Halloween II | Horror/Remake | rated R (A,L,N,V,G) | starring Scout Taylor-Compton, Tyler Mane, Danielle Harris, Malcolm McDowell, Brad Douriff, Sheri Moon Zombie | written & directed by Rob Zombie

1 year after the events of Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake, Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton, screaming her head off) is living with her best friend, Annie (Danielle Harris) and her father, the town sheriff (Brad Douriff). Suffering chronic nightmares and increasing dillusions starring serial killer Michael Myers (Tyler Mane), Laurie suffers an even bigger blow by a revelation in Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell)’s tell-all book about the Myers killings. Laurie tries to keep her sanity as Halloween approaches again meanwhile little does she know Micheal Myers has returned to Haddonfield to settle an old debt.

I’m going to state right off the bat this might be the most unpopular, controversial review I will write here. Writer/director Rob Zombie took a lot of heat for his original remake of the sacred John Carpenter classic Halloween and it would seem has taken even more from this sequel. His original Halloween was a flawed idea, giving Michael Myers a backstory only deflated the suspense when he appeared to carry out his killing spree. But with Halloween II, Zombie gets as far from Halloween as he can possibly get – and the result is a far better movie. Now unchained from having to do a shot-for-shot remake, he rebuilds his own slasher movie in his own style. It’s a Halloween movie in name(s) only. It’s pure Zombie – and at this point the audience should know exactly what they are going to get. They’re going to get trashy hillbillies, his usual cast of actors including his wife (who cares that she was killed in part one), full frontal nudity, nonstop profanity and sexual references and they’re going to get brutal ferocious bloody violence. This is Rob Zombie’s Halloween II and it makes no apologies. It does exactly what it sets out to do in all of it’s bat s*** crazy glory.

As anyone who probably isn’t a fan of the Halloween series knows, Laurie Strode is Michael Myers sister. A piece of lore revealed in Rick Rosenthal’s original Halloween II (the hospital setting of that entire film has been homaged and condensed into one terrific opening sequence here). That bit of information is what the entrie plot of Zombie’s sequel revolves around. Even more, what he’s asking you to buy here is that whatever demonic force has kept Michael Myers psychotic, strong as an ox, able to move stealthily between shadows and impervious to death for nearly 3 decades of cinema is genetic, passed down from his mother (Sheri Moon Zombie) and now is also haunting his sister. Giving her homicidal tendencies.

I won’t lie, it’s a difficult idea to get your head around. Especially given how Zombie has changed the characters from the first film. Both Mommy Myers and Sam Loomis in the first film were generally caring people who wanted what was best. Now, like everyone else in his world, they are both monsters. With Zombie bringing his wife back in frequent flashbacks as somehow the driving force for Michael. Loomis has become Jerk Loomis with MacDowell playing it to the rafters. He’s a kick and angrily spits out my favorite bad line in the movie: “When I want your opinion I’ll beat it out of you”. Every character in Zombie’s film is obnoxious. As if he’s determined to turn away the audience.

What I like about Halloween II is that it tries to do something that no reboot and no Halloween movie has ever tried to do – try to add some substance to this lore, some tragedy, some desperation, some yearning. To do something different with it. To elevate it beyond Myers walking around killing different people in different settings as the series has been doing on autopilot for years. For crying out loud, in the last non-Zombie Halloween movie, Michael Myers got in a karate fight with Busta Rymes! Zombie gave him his menace back. He made Michael an angry, ferocious killer. More than he ever was. In II he tries to get in his head, lining up a series of bizarre hallucinations and dreams for the Myers siblings to have, none better than an unspeakably bizarre Last Super looking dinner scene with jack-o-lantern heads at the table and Laurie as the main course. I’ll probably be dragged to my grave saying this but film is a visual medium and this movie looks great. That is, when not cut to a frenzy in the multiple stabbing scenes.

The opening hospital sequence is some of the best stuff Zombie has lensed. When keeping with white-hot rage-fueled killings and fights for survival, the man is in his element and puts it together just right visually and musically. It’s when he streatches out and dabbles in the psychological that the movie gets iffy, bordering on loony. He bends over backwards to cram together a climax that is just as random as it is seemingly the work of a complete lunatic. And an ending that is his Psycho. The movie has gone completely bonkers. His White Horse vision left for you to decifer. Is it scary? Not really. Brutal is just brutal. But it is very entertaining and hard to take the eyes off of.

Halloween II is one of the more bizarre slasher movies out there. But at the end of the day, that’s what I liked about it. It bucks the genre by not being simple or hollow at the risk of completely baffling the audience. By tying the film back to the Myers family and giving the arc he does here to Laurie Strode he has made a Halloween movie unlike any other. Even if it doesn’t entirely succeed it is the unmitigated work of it’s film-maker and that is rare and refreshing. John Carpenter’s Halloween will always stand as a masterpiece of atmosphere and bloodless tension. Rick Rosenthal’s sequel is not. If you’re looking to see that movie again you will be sorely dissapointed.