Haddonfield, Illinois. Ten-year-old Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch) murders several people, including his sister, and is institutionalised. As an adult, the mask-wearing Michael (Tyler Mane)escapes and returns home, pursued by his psychiatrist Sam Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), and goes after his other sister, Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton).
One thing you can’t accuse Rob Zombie of is not loving his subject matter. Most remakes of horror classics from the 1970s and ‘80s get directed by careerists with a few pop videos on their resume who need a commercial success as a stepping stone to a career in mainstream schlock. Their role models aren’t Wes Craven or George Romero but Renny Harlin or Stephen Hopkins. For Zombie (House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects), remaking Halloween is as daunting and humbling a gig as King Kong was for Peter Jackson.
Zombie’s script tells exactly the same story as Carpenter and his co-writer Debra Hill did – but changes emphases, fills in missing scenes, harps on that heroine-is-the-long-lost-sister-of-the-killer bit introduced in Halloween II (we assume that isn’t up for a remake next) and gives more background on the demented Michael Myers. The prologue, which Carpenter managed in a well-remembered single take, is spun out into the first third of the film. Chubbily angelic Michael is driven mad by white trash family circumstances, and shows the first signs (animal mutilations) of wanting to be a serial killer when he grows up. Michael McDowell, doing a decent job subbing for the late Donald Pleasence as the dogged psychiatrist, gets into the story early, and we see more of Michael’s evolution into a murderous automaton.
In a way, Zombie’s take on Halloween is fan fiction. If you’ve ever wanted ‘origin scenes’ for significant props like Michael’s overalls or Dr Loomis’s handgun, you’ll find them here -- along with cameos from Ken Foree and Mickey Dolenz (!) as the persons responsible for passing them on. The cast is as heavy with grindhouse veterans (Udo Kier, Sid Haig, Richard Lynch, Dee Wallace Stone, etc) as anything from Tarantino or Rodriguez, down to inside gags like casting Danielle Harris (who was a creepy little girl in a couple of forgotten Halloween sequels) as one of the victims. Despite decent work from the younger cast when they finally get a look-in, Zombie has no interest in the imperilled kids, which means the film falls flat when it comes to suspense, shock and shudders. This take on Halloween is grim and nasty, but never remotely scary.
It could have been worse but, seriously, guys, stop doing this. Was he the boogey man? asks the film. As a matter of fact, he was a stringy-haired professional wrestler with a pole-dancer for a mother and a kink for masks.