Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Rob Zombie’s Halloween

In 2007, Rob Zombie’s take on Halloween was unleashed upon the world. This movie was written, directed, and produced by Zombie — arguably his most ambitious cinematic effort up until that point. Is it any good? How does it hold up today? And what were Rob Zombie’s thoughts on this movie back in 2007? Read on, and you’ll find out.

The original Halloween, released in 1978, is the perfect horror movie, and it’s just as captivating today. It clearly captured the attention of Rob Zombie, who was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to reimagine Halloween and apply his own unique style to this timeless tale.

In an interview with Fangoria in 2007, Zombie said, “When it came to me, my thought was that I would never see a Halloween 9, let alone make one.” He added, “Then I had an idea for a remake — but was it pointless, stupid or crazy? I started to envision this whole different movie, and I felt like there was a way to keep what I love about Halloween, yet make it totally, totally distinct.”

“The fans have been in love with the original film for 30 years,” said Zombie. “You can’t expect them to embrace something so quickly that’s fresh and new. Things take time, and I believe people will come into this and go, ‘Holy shit, I’ve got to think differently, because this movie is not what I was sitting around for the last year expecting it to be.’”

Rob Zombie’s Halloween feels like two distinct movies that were melded to create what was released in theaters. According to the wonderful book Taking Shape, “In early discussions with Miramax, Zombie suggested that Halloween ‘07 be split into two films that could be shot back-to-back. The first would serve as a prequel, beginning with Michael’s crimes as a child and ending with his escape from Smith’s Grove as an adult. The second film would encompass ground covered in the original Halloween with his return to Haddonfield to track down Laurie Strode. The studio rejected this two-film approach, instead forcing Zombie to create a hybrid prequel/remake.”

I wish that Miramax had allowed Rob Zombie to employ his two-film approach because the first half of Halloween is the most compelling, as it explores the origin story of Michael Myers. Seeing his childhood, the bizarre behavior, the bullying, the insane family life, and, eventually, his interactions with Dr. Loomis — expertly played by Malcolm McDowell — was a real treat. But then the movie, almost abruptly, swings into remake mode, providing us with an updated take on the 1978 classic. So, one minute we’re enjoying original content that is legitimately riveting. The next, we’re served a reimagining of something that’s already perfect, rendering it far less interesting than the first half of this film.

Rob Zombie told Fangoria in 2007, “To me, part of the thrill is that there are these iconic things about it. One of them is the mask, and we also saved a few of the names. A lot of people get up in arms over remakes because they think you’re fixing something. I’m not trying to fix perceived problems in the original. I love that movie, and I kept the bits that were the essence of Halloween.”

One area where Rob Zombie deserves high praise is the soundtrack. I love the soundtracks in his movies for a couple reasons. First, he always includes some epic classic rock tunes that create an awesome vibe. Second, when he releases his soundtracks, Rob Zombie likes to include audio clips from the movies in between music tracks. I really dig that because it makes for a fun listening experience. His soundtracks rock, and this one, in particular, is among his best.

Another area in which Halloween shines is its supporting cast, specifically the plethora of spectacular character actors. “There are all these actors I think are terrific, and I just wanted to work with them,” said Zombie to Fangoria. “What’s great about these particular actors is I obviously cast them in small roles, but they can come on screen for their one scene and be very significant. Rather than casting people you’ve seen before, why not Dee Wallace or Richard Lynch? it just makes the movie feel richer. Sometimes when you go back and watch movies from the ’70s, you go, ‘Jesus Christ, all of these people are in this one film?’ Even if they’re in small roles. Character actors were so much more prevalent then. Not now.”

Speaking of actors, Danielle Harris, best known by fans for her portrayal of Jamie Lloyd in Halloween 4 & 5, wasn’t someone Rob Zombie included in his movie as fan service. “Me casting Danielle is a testament to how good she is. My initial response to her coming in to audition was, ‘No way.’ I didn’t want anyone from the Halloween series, because I felt like if we did, it wouldn’t feel like a real movie. But she was so good, she made me change my thought process on the whole thing. No one else who came in was even in the same ballpark as her. Plus, she really wanted to play Annie. It worked out great, and the fans will dig it,” Zombie told Fangoria.

Dig it, I did! All in all, I think Rob Zombie’s Halloween is a solid movie that still holds up today. He wanted to split the story across two movies, but Miramax wouldn’t let him. So, he had to create a hybrid movie that was part prequel and part remake. Zombie made the most of it, producing a stylish, gritty, raw, emotionally impactful cinematic experience that adds to the Halloween lore, while providing a new interpretation of classic scenes, elements, and characters. The cast is tremendous, the soundtrack and score are perfect, and, ultimately, Halloween is satisfying: a familiar and fresh film that’s worthy of attention and praise.

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