Rob Zombie's Halloween

I don’t know why I feel compelled to go see movies that I know in advance are likely to be awful. This one certainly qualified. I dunno, maybe it’s because I never saw the original, but I just got back from seeing the modern remake, and it was just a really stupid slasher flick. I like good slasher flicks (heck, Freddy vs Jason was one of my favorite horror movies). But this does not qualify. Stay away.

On the one upside, it’s not afraid to show a little skin, unlike the current crop of horror movies.

I really did not get the relationship between Michael and his mother. Other problems with the film could have been related to studio pressure, but that one is his to keep, and it was the most difficult element to believe.

Neither does Freddy vs Jason!

I’ve got a friend who wanted to see this with me this weekend so I’m going…but I’m not particularly thrilled about it.

Zombie’s “Devil Rejects” was made with tons of style and not a cuticle’s worth of intelligence, self-awareness, moral enlightenment or self-restraint. Carpenter’s Halloween is a creepy low-budget masterpiece that sticks with you particularly because of the self-restraint, intelligenece, self-awareness, etc. I fully expect Zombie to fuck 85-99% of it up.

Other Guy, I think a bunch of us in the Top Ten Movies of 2005 thread would disagree with you on Devil’s Rejects. I personally thought it was pretty smart, and had a very self-aware style that almost single-handedly saved it from being schlock (a la House of a Thousand Corpses). In fact, Devil’s Rejects was the sole reason I was somewhat looking forward to this Halloween remake. :(

-Tom

It saddens me that this is the #1 movie in America.

Uh-oh. Really?

I mean, I thought the Devil’s Rejects was a masterpiece of style, so much so that it did single-handedly save it from being shlock. But I found that style to be more that of a single-minded fetishist–someone so in love with '70s exploitation and Southern trash culture that he can perfectly mimic it–than the self-aware filmmaker (like, I dunno, Soderbergh) using the tropes of the genre he’s working in to advance his themes. The style of Devil’s Rejects was so satisfying I really wanted to find something to justify the film other than how well it was put together, but…I didn’t.

So if Zombie was matched up with material aligned with his fetish–if he’d been able to remake Texas Chainsaw Massacre, for example–I would’ve been excited. But I think he just wouldn’t know his way around a Carpenter movie.

(And as an aside, one of the great mysteries of QT3 for me, Tom, is how much I respect your opinion on movies–no sarcasm, I really do–considering I almost never agree with your opinion on movies. On Planet Other Guy, for example, The Host is awesome and Collateral is an overrated stinker. I keep hoping sooner or later our critical opinions will mesh, but it looks like it’s still not happening…)

Edited: Because “single-handed fetishist,” although really funny, wasn’t what I meant to type at all.

Dude, we both don’t like Collateral, so there’s that. Well, aside from that awesome scene where Tom Cruise totally busts his ass on a chair. It’s like something right off YouTube. Best part of that movie. The only other best part of that movie was that it wasn’t as bad as Miami Vice, in which Colin Farrell is a fiend for mojitos.

As for The Host, I just don’t think Park’s use of a monster movie as a genre to consider the plight of South Korea really fit. Joint Security Area – i.e. a courtroom drama, I guess – worked far better as a genre movie that was really about the situation of the two Koreas.

Finally, I think you’re right that Devil’s Rejects really shows Zombie’s love of 70s exploitation and Southern trash (and oh, all those cameos!), but it also turns the slasher concept on its head by switching the roles of the hunter and hunted, and even confusing the villains and the heroes, as a way of messing with the audience sympathies. That there was nothing even remotely interesting about House of a Thousand Corpses made Devil’s Rejects all the more of a pleasant surprise.

-Tom

P.S. Now this is the kind of thread derailing I can get behind!

It’s funny, because when I watched the original “Halloween”, I watched a stupid slasher flick with nothing intelligent or interesting about it that I could pick up on.

So I’m just hoping Zombie was able to figure out how to fix it.

(Please note, I like a number of Carpenter’s films. Assault on Precinct 13 was well-made if insubstantial. The Snake Plissken movies were a lot of fun, and The Thing is one of the most flat out brilliant horror movies I’ve ever seen. But Halloween? Blech. The Fog was more entertaining.)

I might be naive–I know I’m pretty ignorant about Korean history and the state of affairs there–but The Host struck me as more about the plight of South Korea alone. The film seems to me to be about the anxiety that allowing itself to get as influenced by the West as it has, South Korea has become some monstrous hybrid–a half-fish, half giant ape type thing. But because the film has some sympathy for the beast (and affection for that fucked up family), it’s a little more nuanced than a simple hysterical monster movie. Kinda reminded me of The Satanic Verses, weirdly.

I really want to believe that Zombie was messing with audience sympathies deliberately, but I can’t help but think he believes his fucked up slasher family is kinda cool and when they get shot full of holes in slow-mo to “Freebird,” we’re supposed to be kinda bummed about it.

I’d read an interview from Zombie at [COLOR=#cc6633]the Onion A.V. Club[/COLOR] where he talks about his love for '70s cinema and the difference in societal tone between then and now. (“It’s a very P.C. world and this is a very un-P.C. movie.”) If there’s any way I can see The Devil’s Rejects working as a film with something–anything–to say, it might be as a strange elegy to '70s culture. I can maybe see how the '70s and its endemic fixation on the outlaw as a necessary and vital component of the culture is what is actually being examined and/or mourned by Zombie. You can watch CSI practically every night of the week on TV now, but does it dare to suggest to that the audience identify with the serial killers and stripper stranglers rather than the dutiful cops? (I don’t actually watch the shows, but I’d guess not.) So what Zombie is mourning at the end of The Devil’s Rejects isn’t the death of his evil, sadistic crew of killers but rather the end of a time in which they might have been. If you remove the gradations, the potsmoking free thinker and the serial killer are both outlaws of the state, and now there’s no more place for either.

But even if one gives Zombie the benefit of the doubt, there’s at least one fatal flaw in such a conception. It’s precisely that annhilation of gradation–the equating of the killer with the intellectual–that creates the repressive police state in the first place. If we’re sitting in a P.C. world where subversion and artistic expression are smothered (“It’s a very P.C. world…”), it’d be nice if Mr. Zombie could recognize and perhaps even acknowledge his role in it. And not even as some sort of independent artist/outlaw whose shocking works pushes the state to more restrictive behavior; but as a a numbskull whose lack of clarity on such matters makes such a state possible.

But I’m probably overthinking it. I probably shouldn’t rule out the idea that he likes to make movies in which his wife wiggles her butt and people get skinned, and people will pay him to do so. Ockham’s Razor, and all that.

The thing that’s easy to forget about Carpenter’s Halloween is that the slasher genre hadn’t even been really invented yet. There had been a few schoolgirl-in-peril movies, but there wasn’t an established formula yet. Halloween predated When a Stranger Calls by one year and the first Friday the 13th by two years. It served as a sort of stylish thriller version of the gruesome Tobe Hooper schlock of the 70s.

I haven’t seen it in dog’s years, and I can’t imagine that it holds up, but Carpenter deserves props for laying important groundwork for Jason Voorhees.

-Tom

Other Guy, fair enough on your observations on The Host. Whatever the Message was, it seemed to come out of left field for me, and it bogged down what had started out as an absolutely balls-out monster movie. I still adore the introduction of the monster, and it shows a deep appreciation for that whole Spielberg special effects extravaganza set piece mentality. Only to be followed by an hour plus of a wacky Korean family’s Seoul searching. I call bait and switch! :)

As for the Devil’s Rejects, I’d say the very fact that you can write that post demonstrates there’s something different/worthwhile about what Rob Zombie did. Even if you did fumble your beret-wearing cred by misspelling Occam. :)

But c’mon, how can you not love how fucking gung-ho the cast was in that movie, completely willing to go along with whatever it was Rob Zombie was serving up? Including – if not especially, considering he’s really the only guy in the cast who knows a thing about an actual performance – William Forsythe!

-Tom

P.S. Hey, are you in my Netflix Friends List? Which one are you?

Well, I understand that it was one of, possibly the, foundational movies of the genre. But just because it started the formula doesn’t make the formula suck any less. I mean…if it had done things that were clever and thrilling and exciting and then the endless copycats had come and aped its moves without understanding them (which is the impression I’d gotten), that would be one thing. But as far as I can tell the copycats nailed it pretty much dead on. The people who made them maybe weren’t as skilled as Carpenter, but Carpenter’s own output is far from uniformly excellent and Halloween didn’t really strike me as exhibiting his A game.

Dammit, I knew I should’ve looked it up first! :)

And using movie crit jujitsu is a low blow, Chick. My point was even if you go all the way out there and give Zombie every benefit of the doubt, he’s still being very, very retarded. I guess by not seeing House of A Thousand Corpses, I’ve missed the Special Olympics filmmaking gold medal Zombie was able to craft for himself with movie watchers…

Forsythe was awesome, as was Sid Haig. As was, again, some of the shots, the cuts, the optical effects, and the soundtrack. But you can always count on a fetishist to get all the little details right; you just can’t expect them to know what any of it means…

Not me. My comment about your movie tastes was based on my longtime lurker status here. Whoever the mouthy bastard is that’s cluttering up your Netflix Friends list, it’s somebody else… :-)

I don’t want to get all deconstructionist on you. But, dude, that’s your job, not Rob Zombie’s. :)

As for slasher films, yeah, if that’s not your thing, you’re not going to appreciate Halloween. If Shakespeare isn’t your thing, you won’t like Hamlet either.

(Did you see what I did there? Sneaky, huh?)

We had a big exchange of Netflix Friends in another thread, but it does me no good because most people on this forum are too wussy to use their real names (present company not excluded!), so I have no idea who they are when they show up on on my Netflix Friends List.

Gary A? Wow, that’s a cool queue and a series of interesting movies, but I have no idea who the heck he is! Probably roguefrog or yurislave or BobJustBob or someone.

-Tom

My real name is Kevin Rhodes. I just use BobJustBob because I’ve been using it for years and if I changed now I’d probably forget my username.

Coolio. You’ve been changed to BobJustBob in my Netflix friends list, where I can see that it’s you who gave Devil’s Rejects two stars and Army of Darkness five stars. :) Fortunately, Netflix won’t let you rate Half-Life 2!

-Tom

Well, that’s me. I thought I’d decloaked in the exchange thread, but maybe not. But more importantly–did…did you just say my queue and history makes you believe I’m BobJustBob?

I’m not sure, but I think that may be more horrifying than either of the Halloweens! (Speaking of, the third is the underrated masterpiece (I’m using “masterpiece” in a flexible way here, mind) of the series, if only for having the balls to not have anything at all to do with the rest. In the Michael Myers chronlogy, Season of the Witch is when he was taking a long nap. Also, for a plot involving warlocks having shipped Stonehenge from England to a warehouse somewhere. Siiilver Shamrock! But I digress.)

All this netflix talk makes me want to re-up my subscription, but just bought Nightfall though. It’ll have to wait a month or so.

Nightfall should still run if you get a Netflix subscription. I have both and so far I’m not having any compatibility problems.

-Tom