Friday, September 14, 2007


Monday, a friend and I headed to the local multiplex for Rob Zombie's recent remake of the seminal teen slasher Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978).1 In its initial incarnation, this movie was a perfect storm of eerie atmosphere, sexual repression, and ritual knifings that launched much of the horror cinema considered iconic in the eighties. Without Halloween, my childhood could have been rendered devoid of derivative horror movies, if such a thing can be imagined. Just to indicate that it shouldn't go without saying: Rob Zombie's Halloween (2007)2 is inferior to the original. The funny thing is that this didn't bother me very much.3 Zombie has done more to reinvent the retro grindhouse thing than anyone working, and he keeps the faith about halfway here, so divorcing his remake from its original template that comparisons aren't initially appropriate. It's supposed to be as if Halloween had been made five years earlier, rather than thirty years after, its source material. But Zombie's focal pivot brings the original film's antagonist forward, minimizing our sympathy for Carpenter's protagonists by the time the literal remaking resumes in the third act. This limits the empathy at the root of the original's horror. Also, Zombie inexplicably drops the seedy under-quality present in his period scenes when he's going over the original movie's present-day material. I can see the artistic decision-making here, but this thwarts the movie's overall consistency. On the plus side, the remake's final acts seem to issue more from the Wes Craven horror school than the imaginations of either Carpenter or Zombie, seeking the subversion of social niceties like sanity through the corruption of domestic space. In eighties horror, there's little more classical than a plucky Last Girl wrecking a house to escape her would-be killer, visiting half the movie's everyday derangement herself. [Cavin]

Then, a 1 sided conversation ensued...

To which Blogger Mr. Cavin added:

3) The remaking of this movie has stirred some complex mixed feelings. My immediate reactions were ambivalent, and noted here. Since then, I've gradually become fascinated by Zombie's motivations: a perpetuation of a cinematic cult of kneejerk remakes or an act of filmmaking tantamount to insufferable braggadocio? Or was there actually something missing from the original? Had Zombie decided that somewhere within his rubric of seventies trash-cinema resurgence some appropriate nastiness could be teased from such foreign material? I didn't know whether there could be any plausibility inherent in a remake like this, or whether to assume Rob Zombie had just lost a bet. Either way, I became addicted to the idea that I was going to find out. I mean, Zombie couldn't ruin Halloween any more than five lousy sequels had already, right?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007 8:46:00 AM  

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