Editor’s note: This review originally appeared on Fangoria.com prior to a mass site overhaul that saw two years’ worth of work completely wiped away from the inner crevices of the net.
Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: Rob Zombie
Cast: Scout Taylor-Compton, Tyler Mane, Malcolm McDowell
A few years ago when Rob Zombie initially tackled the Halloween brand, franchise fans were both skeptical and excited. Given Zombie’s propensity for extreme violence and outlandish character portrayals, most fans harbored reasonably accurate expectations for the film. As it turns out, Rob’s Halloween rendition did quite well, and before anyone could utter trick-or-treat, Dimension had a proposed sequel on the table – a sequel which Zombie expressed no interest in helming. Well, things change quickly in Hollywood, and to the surprise of many, Rob eventually signed on to write and direct the immediate follow-up Halloween 2.
From the outset Zombie claimed that his vision for Halloween 2 would further build upon his previous picture, all the while developing a new, original and unique direction in which to lead the preceding films surviving characters. Rob clearly lived up to his word, transforming virtually every returning cast member in bold, pronounced fashion. No longer is Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) an innocent youth accustomed to the luxuries of middle class suburbia. Her near fatal brush with death embodied has left her a scarred wreck, unstable, gothic, and tormented by memories of the worst Halloween experience one could fathom. Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm Mcdowell) has undergone quite the metamorphosis as well. Dead and gone is the caring, sympathetic Doc who always placed concern for others first and foremost. These days, just one year after a deadly confrontation with his former longtime patient Michael Myers, Loomis has been overcome by greed and the desire for the spotlight; marketing a new novel based upon the terror Myers unleashed upon Haddonfield a year prior.
Along with these characters’ drastic trait adjustments comes the unexpected evolution of Michael Myers himself. While the masked one still embarks on his journey to eliminate Laurie (who learns of her true identity midway through the film), he’s suddenly taken on guidance from his deceased mother, and oddly enough, himself – in the form of a child (played by Chase Wright Vanek). Assisted by these (almost) phantasmagorical experiences, Michael of course succeeds in tracking his sister. Determined to end Laurie’s physical existence, Myers slashes, stomps, and decapitates his way to a final showdown with local police, Laurie and Dr. Loomis.
Zombie’s unexpected plan of attack is admittedly quite the shocker (and marked improvement upon his previous outing). Rather than concealing the boogeyman under Sycamore shadows, Rob brings Michael to the foreground in menacing fashion. Rather than swift (yet vicious just the same) death, Myers unleashes extended, torturous slayings of his victims, the mauling often lasting long beyond the victims life-spans, messily redefining overkill. In fact I’ll go ahead and say with confidence that this is not just the goriest Halloween film to date, I’ll say it’s Zombie’s goriest work period. The mystique of the mysterious mask is absent, replaced by the cold stare of an emotionless shape, and though quite a bit of the fear factor is lost as a result, those eyes cast a very chilling sensation that helps fill the void. So, while the mystery of Halloween is gone (in truth, it has been for decades), the potential mayhem that accompanies the night and films remains just the same.
In closing, I’d just like to add two more pennies, so shake way in the Piggy Bank, here comes penny number one… I was overjoyed with the graphic gore of Halloween 2. While Zombie introduced some vile imagery in his 2007 reinterpretation of Halloween, he didn’t come close to treading the waters he currently explores. Rob is officially sharing the sea with Great Whites at this point. There’s always been some mild mutilation to this franchise, but Rob Zombie has taken it to a completely different extreme in this case. My other penny… not so positive. While I can respect painting Dr. Loomis a brand new, manipulated portrait – I can’t get beyond the feeling of complete character assassination. Loomis represented everything an honest, ethical doctor should be… to turn him into a greedy arrogant ass just hurts me. But hey, maybe that’s because I’m such a huge Donald Pleasence fan – and well, Samuel Loomis will always be Mr. Pleasence to me.