Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: HALLOWEEN (2007)
Imitation is often seen as a tribute to an artist; other times it is seen as a mockery and a laughable attempt to establish, oneself, in a world of other artists. A question that should be asked, what separates the good imitations from the worst?
The answer is a little more underlying.
A work of imitation can branch off and become something different, something appreciated by others. The difference is—Appreciation for the original work and artist—nothing more.
In 1978, John Carpenter set out and defined the slasher genre. Many fans were introduced to their first masked serial killers: Michael Myers. The original story was enough to send millions of fans into a terror filled adventure, murder and mayhem a-plenty. Man escapes mental institution after murdering his sister twenty years prior and begins slashing and stabbing his way through Haddonfield, IL.
The original was the perfect slasher and one that would define the masked serial killer for future generations. And one of the few slasher movies to have several sequels and warrant a remake, which would come in 2007 and directed by the prolific Rob Zombie. Remakes rarely, ever, come close to the original. There have been a few exceptions: The Fly (1986), Night of The Living Dead (1990), and The Thing (1982). Rob Zombie had his work cut out for him, remake a classic, and be able to turn it into something that will outlive the original.
The movie opens with Michael wearing a clown hat talking to his pet rat. The movie then cuts to a mother cooking breakfast and a domestic argument begins. The argument is cut short by Judith entering the kitchen and showing off her womanly curves—teasing the boyfriend. Michael is in the bathroom cleaning up a bloody scalpel used to kill his pet rat. Early on, the film wants to establish an abusive household, which differs from the original greatly. We never learn anything about Michael or why he turned the way he did. The first half of the movie covers Michael’s “Origins” and his escape from the Smith’s Gove Mental Institution.
The rest of the movie follows fairly close to the original movie, and doesn’t need to be re-stated and pined over. What really needs to be discussed and combed over is the first part of this film.
It ruins Michael as a killer—The Shape—an entity that was used to create terror.
Everything used to describe Michael’s childhood is a trope—things we were told that would develop into a serial killer/psychopath. But that’s what makes him scary! He had an abusive relationship with his parents!
It makes him a trope. What made Michael Myers terrifying is that the psychopathic behavior, just happened. There was nothing leading up to it. No information on his background. Having a normal child snap and go on a killing spree made it scary. A random child could just awaken as a monster and take what he needed to without any remorse or empathy to what he was taking. He was a predator. Stalking and consuming.
Early on in the film, it’s established that he is obsessive over his baby sister, which isn’t revealed until the second Halloween film (1981). It’s a well-known fact that Laurie Strode is Laurie Myers and Michael wants to kill her, but in this version the reason for him tracking her down isn’t made clear—does he want to love her and be with her or does he want to kill her, even in the climax his intentions are unclear.
Another addition to the film is Michael’s escape from Smith’s Grove. We are now shown a relationship between Myers and the Janitor, whom he then kills and escapes.
The story overall is covered like a fan film—not one where the director shows the fans what they’ve been clamoring for, but more of what the director thought would be cool and exciting. Zombie took tropes from a horrible childhood added them to the film, and boom—we have the Origin of Michael Myers. The story is a mess and even in the sequel (which will be covered later during the Slasher and Serial Killer run) is a low-grade fan film with a higher budget.
Rob Zombie is a music legend, and it’s a surprise that he didn’t compose the film’s score, instead, that was handled by Tyler Bates.
Halloween is known for two things: Michael Myers and The movie’s infamous theme. John Carpenter created the theme for the 1978 and has been a staple in the series. Among horror fans, it is one of the best known themes around.
If you listen to Bates’ version and you listen to the original—a few things will be made apparent. Carpenter’s version is clean and gives the sense of a predator stalking its prey. It gives a sense of hunter vs hunted. The theme is still recognizable and that’s a huge tribute to the fans of the series, but it’s also littered with orgasm sounds and loud bangs—instead of sounding like a predator stalking its prey—it has the essence of a house cat tripping and bumbling over its toy.
In short, the Halloween remake is a mess, it took something that could have been great! But it ended in a sea of disgust and disgruntled fans. And it’s not always easy to do a remake; or your own take on a franchise, but what you have to realize is that there are set elements in place. These have been crafted through a decade of storytelling. If you’re not able to follow the guide lines and appreciation you end up with a knock off that others can spot and poke fun at over the course of history.
The only thing a re-make needs is appreciation for the filmmaker, fans, and established cannon. You can always make it your own, but it should never stray far from what made the original successful.
Zombie could have had a success if only he understood the basics, instead, we end up with a fan film with little understanding of the source material and notch into his resume.
Kurt Thingvold is no stranger to Machine Mean, having reviewed for us on several occasions, including his previous review on Godzilla (1954) and Jurassic Park (1993). Kurt was born and raised in IL. He finds passion in writing, that helps calm his demons. He grew up in a tough household that encouraged reading and studying. He spends his time writing in multiple of genres. His published short story, Roulette, can be found on Amazon. When not writing he can be found playing games, reading, or attempting to slay the beast known as “Customer Service”, which, he fails at almost every day. As mentioned, Kurt is a frequent flyer here on Machine Mean, you can also check out his previous review on Ridley Scott’s legacy movie Alien here.
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