Review: Halloween 2
PLOT: Laurie Strode faced the boogeyman, but it seems he is back for seconds. Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 continues from where the first left off… sort of. But Laurie has lost her innocence and in many ways, he sanity. And where is Dr. Sam Loomis? Why he is going on a book signing tour to sell his latest book about the murderous Michael Myers, who of course, was killed off by Laurie. Yet Michael is far from dead, and he is heading back to Haddonfield with the help of his ghost mom and a ghostly younger version of himself. Oddities, nightmares and a really pissed off Michael are all coming for you courtesy of Mr. Zombie in H2.
REVIEW:For the hell of it, I decided to put on the original HALLOWEEN 2 while I wrote this review. Jaime Lee Curtis, bad wig and Michael Myers running around a strangely empty hospital. But I love it. It fits perfectly with John Carpenter’s original classic. And now, with Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2, I have to say that his vision also fit into this new Michael Myers. You know the one. He comes from a broken home and had a stripper for a mom (Sheri Moon Zombie). And for those who haven‘t seen one of the many trailers, she is back, along with another young version of Michael (played this time around by Chase Wright Vanek). It sort of reminded me of “The Addams Family” as mom and young Mike lead the older and meaner Michael to his destiny. And if you are any kind of Halloween fan, you know that it has something to do with finding that sister of his, Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton).
The thing is, I am an absolute fan of Rob Zombie. I truly enjoyed what he did the first time around. Sure it wasn’t as strong as what John Carpenter accomplished back in 1978, but I thought it was certainly one of the better incarnations of Myers (come on, we‘re talking Busta Rhymes and a few other lousy sequels). So going into this, I wasn’t sure what to expect, after all it looked as though he was moving in a completely different direction than the original Halloween 2. And he certainly does. This is not a remake, but purely a sequel to his story of Haddonfield on the most haunted holiday. Yes, this one starts off in a hospital, but it soon goes in an entirely different direction. I guess the best thing I can say is that Rob’s latest is extremely ambitious. It takes on a lot of levels and introduces a slew of new characters that are just waiting to be on the receiving end of Michael‘s phallic symbol. And man oh man does Michael plunge. Tyler Mane is a mean somabitch and he really loves killing in this. With every thrust he grunts and growls as he causes serious damage. He even stomps some dudes head in repeatedly, leaving this poor sap just a mangled bit of flesh.
So is it all a great big pile of fun? Well, not as much as I had hoped. There were a number of things that didn’t quite work for me. As much as I wanted to love it, especially since Zombie was taking the series to a new place, I was hoping that he would bring back a little suspense. Don’t get me wrong, there is some serious tension as the boogeyman slashes and stalks his way through the cast, but it is almost a nervous tension. And tension for me is never as powerful as true suspense. Hell, the movie even generates a laugh or two, but I will say that the fellow next to me was extremely uncomfortable when the violence began. Yet I was never really terrified. And way too many times, humor lightened the mood and made it hard to really get excited by the scary times I was hoping to witness. Much of the humor comes from Malcolm McDowell who is back as Dr. Sam Loomis. This greedy doctor is too busy trying to sell his book on the Haddonfield murders to be much use to anybody. It bothered me that I disliked Sam Loomis so much in a Halloween film. Sure he was always sort of a whack job, but I miss the Myers obsessed one as opposed to the current, money obsessed version.
As I mentioned, this truly is a Rob Zombie film. It has the whole white trash vibe which I didn’t really mind, and it also featured some really odd scenes that mostly involved nightmares. While this might have worked on some levels, I kept hoping that there was a deeper and darker nightmare waiting in the shadows. Without divulging too much, I will say that there is one particular dream sequence that is sure to piss people off. It‘s fun while you toss and turn, but when you realize it is a dream, it might burst a bubble or two. And speaking of pissing people off, I really wonder if Rob likes to occasionally do that to his audience. I remember one of the biggest reactions with his first foray into Halloween was the use of the song “Love Hurts”. It had a ton of people loudly complaining or just laughing. Well guess what, that song is back in the end credits here and it caused quite a number of people to take notice. In fact, there was a lot of laughter (mostly unintentional) going on and I have to admit, some of it came from me.
So you have the oddball Myers family roaming around, you have a kind of a-hole of a Sam Loomis trying to sell his book, and you have Scout Taylor-Compton saying “F*ck” a lot. While I liked her performance, I just couldn’t help wondering if she could just scream without uttering those four letters. Maybe not this time. But good times are spread throughout, even with all the negative. There are moments that are filled with Michael causing some serious damage and a really interesting choice of the song “Nights in White Satin” by The Moody Blues, which help keep it somewhat fresh. And the best thing in the entire film is the underused Brad Dourif and Danielle Harris as Sheriff Lee Brackett and his daughter Annie Brackett who narrowly escaped from her first encounter with the soulless killer. This was when the film worked for me. The father-daughter dynamic and how Laurie Strode fit into that. But sadly, this section of the film was not prevalent enough and mixed in with too many other oddities. I didn’t even really feel like it took place on Halloween, as the mood of the holiday was almost entirely absent from the film. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve got a handful of little reminders, including a costume party, but I didn’t feel that it was there as much as it should have been.
I would love to see this scaled down and find somewhere beneath the ghostly visions of family, and the greedy doctor, a smart and scary Halloween film. The elements are here, and sometimes you’d find it with some downright intense murder sequences and a few inspired cameos, you’ve gotta love Howard Hesseman, Margot Kidder and Caroline Williams. I’m not sure if there is another sequel in store as we all know, it depends on the box office cash, but I hope that Rob can step away from this world for awhile and try something new. Well, as I looked up at my television, I noticed that Jamie Lee Curtis is hiding in the parking lot and waiting for the real Dr. Sam Loomis to come save the day. I don’t think he ever tried writing a book about Michael. Good choice on his part. Halloween 2 comes down to some messed up and vicious kills and a couple of really terrific performances from Ms. Harris and Mr. Dourif. And I even enjoyed some of the bizarre nature of the family unit and all that jazz. But it also looks a little cheap and feels like it is spread so thin, that it never really finds a balance. It is sometimes fun and a little disturbing, but not the awesome horror sequel I was hoping for. It feels a little more like a trick than a treat. Although I'll still probably pick it up on DVD... I can't wait for the commentary.
RATING - 4.5/10 -- JimmyO