The Night Out: Halloween 2 (2009), or My Giant

30 08 2009

I just saw the new Rob Zombie film Halloween 2 a few moments ago, and the first thing that comes to my mind is this: Tyler Mane is a massive man. I mean, the man is 6 ‘9″, 275 lbs., and built like a skyscraper. I can’t even imagine being that large. If you want something from the top shelf, you have to bend down to get it. If you want work as a bouncer, all you have to do is fax a picture of yourself to the bar. And if someone asks you to open a jar of pickles, you can beat them to death with it and continue your plan of sororicide. That’s what Tyler Mane pretty much does in Rob Zombie’s sequel to his 2007 re-imagining of the Halloween franchise, Halloween 2. It’s brutal, visceral, and leaves most of the boo scares to the new Final Destination movie that also came out this week; just what I wanted from the director of House of 1,000 Corpses.

So, if you saw the first Zombie Halloween, you’ll know that at the end, young Laurie (who is *spoiler alert!* Michael’s little sister) shoots Michael Myers in the face, effectively ending Michael’s reign of terror throughout the sleepy little hamlet of Haddonfield. Well, apparently when you shoot someone in the face, you better get a size-appropriate weapon to do the job, because there was plenty of brain left for Michael to use for escape purposes after the police start trotting him off to the morgue. He escapes, but instead of going straight back into town, he bides his time. He waits an entire year for his prey, living as a wild man in the surrounding farm land, feeding off the land and letting the vision of his dead mother guide him to his destiny. So on Halloween, one year later, Michael Myers decides to come back to Haddonfield to find his sister again, who isn’t all there after the attack last year. She has horrible nightmares, visions, and violent mood swings. Could she be going as insane as Michael? Will her brother finally get her this time? And will Sheriff Brad Dourif ever get some peace and quiet on an October 31st?

Questions abound this time around. Most people were not expecting a new Halloween after the original Zombie film ended so abruptly, as if to signify that there would be no other films proceeding it. But I have to say that while it certainly wasn’t necessary to the franchise’s plotline that there be a sequel, I had a lot of fun with it, and it did not harm the integrity of the series in any way. Halloween 2 is the sequel that knows it’s not needed but tries extra hard to impress because of this.

And does it ever impress! If you thought the original was brutal, go down to Tink’s place and get some more Fairy Dust to whisk yourself home, because THIS movie is fucking brutal! Michael Myers is a gorilla, and he treats his victims like they were rag-dolls; picking them up and slamming them down, smashing their bodies into things repeatedly, and random acts of extreme overkill. Especially the head; Michael Myers hates your skull, and anyone’s skull that looks like yours, so you’ll be seeing a LOT of blunt head trauma. And Rob Zombie has a habit of not turning away from his violence, as so many of his peers do. He likes to sit there and watch it all go down. So while you’re watching this, you might have to be the one to look away, because Zombie won’t be performing that function for you.

The acting, for the most part, is pretty good for a horror movie. Tyler Mane dazzles as Myers, a freak who has a singular and devastating purpose. He can only act with his body, but that’s good enough when you’re massive and your motivation is “beat things to death”. Malcolm McDowell is Dr. Loomis, and for some reason his character almost completely changed in this one. Here he is more of a money-grubbing sleazeball, as opposed to the noble psychologist trying to get to the root Michael’s madness in the first film. And while Loomis certainly pulled a 180, it doesn’t make it any less of a good performance. He does very well; in fact, everyone does a pretty good job here except Scout Tayler-Compton, who plays Laurie. She really grated on my nerves with her incessant cry-baby attitude. She shows no strength in the face of her trials, and presents no signs of growth as a person for her experience. If she were just completely catatonic, I would understand, but she is fully capable as a person and is surrounded by people who love her and care about her, so her angsty weakness only makes me want to see her meet her fate sooner rather than later.

But Zombie is a good director, despite these character discrepancies. He really knows the genre inside and out, and I can tell that he really, really loves it. He takes us through this horrific journey with a smile on his face, and his exuberance with the project makes me a little exuberant myself. At times, I felt like his work in music videos had somewhat altered his artistic expression for the worse, especially during the dream sequences where Laurie is confronted with ghastly Gothic imagery. But, overall, he is a horror director that knows what he’s doing and that is competent in the genre, even if I don’t always agree with his aesthetic choices.

So check out Halloween 2. If the first one was your cup of tea, then you will be blown away at this latest entry simply because Zombie throws out all the stops. You are not leaving until you’ve grimaced, looked away, or dropped your jaw out of sheer gut reaction to some of the incredibly-shot murders here. If you like Zombie, or if you’ve at least seen the first one, give Halloween 2 a chance; if you don’t, Tyler Mane will come into your house and step on your head like a jar of pickles. I give it 8 sleepy little hamlets out of 10. Check it out!

Tomorrow I dig into the stand-up comedy world with The Comedians of Comedy! Until then!

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4 responses

2 09 2009
Bartleby

Good review. I didn’t like the movie, but it was well made. You are right about the brutality. This guy was a beast, which is nice since by H20 Meyers has about as much gumption as the old Elvis in Bubba Hotep.

One thing though, and maybe you can answer me this via email or something, because I think I might have interpreted the ending wrong. What I thought Zombie was suggesting was something similar to the end of Haute Tension. Is that right? If so, that’s kind of sucky and relatively unbelievable.

The reason I really dislike Zombie’s interpretation is that it steals all of that good/evil power from the series; Loomis vs. Meyers. Here Mikey is just a really brutal cracked nut, Laurie is on her way to joining him, and Loomis is a jackass.

If Zombie wanted to do this why not just make his own killer and his own concept? Painting Loomis as a self-centered narcisist who only cares about book deals–well, why have him survive at all? He literally adds nothing to the movie, except eats up screentime.

This was definitely better than Final Desination 3-D, but I just couldn’t get in to it. I did find it funny that Zombie started bringing in all this german expressionist imagery to Michael’s psyche. That was a neat touch. I can see your average friday night movie goer scratching their head at Sherie Moon and her white horse.

2 09 2009
cinematronica

*MAJOR SPOILER ALERTS!!!!!*Do you mean the scene at the end where Laurie walks out of the shed with Michael’s mask? I don’t think so; I thought that was more of a symbolic transfer of Michael’s full-blown crazy to Laurie. And if it isn’t, well I’ll have to significantly change my rating of the film. Because there is ZERO CHANCE that Scout Taylor-Compton could kill those people the way Michael killed those people. Laurie might be able to stab them, but holy shit, did you see the guy’s crushed face at the titty bar? The official cause of death on his autopsy report probably just said “Duh!” But in my “expert” opinion as a “movie reviewer”, I’m going to make a judgment call and say that it was purely symbolic, due to the lack of Usual Suspects-esque frantic final flashbacks where the audience gets to piece the twist together with a nifty visual aid. I’m 99% sure, anyway…

3 09 2009
Bartleby

Yea, see….I think your’e right, but ***MAJOR SPOILERS*** It’s just very odd to me that she would see the white horse too, afterall this series doesn;t go the ‘Sam Hain’ supernatural direction that the earlier films did, and when Loomis enters the shed it’s like he doesn’t even notice the 12 ft hulking killer who he spent the whole first movie tracking? Having him scream to her, ‘no one has you…it’s all in your mind There’s no one here’. Again, I understand she was being held by phantoms, but it just seems very unlikely that she and Michael would share the exact same version of crazy. And then she leaves the barn with the mask on.

It’s strange because thats what I thought the ending was–that it had been Laurie and Michael died in the first one, and I too couldn’t buy some mousy little girl mashing people like a human car compactor… I think we could have done with one scene of Dourif looking at Mike’s body, or remove Laurie’s visions of the white horse. Otherwise, it seems a bit muddled.

3 09 2009
cinematronica

While I can see that as being plausible, I think the ending Zombie envisioned was more pedestrian than we want it to be, and the whole “shared psychoses” thing with Michael and Laurie just came about in the script as a by-product of their relation to each other. It seems kinda short-sighted, I know, but that’s probably what Zombie had in mind when he was writing it. The German Expressionist/”Living Dead Girl” unused footage involving the White Horse wasn’t my favorite, either, and I also would have much preferred a more good vs. evil scenario, but for what it was, I was pleasantly surprised. Despite some characters being totally out of sync with the mythos (i.e. LOOMIS!!!) and some script elements feeling unresolved (i.e. the “Siamese Twin Syndrome” at the end), it just seemed like a satisfying conclusion to Zombie’s vision, which was much more focused on mental illness rather than real, honest-to-goodness evil.

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