October Horror Challenge: Day 26: “Rob Zombie’s Halloween”

In 2007, musician Rob Zombie decided to do the unthinkable. He was going to produce, write, and direct a remake of John Carpenter’s classic slasher film “Halloween”. Horror fans were in an uproar. How could he remake one of the greatest horror movies ever made? How could he turn Haddonfield into a town of white trash and disease? How DARE he give Michael Myers a back story? When the film opened on August 30, 2007, horror audiences were as ready as lynch mob to hang Zombie. The film grossed nearly $30 million opening weekend but somewhat poor word of mouth had the film top out at $57 million. So, looking back on the film four years later, is it the cinematic abortion that horror movie audiences proclaimed it to be? Not. At. All.

On Halloween in Haddonfield, Illinois, having already shown signs of psychopathic tendencies, ten-year-old Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch) murders a school bully named Wesley (Daryl Sabara), later his own sister Judith (Hanna R. Hall), his mother’s boyfriend Ronnie (William Forsythe), and Judith’s boyfriend Steve (Adam Weisman). After one of the longest trials in the state’s history, Michael is found guilty of first degree murder and sent to Smith’s Grove – Warren County Sanitarium under the care of child psychologist Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell).

Michael initially cooperates with Dr. Loomis, claiming no memory of the killings; his mother, Deborah (Sheri Moon Zombie), visits him regularly. After a year, Michael becomes fixated on his papier-mâché masks, closing himself off from everyone, even his mother. When Michael kills a nurse (Sybil Danning) as Deborah is leaving from one of her visits, she can no longer handle the situation and commits suicide. For the next fifteen years, Michael (Tyler Mane) continues making his masks and not speaking to anyone. Dr. Loomis, having continued to treat Michael over the years, attempts to move on with his life and closes Michael’s case. Later, while being prepared for transfer to maximum security, Michael escapes Smith’s Grove, killing the sanitarium employees and a truck driver (Ken Foree) for his clothes, and heads to Haddonfield. On Halloween, Michael arrives at his old home, now abandoned, and recovers the kitchen knife and Halloween mask he stored under the floorboards the night he killed his sister.

The story shifts to Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton), and her friends Annie Brackett (Danielle Harris) and Lynda Van Der Klok (Kristina Klebe) on Halloween. Throughout the day, Laurie witnesses Michael watching her from a distance. That night, she heads to the Doyle residence to watch their son Tommy (Skyler Gisondo). Meanwhile, Lynda meets with her boyfriend Bob (Nick Mennell) at Michael’s childhood home. Michael appears, murders them, and then heads to the Strode home, where he murders Laurie’s parents, Mason (Pat Skipper) and Cynthia (Dee Wallace). Having been alerted to Michael’s escape, Dr. Loomis comes to Haddonfield looking for Michael. After obtaining a handgun, Loomis attempts to warn Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif) that Michael has returned to Haddonfield. Brackett and Dr. Loomis head to the Strode home, with Brackett explaining along the way that Laurie is actually Michael Myers’ baby sister. After this, the shit really does hit the fan.

Rob Zombie’s Halloween is quite simply brilliant. I am one of the few horror fans out there that prefer Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” to John Carpenter’s “Halloween”. I know, it’s blasphemy and I will go down in horror hell for saying such a thing. But I personally love the back story that Zombie gave Michael and feel as though everything about the film (from the acting to the directing to use of music) is just about perfect. This is the rare remake that actually takes chances and dares its audience to actually FEEL something. For what it is worth, I’ll take this over the limp and uninspired “Friday the 13th” remake any day.