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Tue August 28, 2007
All telegraphing . . .
By John DeSando, WCBE's It's Movie Time
"I think of horror films as art, as films of confrontation. Films that make you confront aspects of your own life that are difficult to face. Just because you're making a horror film doesn't mean you can't make an artful film."
An effective horror film relies on suspense and anticipation for its effect. Rob Zombie's Halloween, a remake of John Carpenter's classic, has little of the anticipatory horror of the original, not just because devotees know the scenes but because Zombie is so interested in an orgy of gore that he pays little attention to suspenseful buildup.
Bodies abound at the 10 year-old-hands of Michael Myers, a disturbed, murderous child who grows to a 25 year old psychopath. Although we are privy to Myers' mayhem, we are alas just a bit closer to the reasons why he does this than Dr. Sam Lewis (Malcolm McDowell), who has been treating him for many years. For our consideration: The white-trash home of the young Myers (Daeg Faerch) has mom's bad-mouthed boyfriend (William Forsythe), looking like an enraged Nick Nolte, a prime candidate for revenge, and a sluttish sister Judith (Hannah Hall), whose unkind words about Michael's masculinity are dealt with efficiently as well.
Zombie does attend in much more detail than Carpenter to these early years as Michael makes great progress from dismembering animals to revenging himself on school chums, family members, and generally anyone in his way (a few notable victims are foolish, nubile girls just dumb enough to make us reluctant to see them go, never fully clothed, mind you).
When the grown Michael returns to Haddonfield, Ill., at Halloween, the town is as clueless as ever, not prepared for Michael's power or the obvious reason for his return?to connect with his adopted-out sister, Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton). Somehow Jamie Lee Curtis was more memorable in that role, as was that template-making film.
And that's my criticism: all telegraphing, no character. All gratuitous violence, replete with the usual T& A, and no subtlety. This slasher makes the original Carpenter work look like a masterpiece of understatement.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm and on demand anytime. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com