When Rob Zombie released his remake of John Carpenter’s original classic, audiences weren’t just divided; they were furious. In the world of horror, Halloween is holy ground (and besides, with all the shitty sequels, what’s the point of remaking a movie so good and pure anyway?), but Zombie wasn’t satisfied with his bloody reboot. No, he decided it was best to write and direct another, as if we hadn’t had enough already.
And yet, here we are, seven years later, nobody really giving the series much thought anymore minus the genius of the original and nobody thinking much about Rob Zombie anymore either. But, here’s a thought: what if you were wrong about Halloween II? What if, in fact, Rob Zombie’s sequel is actually the most original and creative of the Michael Myers sequels? What if he actually made the best Halloween movie since Season of the Witch?
Am I saying I believe these things to be sure? I was initially going to write that I have to think more about it before formulating a full opinion (after all, I just watched it for the first time tonight), but no thought is really necessary. The only other sequel in the franchise that holds a candle to it is H20, and even that one has shown age over the years but also a lack of substance, minus the wonderful final few minutes.
But after rewatching Zombie’s 2007 remake (which is certainly not bad but certainly not good either) and then seeing his sequel for the first time, I was awestruck by just how much better it is while maintaining the same gritty, grungy, and gore-friendly tone that he crafted with the first.
This isn’t to say that the film is great. Much of the film didn’t work for me, but I was constantly surprised by how tender Zombie treated Michael Myers. Here, Myers is a drifter, spending much of the film wandering around, mask off and hair down, accompanied by visions of his mother and his younger self, which died all those years ago. It’s kinda beautiful in a way, and I don’t think anyone who heard “Rob Zombie is remaking Halloween” ever would have predicted him to bring something beautiful to the table. Never judge a book by its cover, I guess… Okay, so maybe you can if that cover is Rob Zombie. Because believe me, when he isn’t focused on fleshing out Michael, he is doing what he does best (which isn’t particularly good): naked girls and brutal violence.
While the story here is good, it’s hard to be too invested in the film when Zombie makes these constant decisions. I understand that he has to satisfy his brand (and believe me, I love sex and violence in movies), but I was far more invested in Michael’s spiritual journey than anything else.
This is the one where Zombie was free to deviate from the material and do his own thing, and he made an interesting (albeit flawed) character portrait unlike anyone ever involved with this series has done. Here, we see things from Michael’s point of view, including finally getting inside his mind.
It’s not a great film, but I defend it. It has almost as much heart as the conclusion of H20… maybe even more.