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Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 Is A Tangled Mess

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Things That Go Bump is a column that reviews films from the horror and suspense genres. I recommend films on the following scale: Skip It, Rent It, or Buy It.

Be warned, this review is full of spoilers. So skip to the recommendation section on the last page if you want to stay spoiler-free.

I wrote last week that Rob Zombie's remake/re-imagining/reinvention of the Halloween mythos was a brutal, violent, effective film. It knows what it wants to be; it has a goal and a basic thesis for operation. Zombie believed that due to confusing plot lines and too many sequels, Michael Myers was no longer scary. He also realized that modern horror audiences wouldn't find his story scary without a back story that was truly messed up beyond anything imaginable. It worked because instead of being scary, the story was shocking and violent.

I've watched H2 twice. The first was in theaters and I will say that to watch that will only leave you more confused. I saw this again on DVD in the Unrated Director's Cut released on January 12, 2010. I have read countless interviews and even listened to a bit of the commentary from the director and I still don't get it and further, I don't want to. In an attempt to be both shocking and abstract, Zombie and H2 fall well short of anything worth watching. I defy anyone to tell me what is the central purpose or goal of Halloween 2 other than grand larceny of the viewers.

Plot Summary and Commentary – As If It's Going To Help

We open with a title card about the symbolic nature of the "white horse" in dreams. This is the first sign of trouble. When a director or movie studio assumes the audience is too stupid to get it, they give us one of these to set it up for us. It's kind of like an open-book test. You have the answers in front of you, so you pass it, but you probably won't learn anything from it.

Then, we get the big retcon. Debra Myers, played even more incoherently (if that's possible) by Sheri Moon-Zombie, walks into the sanitarium to visit little Michael presumably at some point in his treatment with Dr. Loomis. She presents him with a gift. You guessed it — a white horse statue. He proceeds to tell her he saw her and the horse in a dream the night before. Then, we flash to the title screen, hear the gun click, the shot fire, and Laurie's scream from the end of the first film.

What happens over the next 20 minutes is the best part of the film. Too bad half of it isn't real. Laurie walks down a street holding the gun and is finally picked up by Sheriff Brackett (played quite well by Brad Dourif). We flash to the scene of the "crime" — the old Myers house where the first film ended — and we see the CSI and coroner's department hard at work picking up the bodies and photographing Michael Myers with what appears to be a gunshot wound to the face. We aren't sure that's what it is, but half of the mask is red and burnt consistent with a close gunshot wound to the face. (I learned that watching Forensic Files.) We cut to Laurie being wheeled into the hospital ER and we are treated to nearly every bone-setting and stitch.

We flash back to coroner's attendants loading Michael into a van to be taken to the morgue. After a rather unsettling and completely pointless conversation, the van crashes and Michael escapes. He is seen walking down a dark road toward his mother, dressed in white, next to a white horse. The entire escape sequence is unnecessary. When we see Laurie in the opening, she is alone. So, is it too much to ask that he just gets up and walks away? I guess so, because we have this instead.

We cut back to the hospital and see Laurie sleeping all bandaged up and wearing multiple casts for her injuries. She stumbles to Annie's room (who survived the first film) where she is distraught over her friend's condition. Laurie is escorted from her room but turns around to see the nurse now being stalked and attacked by Michael. Michael proceeds to not only kill the nurse, but rip her to pieces, all the while grunting loudly for the audience. (Hold on to that detail as it is one of the big differences between the theatrical and director's cuts). Michael stalks Laurie around the hospital where she discovers scenes of carnage everywhere. In a scene unique to the director's cut, she falls in a dumpster full of dead bodies — presumably the entire hospital staff. It's frightening and yet is a clue that this is a dream because all of the faces looks the same. That's probably why it was cut. Laurie escapes to the guard shack only to have Michael pursue her there and basically rip a wall down to get to her. He raises the fire axe above his head and just as it comes down — she wakes up screaming in another bed. That's right. The most terrifying 10 minutes of this movie are a dream sequence.

We learn from a title card that it is October 29. (The director's cut reveals it is two years after the events of the first film.) To say Laurie isn't coping well is an understatement. She no longer looks remotely wholesome, furthering a character change Zombie only skated around in the last picture. She has funky tattoos, wears torn up "rocker" clothing, doesn't appear to have showered in a month, and is pretty much pissed off at the world and feels guilty for surviving the ordeal of two Halloweens prior. We see she lives with Sheriff Brackett and a physically (perhaps not emotionally) recovered Annie and is seeing a therapist. (Note: in the theatrical release, Laurie and Annie are portrayed as close. In the director's cut, they have bitter arguments. Not sure why that change was necessary, but it adds a new element to the director's cut worth mentioning.) We see her with her therapist (cameo by Margot Kidder) and with her trash-mouthed friends at her place of work (cameo by Howard Hesseman). Oh yeah, Laurie has learned the "F" word since the first movie and likes all its variations — a lot. 

Then, as if he hasn't stepped on everything he was so brilliant with in the first installment, Zombie re-introduces us to Dr. Loomis who did survive Michael's attack. No longer is he the psychiatrist who felt guilt and a sense of duty to stop his dangerous patient. Now, he's just a jerk trying to sell books and it is a complete shame. Donald Pleasence's Loomis suffered from serious mischaracterization as well in previous iterations. Maybe that's what Zombie was going for – a tribute to just how little there is to do with Dr. Loomis once we leave the hospital. After a great performance in the 2007 film, Malcolm McDowell is completely unlikeable in this version.

We know very quickly from Loomis's book tour/speaking engagement thing that the press hounds him about his involvement with Michael Myers, his profiting from the story, and whether or not he believes Michael is really dead or not. It's the first time characters from Zombie's version of the series have acted like they know they are in a horror film and it leads to another big twist Zombie adds – Michael walking (without the mask) across an open field. He follows a vision (I think) of his mother who tells him (and a vision of his former boyhood self — in clown costume) to be ready to bring them home. Ooo. Ahh. Whatever.

After some completely random (and seemingly pointless) kills in a field, we get a couple of dream sequences (not sure if one is Laurie's or Michael's or both hers) complete with imagery straight out of a White Zombie video, some random killing, and some more of Michael walking in daylight, unmasked, with his mother/younger self visions in tow as they see billboards promoting the Loomis book tour. Annie gets killed quite violently by Michael and prompts one to wonder what purpose she served in the plot. (All kudos to Danielle Harris who did a good job, but working on this must have brought flashbacks to her work on the mess known as Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers.)

We get to see Laurie's breakdown after learning she is Michael's sister (a detail revealed in Loomis' latest book that she happens to pick up at a local store). She not only freaks out, but demonstrates signs of the kind of madness that drives her older brother. I, along with several others, believe Zombie intended for her to be revealed as the killer in this movie. (Check out the Now Playing Podcast's Halloween Retrospective Series to hear more people agree with me.) But we don't get that. Instead, we have this disjointed mess that, itself, plummets into madness over the final act.

Michael, for reasons never explained, has waited two years to come back, fetch his long-lost baby sister (again), to take her to the barn and watch her struggle against the same ghosts he sees. Loomis shows up (how convenient) and confronts Michael. He sees Laurie struggling (she thinks young Michael is holding her) and he tries to get her to see that it's all in her mind. Or is it? Yeah, I don't even want to get it anymore. I just want it to end. This is where the film differs the most. In the theatrical release, Michael stabs Loomis, is shot, falls, Laurie stabs him, and walks out of the barn wearing his mask. In the director's cut, Michael throws Loomis through a wall to the outside. In front of the cops, he takes off his mask (Tyler Mane looking a lot like Zakk Wylde), growls "die" at Loomis, and runs him through with a big knife. Loomis falls and Michael is pelted with multiple bullets before finally falling himself. Laurie emerges to the carnage, picks up Michael's knife, walks towards Loomis, raises it, and is shot down. An aerial shot cranes above the dead bodies on the ground as a remake of the song "Love Hurts" plays in the background. The final scene of Laurie sitting in a padded cell watching Debra Myers and the white horse walk towards her is still there but we can now interpret that as her vision of the afterlife. Or it's a another dream. Or maybe not.

Recommendation – As If It Is Still Not Obvious

According to IMDb's trivia entry for this film, Zombie only agreed to make this when he learned the studio was going to do it with or without him and he didn't want anyone to "ruin his vision" for the film. Thanks for taking care of that yourself, Rob.

Dourif's Sheriff Brackett says in the beginning of the film, "I'd say there's nothing obvious about anything that happened here tonight. Not a [blankety-blank] thing." I could not agree more.

If you are a fan of the first Zombie Halloween, SKIP THIS. If you are a fan of the original Halloween movies, SKIP THIS. And if you like both film series, SKIP THIS.

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About J. Newcastle

  • retard269

    dude really who gives a dam about the plot aleast rob zombie turned him back into a fuckin icon and that is all the hardcore fans give a dam about [personal attack deleted]

  • J. Newcastle

    To quote Cici from Scream 2, “Yeah, well, there’s no accounting for taste.”

    Thanks for reading.

  • Debra Vaughn

    I would just like to say that I am a big fan of all the Halloween movies the original. I also loved the Halloween movie that Rob Zombie did, but the 2nd one, totally SUCKS. I mean get real,, the ghost of his mom, the little boy. And who the heck was that kid., get the original Michael Myers from your first one.. He was much better.

    All I can say is stick with the first one and you should have scraped the 2nd.. It just smells real bad.

  • C,Machado

    I would like to start off by saying I am a huge fan of this horror franchise.The first time i saw the original i was terrify and the second film scared me as well. Over the next two decades the movies started to become dumb except for the forth and fifth installments after that i truly believe that Micheal Myers became a joke.So when i found out that Rob Zombie was taking over the franchise i was happy and pleased that someone was going to bring back that killer who scared us all.The second film was a very different outlook on Micheal’s life the visions of his mother were great because you got to see what he saw as far as the little boy goes for all you idiot’s out there his role is important he is Micheal’s voice how stupid can you be so having his mother and young micheal are important to the film.So for all the people out there who did not like the film you need to go back and watch it again watch both of them Rob Zombie did a great job with this movie. Rob’s outlook on Micheal Myers was very different and shocking he brought back the best horror icon in movie history. So i end with this Rob Zombie did a phenomenal job with the films.

  • J. Newcastle

    @ Debra

    The kid from the first movie apparently had too much of a growth spurt to be believable as a 10/11 year old for those scenes. I would have liked to have seen Daeg Faerch again, but it wouldn’t have helped the plot.
    Thanks for reading.

  • J. Newcastle

    @ C, Machado

    Thanks for reading. Zombie’s first take was solid. The second, not so much, in my opinion. You can tell because the Unrated Director’s Cut of the H2 is significantly different than the theatrical. The D-cut of the 2007 film just added to the story without changing the plot. That tells me either Zombie or the studio didn’t know what to do with this.

    I wonder what Dimension does with this franchise now.

  • The Sentinal

    Do you have any idea of how much(or little)time Rob was given to make this movie?What he did in that time is great!Having watched Halloween H20 and Ressurection the day before watching H2 for the second time,I was reminded of what a good job Rob has done.

    Let me put something out there that no one seems to get…If Rob Zombie had not taken over Halloween,you would be given another terrible sequel or remake.By that I mean the typical overly glossy,overly cheesy film.

    Rob Zombie makes a different kind of horror film.I think the closest comparisons might be The Hills Have Eyes,and Last House on The Left remakes.These movies have more of a realistic,gritty,and uneasy feel to them.They arent for everyone,but if you would rather watch the typical fake,glossy,cheesy horror film,then stick to standing in line with the rest of the teenagers of the world.

  • J. Newcastle

    @ The Sentinal

    You are not wrong; the Akkad/Dimension team has put together some ill conceived sequels in the series.

    I made it through a third watch listening to Zombie’s commentary and many times I got the feeling he had some creative control but zero control over time and budget and you can tell he wasn’t happy with what was happening. He even went as far to say there was no way to explain how Michael Myers gets his face shot off yet survives.

    I stand by the idea that had he made what he really wanted (Laurie as the killer – no Michael, it’s all in her head), he’d have done just that and it would have worked better.

    Still, I say watch the 2007 one and move on because we learn nothing else in this one that moves the story.

    I ask to you as well where is this series headed?

    Thanks for reading.

  • http://thrillfiction2009.blogspot.com/ Thrill Fiction

    A really good dissection of the film J.Newcastle. Horror movie fans sometimes resemble football (soccer) fans in that their team can do no wrong. Having watched it twice for my critique I know how painfull it was.

  • KidNormal

    (Currently watching 1/4 through)
    Rob Zombie screwed up Halloween.
    One scene at the beginning shows a parking lot without a single car and then out of no where the security drives up and in the same scene where the security guard locks the door that only had a screen and bars which would be very easy to just put your arm through and unlock. Also the nurse in that scene only got cut in the nose and just falls down. Rob Zombie YOU ARE AN IDIOT THAT IS PROBABLY SMOKING CRACK RIGHT NOW!

  • Linsdey

    i am a HUGE fan of the original Halloween series and i even liked the first remake…but this movie was HORRIBLE! what a let-down. Rob ruined the story and all the characters with it. michael myers is a mountain man that wears a scarf and sports a beard? wtf? and they show his face! i cant tell you how disappointed i am. i wasted 20 bucks on this dvd and will likely never watch it again. please Rob….dont make anymore Halloween movies. Thanks…..

  • Danielle

    Michael myers is not micheal myers in this film. I agree, his first remake was solid. This one was terrible. Michael NEVER grunts and moans when he kills, and he never overkills. His face is never shown in the other films and it shouldn’t have been in this one. Terrible remake, and I’m sorry but only true Halloween fans could dislike that movie.

  • Michelle

    I agree with Linsdey. I watched it with my son, and he was very disappointed that Michael’s face was shown. It ruined his whole character. There was nothing wrong with his face at all after what happened to him in the first remake. The killings did, however, make me very uneasy. They were brutal. I also couldn’t figure out why the mother wanted him to kill her daughter. For what? I felt that the acting could have been a lot better too.

  • lance

    I won’t go into my personal opinion of the film,but I find it damn funny people beleive showing Michaels face ruined the movie.
    DO YOU PEOPLE NOT REALIZE HIS FACE WAS SHOWN IN THE ORIGINAL MOVIE!!!

  • paul wynne

    just watched it and have to say thought he made a complete mess of the movie i was so annoyed after watchin it. i loved the frst one thought he did a great job but i think he lost it with the secind one i really did not like it, i’m a fan on zombie but after this it will be hard to watch another one of he’s movies sorry bor you disapointed me. sorry about my spelling

  • Joey Watts

    I love Halloween movies and i think Rob did a really good job doing a remake of this one and rob should do remakes of Wrong Turn 1 and 2 your a good directer i hope to see more movies from you good job man

  • Daniel

    The first Halloween I saw was Halloween H20, a masterpiece. Then I watched Halloween Resurrection on TV, and I loved it to, so I decided to watch every single film. I was like ‘OMG, THIS IS ARE ONE OF THE BEST SAGAS OF ALL TIMES!’ True that until I watched Halloween 1 and 2 remaked. It was just a piece of shit which isn’t worth even watching. Mychael Myers is not the awesome, intelligent, mysterious and selective killer who was in the previous films, he is just a big retard who kills everyone he sees. Zombie finished with mystery showing the Mychael’s childhood. Before we wondered why did he kill people, why was he mad; now we know he is nothing more than an unbalanced mad. And Laurie is not the innnocent teen anymore, he is actually the biggest idiot between all her friends. I must say the dialogues are damnly horrible, anyone in real life talks like them, the only word which was in every single sentence was ‘fuck’. And well, just as a summary of the acting, just say that after calling a nurse in hospital because she felt bad Laurie could perfectly run everywhere she wanted to and do everything she wanted to, of course with one of her legs badly hurt. Now seriously, someone should stop that crazy idiot, Rob Zombie, he will finally destroy Halloween movies.

    And lance, Mychael’s face was shown in the original movie, that’s true, but it was shown in the darkness so we couldn’t exactly see how he was, and that scene was changed in the second film.