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Unmasking Crap 

Rob Zombie's initial 'Halloween' was decent, but the sequel is terrible

Rob Zombie did a pretty good job with Halloween in 2007. I didn't really like his take, but it definitely had a hint of decent filmmaking. He also got the mask right, which hadn't happened since John Carpenter's 1978 original.

When it was announced that Zombie would continue his "vision" of slasher Michael Myers, I thought it was an OK idea. Perhaps he would remedy some of the shortcomings in his first attempt. Or perhaps he would allow those shortcomings to become the predominant traits and screw the sequel up, old-school.

Regrettably, Zombie has made the worst of his four films with Halloween II. He gets ridiculous in his inexplicable need to explore the psyche of Myers. Don't get me wrong; I liked some of the Myers backstory in Zombie's first Halloween (like Michael eating candy corn before offing his stepdad and sister). At that time, Zombie took it to a level that was tolerable and made some sense.

This time out, Myers is driven to kill by visions starring the pale ghost of his mom (Sheri Moon Zombie) riding a white horse, accompanied by the younger version of himself. Yes, it appears that Myers' subconscious is a goofy place that sort of looks like a low-grade Stevie Nicks video. (Actually, come to think of it, some of those videos were pretty bad, and could perhaps drive the more easily influenced to kill. Speaking of bad, how about Nicks' pitiful participation on Fleetwood Mac's Mirage album? That one didn't feature the band on its best day.)

But I digress. Halloween II looks promising for a few minutes. It picks up directly after the previous film as Myers kicks the crap out of those who dared drive the van containing his supposedly dead corpse. Then he becomes some sort of psychotic version of Kung Fu's Caine, wandering the country without his mask and donning a huge beard and a hoodie. I noticed he also had a bed roll, and the idea of Myers rolling out his little mat for a nap struck me as strange.

As Michael walks the Earth, killing time and dogs until the next Halloween, his sister, Laurie Strode, played by the intolerably annoying Scout Taylor-Compton, deals with post-traumatic-my-brother-tried-to-kill-me syndrome. The key to Laurie's therapy is high-pitched whining. The caustic power of Compton's whiny voice was not on full display in the first film, but it gets center stage this time out. I would rather listen to Fleetwood Mac's Mirage album 50 times than hear Compton whine, "I'm Michael Myers' sister!" one more time. She is one hard-to-take actress.

So Michael comes home, kills Danielle Harris' Annie for what seems like the 12th time, and sets his sights on his sister again. His motivation is that his ghost mom wants the family together again, presumably because she's made some ghost meatloaf or something.

What does Zombie do wrong this time? Pretty much everything. He goes crazy with his stupid hillbilly shit, turning Myers into a hillbilly who kills hillbillies while being pursued by hillbillies. He returns to the same messy, sloppy kind of filmmaking that made House of 1000 Corpses such a task to watch.

He almost completely omits John Carpenter's score, which doesn't appear until the final minutes. As for the infamous mask, it spends a lot of the movie packed away in Michael's backpack. When it comes out, it gets torn and shredded, as does the legacy of Carpenter's masterpiece.

Next up for Zombie? A remake of The Blob, which will probably feature hillbillies running from man-eating goo. Next up for Michael Myers? Producers have announced that a 3-D sequel is on the way—without Zombie's participation. Why not pay Carpenter millions to do it right? One can dream.

Halloween II
Rated R · 105 minutes · 2009
Official Site: www.halloween-themovie.com
Director: Rob Zombie
Producer: Malek Akkad, Andy Gould, Rob Zombie, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Matthew Stein and Andy La Marca
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Tyler Mane, Sheri Moon Zombie, Brad Dourif, Scout Taylor-Compton, Danielle Harris, Brea Grant, Howard Hesseman, Mary Birdsong, Chase Vanek, Margot Kidder, Al Yankovic and Angela Trimbur

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