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Genius Products presents
Halloween (2007)

“The darkest souls are not thoes which choose to exist within the hell of the abyss, but thoes which choose to move silently amoung us.”
- Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell)

Review By: Matt Serafini   
Published: May 23, 2008

Stars: Malcolm McDowell, Tyler Mane, Scout-Taylor Compton
Other Stars: Brad Douriff, Danny Trejo, Sherri Moon Zombie, Danielle Harris, Dee Wallace
Director: Rob Zombie

Manufacturer: Weinstein/Geinus
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for Explicit violence, gore, rape, language, sexuality and nudity
Run Time: 02h:01m:11s
Release Date: December 18, 2007
UPC: 796019805575
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
D+ FA-A- A

DVD Review

Some people will argue that Rob Zombie’s remake of John Carpenter’s masterpiece was doomed before it began filming, and that’s probably true in many cases. Not only is the original Halloween a watershed horror film, but thirty years after its release there haven’t been many films that rival its suspense and atmosphere. Since Hollywood is seemingly incapable of bringing new ideas to the table these days, the horror genre has seen virtually every modern classic drudged up and carted out to a whole new generation of audiences. It was probably best to leave Halloween well enough alone, but now we’ve got a second version of the story about a masked maniac who returns to his hometown with his sights set on a trio of young babysitters.

To be fair, Rob Zombie's film tries for something different: that is to say it puts a different spin on Michael Myers. No longer is he a mysterious, shadowy figure whom the audience knows very little about. This time he’s introduced as a disturbed ten year old boy whose home life is the sort of thing you’d see on Jerry Springer: a stripper mom, a slutty older sister and a smarmy, abusive stepfather. Young Michael spends his days killing animals and photographing them until the day he crosses the proverbial line and begins murdering people. Michael is assigned to the care of Dr. Samuel Loomis, presented in this version as an opportunistic career man—one of Zombie’s only inspired ideas, who slowly becomes terrified of what he finds in the boy. Halloween also hastily explores Michael’s time in Smith’s Grove Institution and while the film does flirt with some interesting ideas and concepts, this movie refuses to explore them. Instead, Zombie seems interested to hurry along to the next gruesome killing or sleazy moment.

And that’s the problem here: instead of developing the character of Michael (as Zombie claimed was his intention with this remake), we simply see an already screwy young kid kill a few more people as a child. We have no idea what ‘made’ him the way he is. The asylum scenes are the best things about Halloween, at least until Zombie forces us to sit through an amazingly needless rape scene which perpetuates Michael’s escape from the hospital. From there it’s just stalk-kill-repeat…

Initially, I felt good about Zombie’s undertaking of this project. Having thoroughly enjoyed both of his previous directorial efforts, House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, I was curious to see what he was going to bring to the table here. Unfortunately this film only illustrates his limitations as a writer-director. His cast of characters here are almost as repugnant and depraved as the villains who littered his first two films, only they seem woefully out of place here. Haddonfield is no longer ‘Anywhere USA’, rather it’s a wasteland of white trash and degenerates. Frankly the world is better off without the majority of Michael’s victims in this thing, which makes us root for the killer. While Rob Zombie may feel a great deal of affection for the monsters in horror films, putting the audience in their corner doesn’t exactly make us terrified of them.

If we attempt tp appraise this version of Halloween on its own merits it still fails. The first half is very much a Rob Zombie film, for better or worse. It tries to establish itself some of its own material, even if it fails in offering anything of depth or interest. The second half is a perverse imitation of the John Carpenter films, brimming with the obnoxious teen movie trimmings so typical of modern genre films. Our ‘victims’ here aren't believable by any standard. They are little more than an MTV interpretation of how girls act today. Virtually every word out of their mouths are crass innuendos, vulgar profanity or a mind-numbing combination of both. You can almost tolerate this from Zombie’s other characters, as they’re supposed to be the trashy sort, but the girls further illustrate Zombie’s limitations as a writer. When Michael shows up to start bumping them off, you could care less.

Malcolm McDowell is alright at Loomis (though the theatrical version cuts his part down significantly), but the script never connects him to Michael in the way that it wants to. It tires to elucidate a connection between Myers and Loomis, but the script doesn't spend any real time developing it. It's really hard to care about their relationship in the final third and McDowell gets saddled with some truly embarrassing dialog to boot.

As for Michael? He's stalks around and kills people as expected, but he's as boring as he was in the last two sequels. Rob Zombie tried to make him more frightening by superficially exploring his back story, yet succeeds only in demolishing all of the character's mystique. We should be terrified of The Shape’s presence in the shadows and around every corner. Here, all we can picture is the little boy fawning over his baby sister and brooding away to Nazareth's Love Hurts. It's simply not scary.

Rating for Style: D+
Rating for Substance: F

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Halloween comes to DVD in an strong presentation. This 121 minute, unrated version offers a widescreen, 2.35:1 image with bold, crisp colors. An impressive feat considering my eyes have practically been spoiled by the advent of Blu Ray and HD DVD. The color palate isn’t a terribly bright one, but the dark and cold look of the film is almost perfect. Those who’ve yet to see the film and are undaunted by my review shouldn’t hesitate to check out this disc.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The audio presentation compliments the rather strong image quality of this disc. Featuring an aggressive Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, this release is likely to give your speakers a workout. The murder sequences are LOUD and jarring, and compliment the onscreen violence rather well. Those surround speakers are often rocking with shattering glass, splintering wood, etc. Honestly, watching this one my home system was a far more satisfying experience than seeing this thing in theaters. And you don’t have to contend with annoying, talking teenagers this way

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 0 cues
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish, Englush SDH with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Death ProofPlanet Terror 1408The Furnace
17 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
1 Documentaries
5 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Writer/Director Rob Zombie
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: 01:02m:30s

Extra Extras:
  1. Laurie Strode Screen Test (7 minutes 47 seconds)Scout Taylor-Compton’s screen test
  2. 15 Casting Tapes (30 minutes)Featuring:Daeg Faerch, Scout Taylor-Compton, Danielle Harris, Kristina Klebe, Hanna Hall, Adam Weisman, Skyler Gisondo, Jenny Stewart, Daryl Sabara, Pat Skipper, Clint Howard, Nick Mennell, Max Van Ville, Mel Fair, Courtney Gains
Extras Review: Though it’s safe to say I loathed this new version of Halloween, it’s a DVD I would still consider adding to my collection one day, if only for the impressive array of special features assembled on this two-disc unrated special edition.

Disc one is the film only, accompanied by Zombie’s solo commentary track. Not quite as fun or informative as either of his previous audio talks, Zombie still gives this one his all. Fans of the film should be more than satisfied with the information Zombie readily offers up. While I was hoping to hear a little bit more about the ‘controversy’ surrounding the film, I can understand why the director opted to ignore it. All is not lost, however, as Rob provides insight into the production and into his intentions of this ‘re-imagining’. I wasn’t too keen on sitting through this one again so soon, but found the commentary to be an engaging, if occasionally bland, listen.

Disc Two, however, is almost worth the price of the disc. The best feature being the 17 deleted scenes which run the gamut from interesting to embarrassing and needless. If nothing else it’s worthwhile to see alternate versions of key scenes, most notably Michael’s escape from the hospital. I much prefer the deleted take, seen theatrically, to the over-the-top rape that’s included in the director’s cut. Some of the bonus kills are of note too, like the deleted murder of Bob. It doesn’t restage the “ghost” moment of the Carpenter original like the existing version, instead coming off much more simple and brutal. Even if the majority of these scenes are better left out of the movie, they’re worth seeing and provide a little more insight into what Zombie was trying to accomplish with this film (however unsuccessfully).

There’s also an alternate ending that, while somewhat anticlimactic, works much better that the weak ending that now concludes the picture. It says in theme with what Zombie established at the beginning of the film and would’ve given the story a much needed through-line. It was more than likely cut in favor of one last, nasty kill scene, but it’s a much better ending.

The featurettes cover the various masks of Michael Myers, the make-up FX work that gave this film its brutal edge, a look at the production design of various locales and a chat with Zombie regarding his ‘mission statement’ for the film. While each featurette is a little on the brief side (each of them falling in the six minute range) they showcase the effort and thought that went into making this film. You’d never know it to watch the film in my eyes, but everyone involved was trying to make something special here and you’ve got to commend them on their efforts.

There’s also a nifty, 18-minute documentary called Meet the Cast which details some of the various cast members of the film as introduced by Rob Zombie. This is an interesting contrast against the actors in John Carpenter’s movie and Zombie talks a little bit about why each actor was chosen.

The casting tapes and screen tests that fill out the well-stocked supplementary disc are fairly unimpressive, but fans interesting in the casting process with undoubtedly enjoy seeing these. I’m not sure why Scout Taylor-Compton’s screen test is seen outside of the casting tapes featurette, but it’s nothing terribly special.

Rounding out the set is a theatrical trailer, without 16 x 9 enhancement.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

I wanted to like this film, being a fan of Zombie’s previous film work, as well as his music. Unfortunately my trepidation was validated with this lousy film, for it's every bit as awful as I feared. There's no suspense, drama or character depth and the murders are boring and devoid of all tension. This is simply an awful film that will surely rank among the worst remakes of all time.

 


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