NOTE: This was originally going to be a straight review of John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN. Sitting at the keyboard, it just kinda turned into this.
I don’t mind that Rob Zombie‘s remaking Halloween. Really, I don’t. My reasons are simple. Take into account that in 1999, Irish author Seamus Heaney had a worldwide international bestseller that was a shock to everyone. Why was it so surprising this book sold an assload of copies?
Because it was a translation of Beowulf, the epic poem that we all had to read in High School English and is widely known to be the oldest story in the history of the English language. I say this to ask a question…
How many of us (of a certain age) knew WHO Michael Myers was before they saw their first Halloween movie? Knew what he did and how big a threat he was? It was true for me. I didn’t see Halloween until after I saw Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers in a theater back in 1995. I was twelve, and it was my first trip to Haddonfield. But I knew Myers had a white mask and slaughtered teenagers by the truckload.
When a character in a film seeps into the American subconscious like that, doesn’t it make it more than a movie? Doesn’t that make it Oral History? Like… Umm… Beowulf?
The stories of Michael Myers and Grendel do bear similarities, this is not anything new. Monster invades, a hero rises, the monster is vanquished. Variations on this story have been told around campfires, acted out on stages and projected onto screens as long as there has been art to facilitate it. Any subsequent retooling or reiteration is there to entertain us and/or test the mettle of the one telling it.
My point is this: When Seamus Heaney wrote that book, no one pitched a mighty and apoplectic bitch on how he may have deviated from the original scrolls Beowulf was printed on in the sixth century.
The same, however, could not be said about our Mr. Zombie.
We like to shit on people who take chances, don’t we? No one ever went to a Nascar event to see all the cars make it to the finish line in one piece. No one watches tightrope walkers to see them get to the other side without falling off. And when someone makes a lofty statement like “I’m gonna remake Halloween,” we would rather pass a lung through our ass than root for him.
I don’t know how he’s gonna do it (and those rooting for spoilers tell us he did a shit job), but boy am I curious. It’s like the cradle in Rosemary’s Baby. We wanna see what that ugly little motherfucker looks like. Even Zombie’s detractors can’t say they aren’t curious.
I’m of two minds on Rob Zombie as a filmmaker. I marvel at how he went from “Unremitting Turd Pinata” (House of 1000 Corpses) to “Scorching American Classic” (The Devil’s Rejects) in the span of two years on his filmography. But as much as I hated Corpses, I have to say… It was not a meek film. This is not the work of a man who thought small and wanted to make an innocuous little floater like Dead Silence. This guy wanted to change the WORLD! Granted he failed, but he swung for the fences. People don’t do that anymore.
And that’s the kind of guy I want remaking Halloween (if, granted, remaking Halloween proved essential). I don’t want to see the same damn Halloween. I’ve seen that, and it’s great, and I don’t have to pay ten bucks to watch it again. I want The New Translation. I want someone to pull a Heaney.
If I wrote that on the Fangoria message boards, I’d be strung up and disemboweled. How DARE you touch that movie! They know they don’t want a Halloween remake, but they are unwilling to say what they want if confronted with one. If Halloween is too similar to the original? Horror fans will piss like whipped dogs that he’s cutting and pasting. If it’s different? They’ll complain Zombie “ruined Halloween.”
But how does one ruin a movie that was made thirty years ago? I just watched it last night and it’s as great as it ever was. It exists outside Slasher clichés because it maintains plausibility, keeps a riveting level of tension, and has technique and style to burn. Truth be told, I’m actually surprised it hasn’t gotten even MORE credit. It deserves a spot on the AFI top 100 more than Forrest Gump does, that’s for damn sure. There were shots and images in this movie that almost made me weep, they’re so beautiful. And that two-minute opening uncut shot had me at half stalk. How can Zombie ruin it?
1. He is going to work on the original master negative with a Sharpie and a pair of safety scissors.
2. He is going to come into your house, steal your DVD, and replace it with his version, then vanish like a dirty, dreadlocked thief in the night.
3. He is going to revamp the original and insert his own footage like that one asshole did with the Night of the Living Dead 30th Anniversary DVD (and there’s an extra roasty part of Hell for THAT guy).
Folks, none of these things are going to happen. Frosty mugs of “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” all around. They’re on me.
And so is the horror fan’s stubborn insistence on the same ol’ shit. Anything new literally WILL kill them. Seriously. Show them Open Water and they’ll froth at the mouth and suffer a myocardial infarction. Not too long ago I watched the DVD of Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon and I saw the trailer for this movie Hatchet everyone’s going on about and they billed it in this trailer as “Old-School Horror.”
Yes, they are literally trying to sell Hatchet as “The Movie You Already Saw.” Thank you, snooty horror fans, for making my life as a critic so much Goddamn easier…
In any event, we’re all going to see Halloween on Friday whether we want to or not. We as Americans like to bitch and that will give anyone ample cause. But if you honestly want to have a good time, do what I’m gonna do…
Watch the movie in front of you.