Halloween II (2009)
It's rated R. This is an exercise in repetition. Halloween II sports a bunch of absolutely awful things that are graphic. Like Halloween by Rob Zombie, the language, sex, nudity, and violence are all ramped up. This might actually make things worse, but if you watch these movies back-to-back, you start to get used to the absolutely abhorrent content. My soul is empty and I'm glad that I have a week off before the new one comes out. R.
DIRECTOR: Rob Zombie
I'm conflicted. Not about being done with the Halloween franchise for a few days. I'm jazzed about that. I feel sucked dry in terms of that. I'm torn mostly about what I actually think about this movie. In 2009, I was in my heyday for Rob Zombie. He could do no wrong and the first movie was great. I remember leaving the movie just blown away by this movie. The guy I saw it with...didn't think that. He absolutely loathed the movie. Of course he was wrong. He's not me. But then I heard that other people didn't like this movie. Well, it's weird that they were wrong too. I acknowledged that I didn't like it as much as Rob Zombie's first film, but I was just too cool resting on my laurels. I got married soon after this movie and that kind of put the kibosh on rewatching graphic horror movies often. So I was excited to watch this movie to see what everyone was talking about. Sure, I remembered horses and weird stuff in this movie, but I didn't remember much else.
I can see why everyone hates it. I didn't love the experience and I really wanted to. I always enjoy being right because...I think I always am. Halloween II is what I've always wanted out of a Halloween movie: it completely throws caution to the wind. Rob Zombie --and this is entirely from memory --only likes making sequels that are dramatically different from the first entry. He gets bored making the same movie multiple times. It's why House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects are very different films. I admire that. If you really want to want more of the same thing, just watch the original. Halloween II definitely falls under that mantra. Again, it has Rob Zombie's fingerprints all over it. He's an auteur and I can respect that. But I'm guessing that there's another level here. This feels like he's disenfranchised with the franchise. (You can put that on a tee-shirt, assuming you get the rights from me first.) Rob Zombie is a horror fan. He's a big-time horror fan. He's the dream we all have. He loves what he loves so much that he committed himself to pursuing that for the rest of his life. He knows his stuff and probably did the first Halloween because he loved it. But part of his soul had to die with that first film. John Carpenter and he didn't get along. I just read an except from an interview with Carpenter who was completely open about how much he dislikes Rob Zombie and his first film. Add to the fact that fanboys are the worst, probably complaining about how this isn't their Michael Myers. But it did way better than a lot of the sequels. I just talked about how much I love the remake. It's so good. But this movie isn't that. It's just made by a guy that made the first one and I think he really wants to end it all. This feels like a movie that he didn't want to make, so he made it into a movie that he DID want to make. That's confusing, I know. I'm going to reword that. He's going to make the best of a bad situation. If he's forced to make another Halloween movie, he's going to make it his way. And that's what this movie is. It's the first Halloween movie that says that "we shouldn't have a sequel after this." I mean, it's possible. Moutstapha Akkad had a line in his contract that you couldn't kill Michael Myers, but this burns down the whole thing in one movie. Pretty much the question would be "What if Michael Myers wasn't the MIchael Myers you knew?"
What's really weird about this movie is that it actually might be great if it wasn't named Halloween II. I don't think I realized this before so clearly, but franchises are about maintaining expectations. We talked about this with Last Jedi, but Halloween II might be a better example. People almost want the same movie over-and-over again. There have to be new set pieces, but the story has to play out as formulaically as possible. It is slow fatigue. We can handle one movie at a time. They are never as good as the original mainly because there is nothing original. (Man, I am zinging them out today. Look at me!) But new things mean new expectations. If you create something new, not only are you expected to make something good, but it has to be better than what came before. John Carpenter's movie is genius. The original Star Wars trilogy was genius. It has to be something so glorious that it blows the original out of the water. The thing that we never talk about when it comes to the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy is that it completely obliterates Tim Burton's Batman. There are people who love it because it is original and watchable, but the craftsmanship of the new trilogy is insanely good. Halloween II isn't that good. It's a good movie, don't get me wrong. I enjoy it overall. But this movie works better as an original Rob Zombie piece, not a continuation of a story. The root story is actually pretty solid. A serial killer hunts the girl who got away. The girl lives with the trauma of violence. That's cool. There's nothing that fundamentally needs Michael Myers and Laurie Strode. For once, what should have worked as a shortcut in terms of character development is actually a hindrance to the story.
Also, this movie could really offend those people who find these characters precious. I've been in that camp before. I hated Man of Steel because it wasn't Superman. I know how we get attached to fictional characters. It just happens. But this is a reboot and Michael Myers's face is almost a literal blank slate. We know that he tries to kill his family and that's still intact. He doesn't talk and he wears a mask and Zombie took that away. He still doesn't properly talk, but he does make proper noises. But I like that there's a metaphysical spiritual side to Michael's insanity. I know, it doesn't make a lick of sense, especially when Laurie gets on board. But it's something different. It's something bigger without ever being a canon thing. Instead of Zombie trying to change the mythos of Halloween, he's just changing the execution, pun intended. The entire thing looks like one of his music videos. While Zombie's music tastes may not be my cup of tea, I can appreciate the aesthetic talent that went into this movie. It looks super-dee-duper pretty (in a macabre way, of course) and that's something different. Even if you don't like this movie for story or character, it certainly isn't boring. It is brutal and gory and something that teeters on something Guillermo del Toro would make. Frankly, I like things a bit weird and Halloween II is very weird. There's this pseudo-intellectualism behind it that feels cooler than it is, though. I normally try not to dismiss things that I don't get, but I don't think that there's anything much too get outside of the superficial explanation at the beginning. I tried finding theories on Zombie's symbolism and it isn't very deep. Some things are just weird for weird's sake and that's a bit of a bummer. But it looks pretty and I can't forget that.
The thing I love about Halloween II is a look at Laurie's trauma. H20 teased this a little bit, but it was extremely tame in comparison. Again, Zombie doesn't mind making things look ugly. Laurie's trauma is upsetting and ugly. Often, she becomes the villain of the narrative. H20 had Laurie as an alcoholic, but it was a very private pain. This Laurie is making her pain everyone else's pain. I love the casting of Margot Kidder as Laurie's psychiatrist. She's great in it. I didn't actually think that would be a great part for Kidder, but knowing her history with dealing with mental health, it is so on the nose. Kidder, like McDowell's Loomis in the first one, seems to love her patient. All she sees is Laurie at her worst and there's no judgment. I love it so much. Laurie's relationships are so toxic and it is perfect. It's oddly the inverse of Michael's childhood. People care for her so much and she lashes out. Michael was neglected and he lashed out. I guess this might tie back into Carpenter's Michael. Anyone could be lost to mental health issues, but we still have Laurie as our protagonist, despite the awful things she does to her friends.
Halloween II isn't perfect. I really wanted to like it more than I did. It's good and it's even great compared to many entries in the franchise. But it doesn't live up to its predecessor and that was clearly death in this series. It took almost a decade to get another entry and its another retcon. That's a bummer, but I do appreciate what I got.
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