Michael Myers was introduced to us on Halloween night in 1963. Outside a small white house in Haddonfield, Ill., Myers, only 6, watches his big sister in the kitchen, playing kissy-face with her boyfriend. Soon, they traipse happily upstairs. Tonight, with the parents gone, they want to do naughtier things than just kiss. Then, to our horror, we see tiny hands reach into a cabinet drawer and pull out a large knife.
On his way to his sister's room, Myers picks up a clown's mask, cover's his face and then encounters his topless sister. The knife descends over and over again into her flesh. Breathing heavily, Myers rushes down the steps, out the door and into the front yard, his face blank and his hands holding a bloodied knife as his mother and father look in shock.
This was the beginning of John Carpenter's slasher classic, Halloween, made in 1978 for little more than $300,000. It went on to earn more than $50 million at the box office and spawned really awful sequels.
We all remember the iconic Michael Myers, his face obscured by a white-painted Captain Kirk mask, stalking nerdy, virginal Laurie Strobe, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, and her much hornier friends on Halloween, the night when the boogeyman came out for real.
It was scary, full of jump-out-of-your-seat moments. But Carpenter was remarkably restrained. No gushes of blood, no severed heads, were to be found in this movie. Halloween is old-fashioned now in a world of Saws and Hostels, where directors depend more on shock value to frighten, instead of dread-inducing suspense.
Then Rob Zombie, the heavy-metalist turned auteur director, comes along to remake, or as he puts it, reimagine Carpenter's masterpiece. He does this by delving into Michael Myers' past, figuring out how a small boy tranformed himself into a cold, efficient killing machine who loves to wear masks.
So in Zombie's Halloween, we're introduced to Myers as a 10-year-old, chubby-faced with stringy dirty-blonde hair. His father is dead. His mother is a stripper who has since fallen in love with a drunken prick played over-the-top by William Forsythe. His big sister is an oversexed hottie. At school, Myers is mercilessly picked on by bullies, and when he starts torturing rats as a way to cry out for help, his stressed-out mother ignores the not-so-suble signs that her dear-old son may be turning into a psycho.
It doesn't take long for Myers to go from killing rats to killing people, bashing one bully with a tree branch. And then on Halloween night, he goes bonkers, cutting his stepfather's throat, pummeling his sister's boyfrined with an aluminum baseball bat and stabbing his sister 17 times.
Dr. Samuel Loomis (played in the original by the late Donald Pleasance and now replaced by Malcom McDowell) is the psychiatrist who tries to help Myers at the mental institution he is now confined to. He holds him and jokes with him with hopes to break through to Myers' inner turmoil. But it is to no avail. And 18 years later, Myers is a big brute of a man, silent and the very embodiment of evil.
The rest of the story follows just as the original -- Myers breaking out and going on a rampage through Haddonfield on a quest to find his baby sister, Laurie Strobe, this time played by Scout Taylor-Compton.
Zombie says his motivation was to humanize Michael Myers. A noble attempt but it fails. Myers was scarier when he was just a mute monster, his eyes the blackest ones Dr. Loomis had ever seen.
Here, we have just cliche. Poor Michael Myers had a crappy childhood and killing people indiscriminately is his way of lashing out. Great pschoanalysis there, Zombie.
The biggest problem here is that despite all Zombie's reimagining, we have the same-old tired Michael Myers. He doesn't say anything. He has no personality. He just walks and kills, walks and kills.
The violence is visceral and much less stylized than it was in the original Halloween. And while not as gory as some of the torture movies we've become accustomed to these days, Zombie's version is far bloodier than Carpenter's.
But the movie just feels empty and soulless, like Myers. We still don't understand what made Myers evil. And we don't care. Even sadder is the short shrift Laurie Strobe gets in this movie. Instead, she becomes a stupid girl who screams at all the wrong times.
Let's just hope for this one thing: No sequels, please.