Friday, October 31, 2014


It's that time of year again! It's Halloween! I love fall, it's my favorite season. And it's a great time of year to watch scary movies.

This is also the time of year where a lot of people ask me what my favorite horror movie is. So, what is my favorite horror movie? I have three, maybe four that rotate the top spot. But the answer I give more often than not is JOHN CARPENTER'S HALLOWEEN.

This film is a horror classic, so what praise can I give it that hasn't already been said? The answer is simply none.

Everybody knows that this is the slasher movie that started it all! The babysitter killer with the iconic hockey mask! Wait. What? So I guess everybody doesn't know this movie. Oh...

I really get a kick out of it when people talk about how much they like scary movies and get the characters mixed up. “Now Jason is the one with the chainsaw right”? “Micheal Myers, he's Leatherface isn't he”? To be fair I can understand why people can get some of this stuff mixed up. But if you're a “horror” fan, then there should be no excuses!

JOHN CARPENTER'S HALLOWEEN is about a psychotic murderer institutionalized since childhood for the murder of his sister. He escapes. And the year he comes home, Micheal Myers stalks a three high school girls. While Micheal haunts the streets, his doctor hopes to find him before it's to late. Before he kills again.

If you wanna know anymore you'll have to watch the movie. I highly recommend it.

So why is this my favorite horror movie? A lot of it has to do with the look of the film. I watch JOHN CARPENTER'S HALLOWEEN pretty much every October because it reminds me of the Fall season. Despite being filmed in California, the filmmakers did a fine job of making the movie look like it was set in the Midwest. When night falls on Haddonfield, Illinois that's when things start to get real creepy.

I love how the evening hours are photographed in the movie. It looks so realistic. Natural lighting is used as much as possible. Where the scenes single light source might be from just a lamp. And while artificial, blue gels are used appropriately to give the night that extra creepiness. All in all this is my favorite thing about the movie.

Next, I like the story. It's so simple and scary. A psycho stalking babysitters. It's scary because it brings terror to everyday life. At one time or another any young woman has been a babysitter.

“Now Caleb, I thought in JOHN CARPENTER'S HALLOWEEN, Micheal Myers came home to kill his sister? Are you sure you know what you're talking about”? The answer to this question is yes. But that plot thread beings in the sequel, HALLOWEEN II. Which I like. But I like the original better as a stand alone film.

I can't blog about my favorite horror film without mentioning it's boogeyman, Micheal Myers. He is scary in this thing! Always in the shadows but also in plain sight. That's right, I said plain sight! Who wouldn't call the cops on this guy? Maybe because it's Halloween and the neighborhood thinks its normal? Makes since to me. But yeah it freaks me out the few times you see Micheal Myers in broad daylight stalking the girls.

When night falls, that's when the fun begins. The thing I find fascinating about Micheal Myers that you never really see again in the sequels is how much of a trickster he is. In the original I always felt Micheal was one step ahead of his victims. He lured them to their death. Kinda like a trickster. The best example being the scene where he wears a bed sheet as a ghost costume. I still chuckle at this scene.

Now this may be nothing and I may be reading too much into it, but I noticed something that I hadn't thought of before. When Micheal is stalking Annie at the Wallace house he has no fear. It's night time but he is out in the open looking for him. But when the parents of young Lindsey Wallace shows up, Micheal hides behind a tree. Could there be something deep and psychological in this scene? I don't know? Probably not, but it's something that got me thinking.

Before I forget, I need to clarify something. In my review of Rob Zombie's remake I was wrong about a particular moment from the original. For the life of me I swore Micheal Myers impaled someone to a refrigerator? Wrong. Sorry, the victim was stuck to what looks like some cupboards or something?

Lastly I have to mention the awesome performance by Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis. Such a wonderful job. This character will make you believe the boogeyman is real and that his name is Micheal Myers.

So pop the popcorn, turn down the lights, and watch this favorite of mine on Halloween night!


Thursday, October 30, 2014


Zombies, zombies, zombies, and more zombies! To tell you the truth I'm pretty sick of zombies! So sick that it's affecting my enjoyment of AMC's hit television show THE WALKING DEAD. I'm way behind and just taking my time.

You wanna know how stale the Zombie genre is? It was getting clichéd back in 2003 and that was 11 years ago. Long story short, I'm burned out on zombies. But once in awhile something great like SHAUN OF THE DEAD or ZOMBIELAND comes along and puts a fresh spin on the living dead. I can only speak for the first two seasons, but honest to goodness THE WALKING DEAD television series has been my favorite zombie medium since the George A. Romero zombie films. His classic zombie films, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) – DAY OF THE DEAD (1985).

My favorite zombie film is George A. Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978). But his third zombie movie, DAY OF THE DEAD will always have a special place in my heart. It was the first zombie , let alone exploitation film I ever saw. I was probably 9 or 10 years old when I first watched DAY OF THE DEAD. It was on television, and the channel was the USA Network. I never saw the movie from beginning to end and back then thought it and THE TOXIC AVENGER were the same movie.

If I remember correctly it was around 2002 when the zombie nostalgia bug hit me? I wanted to get all the Romero films on DVD. The Italian horror genre was peeking my interest as well, but that's another can of worms. The thought just occurred to me that it was around this time that I fell in love with horror movies again! Yes, how could I forget! Eli Roth's CABIN FEVER came out the same year as my zombie movie phase. And I'll say it again, I fell in love with horror movies again. You see, the late nineties was a terrible time for the horror genre.

So now that basically zombie fandom is everywhere and kids can buy zombie breakfast cereal, I'm kinda done with it all.

Then a few weeks ago I watched a documentary called NIGHTMARE FACTORY. It was about the special makeup effects studio KNB Effects Group Inc. They are the best in the business and my personal favorite makeup effects team. Their big break was doing the makeup work on a little film you may of heard about called EVIL DEAD II: DEAD BY DAWN!

One of the founders of the group, Greg Nicotero got his start assisting the great Tom Savini on DAY OF THE DEAD. It had been a few years since I watched the zombie classic and the documentary got me all nostalgic, so I decided to watch the film.

I forgot how much I love DAY OF THE DEAD! Yes, it's one of the meanest zombie films you will ever sit through, but man it's so good. The zombie makeup effects hold up. I would even say they are still the best practical effects on a zombie movie ever! CGI gore just cannot compete with practical gore when done correctly.

So in DAY OF THE DEAD it's pretty much over for mankind. Some survivors made up of military soldiers and scientists are seeking shelter in a old missile silo. The scientists are doing experiments on the zombies to try and make them more domesticated. Tensions are at an all time high as the soldiers are wanting to leave and find greener pastures. But the scientists beg for more time.

When the high in command finally figures out that experiments are being preformed on dead soldiers, all bets are off and things start to get bad. Real bad. The underground compound gets compromised and the zombies run (walk) amok.

By today standards DAY OF THE DEAD might seem textbook, which is fair to say. But the performances are still great. It still has that exploitation feel to it. And the gore, oh my gosh the gore! DAY OF THE DEAD should be zombie makeup effects 101 if it isn't already.

Final thoughts. What keeps me watching DAY OF THE DEAD is the story and characters. The gore is just a bonus for me. It's a hard film to watch. The movie makes you stop and wonder what's worse, mankind or zombies? It's social commentary like this that make the first three Romero zombies films worth watching year after year.

Monday, October 27, 2014


DEATH PROOF is Quentin Tarantino's slasher movie. Wanna know why it's Quentin Taratnino's slasher movie? Because, it's unlike any slasher movie you've ever seen! That's why! But just like a Tarantino movie, DEATH PROOF is so much more. Like all his films, DEATH PROOF is a love letter to cinema, more importantly a love letter to exploitation/grindhouse cinema.

Originally DEATH PROOF was the second feature of a movie called GRINDHOUSE which came out in 2007. It was a double feature that showcased two movies, PLANET TERROR and DEATH PROOF. Robert Rodriguez directed the PLANET TERROR. The film was an ode to the glory days of exploitation cinema and the double feature, which was pretty standard back in the 60's and 70's.

Today's modern audiences didn't really “get” GRINDHOUSE so the movie flopped big time. It wasn't until DVD that people saw these films, which were released separately to recover lost expenses the best they could. PLANET TERROR suffers the most by being released separately. It feels incomplete compared to DEATH PROOF which is an extended cut on DVD. The full GRINDHOUSE experience is now available on Blu-Ray and I highly recommend checking it out!

DEATH PROOF is about a killer named Stuntman Mike, who goes around stalking women. Instead of a knife he uses his car. Things start off in Texas where we meet Julia, Shanna, and Arlene. Arlene is a friend visiting from out of town. The three girls are planning to hang out at Shanna's lake house for the weekend. But first meet up with some boys at a bar to start the weekend off right.

While hanging out at the bar and having a good time one of the girls, Arlene notices someone with a scary looking car has been following them all night. And it's none other than Stuntman Mike. A old fossil who's done some stunt work in television that nobody remembers. He's a likable guy but awkward as well. Arlene is frightened by his car, but after the old pervert gets a lap dance out of her, all seems well. Or so that's what her and her friends thought! 14 months pass and Stuntman Mike is now in Tennessee stalking a new group of girls. But what Stuntman Mike doesn't know is that these women fight back!

That's the gist of the plot.

So why or how does Stuntman Mike use a car and not a knife like a normal killer? Stuntman Mike's instrument of death is his car, a stunt car made up with reinforced steel, role bars, and the whole nine yards. You could drive straight into a brick wall going 200mph just for the experience. Why not just use a knife? Probably because Stuntman Mike gets no excitement from using a knife.

This weapon of choice is one of the films many reinventions in Tarantino's take on the slasher sub genre of horror. Another major reinvention is Stuntman Mike. Most horror movie killers sneak up on their victims. Not Stuntman Mike, he's a socialite to his prey. Flirting with young women at the bar. Come on, we've all seen this guy at the bar a time or two.

It's really not a reinvention but Tarantino does something else with DEATH PROOF that is quite unique. He makes the audience forget they are watching a slasher movie. The film starts off like a slasher flick with girls talking about girl stuff and boys. We see Stuntman Mike follow them. But once the girls get the the Texas Chili Parlor something cool happens.

During the time at the bar our slasher film takes a break and becomes a 'hang-out' film. It almost becomes a Richard Linklater movie. The audience spends a lot of time with these characters having a good time at the Texas Chili Parlor. But remember, Stuntman Mike is setting up his prey And moments before last call is when he makes his move. I won't spoil it but Stuntman Mike gets a lap dance! Tell me. How many slasher flicks are there that have one of it's characters give the 'killer' a lap dance? Sorry, but I must have missed that Friday The 13th where a camp counselor gave Jason a lap dance. That's right folks, Stuntman Mike gets a lap dance! It's a cool scene but odd as well. I have never been quite sure what Tarantino is trying to tell us here? I've had several ideas in the past but now I'm pretty sure the only point to the scene is to tell the audience that Stuntman Mike is basically 'marking' his hunt.

The next and final reinvention of the slasher genre comes in the second half of the movie. 14 months later and Stuntman Mike is after a new set of girls. Now that the audience knows how Stuntman Mike operates, Tarantino chooses to have his 'killer' in the background this time around. After what happened in Texas, ole Stuntman Mike might be playing it safe?

So we have a new set of women all of which who work in the movie industry. Two of them are stunt actors. Some of the girls go for a joy ride in a 1970 Dodge Challenger. They are having a blast. But these thrill seekers get a little more than they bargained for when Stuntman Mike joins in on the fun. Now it is around this time that DEATH PROOF becomes the coolest thing ever. Tarantino switches gears (no pun intended) and the film becomes a full blown car chase movie! And let me tell you, it is the greatest car chase scene in the history of cinema!

Now if you've had the pleasure of experiencing DEATH PROOF as a part of GRINDHOUSE your double feature just turned into a triple threat! A true blue grindhouse theater experience!

There you have it! Quentin Tarantino's slasher movie with a twist of kick ass! I cannot recommend this movie enough. This Halloween do yourself a favor and watch GRINDHOUSE!

Only 4 more days left till Halloween! Happy October,

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Now here's a funny story. Out of the six Nightmare On Elm Street movies, the original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET was the film I saw last. The third in the series, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS was my introduction to the franchise. I found the story and characters compelling enough that I didn't think it was necessary to backtrack immediately. Plus a friend at school told me the first film was super scary!

To this day A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS is my favorite Elm Street movie. I love the look of the film. There's that 80's nostalgic feel to it that I just love. The story is good as well as the cast. It's worth mentioning too that this is the film where Freddy Krueger started being funny with his one liners. I also love the idea of the teenagers teaming together and helping each other out in one another's dreams. No matter how many times I've seen the movie, I just love it!

It wasn't until high school that I finally watched A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. And like I said, the reason being was because the tone of the film was much more creepy and scary than the sequels. Freddy is more serious in the first film. The first time I saw the movie I didn't care for it. I preferred humorous Freddy. But as time went on I started warming up to the film. In fact, I think it was because of WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE that I wanted to give the first Elm Street another shot.

Like I said Part 3 will always be my favorite but let it be known that A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET now comes a close second. I have such a deep love and admiration for it now. From the get go it has this atmosphere of a dream. Something that was lost to me when watching it on VHS that first time. It wouldn't be until DVD that I fell in love with the movie.

Every film had moments where characters didn't know if they were awake or in a dream. This was done so effectively that even the audience would have a hard time knowing what was real or what was a dream. And no film captured that feeling better than in this one.

My favorite creepy scene still to this day would probably be where Nancy falls asleep in class. In her dream she hears the voice of her friend Tina who is dead. Nancy looks out into the hallway to see her dead friend inside a body bag calling for help. Scary stuff!

Another favorite scene is the climax of the movie. We see a montage of Nancy setting traps all around her house for when she pulls Freddy out of her dream and into the real world. I think that's what I like most about the Nancy character. She fights back! It's easy to write off these slasher movies as 'women in peril' films, but not this one, not A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Dream becomes reality more and more as the film progresses. I could be wrong, but I really think that from the moment Nancy's boyfriend dies ( a young Johnny Depp) and till the end of the movie, it's all a dream. All that work rendering Freddy powerless was for nothing because pulling him into the 'real' world was still just a dream. Of course I could be completely wrong on this, or am I?

It should be worth noting that Freddy Krueger is my favorite movie monster of my generation. A big part of that is due to the talented actor that played him, the amazing Robert Englund. Mr. Englund has had the fortunate to play the Freddy character in all 8 films (that's including WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE and FREDDY VS. JASON)! This was rare for horror films at the time because in other slasher flicks the role of the killer would be jobbed out to a stunt man.

Now all you twenty somethings that we're born in the early 90's might be tempted to skip the original and just watch the remake that came out a few years ago. My advice. Steer clear of that piece of garbage and watch the original instead.

Happy October!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)

Does anybody still remember their first VCR player? I sure do. It was the early eighties when our family got one. It's too far back for me to remember the first video we rented. My best guest would be the Tom Hanks movie SPLASH. But I do remember the place where we rented movies. That place was called Beggar's Video. For a young kid the place was huge! In reality I'm sure the selection was small.

The thing I remember most about the video store was all the movie posters and cardboard standees. There was one standee in particular that always freaked me out. It was one of Freddy Krueger placed in a corner of the store. It made no difference where I was standing in the store, it always felt like Freddy was staring at me.

Another piece of advertisement that would always catch my eye was the FRIDAY THE 13th movie poster. A silhouette of someone holding a knife, and inside the silhouette we see woods, a cabin, some unlucky teens, and a full moon. The poster tells you every thing you need to know about the movie. Ingenious! To this day it is still one of my favorie horror movie posters.

Intrigued as I was of the poster there was no way I wanted to see that movie. I was already traumatized at an early age with AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. So I knew what a scary movie was. It wouldn't be until years later that I would even consider watching a Friday the 13th movie.

Back in grade school during recess some of us kids would brag about watching a Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street movie. Describing in gory detail how sick and twisted these movies were. We were so full of crap back then! But just like with any group of school kids there was that one who did see these movies. We rode the bus together and on the way to school he'd tell me how scary they really were or were not.

It wasn't until the late eighties or early nineties that I watched one of these movies. They played them to death on Cable television. It was either TBS Super Station or USA Network I cannot remember which? Ah, good ole USA Network, one of the best Cable channels during the 80's!

Even with most of the gore taken out, I still couldn't make it through FRIDAY THE 13TH. I'd always change the channel before the movie was over. I never found out who the killer was, and always assumed it was Jason because he was the killer in the sequels. Everybody knows that!

Eventually I did watch FRIDAY THE 13TH in it's entirety and was dumbstruck that the killer wasn't Jason but instead his mother. What? Lame. Well, at least Jason popping out of the water at the end sort of redeems the film. In pop culture Jason's mother being the killer became an afterthought. I laughed my ass off when I saw the movie SCREAM and the killer brings up the question, who was the killer in the first Friday the 13th movie? I wonder how many people in the theater got the question wrong just like Drew Barrymore's character did?

Last year I reviewed my favorite entry in the Friday the 13th franchise, FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER. In that blog I explained how much I did not care for the original, and also why the fourth film is the quintessential movie in the series. The first film is cleaver yes, but I'm a Jason fan. Jason should always be the killer.

While it's not my favorite of the series I still enjoy watching it. I mean let's give credit where credit is due, FRIDAY THE 13TH is the one that started it all. Before I get crucified by all the horror guru's out there; yes, technically JOHN CARPENTER'S HALLOWEEN is the film that started the sub genre.

But, FRIDAY THE 13TH with it's gore and higher body count became the blue print for the slasher flick boom of the 80's. It's crazy how many slasher movie's were made during this time.

I like the camp setting and how the film looks like an exploitation film, even though it was released by a major studio so technically it cannot be a true exploitation film like say THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE.

For it's time, the gore effects were done very well. And some of the kills even hold up today. All the characters/victims are likable which is something that changed for the worse in slasher flicks of the 90's. I enjoy SCREAM and all, but to hell with all the horror films that followed where every character was self aware and too smart to be in a horror movie. Give me a break! That's why the eighties ruled.

In conclusion. I recommend FRIDAY THE 13TH for it's place in horror movie history.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Before I begin let's get one thing perfectly clear. In my opinion ALIENS is a horror movie first and a action film second. Because when you're facing a nest of Xenomorph's it doesn't matter how many pulse rifles, grenades, or flamethrowers you have. You're always going to run out of ammo.

The year was 1986 and I was at the grocery store where my dad worked. Looking at movie magazines like Starlog and Fangoria. I would do this a lot at the store while my mom shopped. One day I picked up a issue and saw one of the most frightening images I had ever seen. A slimy looking creature black as night with no eyes and a set of teeth/fangs that looked as if they could tear your face clean off. The only name I could see to describe such a creature was the name ALIENS.

Now at the time the only aliens I knew of were cartoon green Martians, E.T., or all the different creatures inside Mos Eisley from the movie STAR WARS. All of which are pretty harmless for a 9 year old. Magazine photos of ALIENS had me terrified.

When it was time for ALIENS to hit HBO, I was ready. I remember having to watch it with my dad. Needless to say we didn't make it very long. My dad changed the channel right in the middle of the first Alien attack. I still remember to this day that it was the scene where a Colonial Marine gets acid blood splattered on his face. I was disappointed but relieved at the same time because I was getting pretty scared.

It wouldn't be until years later that I would get another chance to see ALIENS. But this time it was on network television. Safe right? Kind off. We were visiting family and I remember all the parents having a quick family meeting if it was alright for us kids to watch the movie. The kids won that night!

I was blown away. Even on network television this thing was scary! The long corridors, steam filled hallways, and Aliens coming out of the darkness. This movie got under my skin so much that it would not be until years later that I wanted to see it again.

It wasn't until high school that I had enough guts to watch ALIENS again. But this time I loved it! This second go around I appreciated it and saw it more as an action movie that a horror film. For years to come I would consider it the most bad ass movie that I had ever seen. It wore that crown for several years.

Today I still think the movie is scary. It's not as scary as ALIEN, but ALIENS earns the action-horror sub genre title appropriately.

The thing that still sends shivers up my spine when viewing the film is how quickly the stakes are raised. At the beginning you have these confident grunts that have the experience and tools to take down any threat that comes their way. As Pvt. Hudson states, they are the ultimate bad asses.

All bets are off even after one, yes one encounter with the Xenomorphs. The Marines get their asses kicked! These things are the perfect specimen, therefore the perfect killing machine. Again as Pvt. Hudson puts it “Game Over man”! After you've seen the movie a bunch of times the horror/suspense goes away and it's just an action movie. But wait a few years. Let the original film ALIEN sink into your brain. Realize what just one of these Aliens can do. Now imagine 100+ more of them with your firepower stripped to nothing. And to make matters worse add a Alien Queen on top of it. Bottom line you're screwed. This action movie just turned into a horror film did it not!

If you've never seen any of these movies I highly recommend watching ALIEN. In fact make it one of the many scary movies you watch this Halloween! It's one of the greatest science fiction horror movies ever made. It starts off slow and atmospheric but trust me it's worth the wait.

But if you're looking for something a little more fast pace then look no further that it's sequel ALIENS.

Happy October!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

HALLOWEEN 2 (2009)

Rob Zombie's 2009 film HALLOWEEN 2 is the most brutal slasher movie I have ever seen. When I saw it at the theater I thought it was an okay slasher flick but a pretty terrible Michael Myers tale. Purists beware, this film is not for you. While not really liking the theatrical version I still stood up for the movie explaining to haters that director Rob Zombie was experimenting with the franchise and the genre itself. But would agree with fans that this installment wasn't the best iteration of the classic horror character.

After recently watching the unrated director's cut of Zombie's HALLOWEEN 2, my opinion on the film has changed. In my review of his remake of the first Halloween film, I stated how I prefer the theatrical cut over the director's cut (which he claims as the definitive version). This time around for HALLOWEEN 2 it's the exact opposite. I like the unrated director's cut way more than the theatrical cut. And no, it's not because there is more gore but rather because the story Rob Zombie is trying to tell makes a lot more sense.

In the theatrical there are way too many WTF moments. The fact that Micheal Myers now has visions of his mother and a pale white horse aren't explained very well, leaves audiences snickering at these scenes. They are still weird but at least now the unrated cut extends these scenes giving more context to the story. This is probably the biggest artsy move that Zombie does to make this and the other Halloween entry “his”.

Another thing that the unrated cut improves on is Scout Taylor-Compton's performance. I thought she did a good job as Laurie Strode in the first film, but I hated her in this movie. This is one of the reasons why I waited so long to give the unrated cut a chance. She was just terrible from what I remember. Well, I like her performance a whole lot better in the unrated cut. I could be wrong on this because I haven't researched it, but I really think her scenes/performance got edited to death in the theatrical cut? After the events of the first film Laurie Strode goes very dark. Can you blame her? Her family and friends got murdered by Micheal Myers, and even she barely got away with her life. So yeah, she's messed up. In both versions we see Laurie have visions of Micheal Myers, and how she is slowly becoming like him. I like the unrated version more because these scenes are extended and better explained. I remember in the theater just being confused and annoyed by her performance. And who knows, I might be wrong about the whole thing? Maybe her scenes are the same? But I like it now and that's all that really matters.

One thing that did not change from the theatrical cut unfortunately was Dr. Samuel Loomis. I liked him in the first film but for the sequel, Rob Zombie really betrays the character. In HALLOWEEN 2 Dr. Loomis becomes a celebrity because of his bestselling book about the Micheal Myers murders. He lets it all go to his head and he becomes a big jerk. At first I liked it and thought it was kind of funny but in the end it's just a terrible and disappointing turn for the Loomis character.

Okay. So I already told you I like this film a little better now because of the added story elements to the unrated cut. Let me tell you what I love about the film. Now I am not for certain if the film was shot on 16mm, but it sure looks like it was. I love the look of this film! It's grainy, it's dark, and it looks like it belongs in a grindhouse theater.

Speaking of grindhouse. This is the most brutal slasher flick I have ever seen! Lot's of stabbing and bashing people's face in. This is definitely not the Micheal Myers from 1978. I don't have a problem with that, but a lot of fans do.

The big controversy among fans of the Halloween series and these films/remakes in particular is the portrayal of Micheal Myers. “Micheal Myers does not grunt or speak when he kills people”! This is the deal breaker amongst most fans. I get it. I totally understand why fans hate it. But I give it a pass because this is Zombie's take on the character and I give him major kudos for being different.

In the long run these Halloween remakes will be better for it, it'll give them longevity. At least that's what I think.

I have a few more reviews coming your way; but in the meantime, Happy October!

Sunday, October 5, 2014


When the subject of Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN comes up, I have a love hate relationship to the film. It's kinda crazy that I've seen 3 versions of this film. A workprint version, theatrical cut, and the director's cut. I love the workprint cut, it's my favorite of the three but sadly the copy I had is lost forever. My foggy memory of the theatrical cut tells me I liked it for the most part. I could buy a digital copy for $8.00 but don't really want to. And the most face palming version for me is the director's cut. One scene in particular is what ruins it for me. There are a few other issues I have with the cut but for the most part it's one scene.

The original JOHN CARPENTER'S HALLOWEEN is my favorite slasher/horror film. Heck, it's one of my favorite films of all time. So naturally my first instinct at the announcement of a remake was negative, how could they or better yet how dare they mess with a classic! Then Rob Zombie's name came up and suddenly I was intrigued.

Being a big fan of the style and look of his two previous films, HOUSE OF A 1000 CORPSES and THE DEVIL'S REJECTS. I kinda knew what we the audience were in for. And after HALLOWEEN H20: TWENTY YEARS LATER and HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION, the series was in some desperate need of a new direction.* I was ready for Rob Zombie to make Micheal Myers scary again.

If you don't know anything about the Halloween movie(s), here you go.

A psychotic murderer institutionalized since childhood for the murder of his sister, escapes and stalks a group of teenage girls/babysitters all the while his doctor races to stop him before he kills again.

That the gist of it for the most part. In Carpenter's original film he made Micheal Myers a boogeyman, a force of evil that cannot be killed. And the night he comes home, he is just stalking a group of babysitters. The television version and it's sequel HALLOWEEN II expand on why Micheal Myers is stalking Laurie Strode, one of the babysitters. But I'll talk about that later this month.

The big difference in Rob Zombie's film is the addition of lots of gore and his movie focuses on Micheal Myers as a young boy and what made him become a psychotic “boogeyman”. This aspect is what separates the two films and I think that was Zombie's intent all along. But, it is a remake so the second half is almost a shot for shot kill list of the original.

I really like that this film wasn't a 100% shot for shot remake. There's enough stuff here that makes it it's own thing. Too bad it's a little to white-trash-Kentucky-fried for my taste. My gosh, the opening five minutes of the film are way over the top and clichéd as hell! Okay Rob Zombie, we get it, these characters are the quintessential broken home family. But once you can get past that, the rest is okay.

The story element and what I like most about Zombie's remake is that I see his take on Micheal Myers as more of a Frankenstein's monster than a boogeyman. He's a product of his upbringing and the possible failure of Dr. Loomis trying to get through to him. Oh, and let's not forget that all Micheal really wants is to see his baby sister again, that's all.

So I can end this review on a positive note, I'll talk about the things I hate most about the film. At the top of the list for me is the ending. Ultimately it's his film, his vision so I can't really say he botched it up, but Rob Zombie botched it up.

The best ending being the workprint ending had Dr. Loomis make a brief connection to Micheal seconds before the “Frankenstein's Monster” gets taken out by police gunfire. This fantastic ending was replaced by a overly long cat n' mouse chase between Laurie and Micheal. With a climax that has Micheal helping Laurie shoot him in the face. This ending is both in the theatrical and director's cut. It's not a bad ending, it's just not as awesome as the workprint cut.

Adding more confusion to the fire is what happens to the Loomis character. Is he alive or is he dead? And no this isn't a mystery to be solved in the sequel. No my friends, this is a sign of poor editing. Loomis lives in the workprint, dies in the theatrical cut (or at least he should have), and lives in the unrated director's cut. And if you've seen the film about as many times as I have, you can see snippets of all 3 versions in the unrated director's cut, which by the way is the definitive version according to Mr. Zombie.

A few more things then I promise to talk about what I like. All horror fans know that Carpenter's original had some iconic kill scenes. One of them being a guy getting impaled to a refrigerator with a big ass kitchen knife.

When Zombie's film becomes almost shot for shot remake, you'd expect the kills to start becoming verbatim to the original. Not so. Or so I thought? In the workprint Rob does something awesome. He sets up the scene close to the original, but at the last second he messes with your anticipation and kills the character off differently. The twist on the jump scare is that he gets killed in a van and not impaled to the refrigerator with a big ass knife.

Now either Mr. Zombie got cold feet and changed the scene to where the guy does get impaled by a kitchen knife, or the Brothers Weinstein told him to change it because this is a remake and people want to see the same stuff over and over again?

But the scene that always makes me question what am I doing with my life, is the rape scene. A scene that again, replaced a perfectly good scene from the workprint version. Or it might be from the theatrical, I don't remember? Bottom line, it is not in the director's cut nor treated as a deleted/alternate scene. Poor shame.

Smith's Grove has done all they can do to try and help Micheal (now an adult), so they are moving him to another institution. In this scene Micheal breaks free from Smith's Grove and it's awesome. Mainly because all the transport/security guards are cast members from HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES and THE DEVIL'S REJECTS.

This scene works two ways, It's bad ass and it feels correct. Micheal has a purpose to break out of Smith's Grove. He wants to reunite with his baby sister. The rape scene never has worked for me. It makes his escape seem more coincidental. And plus I don't like rape scenes.

Okay. Now on to what I like about this film.

The thing I like most about Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN is the look of the movie. It has that late seventies early eighties feel to it. And it never feels like a gimmick, at least to me it doesn't. The original came out in 1978, so he may just be paying tribute to that. Regardless, I like his style. He's good at capturing the exploitation and grindhouse look.

The other thing that keeps me coming back to this remake is the cast. Scout Taylor-Compton did a good job as Laurie Strode. Her performance is better than you probably remember. It took me awhile to warm up to her, trying to fill the shoes of Jamie Lee Curtis.

Other standouts were Tyler Mane, Malcolm McDowell, and Brad Dourif.

Tyler Mane plays Micheal Myers and it's my favorite performance of the character since the original. The character hasn't been scary since the original, so kudos to Tyler and director Rob Zombie.

We all know Donald Pleasence is irreplaceable as the great Dr. Sam Loomis character. But, I really enjoyed seeing Malcolm McDowell's take on the role. Some of my favorite Loomis scenes were with him and Sheriff Brackett, played by Brad Dourif. I'm sure it was all on paper but I love what these two actors brought to their performances. Good stuff!

In conclusion, I feel that Rob Zombie made a decent remake of a horror classic. I'd rather watch this movie and it's sequel again, than ever watching any of the Texas Chain Saw, Friday the 13th, or Elm Street remakes ever again! This movie has it's problems for sure, but it's the strongest of the horror remake sub genre.

I can only recommend Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN to fans of the series. Hard core fans of the series. Which in all likelihood you've probably already checked it out if you're a fan. And if you've never seen one of the Halloween movies, do yourself a huge favor and watch the original.

* I kinda liked HALLOWEEN H20: TWENTY YEARS LATER but the fact that Laurie kills a security guard dressed like Micheal Myers is stupid and completely ruins the whole idea/plot of the film. Plus having a Creed song in your movie dates the hell out it. As for HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION? I enjoyed it for the most part, but the Brothers Weinstein thought the scenes with Busta Rhymes tested good and we all know how the fans felt about that.