The original slasher film about Michael Myers, the psychotic killer who dons a mask and terrorizes his hometown, is re-imagined by edgy director Rob Zombie.More of a supercharged revamp than a remake, Rob Zombie’s take on John Carpenter’s Halloween expands the back story of masked killer Michael Myers in an attempt to examine the motivation for his first deadly attack, as well as some reasons for his longevity as a horror icon. Zombie’s Myers is a blank-eyed teen (played by Daeg Faerch) whose burgeoning mental problems are left unchecked in a horrific home environment; harassed by schoolmates, a randy sister, and his mother’s deadbeat boyfriend (William Forsythe, terrific as usual), Myers’ homicidal explosion seems inevitable, and intervention by Dr. Sam Loomis (Malcolm McDowell, who offers a fast-talking, hippiefied version of the Donald Pleasance character) does little to impede his development into a mute, unstoppable killing machine (Tyler Mane) bent on finishing off the only survivor of his family’s massacre–his sister, now grown into teenaged Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton). Opening up the psychological motivation of a cipher like Michael Myers is an interesting approach, but Zombie’s script possesses neither a depth of character nor dialogue to offer more than a clichéd thumbnail character sketch, and devoting over a hour of the unrated cut’s 120-minute-plus running time to this history feels bloated and self-indulgent (especially when compared to the lean efficiency of the Carpenter original). Zombie’s Halloween isn’t terribly suspenseful, either; he has a keen eye for visuals and the details of chaotic environments, but his scares are nothing more than brutal showcases for his special effects team. The end result barely surpasses the original film’s numerous sequels, though the Who’s Who of cult and character actors in the cast (including Zombie regulars Sid Haig, Bill Moseley and Ken Foree, as well as Brad Dourif, Udo Kier, Clint Howard, Richard Lynch, Danny Trejo, Dee Wallace, and Danielle Harris) adds a touch of late-night monster movie charm. However, the film’s best performance belongs to the director’s spouse, Sheri Moon Zombie, who brings unexpected pathos to the role of Myers’ downtrodden mother.
The two-disc Unrated Director’s Cut offers a full disc’s worth of extras that should please Zombie fans; chief among the supplemental features is his commentary, which details the film’s shooting history and the numerous edits required to deliver the theatrical version. A making-of featurette offers further details of Zombie’s vision for the film, and there are featurettes on his cast choices and the many masks that Myers makes while incarcerated. Seventeen deleted scenes (two of which feature Adrienne Barbeau and Tom Towles) and an alternate ending (all with Zombie’s commentary) are also provided, as well as footage from the casting sessions. A blooper reel, which is highlighted by unchecked mischief by McDowell and Dourif, offers the set’s sole moment of levity. – Paul Gaita
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