Shitty Flicks is an ongoing column that celebrates the most hilariously incompetent, amusingly pedestrian, and mind-bogglingly stupid movies ever made by people with a bit of money, some prior porn-directing experience, and no clue whatsoever. It is here you will find unrestrained joy in movies meant to terrify and thrill, but instead poke at your funny bone with their weird, mutant camp-girl penis.
WARNING: I tend to give away major plot points and twist endings in my reviews because, whatever. Shut up.
Once upon a time, a homeless man dressed like a hippie clown said, “I’ll make movies, I guess.” He then made House of 1,000 Corpses, which was terrible; it featured people with a lot of hair doing a lot of screaming and included a fetishistic obsession with his wife’s butt. Then he made a sequel entitled The Devil’s Rejects, which was less bad; it featured a lot of hair, a lot of screaming, and maintained the fetishistic obsession with his wife’s butt.
Then, one day, this happened:
The Weinsteins: Rob Zombie, this is the Weinsteins. Would you like to make Halloween 9?
Rob Zombie: No way, that’s stupid. I’d rather remake the original.
The Weinsteins: But didn’t you famously say that remakes were the worst thing any filmmaker could do and why would anyone ever remake a movie that was already perfect?
Rob Zombie: Yeah, but, I’m an artist.
The Weinsteins: That’s true.
Rob Zombie: Can I make all the characters white trash and so annoying that you have no one to root for?
The Weinsteins: We’ve never actually seen the first film, but that all sounds fine with us. We’re artists.
Rob Zombie: I want to write my own script for it, too. I can spell and stuff – I know ALL my letters. I’m an artist.
The Weinsteins: We’ll leave you to it, as we’re courting Michael Berrymen to star in the direct-to-video Children of the Corn Something.
The Halloween universe took place in a rather picturesque town called Haddonfield, Illinois, based on Haddonfield, NJ. (Yes, it's a real place.)
Wisely, Rob Zombie has chosen to maintain this setting, as you can see from the below excerpt from the actual script he wrote:
And so we're off to a good...oh...oh, dear.
Cheap shots aside (which I do not plan on ceasing), John Carpenter's original film is a subtle exercise is slow-burn suspense and terror. It is low on violence, even lower on blood, and features a cast of legitimately likable and sympathetic characters.
Rob Zombie's film contains none of those attributes. It is a loud, flashy, ugly, unapologetic rock concert filled with unnecessary gore, not just unlikable but downright hateable characters, and an unnecessary retconning of Michael Myers' past. It is dumb. It is a film that endeavors to showcase psychological disorders, but is written by a man who knows absolutely nothing about them. This same man knows even less about screenwriting with an attempt for originality. In Rob Zombie's Halloween, cops asks, "Whatta we got?" Receptionists say, "Go in, he's expecting you." Bullies make fun of mothers. Halloween 2007 exists because Rob Zombie watched a few movies on television and said, "I can probably pull this off."
Michael Myers is no longer a mysteriously evil little boy from a middle-to-upper class suburban Illinois household. Because Rob Zombie wanted to explore the "why" of Michael's evil. So, true to his word, the film opens and little Michael Myers is already out of his mind, and arguably evil.
Is there an explanation for it?
No, there is not. But he does still live in Illinois (in the white trash section). This is so his entire family can all unrealistically scream at each other and make absurd sexual threats. Just like real life!
Then Michael goes to school, where bathroom bullies accost him and make absurd sexual threats about his mother and sister.
His mother, Deborah, who is a stripper at the Rabbit in Red Lounge (hey, someone rented the first movie at least once!) is having a meeting with the school principal and Dr. Loomis, a child psychologist. After the principal lets the cat out of the bag and tells Mrs. Myers her son is fucking nuts (by letting the cat out of his drawer [in a bag], get it?), she kinda believes him but not really.
Then Michael kills the bully kid from the Geico commercial, all the while the audience drowns in this overwhelming amount of explanation that Rob Zombie said he was going to provide for Micheal's back story.
Later, at Michael's house, everyone continues to be really mean. Even though his mother is fresh from a meeting in which she was shown the dead cat Michael had in his locker and the dozens of photos of animals he's killed, she shrugs it all off and lets Michael go trick-or-treating, anyway. She can't take him, though, because she's gotta work. And since the rest of his family hates him, looks like he's shit out of luck and shit out of trick-or-treating.
It then hilariously cuts to Michael sitting outside on a curb, looking immensely sad, as "Love Hurts" plays. I must say I am a little surprised, as I didn't know we were suddenly in Kentucky Fried Movie. Any doubt of what movie you're in is then suddenly washed away because look, there's the ass of the director's wife.
Upstairs, Michael's sister is in the seedy throes of pre-sex with her even seedier looking boyfriend. He takes out the iconic Shape mask and asks her if he can wear it while they bump uglies. She says no, much to my chagrin, as I would like this boy's face to go away forever.
And downstairs, Michael looks sad, eats some candy, and then thinks, "Oh, right, this is about when I go fucking nuts for no reason."
This is exhausting, isn't it?
Michael proceeds to kill everyone and then shove a baseball bat up his dead sister's ass, because Rob Zombie once watched the original Halloween and said, "This is fucking boring – where's all the faggot references?"
The only one Michael doesn't kill is his infant sister, whom he calls Boo. (Get it? Boo? Halloween? Can you stand the genius?)
Credit where credit is due: the sequence where Mrs. Myers comes home to her massacred family, which is complemented with the numerous news reports being transmitted at the site, is very well done and threatens to paint Rob Zombie as an actual filmmaker. With every character on screen freeze-framing so the only things moving are the lights from the police cars and Michael himself, it's actually a — dare I say it — well-executed sequence.
Likewise, the sequences of young Michael at Smith's Grove Sanitarium don't hurt, and even threaten to be interesting, but unfortunately not enough time is spent here. Everyone's acting is downplayed and actually good (even Rob's normally abhorrent wife) and the film is — again, dare I say it — interesting. Loomis' audio notes layered over the choppy 8mm footage of Michael under observation works pretty well.
These sequences are the biggest red herring in cinema, as you fool yourself into thinking the film isn't a total junkyard filled with needless backwoods profanities, unrealistic characters, and unintentional humor.
But don't worry, the movie then resumes its usual level of painful mediocrity as we cut fifteen years later. Dr. Loomis peaces out of Michael's care because he's honestly given up. Instead he takes to the touring circuit to plug his book on the Myers case. Luckily he has a bunch of "Michael making mean face" pictures to support his claims that Michael is actually a psychopath!
Fortunately, I am watching the "director's" cut of this film, which means I get twice the rape with none of the enjoyment. What's interesting about the director's cut of the film versus the theatrical is that they are nearly completely different films. Only a filmmaker with a definitive vision is capable of shooting an entire film, then shrugging and shooting a bunch of other shit to see what he can do with it.
I hear that's how John Huston did it.
So, after these two redneck hospital orderlies shove a female patient into Michael's room so they can rape her in front of him and maybe try to get him to rape her as well (?), they are VERY surprised when Michael, who is ten feet tall and has hundreds of different masks hanging all over his cell and who is clearly out of his fucking mind, suddenly springs into action and commits violence upon them.
After a quick cameo from Clint Howard (not his first appearance within the halls of Shitty Flicks), we then see the scene that propelled Zombie to make this film — the absolute unquenchable desire to answer the so-far unanswered question in the pantheon of unanswered questions which propelled Zombie towards his ultimate goal of fleshing out the origins of Michael Myers: we finally FINALLY find out how he got his jumpsuit.
He killed a guy taking a shit (who was wearing a jumpsuit).
From this point to the end, the film becomes a beat-for-beat remake of the original Carpenter film, which means it's the same, only far less good. We can no longer even find distraction in all the awful "new" stuff. All we can do is sit and watch and be reminded of when this was done previously, and much, much better. Even the original film's soundtrack is utilized — not re-orchestrated, mind you, but literally re-appropriated.
We meet Laurie Strode, perhaps the most famous heroine in all of horror cinema. Big shoes to fill — even more than Dr. Loomis — but Rob Zombie felt that Scout Taylor Compton was up to the task.
Let's just get this out of the way now: she just might very well be the worst and most irritating actress in all of everything. Try to contain your fury every moment she is on screen. Bet you can't — it's really, really hard.
Her friends don't fare much better. Zombie's depiction of Lynda makes her worse than Hitler, and poor Halloween-series alumni Danielle Harris is saddled with a very obnoxious version of Annie. These girls curse like Tarantino, call each other "bitches," and do nothing to be individuals. They all talk the same, act the same, and annoy the same. They are not in the least bit likeable.
We revisit the requisite Halloween beats: Sheriff Brackett makes his appearance, Judith Myers' tombstone is stolen, Loomis deals with a bunch of Smith's Grove bureaucrats.
Laurie babysits Tommy Doyle, educates him on the boogeyman, and looks bored with her life.
Dr. Loomis attempts to convince Sheriff Brackett that evil has come to his town.
Annie brings Lindsey Wallace over to the Doyle house.
Annie dumps Lindsey on her good friend, Laurie.
Annie tells Laurie she's set her up with Ben Tramer.
Paul picks Annie up.
Dear god, we've seen this movie already. WE SAW IT THIRTY YEARS AGO.
"It's so fucking warm!" Paul adds.
I know that Zombie set out to create a thrill-ride filled with unimaginable terror, but instead all that happened was my boner.
Ah, and here we are: the third-act twist/non-twist, which is the big reveal that Laurie Strode is Michael Myers' sister. Once asked in an interview if he had lifted this from the finale of the original Halloween 2, he replied, "Honestly, no, I had completely forgotten about that." Funny, being that the famously used song "Mr. Sandman," which appears in Halloween 2, also appears here. Must be some kind of insane coincidence!
But hey, who am I to call Rob Zombie a liar? It's not like he ever goes back on his word. (Like that time he said he'd never make a Halloween 2.)
Halloween takes way too long to end, as Laurie is chased through two houses, a pool, and a police car (during which Dr. Loomis very amusingly shouts, "Michael, what the hell!").
The film ends as it began: limply, and with little care or talent.
So much of this film feels like a passionless Google project. I liken it to the Republicans Googling random GOP governors to see who would make a good Vice-President during the last election and finding Sarah Palin. Even the fucking font chosen for the open and closing credit reeks of "Jeeves, what's that font they used for Halloween?" "Copperplate Gothic!" "Thanks, Jeeves." (It's not.)
And as these closing credits begin rolling (and I see "Based on a Film by John Carpenter and Debra Hill," as opposed to "Based on the Film," as if the connection between the two films were tenuous at best), I must admit I am terrified. Truly. Not because of anything the film presented, and not even by the idea that this film exists and is now attached to the legacy of the original Halloween forever.
No, what’s terrifying is…people actually like this thing.
But hey, we’re all open to our own opinions, right? That's what makes us human, after all — our own interests, passions, and ideas.
Having said that, if you want to slather yourself in cinematic excrement, be my...guess?