear with very little compression, barely noticeable. Audio is pretty excellent here, as well. Menus are simple to navigate and are pretty basic.
The extras for the two disc set nicely laid out and easily accessible. The first extra, the full-length film commentary by director Rob Zombie is accessible through the main menu, since it’s the only extra on the first disc. We now pop over to the second disc, where the remaining extras are located. The first up, and likely most sought after, is the alternate ending. Personally, I enjoyed how the movie ended, and found the alternate take to be much weaker. After that is a series of deleted scenes, thankfully cut from the movie, and a collection of bloopers. After which we get the “The Many Masks of Michael Myers” featurette, giving us a tour of the hundreds of masks Myers made while incarcerated, After that is “Re-Imagining Halloween, the only real behind-the-scenes featurette on the disc. It’s twenty minutes in lengths and covers the varied aspects of production. After words is nearly a half-hour of screen tests for the actors featured in the film.
A nice set of extras for the wildly divisive movie. Overall, I’d have to recommend this movie for at least a Rental There’s the possibility you may end up enjoying the film, and there is plenty to like, despite the assorted flaws and faults. There are some pretty tense moments to be found within and the cast does a good job all around. Now, it’s not Oscar-worthy by any means, but it’s a fun little slasher flick. It doesn’t hold a candle to the original, but the modern take on a genre classic may interest some people. Chock in a DVD with a very nice assortment of extras and you got a pretty well-rounded DVD package. Again, despite my problems with the movie, I still enjoyed it and found it to be pretty engaging. Once you understand what Zombie is trying to do with the movie, a lot of problems do make sense. That doesn’t fix them, but you can see the grand scheme Zombie had in mind. Zombie set out to make this movie his own, and he achieved.
Halloween: Unrated Director’s Cut will hit DVD on Dec. 18th, 2007.
Be sure to check out the Michael Myers Rampage game online here.