December 1, 2010

Family Is Forever...

The blog went to sleep for a while but the show ran ahead like that killer truck in Steven Spielberg's Duel, crashing everything and everyone in its way. Well, it's time to re-ignite the blogging engine, which is to say - watch out for this space (and the madman behind your back!) in the months (years?) to come. But first...

...This November was marked by the longest horror marathon we've done since Saw 3. Day after day, we'd watch a few cult flicks (Night of the Demons), some new heavily publicized fares (The Loved Ones), and whatever else came our way really (Splinter). It is this brutal schedule we'd set for ourselves that really brought out our love for the genre and eventually shoved us back towards this blog. Interestingly, the film that got us the most, the knife that struck us hardest in the gut, was none other than Rob Zombie's Halloween 2 - that infamous franchise killer of a summer blockbuster that people love to hate. Well, we think it's a masterpiece. Here's why.

One thing that cannot be taken away from Halloween 2 is that it has balls the size of a trailer park. People blabber on and on about how The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th were solid remakes that should serve as a model for future re-imaginings of horror classics, but you know what - they are merely pale re-treads compared to the vision that Rob Zombie brought to the Halloween franchise. Come on, Halloween 2 is clearly a personal film with all the small Zombie touches - the cameos, the Rocky Horror masks, the music choices, the plethora of meta-moments that reek of pure love for the genre - and not some hack & slash no-effort crap. Yes, it is true that the film deviates seriously from John Carpenter's original but at the end of the day, if you want to watch that film, go ahead - this is something else entirely and it never apologizes for it.

For years to come, many will criticize Zombie's decision to turn Michael Myers into a redneck with mommy issues, but if you look into it, it makes perfect sense in the overall Halloween context. How could have this lunatic survived between movies in the original series? He must have been a hobo for he surely wasn't Bruce Wayne. And I love the pilgrimage feel of Myers' return to Haddonfield: there is anger and abandonment within that gives it purpose, that makes it epic on several levels. Yeah, it also makes Myers sympathetic, so what? Just because deer old Loomis sees Myers as evil incarnate it doesn't mean that we shouldn't identify with him. After all, who is Loomis to say anything about what's right and wrong? He was an arrogant bore in Carpenter's original, he is an arrogant bore now. I pick Myers over Loomis any day - he might be a sadistic serial killer (boy, is he angry here) but at least he's honest about it... Oh, and he grunts... He's not a faceless perfect killing machine with Terminator-like capabilities, anymore. He's putting actual effort into it. So, go Michael!

On the other end, there is Laurie who is less the Laurie we know and more a stand-in for Zombie's thesis on what happens with the "final girl" after suffering through so much. Well, of course, she doesn't make any sense half the time, and why the fuck should she? Her life isn't a life anymore but one long nightmare (in which "Nights in White Satin" plays endlessly, a nice touch). That she goes overboard when she finally encounters Michael again is understandable in my book (I cannot account for her stupid Norman Bates smile, though, which is one of the few real missteps in the film) and gives her an actual character arch, which the original Laurie didn't have. So, go Laurie!

Finally, what really makes Halloween 2 special is that Zombie understands the essential tragedy and horror of Michael Myers as a character in a way that not even Carpenter did (for him, Myers was simply "the boogieman"). Most of the elements for Zombie's story were there already in the first half of the original remake but here we have the complete picture, and for once, it actually feels like a scary Halloween story instead of a big screen cash cow.