Up front, I suppose I must make mention of two facts; firstly, the original John Carpenter classic 1978 Halloween film is not only my absolute favorite horror film to date, but also among my top 25 favorite movies of all time; and secondly, I absolutely dismissed and opposed the notion of anyone remaking the film well, let alone Rob Zombie. With that in mind, allow me to say that this new “reimagining” is pretty good. Very good, point in fact, and while it doesn’t hold a candle to the Carpenter original, it is still one hell of a good flick.
The word “reimagining” is a good one to use here, as it more accurately describes what Rob Zombie is trying to do, rather than using the phrase “remake.” The film is very much a companion piece to the original, and has virtually the same story, only told with much different emphasis. Where the 1978 film focused more on the character of Laurie, and her babysitter friends being stalked and attacked by Michael Myers, and then filled in some of the backstory as it went, the new 2007 film does the opposite. The new film focuses almost entirely on Michael Myers (Tyler Mane) and the character of Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcom McDowell), and Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton) and her friends are basically just innocent victims in the final act of this devastatingly brutal tale. They’re almost an after thought in the script really.
Rob Zombie chooses instead to fill most of the first hour of his version with the disturbed childhood of Michael Myers, filling in much more as to what and why he becomes the monster he becomes. We see Michael’s family for an extended amount of time before the enivitable night in which Michael kills all of them and is sent to prison. We also see much more the developed relationship between Loomis and Myers as Michael’s treatment is attempted. By the time Michael grows up, breaks out of prison, kills a truck driver and makes his way to Haddonfield, the film is more than halfway over. Then enters Laurie, played with much more spunk and less innocence than her counterpart, Jamie-Lee Curtis, in the original.
Perhaps the best thing Zombie did was to build this backstory on Michael, and then bring it to the Laurie plotline with her babysitter friends. After almost an hour focused on Michael, the film finally switches to Haddonfield and Michael’s deadly Halloween rampage. In this final third of the film we see more than one scene, more than one shot almost directly stolen from the 1978 original, and this is on purpose. Both to pay homage, and to pull the curtain out from under the audience for the final fifteen minutes or so. After we’ve settled into the idea that the film is proceeding as we remember the original doing, Zombie starts subtely switching things up. Certain characters die or live differently, and suddenly where the original ended, this new film has a few nail-bitting, thrilling surprises ahead of it still. I’ve seen this new film a few times now, and the final few scenes get me very nervous everytime.
Zombie’s reimagining is longer, more brutal, more violent, has more blood and gore, more nudity, more backstory, is at time much more suspenseful, and has more than its share of twists and genuine surprises. To a massive fan who loves the original, this film did not come close to beating out the 1978 film in my heart, but it stays faithful to the spirit of that film while creating its own new scenes of terror. This new companion film has a rightful place on the shelf next to its 1978 counterpart for any fan of the original film, or any fan of horror movies. A great, and cherished surprise of a film.