Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween II (2009)

Two years after his remake of Halloween, Rob Zombie steps back up to the plate to tackle Halloween II. Mr. Zombie is in many respects a talented film-maker. He has a powerful and distinctive visual sense. He understands pacing, editing, lighting. He understands film.

He does not, however, seem to understand humans, or the things they do, or why and how they do those things. If RZ’s previous film endeavors have taught us anything, it’s that he will show us only, almost without exception, the worst examples of humankind: the filthiest, the stupidest, the most miserable and hateful; the drunk and the nihilist, the racist and the slob.

Is it possible for Rob Zombie to tell a story in the absence of any characters with whom the audience can identify? Can we reach a satisfying conclusion to this narrative by walking in Michael Myers’ enormous, bloody bootprints?

Perhaps the nanobots can find answers in this unrated director’s cut. We have followed where Rob Zombie led, and now we desperately search for a light to guide us home.
  • The action picks up exactly where Rob Zombie’s Halloween leaves off, right after Laurie Strode shoots Michael Myers in the head. = +4pts 
  • Once again, the town sheriff is played by Brad Dourif, all around Good Guy. = +12pts 
  • A nice extended scene of Laurie getting her wounds attended to in the hospital reminds us why we chose not to become trauma surgeons. = +6pts 
  • One of the coroner’s van drivers goes on about how a dead, naked girl they’re transporting was F-I-N-E fine and how he never got “urges” with the corpses until tonight. We don’t believe him. = -7pts 
  • The other driver tells him, “That’s disgusting. Stop. Shut up.” He must be a visitor from beyond the Rob Zombie-verse. = +9pts 
  • You can’t just yell Cow! and expect a response. You need to provide context. = -6pts 
  • The Coroner’s van, which is transporting Michael’s corpse, hits a cow on a deserted country road. This movie can now add vehicular cowslaughter to its list of crimes. = -3pts 
  • This accident brings Michael back to life. Or wakes him up. We don’t know, and the movie won’t tell us, because in its secret heart it despises us. = -4pts 
  • Michael, off his meds for a few days and now shot in the head, begins to hallucinate his dead mother leading a white horse as some sort of spirit guide. = -8pts 
  • In Laurie’s dream sequence, every TV in the hospital is tuned to the Moody Blues playing "Nights in White Satin." Meanwhile, Michael is chasing and trying to axe murder her, which we find somehow less disturbing. = -3pts 
  • It is two years later and Laurie lives with her friend, Annie, who is also a Michael Myers survivor from the first movie, and Annie's dad, the town sheriff. We’ll just be referring to this place as PTSD house from now on. = -5pts 
  • Malcolm McDowell plays Dr. Loomis as an even worse, but more famous, child psychologist/rock star than he did in the first movie. = -7pts 
  • Howard Hesseman shows up as a character named Uncle Meat, which is totally just Dr. Johnny Fever 40 years later. = +4pts 
  • Laurie’s post-trauma lifestyle includes working at Uncle Meat’s crack den coffee house, showing off her tramp stamp and screaming obscenities at the top of her lungs. = -5pts 
  • But she listens to MC5! The best reason to scream obscenities at the top of your lungs! = +15pts 
  • Michael has been spending the last two years not dead as everyone in Haddonfield believes, but as a 7.5 foot tall vagrant that hangs out in a run down barn owned by a seemingly less successful branch of the Duck Dynasty family. = +8pts 
  • Unobtrusively. = -75pts 
  • The family discovers him, resulting in a Donald Duck Dynasty beatdown of Michael. = -6pts 
  • Time for Michael to put on his murderin’ mask and get to work. = +20pts 
  • Michael’s creative use of the antlers affixed to the front of the truck now allows the redneck patriarch to be used as a colander. = +7pts 
  • Laurie makes an emergency visit to her therapist (Margot Kidder!) and tries to negotiate a prescription refill by screaming obscenities at her at the top of her lungs. = -10pts 
  • Later, Laurie tries to convince Annie to get out of her room by screaming obscenities at her at the top of her lungs. = -15pts 
  • In his empty strip club, the owner mutters that Haddonfield “loves him like cancer.” Cancer clearly has a superior brand. = -4pts 
  • Michael’s mother/spirit guide sends him to the club, her former place of employment, where he starts murdering people. We are not sad. = -7pts 
  • While reading Dr. Loomis’ new book, Laurie learns that she is Michael’s little sister. So, using the tools she learned in therapy, she screams obscenities at the top of her lungs. = -20pts 
  • All of the dialog between Dr. Loomis and his assistant is more stiff and awkward than a beginner’s improv workshop. = -6pts 
  • In fact, Michael Myers is becoming our favorite character simply because he makes all the other characters stop saying words. = +19pts 
  • Laurie decides that facing the truth about her heritage is too much to bear. Time to get liquored up. Makes sense so far. = +4pts 
  • Stopping to put on thematically matched costumes with friends, then hiking to Haddonfield’s monster Halloween bash, makes less sense in this context. = -4pts 
  • Rob Zombie presents: Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures! The delicious cherry atop this cake of filth and sadness. = +35pts 
  • More people die. Whatever. = -7pts 
  • This movie ends in a Hamlet-esque pile of dead bodies which means the Myers family is reunited, or something. Honestly, we stopped caring about any of this about 20 minutes ago. = -16pts 
Total points = -66pts
Available on: Amazon Prime

After literally opening the film with the definition of his primary visual symbol, Rob Zombie goes on to serve up the imagery and related themes on a plate. And yet Halloween II still makes no sense. We could forgive Halloween II for that, if in its head-scratching weirdness it managed to deliver anything of interest. Or touched any emotional chord. But it did not.

Instead it just confused us. An argument can be made that Laurie is the protagonist of this film with Michael filling the role of the antagonist. However, Rob Zombie spends so much time on Michael’s story of woe between the two Halloween films, that a counter argument can be made that Michael is the protagonist. The nanobots seem to think that RZ has created a new category of fictional character that they are calling simply, “‘tagonists.” We hope that the literary community recognizes this scientific breakthrough and begins using this term immediately.

Score Technicians: John Ormond and Stacey Hanlon

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