Review 59: Halloween 2 (remake) (0/5)

Halloween 2

Directed by Rob Zombie

Starring Malcolm McDowell, Tyler Mane, Sheri Moon Zombie, Brad Dourif, Danielle Harris, Scout Taylor-Compton

Released on August 28, 2009

Running time: 1h 41m (theatrical) 2h (director’s cut)

Rated R

Genre: Horror, Exploitation

For this review, I watched the director’s cut.

Halloween 2 is perhaps the most unwanted and most unnecessary sequel I can think of.

As my viewers may remember, this film’s predecessor, Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween was the fourth film I ever reviewed on this blog. I found it to be a vile, bitter, ugly, cruel, cynical movie, and a reprehensibly butchered attempt to recreate the original Halloween for today’s audiences. Its two greatest crimes can be summed up as going against everything the original Halloween stood for.

Its second biggest mistake was the gutting of the character of Michael Myers. In the original Halloween, Michael was portrayed as, essentially, the boogeyman. He was rightfully referred to in the credits as The Shape. He was seen as this nameless, faceless, inhuman, and ultimately unstoppable entity that would make a beeline for you and kill you. This legitimately scares viewers even to this day. In the remake, Rob Zombie attempts to humanize Michael. The character of Michael is brought out into the limelight and poorly analyzed. In fact, by the time I walked out, all I had “learned” about Michael was “There’s nothing but evil in there.” And I had already known that. In the original, Dr. Sam Loomis, played by Donald Pleasance, taught me that by giving as little of an explanation as the audience needed. But where did Michael’s evil come from? What drove him to kill? In the original, it was up to the viewer to decide. What was more was that we didn’t need an answer. All we needed was to be afraid of Michael. Unfortunately, in the remake, the answer is halfheartedly given as “He had a less-than-satisfactory family life.” While that has helped to influence serial killers in real life, we knew that the original did not intend its killer to be from the realms of reality, even though the story was presented in a timeless manner and was treated like it could happen to anyone. So, no. We have never received an answer (a good one, anyway, as Halloween 6 would show), and it should stay that way. It’s scarier that way.

Its most damning error was its complete lack of knowledge of how to restrain itself. It lacked subtlety. It was about as over-the-top of a slasher flick as can be. Its real star was not Laurie. It was not even Michael. It was the violence. Its violence was graphic and incredibly bloody, yet somehow not actually gory. Rob Zombie, a fellow horror junkie, failed to understand that difference between bloody and gory. The film resorted to violence-induced shock value rather than actually scaring the viewer. Its incredibly unnecessarily graphic and bloody violence drove away any semblance of scariness. It was also full to the brim of illicit and explicit sex, at least two hundred F bombs, and illegal drug use. Also, the original was allegedly a social commentary on the immorality of ‘70s youth, though John Carpenter has denied this. Laurie was the lone survivor; she was depicted as innocent and pure while the rest of Michael’s victims were sexually promiscuous and/or substance abusers. The remake is nothing of the sort.

It was an ugly, repulsive, physically steaming and stinking pile of the worst that horror films have to offer.

It will remain to this day one of few films I have actually walked out of.

Nine months later, I watched the sequel, making sure not to walk out. It was worse. Talk about reopening old wounds and rubbing salt into them. This movie actually hurt to watch. I’m still hurting as I write this.

We begin with a flashback to young Michael’s days at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium as Michael’s mother (Zombie, reprise) visits Michael (Vanek), and gives him a statuette of a white horse. According to a text card, the white horse is supposed to represent some sort of emotional purification.

Looks like Daeg Faerch knew that this sequel was going to suck, as he does not reprise his role as young Michael. Also, it seems that Zombie forgot that Michael is never supposed to smile or show any semblance of emotion.

Cut forward in time to just after the end of the previous movie, with Laurie (Taylor-Compton) having just supposedly killed Michael (Mane). She is in shock as she is taken to the hospital and given emergency surgery for her injuries. The paramedics also pick up Laurie’s friend Annie (Harris) and Dr. Loomis (McDowell), who were attacked and presumed dead at the hands of Michael.  Laurie’s injuries are actually cringe-worthy. Nice…don’t count that chick before it hatches, me.

Meanwhile, Michael has been loaded into a separate ambulance to be taken to the morgue. As the driver and other officer drive, they discuss being sexually attracted to a corpse. That’s just tasteless, disgusting, dirty, creepy, wrong, and stupid. I mean…eeeeewww! But during this conversation, the driver forgets to watch the freaking road, and crashes into a cow, killing it and him, and injuring the officer. Michael awakens, kills the officer, who is a terrible actor that drops at least twenty f bombs in a minute, and then follows a ghostly apparition of his mother dressed in white. Yes, we’re only five to ten minutes in and the kills have already started.

I must mention the kills in this movie. In this movie, Michael grunts loudly as he stabs each victim upwards of twenty times. As many of us know, Michael never makes a sound apart from heavy breathing, and he never goes overboard with his kills. But all of the kills are seriously cheapened, as there is not nearly as much blood. But just because it’s not bloody, it doesn’t mean that it’s not violent. In fact, it’s more violent than the first one.

Insert title sequence in which the font has become significantly less stylized. In fact, all of the credits have been cheapened.

Laurie wakes up after surgery and wanders around the hospital. Michael comes in and kills the two-nurse skeleton crew, making his way to Laurie. Laurie sees him and flees as fast as she can manage while wearing a boot. Every groan she makes is like Bijou Phillips having sex. Michael chases her through the hospital, out the back, and into a security outpost at the gate, where Michael kills the security guard. Michael catches up to Laurie, and just as he is about to kill her, she wakes up in her bed at Sheriff Brackett’s house, now two years after the events of the previous movie.

Yes. It was all a dream. (insert breakdown almost on the same level as my last review) Guess how long that dream actually lasted. Fifteen minutes, folks, fifteen minutes! Do you want to know how to waste time when you write a script? That’s how you waste time when you write a script. And with this past scene being a dream, was the scene in which Michael escapes a dream too? If so, where in heaven’s name has he gone in the two entire years he’s been absent from Haddonfield? What even happened to have Michael go missing for exactly two years? What has he eaten? How has he lived? Where has he lived? Did he ever bathe? Where has he gotten his clothes?

As I was saying, Laurie is living with the Bracketts now, essentially being Annie’s adopted sister. Michael has been missing since two Halloweens ago, and Laurie has had recurring nightmares. Laurie is dealing with her issues through therapy (her therapist is played by Margot Kidder {what was she thinking?}), and actually has a job at some independently owned store, where she has befriended two equally white-trashy coworkers. By the way, the first scene in this store actually uses its opportunity to throw in an anti-corporate message.

By this point, I had noticed a serious and immature problem with the dialogue. Roughly every third word is the f word. I can’t describe how annoying and at times infuriating this gets. It’s a very immature way to give this movie an “edge”. By the time the movie was over, I was ready to wash out my own mouth with that blue enzyme killer that my dad has at his office that I would use to clean surgical instruments.

As Laurie is healing from her experience, Dr. Loomis has taken the time to undergo a sudden and unnecessary character change. He changes from the down-on-his-luck, bumbling doctor desperately trying to fix his mistakes to an egotistical hack job trying to capitalize on the events of two years ago by writing another book. I can’t describe how awkward this is, as this is a serious continuity error from the previous movie. At a press conference about his book, Dr. Loomis shows a clip of one of his interviews with Michael…not only after his mother died, but after he’d stopped speaking. Again, exasperating continuity error. (I miss Daeg Faerch.) In fact, Dr. Loomis meets with backlash, as the crowds blame him for Michael’s rampage and exploiting the deaths of the victims. Well, what did he think was going to happen?

Michael as a killer is actually given more screentime, again to the movie’s detriment, making Michael that much less scary. He has visions of his mother and a younger version of himself, who instruct him that it is time for him to return to Haddonfield and find his sister…even though that was the overall idea of the first one. Talk about lazy writing.

While Michael literally walks an arbitrary distance to Haddonfield, he comes across three stereotypical rednecks. They’re Caucasian, have big beards, are drunk, Southern, hunters, gun enthusiasts, and foul-mouthed. Have I mentioned before how much I hate stereotypes? The three rednecks, of course, attack Michael, and surprisingly easily beat him into submission. That’s also unbelievably enraging. But Michael gets back up, catches the rednecks off guard, and overkills them, and then killing their dog and feasting on its guts. That wasn’t tasteless at all. By the way, during Michael’s traveling, apart from the killings, he has not only changed out of his black or blue jumpsuit into dark, baggy traveling clothes with a big black hood to cover his face, he has kept his mask off. Michael NEVER does that.  This was part of what made Michael scary – we never saw his face. By now, Michael has long light brown hair, and a big beard. Here’s what he looks like. Essentially a staff-less, modern, hillbilly Moses.

Insert another massive breakdown of mine.

Laurie experiences two visions of herself in the place of Michael, both involving Michael’s mother and a younger version of Michael, and Laurie reenacting one of Michael’s murders. For example, in one of the visions, Laurie duct tapes Annie to a chair and reenacts Michael’s murder of his own father. These were entirely unnecessary. The second was some psychedelic bullhonky that resorted to fast camera effects and surreal imagery in a desperate attempt to be scary. It failed.

Laurie also blows up at her therapist at her next appointment, demanding to be prescribed more drugs. I may not be a medical professional, but I’m pretty sure that loading up on drugs is going to make your problems much worse, and will eventually fry your brain.

And this scene was a brutal reminder that the original Halloween‘s Laurie was warm, loving, and considerate, but still a tough and no-nonsense girl. Here she’s a whiny, sex-and-drug-hungry, complaining, uncharismatic, bipolar little bitch. Pardon me; the only times I will ever use derogatory terms for women in movies is if their characters are truly unlikeable, and, in this case, downright beyond the pale.

Laurie starts drinking. Because that will totally help.

Dr. Loomis’s book is finally released. Laurie buys a copy and reads it. She discovers, to her horror, that she is Michael Myers’s sister, Angel. Gee. What a plot twist that noooobody eeeeever saw coming. She has a breakdown, and flees to the house of one of her coworkers to crash at her place. Her other coworker shows up to comfort her.

Cut to a strip club, where we meet a pimp, his whore, and his grunt. By the way, this pimp is actually a Vietnam veteran. Way to reinforce another Crazy War Veteran stereotype – horny. The pimp sends his grunt to take out the trash, and when the grunt complies, he comes across a mask-less Michael, who has now arrived in Haddonfield. Jeez, this is on the same level as Friday the 13th Part XIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. Ouch. When the grunt tries to get Michael out of his way, Michael takes him down with one punch, and then stomps on his head until he crushes it. The shot just before Michael actually does it completely gives the modus operandi of the kill away. The pimp and the whore are just about to have sex, so Michael goes inside and kills them. The whore rips off part of his mask as she dies.

Dr. Loomis is featured on a Tonight Show with Jay Leno-esque show called The Newman Hour, guest-starring himself and…”Weird” Al Yankovic?

JOHNNY CAGE (Mortal Kombat): NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

JUDGE DREDD (Stallone ’95): NO!

FRANK COTTON (Hellraiser): NO.

ELLIOT MOORE (The Happening): What? No!

DEREK ZOOLANDER: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

RON BURGUNDY (Anchorman): NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

SECURITY GUARD (Austin Powers): NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

CAPT. PICARD (Star Trek: First Contact): NO! NOOOOOOOO!

CAESAR (Rise of the Planet of the Apes): NOOOO!

FRODO BAGGINS: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

SAMWISE GAMGEE: NOOOOO!

RALPHIE (A Christmas Story): NOOOOOOOOOO!

BRICK TAMLAND (Anchorman): NO! GOD! NO! GOD! PLEASE! NO! NOOO! NOOOOO!

GRINCH: NOOOOO!

DR. OCTOPUS: NOOOOOOOOO!

PATRICK STAR: NO! THIS IS PATRICK!

CHUCKY (Child’s Play…all three): NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

RAMESES (Prince of Egypt): NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

PETER PARKER (Spider-Man 2): NOOOOOOOOOO!

SULLEY (Monsters, Inc.): No. No! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NOOOOOOO!

BUZZ LIGHTYEAR: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

JAFAR: NOOOOOOOO!

ZEUS (Hercules): NOOOOOOOOO!

ZUKO (Avatar: The Last Airbender): NOOOOOOOOO!

JONNIE GOODBOY TYLER (Battlefield Earth): NOOOOOO!

LUKE SKYWALKER (A New Hope): NO!

LUKE SKYWALKER (The Empire Strikes Back): NOOOOO! NOOOO!

ANAKIN SKYWALKER: NO!

OBI-WAN KENOBI: NOOOOOOOOO!

ASH (Evil Dead 2): NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

ACE VENTURA: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

DARTH VADER: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Why, Al, why? What made you think you would be cameoing in a good movie? You have too much talent to do this! I LOVED UHF!

Yes, I am fully aware that I just overdid that joke.

Loomis is humiliated on camera by Mr. Newman, and leaves, believing his career to be over. Well, it is time to think about retirement.

Then I looked at the timer on the movie and saw that we somehow have forty minutes left.

We cut back to Laurie and her two coworkers, and Laurie has gone through another odd emotional change. In the last scene, she was all, “My f^cking life is in f^cking shambles and I’m never gonna f^cking recover!” to “I’m so f^cking happy-go-lucky! I wanna f^cking party! I don’t f^cking care anymore!” Yes, her dialogue goes something like that. I’m not kidding; about every third word is the f word. Laurie and her two coworkers go to some concert featuring a band known as Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures. Yes, Rob, I got your reference. Judging by their genre of music, which is horror-themed soft rock, you’d think that they’d be a pretty tame band. But when you judge them by their audience, and the fact that in between each of Captain Clegg’s songs, we hear the tasteless quips of a repulsive, debauched comedian who seems to build his entire career off of working blue, they’re probably the most trashy band ever, as their audience is essentially a mosh pit that may as well be a freaking orgy. Practically every woman there is topless or completely naked. Way to go, Rob Zombie. You’ve just demonstrated how immature you are when it comes to nudity. I don’t remember the Halloween costume of one of the coworkers, but Laurie is dressed up as a sexy maid, while the other coworker is dressed as Dr. Frank-N-Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Sigh.

As I sat through this concert, I can honestly say that I became physically uncomfortable. I felt not just disgusting, but physically sick. I wanted nothing more than to skip this scene. But, regrettably, I stuck it out. I was amazed – this is one of very few movies that made me physically uncomfortable. In fact, I have never felt more uncomfortable while watching a movie.

Michael arrives at the concert and kills “Dr. Frank-N-Furter” and her would-be sexual liaison. Laurie and the other coworker go back to the Bracketts’. Michael goes there and kills Annie and the coworker. Laurie runs away. Sheriff Brackett arrives with the police force only to find his own daughter dead. And this leads to the only redeeming moment of the entire film – Brackett’s reaction to Annie’s corpse. It’s actually kind of sad. Had this scene – and this entire freaking movie – been done right, it could have been the next The Green Mile. Brad Dourif easily gives the best performance in the whole movie. It’s really nice to see him playing something other than Grima Wormtongue from The Two Towers or Chucky from Child’s Play. In particular, it’s nice to see him playing a father. Dude, he  should have been the star of this movie! “Michael Myers returns to Haddonfield, and it’s up to the sheriff to protect his town from Michael’s bloody rampage.”

Laurie runs several miles out of Haddonfield before she collapses and is picked up by a passing driver. Of course, Michael gets there in the nick of time and kills the driver. Michael flips the car over by himself, knocking Laurie out. Now, that’s just silly. Michael claims his prize, and carries her toward a dilapidated shack in the middle of a clearing.

Dr. Loomis catches the story on the news (that quickly, huh?) and heads out there. Sheriff Brackett and the entire police force surround the shack.

Laurie is being forced by a vision of Michael’s mother – now her mother as well – to repeatedly say, “I love you, mommy.”

Dr. Loomis arrives at the shack and approaches the Sheriff. The Sheriff blames Dr. Loomis for his daughter’s death – who wouldn’t? – and punches him in the jaw. He gets out his gun and threatens to shoot Dr. Loomis, but his officers restrain him, and the Sheriff orders Dr. Loomis to leave. Dr. Loomis breaks the police barrier, saying that he owes this to the Sheriff, and runs inside the shack. He confronts a now-insane Laurie and a stoic Michael. Michael is given a “go” signal by the apparition of his mother, and he tackles Dr. Loomis, busting through the cabin wall. The police say they don’t have a clear shot (they actually kind of do), so they hold their fire. Michael removes his mask (boo hiss.) in front of Dr. Loomis and the police, and this is where I broke. Again.

Michael speaks.

You read that correctly.

Michael speaks.

Mr. Zombie, do you have any idea how insulting that is to me, audiences, and the franchise? I don’t care that you’re trying to create your own unique vision of Michael, which is actually not all that unique. You have just eliminated every last bit of anything that could possibly make Michael scary. Because that’s all you care about, isn’t it? Scaring us. Not only that, but thinking that you can make a movie scary with only an overload of over-the-top violence. I have heard people accuse Mel Gibson for making The Passion of the Christ purely as masturbatory material. I proved the masses wrong. But this. Your “original” and “new” “vision” of a beloved franchise. This is masturbatory material. This is your desperate attempt to juxtapose violence and sex in such a manner that I am concerned for you. This is how you have used the Halloween license and treated its franchise. You have failed in such a horrible way that you have rendered the Halloween franchise unrecognizable. If there was ever a horror movie that if I was faced with the director and I would point my finger, say “Shame on you,” and spit on the director, it would be this film.

Anyway, Michael takes off his mask, showing his face to Dr. Loomis and the police, and only says one solitary word.

MICHAEL: Die!

And Michael stabs Dr. Loomis in the chest. Dr. Loomis falls to the ground, dead (again, infuriating, as the original Dr. Loomis lives all the way until Halloween 6). Sheriff Brackett, knowing the police have a clear shot now, shouts, “Now!” and the police open fire on Michael like they did in Halloween 4. Michael laughably wiggles like he’s getting blown away by a machine gun, even though the police are only shooting standard-issue pistols, bolt-action rifles, and shotguns. After a long, side-splittingly silly slow-mo sequence, Michael finally falls to the ground, dead. Laurie staggers outside, bends down, and grabs Michael’s knife. The police, for some reason, shoot her three or four or five times before Sheriff Brackett screams for them to hold their fire. Laurie collapses to the ground as “Love Hurts” plays in the background.

Cut to Laurie in a white hall with no windows or doors. She is wearing a hospital gown and is sitting on a bed. The apparition of her/Michael’s mother appears at the end of the hall, leading a white horse toward Laurie. Laurie grins as her mother approaches, with the wall advancing just behind her. And then…credits?

So what the heck happened? Is she dead? Is she now in the psych ward? Is she in some sort of limbo? Has she gone insane and is about to start killing like Michael? Is her mother’s spirit escorting her to purgatory? What is going on? And what are the effects of this back in the real world? These questions will never be answered.

Oh, and throughout the movie, you will notice the obvious lack of the original theme song during the movie. Don’t worry – they bring it back…for a single playthrough during the end credits. The final insult.

This is the nightmare that every priest and religious parent dreads that horror films are. This is the type of horror film that they are thinking of when they keep their children from watching horror movies.

Its only way that it improved over its predecessor was in how its violence was less bloody. But it was no less violent.

The story is like looking at yourself through a very crass funhouse mirror. It refuses to gel. It is so bloodthirsty and sex-hungry. It is bereft of scares, suspense, or any semblance of quality. It is so desperate in overcompensation of violence to make up for its lack of scariness or plot or character. Its artsy sequences fail miserably when they are drowned in blood. And the ending is awful.

Every character, aside from Dr. Loomis and Sheriff Brackett, is the worst that white trash can offer.

Even the city of Haddonfield is more trashy, raunchy – oh, screw it, it may as well be a suburban version of the love child produced from a three-way gangbang between Chicago, Detroit, and San Francisco.

Here’s an idea that probably would have saved the film: take the hospital scene, and make that the entire movie.

But Rob Zombie never took that idea to heart, because the product we end up with is purely and simply abhorrent. It is downright bizarre. It is surprisingly confusing. It is crudely and sloppily thrown together. It was demoralizing to sit through it. It was trashy in its ways that it created its characters. It was desperate for a single scare. The overall story was derivative and has been done before. More than that, it was surprisingly rushed, considering that it’s a two-hour movie. The overall product lacked focus. It was an absolute disaster to see. It was disgraceful. Hateful. Vile. Repulsive. Sleazy. It was disgusting to look at, and I felt disgusting through most of it. It was sadistic in how it showed its violence. It was practically perverted in its quest for boobs. It was a completely pointless endeavor. It’s practically screaming “Look at me! I’m complex! I’m tortured! You should watch me and study my every move!” It was that pretentious.

But it can all be summed up in one solitary word: ugly.

The Garbage Pail Kids Movie may have said that there is no such thing as ugliness in the world. It and Halloween 2 convinced me that there is ugly. There is horrendous, evil ugliness in the world, and it’s all been compiled and composted into this movie.

And what baffles me even more is this: some people actually like this movie! They don’t just like it, but they love it! When I had first watched this movie, and announced that I thought it was a reprehensible pile of rotten, overcooked refuse and hogwash, I was told by these poor, naïve, foolish people that I “just didn’t get it”. That somehow, this was one of the greatest horror movies ever, and I just didn’t understand why. I, in response, thought, What is there to understand? But if someone can talk to me, walk me through this movie, speaking to me like a child who is watching his first horror movie, and explain why this is one of the greatest horror movies of all time, it will introduce me to an entirely new realm of horror cinema that I have never dreamed of, or even fathomed the possibility of its existence. Can one of those people please talk to me? Please? I need to know how this movie is so unique. It will be the most enlightening experience I have ever had. Please talk to me. I need to know.

Final thoughts. It is films like this that make me question why, in the name of God, I decided to start writing these reviews.

Why do I do this to myself?

Why do I watch such ungodly movies?

Why do I expose myself to such reeking slurry?

Why do I inflict such torture on myself in doing this?

Why do I write reviews on them?

Why am I not doing something more productive than this?

Because I want to.

But that is not the only or main reason I do this.

I do all of this for you.

While I have always had an interest in movies, watching movies, and telling people of my love/hate relationship with them, there has always been another reason in the back of my mind.

I want to entertain people by writing my crummy, silly, stupid reviews.

I want to make someone’s day just a little brighter by providing them with something lightly funny through jokes and sarcasm.

These reasons are why I am avoiding making a YouTube channel – I do not wish to make money off of writing my reviews, and am trying to avoid the temptation of writing these reviews out of avarice than out of charity.

I want to prove to and to warn my fellow Mormons that if they have any notions of curiosity about the realm of R-rated cinema, they will have to dig through a lot of dreck and waste to reach the few diamonds scattered around the miles-wide pile.

Your curiosity will most likely kill you before you make it to any.

Curiosity killed the cat.

But satisfaction brought him back, as I have witnessed miracles like Psycho. Hellraiser. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Assault on Precinct 13. The Evil Dead quadrilogy. The Exorcist. The Silence of the Lambs. Suspiria. Blue Velvet. Night of the Living Dead. Dawn of the Dead. Deliverance. Highlander. The Hills Have Eyes. The Last House on the Left. Men Behind the Sun. The Passion of the Christ. Pan’s Labyrinth. Requiem for a Dream. Dredd. Moon. The Conjuring. A Scanner Darkly. Sinister. Carrie. Oculus. Orphan. Saw. A Serbian Film. And so many more diamonds in the sludge.

And I am still searching for more, and will continue to do so, knowing that it will be worth the time and effort.

You can do the same if you try hard enough.

You can find jewels like the aforementioned films.

But I must leave you with some words of warning; words that I suggest you heed.

Proceed with caution.

Final verdict: 0 out of 5 stars.

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