Hola muchachos et muchachas.
Fun fun fun for everyone tonight because I have watched two films, both called Halloween.
Let's start with Halloween.
It is masterful piece of tension which really creates a mythos and supernatural, boogey-man like quality to Michael Myers. This is mainly achieved through having Michael appear in as little of the film as possible. It is for good reason that he was nicknamed "The Shape" as he really mostly appears in the first two thirds of this film as either a background presence or a foreground shadow.
Jamie Lee Curtis excels in her first film as Laurie Strode, nailing the vulnerability of the role whilst giving the character enough fight to make her desperate struggle for survival honest and believable. Apart from the fact she keeps looking away from Michael Myers and you know he's going to sit up again and you're screaming at the screen for her to look at the body and stab it until her arm goes numb but she doesn't. Argh!
But this the joyous beauty of the film, it's full of the clithes and tropes that plague the genre and yet the film remains a tense, surprisingly non-gory horror film. The plot is non-existant and most of the horror of the film comes from the unknown. Carpenter makes a conscious decision to not reveal anything about Michael apart from the opening scene, which is a stunning POV sequence where you follow this boy as he kills his sister. This and the fact he escapes from a mental institution are the only things you know about Michael. His presence is non-too subtly referred to simply as 'evil' by the fantastic Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance).
So this film is all about the mystery. The unknown. That is why Michael in this film is scary, he is the boogieman, he is just eveil. That's all there is to it. The film itself is a brutally low-budget, high tension ride but without the grotesque and explicit gore the genre has become known for.
The Rob Zombie 2007 'reimagining' of Halloween had the right idea in mind by trying not to just copy the original film, instead he tried to add something new to the series. So what is there to expand on? The original film's plot was simple, the characters were well written but not complex. So he brings The Shape into focus.
Where the original film had no backstory for Michael Myers, this version of Halloween dedicates almost a third of a film to events before the night he killed his sister. It depicts a brutal domestic life and school life. But this is a double edged sword, whilst it may go some to shape his actions, it removes a lot of the mystery and tension in Michael's actions. He's from a broken home. Lots of kids are from broken homes, not every kid goes on a murder spreee. So there is still that idea that there is just something wrong with Michael.
This part of the film is actually quite well done and quite different from anything done in a previous Halooween film. Sheri Moon Zombie (Rob Zombie's wife, not a coincidental surname) is at her best here and Daeg Faerch is oddly creepy as Michael. He is able to be a normal child but is just sick. The set up of the plot of the rest of the film comes during the eventful night in question and sets up why Michael would come back for Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor Compton).
So the film is really broken up into two parts. The set-up, where we see Michael descend to a point where he kills his family and the night he returns, which is much more the standard horror film, almost disappointingly so. Whilst the original used tension and shock over violence, this remake uses violence instead of tension and shock. It's pretty damn gory a lot of the time, but not scary.
Like the original film, Rob Zombie sees the benefit of casting a good actor for the role of Dr. Sam Loomis and in this case, he casts Malcolm McDowell who fits really, really well into the role. Again, the character is a bit more fleshed out with an interesting sideline in selling books based off Myers which gives many of the characters he meets reasons to be suspicious, something Loomis in the original found as well but without the reason why.
It's not itself a bad film, and I admire Mr Zombie for trying to do something new and to genuinly re-imagine the idea and for forty to forty five minutes, it works pretty well. It's when he escapes and the film reverts to horror movie cliches and you see, apart from the better visual effects, that the horror genre is still stuck in a rut where violence is better than tension, and if you watch the original Halloween, you realise that it is not.