Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 is tied with Halloween 3: Season of the Witch as the most reviled entry amongst fans of the Halloween franchise. While Season of the Witch has undergone a bit of critical revaluation as of late, both it and Zombie’s sequel still reside near the bottom of the barrel. But why? Simple: because they are different. Oh, the fans can change the window dressing all they want, but they simply must admit they hate both entries because, in the case of the former, certain aspects of the franchise were changed; in the case of the latter, their precious Michael Myers didn’t show his ugly mug.
Well, I’m here to tell you both blow the original right out of the water. We’ve already focused on Season of the Witch, so we’re gonna end our little Halloween countdown with the most recent entry in the franchise: Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2.
Two years after the events in Zombie’s Halloween (one year in the theatrical version), Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) isn’t doing so well. She’s plagued with frequent nightmares and is on enough medication to kill a small country. But at least her brother is dead and gone, right? Wrong! Ol’ Mikey (Tyler Mane) is still alive and well, proving that Lauri is a terrible shot. And, with visions of his mama (Sherri Moon Zombie) and a white horse in tow, Michael sets out to correct his screw-up.
After remaking the original, Zombie wasn’t interested in doing a sequel. French directors Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, directors of 2007’s Inside, were in negotiations to direct. However, Zombie officially signed on in December 2008. According to Zombie, producer Malek Akkad told him to ignore established rules and make the film he wanted to make.
With this directive in place, Zombie chose to focus more on Laurie and her emotional state. After surviving a murderer’s killing spree, I’m certain you’d be a little screwy in the head as well. While we do get a nod to the original second installment in the form of a 30-minute dream sequence, Zombie forges his own path and puts his personal stamp on the series – something that, let’s admit, the other entries hardly, if at all, do. That’s why this entry is one of the stand-outs: it’s not the “same shit, different day” that so many horror fans want and crave. To put it another way, it has personality.
Many from that same crowd cried and screamed that ol’ Sam “I shot him six times!!” Loomis (played by Malcolm McDowell here) is deprived of his golden halo and turned into an opportunistic sleazebag who exploits the murders to put a few bucks in his pocket. Good, I’m glad he was changed from some bland psychiatrist who repeatedly shouts “Michael!” at the top of his lungs into a character who’s actually interesting. With this change, Loomis becomes akin to exploitation filmmakers and producers (such as David F. Friedman) whose sole objective was to “sell the sizzle, not the steak,” a line even said by Loomis in the film. Not to mention the fact that his alteration puts him in line with Zombie’s world view – a world of opportunism, brutality, and bleak despair.
Zombie’s Halloween 2 also does away with all the supernatural nonsense. Michael ain’t the boogie man anymore. He’s just an ordinary human. Some might scream and cry, “But that takes away from his scariness!” No, that adds to it. To quote Sam Neil from In the Mouth of Madness, “Reality.” What’s scarier: a ghost that rattles some kitchenware, or not being able to pay your rent? If you answered the former, try again. The reality of something is what gives it the scare factor – and a human being will always be more frightening than a figment of your imagination.
The reasons listed above are my reasons why I place Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 at the top of the Halloween heap. Far more brutal and uncompromising than any of its predecessors, as well as containing a personal vision, Halloween 2 sits well above the “same ol’, same ol’.” Perhaps like Season of the Witch, Zombie’s Halloween 2 will undergo a critical re-evaluation in the future and be recognized for the excellent film that it is. If not, it’s everyone’s loss.