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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Halloween 2: Rob Zombie's Brutal Final Chapter

Rob Zombie made Halloween his own in 2007 after being approached by Dimension Films, and rather than let someone else continue his vision, he has returned to finish it himself in brutal, bloody, squirm in your seat fashion.

Being that he firmly repeated he was only doing one film, I took the ending of his first Halloween film as the true ending to his story as a standalone vision. That was until I started seeing images of an "H2" movie poster and reports that he signed on to make the sequel to his film. I walked away from the first one thinking that Rob had recreated this character to be so terrifying that it re-defined the series and couldn't wait to see how he would continue that. I had no idea just how far he was going to take his vision of making Michael Myers a truly terrifying character.

Do not read anything between these two spoiler alert warnings if you don't want to know the details of the film. Highlight the blank area below to reveal the details.

The film opens with a quick flashback to a young Michael Myers in the mental institution having lunch with his mother Deborah Myers, played again by Rob's wife Sheri Moon. His time in the institution followed the murdering rampage that occurred when he killed his older sister and her boyfriend along with his mother's boyfriend in the first film. Unfortunately, for those of us who saw his first film we see a new actor in the young character role. This is my only gripe for this film, as I hate seeing actors replaced in a series if anything for the sheer purpose of continuity. However, I understand that perhaps Daeg Farch, who played young Michael in his first Halloween film, now looks too old to have reprised his role and the director has to find a way to move on. After the short flashback, the movie picks up the moment after the first one had ended, with a blood-stained and traumatized Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton)walking down the middle of the street after having "killed" Michael Myers. Laurie is taken to the hospital where she is stripped down and cleaned while doctors prepare to close up her many wounds and a fingernail removal provides the first squirm-worthy moment. We then see Myers' body being transported when he escapes in one of the most graphic scenes of the film.

The film follows Laurie Strode in the aftermath of her encounter from the first film, examining how tortured she is in believing she killed Michael but the fact that he may still be alive being that "no body was found". Meanwhile, Michael kills takes one victim after another and the killing scenes are so brutally realistic and violent even the hardcore horror fans will find themselves in shock. A few examples include Michael stomping a man's head in, snapping a man's forearm leaving him screaming while he runs from Michael holding his dangling arm, impaling a few drunken hunters on the deer antlers that adorn their truck, and the beheading of one of the men who were transporting him when he escaped.

There are plot details below but more observational than revealing

We learn while following Laurie that her dreams are haunted with visions of Michael coming after her, leaving a trail of disfigured victims behind along the way. She struggles with the idea that she killed Michael but somehow he could still be after her and that idea lives in her dreams. Some of these dream sequences, especially near the end of the film are reminiscent of something that would have come from his "House of 1,000 Corpses" movie for their very strange figures and styling. Of course, using the scenes as Laurie's dreams allowed Rob a lot of freedom to go as far as he wanted to in the realm of strange which he took full advantage of. Many of the sequences, both being Laurie's dreams and visions that Michael has, are those of his dead mother Deborah all in white with a horse, surrounded by a backlit glow. For me, the scenes with Deborah are too similar to the Friday The 13th scenes with the mother of Jason Voorhees (most notably from "Freddy Vs. Jason").

I have seen a natural evolution in the four films directed and written by Rob Zombie and while none of them are perfect, they all stand alone as incredible films. His first film, House of 1,000 Corpses, was like a trip through a psychedelic haunted house following the twisted Firefly family while its sequel, The Devil's Rejects, left the colors behind and turned to cinematic grit with a far more violent approach to the rampages of the family on the run. The Halloween film released in 2007 showed how Rob was able to take a known character and storyline and turn it into something new and fresh, revealing a backstory to the origin of Michael Myers as a killer. This new Halloween film turns the volume way up as we see just how violent and scary Michael Myers is as he brutally and graphically murders anyone in his path as he seeks out Laurie. Rob's killer is a large, powerful man and the angry grunts that Michael lets out while slashing his victims shows what a brute killing force he is. As Otis says in the "House" film, "the boogeyman is real, and you found him." For those of you who have seen it, I'd love to hear your opinion on the film and on my review and for those who have yet to see it, prepare yourself for a new breed of killer in this revived Michael Myers.

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