Halloween: early 2000s -Modern era
Almost more than any other slasher franchise, Halloween has been willing to go through a lot of redefinitions of what kind of killer Michael Myers is. Is he our worst fears, that anyone could do such a thing? Is he a monster, beyond humanity with his own twisted rage? Or is he truly supernatural due to a powerful and evil druid curse known as the Thorn? Weirdly enough, there’s probably the most evidence for the third option; curse you, Druid cults!
H20 was a pretty big success which unfortunately meant a new Halloween movie wouldn’t be too far in the future. Of course that movie was a mess which led to Rob Zombie getting two stabs at the franchise and then we’re to the present day with the first of a planned trilogy. How did we get here today? Who’s fault is it and can this newest chapter actually end in an interesting/meaningful way?
Halloween Resurrection (2002)
I have heard defenders of the franchise put together all variations of the movies in list form. Sometimes. I see part 5 higher than I would guess. Sometimes, it’s Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 that makes someone’s top 3 that surprises me but doesn’t necessarily scream blasphemy either. Almost no one I know stans Halloween Resurrection.
The opening is maybe the only cohesive and interesting part of the film to watch and it’s a shame it lasts less than 15 minutes long. In what plays like the best fan film ever, Michael Myers pulls a reversal and breaks into a mental facility because that’s where his sister is being kept. Laurie, who has been ready for this day goes full Linda Hamilton. She confronts, lures and tries to trap Myers but ultimately is overpowered by the masked man/brother and she is thrown off the roof of the institution to her death. It’s the closest the movie will come to emotional poignancy and there’s still 75 minutes left.
I guess it’s inevitably for many genre movies to go with whatever is popular in the mainstream at the moment, and it’s even possible a horror movie with a reality show gimmick could be good. Halloween Resurrection unfortunately is no such film. When an unlikable film crew decides to spend the night in the Myers’ childhood home and broadcast the event online, it’s not long before Michael shows up and derails the production.
Busta Rhymes. That’s about the only saving grace which should tell you all you need to know about this entry. He’s having fun and his character isn’t as unlikable as most of the others but his almost camp performance takes the movie in an even weirder direction as far as being one in a list of odd storytelling decisions made.
When the whole affair is over (surprise Michael still isn’t dead), it certainly feels like one of the most lifeless entries in the series.
Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007)
Now things get interesting. Or derivative. But at least 1, no druids, and 2, no reality tv BS.
One thing I think common for horror nerds and film nerds in general is thinking about alt casting/directing choices for movies/franchises. As far as interesting choices go, I certainly think Rob Zombie makes sense as the director to take Halloween in a new direction. And one thing can’t be denied: this is a fucking Rob Zombie film.
I have seen this movie a few times now and am still on fence as to how I feel regarding expanding Michael’s backstory. In some ways this can oversimplify a character and their motivations (not all bullied kids become serial killers) however I think there’s something important about the way Zombie treats Michael as a character- he’s already the boogeyman in many ways the seeds of it are already there in his personality. There’s not one single incident that pushes him to put on the mask and kill his sister. It’s interesting that his life is one that’s far from perfect but ultimately not that rare either for a lot of kids in America either (okay, maybe the mom being a stripper isn’t as common but parents working odd jobs at odd hours is). It’s my interpretation that Zombie is treating the character as someone who already has this festering rage/killer desire in him and at most poor family/school environments do nothing to get the kid help at an early age.
Another polarizing factor of the movie is its brutality. We’ve seen Michael dole out some pretty brutal kills already, but nothing quite like this version. While the OG Michael could be seen as eerie for how simple and matter of factly he’d off a character, this one is unsuppressed murderous rage as Zombie wants to portray. This again, for better or worse, creates a different version of the character and one that I think can work as Myers becoming an unstoppable force of unbridled male rage.
In the end, we have a movie that follows a lot of similar beats of the original Halloween but essentially adds a lot of extra scenes that may or may not working depending on one’s expectations from the franchise at this point. Besides if we didn’t have this remake, we wouldn’t get it’s batshit sequel and that would be a shame.
Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 (2009)
The plot of this one is pretty simple; what makes this movie special (or horrible given your taste), is how it is told. This feels like the type of Halloween movie that Rob Zombie really wanted to make with the first movie that in many ways was a pretty conventional reboot with his stylish touches added in.
Halloween 2 though is a rock and roll nightmare music video that’s almost Lynchean at times. This movie has zigs where you expect zags starting with the very beginning which picks off from the last movie just like the original H2 did; although this time, we only get a few short scenes at a hospital where Laurie is taken to until we have a time jump to one year later.
Another interesting change (again one that many fans felt controversial) was the evolution of the Samuel Loomis character. In the original series, regardless of his level of efficacy, other than being self-righteous at times, he was a good guy who wanted to take his professional duty deadly serious. Here, we have Malcom McDowell smarmy (which is his best mode) and fame hungry after surviving the previous year’s massacre. Without being overtly cynical this feels like one of the more honest changes to the story. A person gets a near death experience and then changes when they get fame post experience? Sounds pretty realistic to me.
But going back to the movie’s weirder features: making it psychological/spiritual. What is in Laurie’s mind only? I think we can guess anytime she sees a white horse that’s in her head but what about other times she sees Michael? We are also given a little bit more insight into the family’s past and the idea that maybe many of the family members were linked with some sort of shared psychosis. Again, perhaps the ending of a Laurie who survived but seems mentally unwell is another more “realistic” take on the material.
While they might not be what anyone wanted from future Halloween sequels, I am personally glad Zombie’s vision of the story got to be told.
Because apparently everyone gets to tell their version of what should have happened after The Night He Came Home.
Halloween 2018 is a well made movie with solid acting and is a quality sequel for sure. Other than that, I am really not sure how much more I have to say.
I am really reserving a lot of judgment for seeing how the next two installments take the story because a big point I have been left to wonder is: how necessary was it to completely retcon everything that happened after the original? Maybe telling this new story relies on Michael not being known as an unstoppable force nationwide with many killing sprees in his past. Maybe this version of Laurie doesn’t need to be related to Myers to still have a close relationship to the killer. Honestly , I am a tad skeptical but am certainly curious to see where the future of this franchise goes.
So how about you folks: how do you feel about the future of the franchise? Should they take another stab at druid mythology? Should the series have a more or less “realistic” tone or is leaning into the supernatural not a bad idea? Since Halloween 1 is still cannon, is there any reason we can’t bring in Paul Rudd to play a grown up Tommy Doyle still?
Here’s hoping that our future Halloweens (both cinematic and annual) are filled with more treats than tricks!