Honestly, I couldn't have found a better way to end of the discussions of this franchise other then the beautifully written ramblings of miss Jessie Robbins! We started with GregaMortis from Land of the Creeps, and now we end with Jessie Robbins from the very same -- like spooky LotC bookends. I have to be honest though -- this happened entirely on accident, but it worked out so flawlessly. Although this is the end of the Halloween franchise (so far...), not to fret, as this is not the end of our Halloween Spooktacular. Stay tuned for that -- but until then,please enjoy our grand finale of Rob Zombie's Halloween II discussed by Jessie Robbins! Muahahahaha! (Greg, Jessie... did I get the laugh right?) - Channy Dreadful
What perfect timing for John Carpenter to come clean about his thoughts about Rob Zombie’s take on the Halloween franchise than right before October, when EVERYBODY is firing up their film-watching-device-of-choice to watch it. Many saw his views as a relief, knowing that he shared their feelings. Some were disappointed, Zombie fans especially, knowing that a remake they enjoyed was reviled by the true father of Michael Myers. I felt quite indifferent to the news. There are some things that I love about the Zombie remakes, and some things I wish he had done without. Still, if I had to choose a favourite of the two, it would be the first one. Ever a purist, I find that most remakes lack a certain flavour captured by the first of a series -- usually in the filmmaker’s attempt to recreate that same flavour.
But enough rambling. Below are my thoughts about Rob Zombie’s Halloween II.
The introduction to this film is probably the longest I have seen since the remake of Friday the 13th, and is probably as logical as it too. Are we to assume that everything that happened in Laurie’s dream is just purely her imagination? In-depth, long (and disturbing) conversations between the coroners transporting Michael’s body could not just be a part of the subconscious of a teenage girl. Not to mention that if that part of the introduction was truly what happened before the events of the second film, how could anybody doubt for a second that Michael was still alive?
One thing I will give the introduction props for is the ‘haunted house’ feel of the maze Laurie has to go through to escape the hospital. Around every corner and in every room, there is an obstacle for Laurie to cross, from when she sees the nurse (played by the amazing Octavia Spencer) sputtering blood, through the gate to which another nurse has been strung up, eyeless, through a dumpster full of mutilated bodies, and finally to ‘Buddy’’s little shed accompanied by the dulcet tones of The Moody Blues’ Knights in White Satin, and Michael’s exasperated grunts. From there, Laurie’s dreams become a little bit more predictable and a little more Sheri-saturated. But we’ll get to that in a little bit.
Laurie’s life has changed drastically since the events in Zombie’s Part I. With her parents gone, she now lives with Sheriff and Annie Brackett, who has her own scars (emotionally, and physically.) Laurie is still plagued with nightmares and sees a therapist (Margot Kidder) who prescribes her with antidepressants. She now works at a an overstaffed record store with some very bad influences and a “Fight The Man”-style hippie.
Meanwhile, Dr. Loomis is travelling the country promoting his book about the events of part one, and has turned into a complete ass. Fame-starved and unsympathetic, he flirts with girls at signings and hypocritically turns away gore-hungry fans. Loomis’ character arc is a bit predictable in this film. While genuinely concerned for Michael’s well-being in Part I, he has let the relief of his ‘death’ and the shower of support from outsiders get to his head, and has exploited the people involved in the process. His now irredeemable qualities and diminishing successes are clues for what is to come.
Annie, who I assume is not currently working, stays home and takes care of the house. She sympathizes with Laurie, but without knowing the full story of who she really is (not that it matters this early on in the film, as neither does Laurie) has a limit of her understanding, and is becoming sick of Laurie’s whiny attitude and rebellious nature. Who wouldn’t? Instead of being there for each other (something teased upon early on in the intro-dream-sequence) Laurie pushes herself away from Annie and doesn’t talk to her about what she is going through, instead internalizing her feelings. Annie is left to deal with her scars by herself, trying to keep a happy atmosphere around the house to no avail.
Okay, back to her new-and-improved dream sequences. There is too much Sheri Moon Zombie in this film, and that is coming from someone who has a giant girl-crush on Sheri Moon Zombie. The white horse symbolism, and vision of Sheri in a white gown, ethereal and empty-headed, is a delusion of Michael’s. She comes to him and tells him to kill, and to find his sister so that they can be a family again… so I am a little bit confused as to why Laurie is also seeing her. In the first of Laurie’s dream sequences including Sheri, she is not aware of the fact that she is Michael’s sister, nor does she even know what Sheri looks like, so the audience is left to believe that some kind of evil force is pushing its way into her mind -- the same evil force that has plagued Michael’s. But earlier on in the film, Sheri (in one of Michael’s visions) clearly states, “You know I’m not really here, Michael”, so I’m left wondering: is this an impossible shared hallucination? A telepathic message sent from Michael to his biological sister? And at the end, *SPOILER ALERT*, when Laurie has this vision of an impossibly long hallway with Sheri and a white horse, is this her final thought? Is she now institutionalized after trying to kill Loomis? Thank God Zombie clarified on the commentary that it was her final thought, because I always assumed she was now just Michael-crazy and had to be locked up.
Now, the kills. The kills are great. I am not a gore-hound by any means, but Zombie did it right here. The sloppiness of kills, face stabbings, boot-to-the-face kills, and overall brutality are way too realistic, but that is kind of exactly what you want in a slasher film. Watching something like a slasher from the 80’s -- amazing as they are -- the special effects, although great for their time, are outdated and take away from the horror. Zombie makes Michael’s rage and lack of compassion evident with his physical need for ultra-violence. Even though his constant visions of Sheri Moon make him a little less scary, it all comes back with how animalistic he is.
The greatest thing about this film is the Halloween party. I have never been so envious about a movie Halloween party in my life. Giant talking pumpkin creatures, a psychobilly band, Jeff Daniel Phillips as a wise-cracking grave digger, everybody ACTUALLY WEARING COSTUMES, even if they are unspoken recreations of Rocky Horror characters…. (What was that all about? “I’m a chick, who’s dressed up as a dude, who wants to be a chick”. No. You’re Dr. Frank-n-Furter. Okay?) I haven’t been to a Halloween party where EVERYBODY actually made an effort to wear a costume, unless you count second grade. And even then, not a huge amount of effort on the part of some of those kids. I would love to live in this world where everybody actually gave a shit about Halloween, but then chances are I’d get murdered. Or at least someone I know would. I don’t know if I’m ready for that.
Overall, Zombie’s Halloween II is not the greatest film ever made, but with the added touches of his signature ultra-violence, that amazing Halloween party, Laurie’s burgeoning psychotic behaviour (love Scout Taylor Compton) and Michael’s rage grunts, Halloween II is a great little flick to throw on this season. I wish he had gone some other places with it -- and I believe he could have -- but all in all, it’s not a terrible film.
Jessie Robbins is a horror fiend and jewellery pusher from Ontario, Canada. She has had features published in Fangoria Magazine and her own column on ShockTillYouDrop.com. She is currently co-host on the Land of the Creeps Podcast and can be found at www.wendigogogirl.com on Instagram @crueltyfreehorror and Twitter @jessabelle33.