“Hit the bricks Dorothy”
The second Halloween II—same name, no relation at all, (or so I hear, never saw the other). Rob Zombie seems to have decided that his selling out and doing a Hollywood budgeted horror remake left a little to be desired. So, for his second go-round, he went back to the well and what got him on the shortlist to even direct that first film—creepy carnie mayhem. This film is not good, by any means, yet it does have some really great style and aesthetic. Unfortunately, it is a bit schizophrenic in its execution. For every awesome visual sequence, whether in a dream/nightmare/white trash living room, there is that brutal murder that goes beyond masochism and straight into sadism. I understand a story must be told and the masses must be appeased into having an idea of what is going on, but when you have brilliance like a crazy, slimy, pumpkin-head people dinner party, screw comprehension and give me surrealistic bliss. Scenes like this make me believe Zombie has something up his sleeve and hopefully the future will finally bring it out. For all I know it’s happened already with House of 1,000 Corpses and this train wreck just makes me want to see that debut even more.
Rumor/speculation/fact/whatever has it being said that Halloween III will be happening, but sans Zombie and in 3D, (because every third part needs to be since it works so smoothly with the name). This is not a bad idea at all. The ex-rocker needs to get back to cultivating original work and opening the world to some horrific imagery without any history attached. We know the Michael Myers stories and how he works and his relation to the victims. This ingrained knowledge begs to bring up comparisons and, let’s face it, nostalgia for the original will always win out. So take your twisted mind Rob and really mess up our slumber with imagery incapable of being forgotten, as we know you can. This film is better than his first, (that’s not saying much), just for the reason that he has taken the plot in fantastical places, adding layers of the supernatural and psychological world.
The first used his carnie-esque look without any substance, just the fact that these poor people live in squalor and violence and pain gravitates from that. This one, however, ratchets up the look to the point where it assaults your sensibilities. It’s not only the matriarch stripper with too much make-up, coarse language, and take no crap attitude watching her son put on his cheaply made mask for Halloween’s ritual begging; no, now its about a lifestyle of darkness and evil. Sheriff Brackett, have you ever been upstairs in your house? How can you allow your daughter and friend to do what they did to that bathroom? A pentagram and “666” written on the door, curse words in graffiti or printed everywhere, and a picture of Jesus by the toilet? Even Laurie’s bedroom is complete with a giant image of Charles Manson hanging above the bed. And these are the good girls may I remind you. Before a party full of debauchery, (this is the Zombie I’d like to see more of in low-budget indie slashers), Scout Taylor-Compton mentions how being a good girl has gotten her nowhere. Man did I grow up in a good place if that house, those clothes, and her job is being “good”. That party, though, wow … it’s like the Labyrinth costume ball on acid, vampire blood, and lust; a lethal combination indeed.
I do applaud Zombie for saying screw you to the original series run’s scripts and doing what he wanted, even if it’s unsuccessful. Loomis as a money-grubbing, attention whore cashing in on the carnage a former patient of his inflicted? Definitely great on paper and, with Malcolm McDowell hamming it up, decent on screen, but overall just plain forced. I couldn’t help thinking that this new incarnation of a man trying his best to save his tortured soul is merely a stand-in for Rob himself. After two cult successes, Zombie went and did the mainstream thing, toning down his vision, (if that’s possible), and going for the money rather than the originality. So he puts in Loomis to do the same, a hubristic journey to redemption and the chance to maybe do something right. This is Zombie killing the hack he refuses to become, and if this film has any merit, let’s hope that is it. Out with the old and in with the new in many ways according to the end here. But without a third installment under his reins, the set-up is most likely all for nought.
Acting-wise, though, I didn’t really have a problem. Kudos to the multiple cameos and bit parts from recognizable folk just to die in horrific ways. There’s the “Deadwood” connection with Brad Dourif’s reprisal of the Sheriff and Dayton Callie’s inclusion as an ambulance driver and the “Heroes” connection with McDowell’s return and Speedy herself, Brea Grant’s, small part friend. And how about Margot Kidder? At least some people are having some fun. It’s not all adequate, however, as Zombie really needs to be comfortable not casting his wife. Sheri Moon Zombie has the look and the intensity for this film, but every time she opens her mouth just proves how amateurish she is. Being an apparition here meant Zombie could have had her face, mouth always closed, and another actress to speak with some inflection and tonal differentiation, but alas he did not.
It is those supernatural moments of Sheri Moon appearing in the thoughts of both Michael and Laurie, bringing them together to bond the three in some demonic spiritual ritual, that stuck with me through the unintentional laughing and headshaking running rampant elsewhere. Seeing her with the white horse under a shining moon, atmospheric and striking, is beautiful. And, along with that amazing dinner party scene with the pumpkin people ready to eat Laurie, the dark nightmarish moments are great. Quick cuts in Laurie’s mind while at the Halloween rave of her trapped in a glass coffin or screaming with markings carved into her face left an impression. It’s just too bad the fact of the film’s failings and stupidity, (Myers walking through a field with a giant Grizzly Adams beard is supposed to be suspenseful?), leaves a much stronger memory.
Halloween II 4/10 | ★ ½
 Tyler Mane is Michael Myers in Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN II. Photo by: Marsha LaMarca/Dimension Films, 2009
 Scout Taylor-Compton stars as Laurie Strode in Dimension Films’ H2: Halloween 2 (2009). Copyright © Dimension Films. All Rights Reserved.