is some kind of strange flick, folks. Picking up mere minutes
after the final moments of hiss 2007 redux of the original Halloween,
Rob Zombies Halloween II is a bizarre mixture of
moments that just dont work combined with sequences which
are nothing short of brilliant.
plot: As mentioned above, we pick up with Laurie Strode (Scout
Taylor Compton) stumbling along the boulevard in Haddonfield,
Ill. still covered with blood and looking like ..well, she looks
as if shes survived a homicidal rampage by Michael Myers.
Sherriff Bracken (Brad Dourif, turning in a performance that is
a highlight of the film) catches up with her, takes her to safety
and shes on the way to the hospital.
the seemingly deceased Mr. Myers (Tyler Mane, again making the
role his own) is placed into an ambulance by no fewer than six
deputies and carted off to the morgue, in a van with only two
drivers. I dunno, man. If Im transporting the six foot nine
inch body of someone who has just spent the evening tearing people
apart and demonstrating a frightening resilience to physical trauma,
Im thinking that four or five other heavily armed guys should
be on board just as a contingency. But hey, thats just me.
Anyway, unless theyve never seen a horror movie, anyone
reading this knows precisely what happens next. Before long that
ambulance has an accident, the drivers are incapacitated
and Michael wakes up.
here is where we come to the first of several moments which eye
rolls and the utterance of the words what the hell?
just do not cover: As Michael approaches one of the men inside
the wrecked morgue van, Zombie treats us to a three to four minute
scene with this classic piece of dialogue: Fuck. ..Fuck
help me! Fuck
You get the idea. I realize that once Pulp Fiction hit
and we entered the P.T. era (Post Tarantino) of cinematic profanity,
all bets were off in regards to how much profanity wed hear
in a given moment. But this marks the first occasion in memory
where Ive watched a scene where literally 95% of the dialogue
is one guy saying fuck about fifteen times. Zombie
must have been burning up the keyboard when he was writing that
from there we get an effectively staged sequence paying homage
to Rick Rosenthals 1981 feature. Michael follows his sister
to the hospital, does in much of the staff , sets his sights on
Laurie and then
the scene ends on one of the all time
great storytelling cop outs. In the interest of not posting spoilers
Ill leave it at that , with the added comment that when
I realized Zombie had actually trotted out this stale, criminally
overused trope, I had to suppress my gag reflex.
to one year later and now Zombie takes the film out of Carpenter
territory and makes it his own. Laurie lives with Sherriff Bracken
and his daughter Annie (Danielle Harris, challenging Dourif for
the films best performance with her sympathetic, almost
maternal nature), who herself is a survivor of that fateful night,
with the physical scars to show for it.
chronic nightmares, Laurie is struggling to cope with the psychological
scars of that night. She still doesnt yet know that she
and Michael are related, which makes it ever so weird for her
when she begins to experience a psychic link with her psychotic
Loomis has also recovered and is on the road promoting his latest
book about Michael. While Malcolm McDowell is as entertaining
s always, its another serious mark against Zombie that the
Loomis character has no real reason for being in this movie. Im
not kidding. From what I was able to gather , Loomis has returned
only to serve the dual functions of acting like a prick and have
the ire of a deeply scarred Haddonfield populace directed at him.
How low does the doctor sink in this flick? At one point he is
upstaged on live television (in what is actually a very funny
scene) by Weird Al Yankovic.
course the other plot thread woven into these two storylines is
that of Michael himself, who is trekking across the open country,
heading back to Haddonfield for a surprise rendezvous with his
beloved Boo. He makes the journey wearing a tattered hoodie and
sporting a beard, only slipping the decaying mask on when his
impulse to murder takes control.
the course of his travels, we are allowed glimpses of what actually
goes on behind those malevolent eyes. It seems that Michael is
repeatedly visited by the vision of his ghostly mother (Sheri
Moon Zombie) and a white horse (some Freudian or Jungian representation
of rage). Momma Myers encourages Michael (who in the visions interacts
with her as the image of his younger self) to find Laurie so they
can be a family again and go home.
sequences are a mixed bag. The ghostly vision thread kind of grew
on me, but Zombie must think that everyone going to see one of
his films is as in love with his wife as he obviously is, because
she appears in the film far too often. By the last half hour,
this vision is on screen for every other scene. They
could have trimmed her appearances in half and it would have had
there are the murders Michael commits along the way. Look, I enjoy
a good juicy movie kill as much as the next horror fan (and make
no mistake, Halloween IIs kills are brutal), but
some of the murders he commits during his trip home are so random
that it rapidly becomes apparent Zombie knew he had a thin storyline
and was just padding the action out with cannon fodder.
want to also take moment to address another aspect of the film
that was somewhat annoying: Throughout the first half of Halloween
II ,whenever Michael is stabbing someone, he issues a series
of short barking grunts of rage. I am aware that Zombie wanted
to humanize the character and -at first- the sound actually added
a little something. It did in fact make him more believable, adding
a palpable touch to the proceedings. But hearing him make those
sounds repeatedly began to detract from certain scenes. After
all, Michaels silence has always been one of his more terrifying
at this point youre thinking A) is this review ever going
to end? And B) Didnt he mention, way back at the beginning
of the review, that there were moments of brilliance?
Indeed there are. About midway through the film Michael arrives
at the Rabbit in Red bar/strip club (heretofore only referenced
as a name on a matchbook cover in the 1978 film). This sequence
is a perfect example of how to film an assault by Michael Myers.
The set up, the appearance of Myers in the scene, the lighting..
it all comes together so perfectly that watching it is breathtaking
that scene Zombies imagination seems to have kicked in,
because the story threads begin to come together and the film
finds a more even tone. Loomis has returned to Haddonfield for
a book signing , Michael finally makes it to within city limits
and Laurie (who has been growing progressively more disturbed
thanks to the combination of the continual psychic flashes linking
her to her brother and some disturbing information she has read
in Loomiss tell-all book ) is out with the girls for a Halloween
night of reckless abandon.
things come to a head, leading to a memorably tense final conflagration
on the outskirts of town (followed by a requisite downbeat coda
which may or may not leave the door open for a sequel, depending
upon individual interpretation). It is easily this half of the
movie where the heart and soul of the story lie, including a bravura,
masterstroke moment when Zombie powerfully evokes sympathy for
a dying victim in the aftermath of a particularly nasty attack.
are also random victims selected during this portion of the film,
but because it takes place within Haddonfield, it seems appropriate.
Where earlier we had a scene with a couple of hillbillies having
an encounter with Myers in a field somewhere, here we have local
kids in a 70s style van coming face to face with Myers as
Foghats I Just Wanna Make Love To You pounds
on the soundtrack. Rather than seeming extraneous, these later
sequences seem fitting for both the franchise and the genre. Indeed,
it is here where both Zombies grim sensibilities and sense
of dark playfulness are the most apparent. Also, as a bonus, Michael
is quieter in this portion of the film, skewing more closely to
the silent monolith we love to fear
the end, Halloween II suffers on the screenplay level and
from some elements which, original though they may be, do not
necessarily lend themselves to the tale of Michael Myers. The
Ghost Mother was overplayed, there were too many random victims,
Lauries psychic link isnt well developed (reaching
histrionic proportions by the climax) and Loomis is largely wasted.
, I have to balance that against a steady pace, some beautifully
staged carnage, the continuingly terrifying presence of Michael
Myers and two emphatic, endearing performances from Brad Dourif
and Danielle Harris, both of whom go a long way towards redeeming
the whole for its lesser parts.
we have here is a horror film that excels at the grue, but falters
with its story. Come to think of it, this film suffers the
exact opposite fate Zombies first trip to Haddonfield did.
In the 2007 movie, a strong backstory was not supported by what
was essentially a lame rehash of the superior Carpenter film.
Here the problem is reversed. The story is weak, but when Michael
is on the rampage its hard to deny Zombies craftsmanship
and ability to keep the attention of the audience riveted on the
said this was going to be his own movie, not a remake. Save for
the opening sequence, he delivers on that statement. This truly
is Rob Zombies Halloween II..for better and for worse. Now
lets hope he follows through on his other comment and walks
away from Michael Myers, turning his attention to a project that
will bring out the truly great film he has lurking within him.
a lot of thought and despite some serious reservations with the
screenplay, Im coming down more in favor of this sequel
than against it. Rob Zombies Halloween II receives
7.5 out of 10 sleazy guys who get curb-checked Michael Myers style..without