Monday , June 24 2024
Wretched (adj): inadequate or irritating. Also see: Rob Zombie’s Halloween II.

Blu-ray Review: Halloween II (2009): Unrated Director’s Cut

Rob Zombie’s Halloween II had a profound impact on me. It brought forth an emotion that normally only surfaces when I am either driving on the freeway or standing in line at Wal-Mart: rage. Uncontrollable, barbaric, “Who the fuck told you that you had a knack for making movies?” rage. And yet, when I sat down to write this review, I suddenly found myself at a loss as to what to say to all of you good people out there. All of the appropriate emotions were there (mostly rage), as were all of the words in my limited vocabulary pertaining to such feelings, such as “hate,” “dumb,” “stupid,” “anger,” “kill,” “maim,” and so on. But there was just no simple way of placing any of those said words in conjunction with one another. Finally, in an act of desperation, I settled for stealing a definition straight from the dictionary…

Wretched [réch?d]adj
• inadequate or of low quality: seriously inadequate or of very low quality
• irritating: provoking irritation or anger

Surprisingly, that single definition applies to every aspect of Rob Zombie’s Halloween II. It’s an appallingly inept feature that can’t seem to decide whether it’s a horror film or just another one of Zombie’s cheesy music videos. And, while you sit there — in agony — waiting for it to decide (it doesn’t, just so we’re clear on that), you are subjected to one gory bit after another. Normally, I don’t mind gore. In fact, I pride myself on my collection of gory Italian horror films. But even the Italians knew when to put a damper on the blood (or, “less is gore,” as some say). Zombie, however, doesn’t: he goes for broke in an attempt to cater to both his own tastelessness, and that of the spoiled and desensitized YouTube generation this pile of shit was made for.

Lemme see… what else is there about Halloween II not to like? Well, let’s talk characters. Much like every other film in his less-than-stellar career, Rob Zombie makes a bold directorial decision by not including a single likable character in the entire film. From pill-poppin’ punks to sleazy skanks, Halloween II is almost completely inhabited by trailer trash. The exception, of course, is Dr. Loomis — who has gone from being the lovable loon played by Donald Pleasance in the old franchise to Malcolm McDowell’s egotistical (and thoroughly unlikable) asshole in this one. A few cameos by Margot Kidder, Howard Hesseman, and Caroline Williams bring nothing to the party (sadly).

Writing. What is it, exactly? Is it the ability to tell a gripping story without boring one’s audience? The skillful product of a gifted novelist who is cultured in conversation and commentary? No. No it is not. Contrary to whatever your educational background may have instructed you, writing consists of little more than meaningless small talk, predictable storylines, and an endless repetitive narrative. In Halloween II, there are at least 20,000 padded scenes of a burly and hairy Michael Myers walking through fields. Was Rob Zombie trying to recreate the music video for Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy The Silence” scene for scene? Or was he trying to promote the movie’s various filming locations as being perfect for light agriculture development? You decide.

What’s worse is that Zombie also sullies the very image of Michael Myers. For starters, we see what can only be described as a “white trash” version of him walking about the countryside in a puffy parka with a long beard and dreadlocked hair. (You couldn’t play the part yourself because why, Rob? Oh, that’s right: you can’t act, either!)  And then, he shows the once-mysterious Shape unmasked. Several times, in fact, to wit we see him as just some gruffy dude who seems extremely sore that no one will give him any of their spare change.

No wonder Zombie included every single frame of gore he could: because he destroyed the very appearance of Michael Myers. The irony of it all is that Zombie originally didn’t want to make a sequel to his film — as he was afraid somebody else might raze his vision.

Really, how do you trash trash?

On Blu-ray, Halloween II is presented in a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC transfer with a 1.85:1 ratio. Two words best describe the video: extremely grainy. This is not a fault of the encoding process, though, but rather of Zombie’s blurry vision. A little grain is fine, especially if you are paying homage to the genre classics of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Here, however, it comes off as a gritty and muted mess. If Zombie was going for an “Ooh, it’s scary because it’s dreadful-looking” approach, he failed. Instead, this High Def nightmare comes off more like “It’s so dreadful-looking, it’s scary.” But perhaps my bias toward the Blu-ray’s video presentation is due to the fact that the movie sucked so much to being with. The audio aspect of the disc is pretty good, though: the main feature boasts a very loud and usually busy DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack, which delivers the goods admirably. Naturally, some of the more “dialogue-driven” moments (aka “meaningless small talk”) don’t have a lot going for them in the rear speakers, but all in all, the soundtrack is the best thing about this release.

Special features include an audio commentary with Rob Zombie (which could’ve been better, had he invited some of the cast and/or crew along), 23 deleted and alternate scenes (why, this must be my lucky day!), a blooper reel (thrill to Rob Zombie’s wife giggling and ruining take after expensive take), audition footage for some of the main cast members (do you get the feeling they didn’t have a whole lot to include in the special features department?), and some make-up test footage. Also included are the complete “Uncle Seymour Coffins' Stand-Up Routines” (as seen in the film during the party sequence), and six music videos by Zombie’s honky-tonk hellbilly musical buddies, Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures. The disc also has a number of trailers, the most interesting of which are Universal Soldier: Regeneration and Black Dynamite.

Sadly, the widely reported fact that Rob Zombie’s Halloween II is a trick and not a treat has failed to discourage producers from making a third installment. The good news is that Rob is not slated to write or direct the next entry. And, if the new Halloween III is anything like the old Halloween III, it will totally ignore the first and second films and pretend they never happened.

Which is something we should all do.

About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the alter-ego of a feller who loves an eclectic variety of classic (and sometimes not-so-classic) film and television. He currently lives in Northern California with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.

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