Monday, January 18, 2016

(Dis)Respecting A Classic: Rob Zombie's Halloween

Christmasween Part Whatever

Let's kick the fun off again with Rob Zombie's Halloween, a remake almost nobody asked for, most didn't want, and almost everyone hated. I fucking loved this movie.

Let me start by saying that I'm a HUGE Halloween fan. It is, in my opinion, the best horror movie ever made. It's legitimately scary, especially for a slasher movie, and the atmosphere and general anxiety created by Carpenter's direction is outstanding, especially for an incredibly low budget movie. When they announced Rob Zombie's remake of this beloved classic, most horror fans were not too thrilled. To be fair, almost any movie classic reimagined has been almost universally panned by fans of the originals. Rob Zombie's Halloween is no different.

But here's the thing: The biggest problem most seem to have with remakes are that they are seen as disrespecting of the originals. Movie fans, and horror movie fans especially, are rabid fan bases, and to change something that some of them have built their identities around can be quite jarring at times. However, just because a movie isn't a shot-for-shot remake of the original doesn't mean it doesn't have merit in its own right.

I think the primary reason fans are not pleased with remakes are because they're not looking at them the right way. For most, its all about the comparison to the original, and if its not as good, its a "disrespect to the original". That's simply not fair. These are different movies, often telling a different story, or at least different parts of the story. Sure, if its a shot for shot remake and has much worse acting and direction than the originals, that can be irritating. But for the most part, that isn't what these movies do. They are retellings, plain and simple. Rob Zombie took Halloween and, instead of making a shot for shot remake, he made it a gritty origin story. Gritty reboots get a lot of hate from fans as well, but that doesn't qualify here either. You can't have a gritty reboot of a gritty movie. That just makes it a reboot. It's not like the original Halloween was a story of a happy-go-lucky teenager and her relationships to her friends and parents. It was about a guy who went around killing people to get to his sister. Rob Zombie doesn't take anything away from the original at all; he takes the store and adds to the lore.

And that leads us to the biggest reason why I loved his version of Halloween: It's not just a reboot; it's a sequel. Sequels don't carry the same hatred that reboots do, but I really don't understand why. If you have a problem with things adding to or taking away from the originals, why would you ever make or watch a sequel? It's the same damn thing. Sure, Zombie's Halloween goes back to the beginning (so maybe more of a prequel), but it gives you a deeper understanding of why Michael Myers is the way he is. Some fans hated this aspect, but I really enjoyed it. There's not much that's scarier to me than someone who is, as Loomis put it, simply evil. A lot of fans mentioned Myers' rough upbringing as explaining away his psychosis, and saying that he was a product of his environment instead of a plain-old psycopath. But that's not the case at all. Sure, he had a rough childhood. But the first scene shows him killing his pet rat. That's one of the first signs of a serial killer. He also later murders his step-dad. He beats another kid to death. He goes to a mental hospital and kills a nurse and some orderlies, and then, during his escape, brutally murders his only friend in the hospital. This isn't a broken man; this is an evil man. And that, to me, is why Zombie's version doesn't take away from the lore, it adds to it.

Plus, Danielle Harris is fucking hot. So there's that.
Daniell Harris, being hot.
Look, in the end, you have to look at these remakes as different stories. Scary stories have traditionally been told around the campfire, or in a dark room enhanced by the shadows thrown by candlelight. You'll never hear the same story twice. But when you remake these movies, fans are expecting the same story, and that's not a legitimate expectation. The Evil Dead remake was great, but if you went into it expecting Bruce Campbell, you were sorely disappointed. But it was creepy as shit, and incredibly gory, and everything everyone knows and loves about the original. Maybe a little less humor, but that's pretty much it. Zombie's Halloween takes the boring monotonous parts of the original, cranks them up to 11, and delivers an intense thrill ride through the damaged psyche of one of the most famous movie killers in history. What's not to love?

Bottom Line: Don't expect the original, you will be disappointed. View it through a different lens, however, and it's really quite fantastic. Definitely worth a watch, see if you agree. If not, watch the new Star Wars. More on that later.

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