It must have been some time around 1981 when we got our first video player, the ultimate Sony SL-C5. Smooth sleek design, a classic which set the benchmark to all those other machines at the time. Of cause, the C5 was a Betamax. Superior in many ways to the more commercially successful VHS with incredibly crystal clear quality viewing. I can vividly remember my folks binging it home: for some reason, they got the bus home with it, even though the car was on the drive. Must have been a killer carrying it. The miracle that was the video player/recorder back in ’81 was stunning and quite difficult to express by today’s standards and realistically, it wasn’t really that long ago.
So, for the first few months, I watched a small handful of movies, over and over and over. Ned Kelly (with Mick Jagger), Gone with the Wind, Butch Cassidy and then there was Halloween. A strange collection of films thinking back. I can remember my folks watching Halloween first, screening and weighing up how nasty and possibly how disturbing it could be and drawing to the conclusion that I, at age 10, would be ok to watch this one. From that point on, Halloween was played probably once a week with friends sometimes, who left my house pale as the day, parents wondering why their children couldn’t sleep at night after the horror which thy witnessed. For me though, the first viewing was one of mixed emotions, excitement and terror, one which I embraced and took the white knuckle ride. Myers’ picking off the local girls, his dominant pose, expressionless mask and unknowing rationale. Back then, I’m not sure how much I actually understood what was going on, not that there is a complex plot or anything, but I seem to think I used to skip the first 20 mins or so to get to the real spooky stuff. Myers behind the white heart with glasses etc. The wardrobe scene was and possibly still is quite harrowing but I loved it.
I find it quite amazing though, thinking back on this journey of mine into my horror milestones that Halloween is my second notch after my primary introduction with Frankenstein five years earlier. Only after my 365 project did I realise the mirroring of the 70’s horror offerings with the original Universal classics. Myers, Leatherface, Pluto et al, all reincarnations of horror henchmen from the castles, Hunchback, Phantom, wolfman and of cause, Frankenstein. Unstoppable villains, silent, overpowering, masked and monstrous with a real direct link between Myers and Frankenstein both in stature, dominance and power. Again, how much of an impact has this film had on my young mind?
For the following year, we’d joined the local video shop. Ours was a real classy one with a massive selection of every type of film. Walton Road video. I used to stand looking at covers, imagining the plot, the adventure and always knowing that the films I’d be quite interested in would never be selected by my folks. Virus, Exterminator, Martin, Shivers, Microwave Massacre, GBH. Pigs was one such film, with a picture of a pig on the cover eating a human hand. (I might have imagined this one) but instead, we’d be taking home Kramer vs Kramer. A friend of mine at the time, Kevin, lived near this video library, above a pub. His brother used to rent the lot. He’d tell me all about them, full detailed plots which only encouraged my desire to watch horror and films of the fantastic.
Next time, further obsession with Video rental, Linda Blair and a lost unrecognised classic from the ’80’s.
There are some films, that to attempt to remake, to reinvisage is just a total bad idea. Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake was a great success. As was Hills have Eyes. But Halloween? Halloween is the primary force when it comes to slasher films. It’s the ultimate. Number one. Top of the list by a long shot. Carpenter got it right (He’s only got it right on a hand full of occasions over his vast career) although, am I right in thinking or reminising that the Italians had a few stalk n slashers under their belt pre Halloween?
So, Rob Zombie steps up the mark, or is that guillotine? Am I gonna sound biased if I said this was about as good as it gets? What if I questioned the remake actually being superior to the original? It’s not superior, but it is bloody good and realistically, is a very different movie and offers a totally different feel.
The plot, for those unfamiliar with Halloween. Mike Myers has a bad upbringing. As a kid, he slaughers his family leaving a single survivor. He’s locked up and many years later, escapes to slaghter many teenagers and hunt down his sister to finish what he started. He’s the essence of evil, can’t be hurt, keep coming after several bullets to the chest, and asically cannot die (This is the original plot) So the remake comes along. We have a similar plot. Although this time around, we get an enlightening look in to the Myer’s household. It’s grim. We find Mike killing his pet rat which is nasty, but after the treatment he’s getting, I find myself totally on his side after every murder; nearly cheering in fact. He’s still a bit invincible too, but doesn’t seem to have the same total devil evilness about him, and actually seems to have reason, thought and some heart tucked away under that mask. (One of many which he makes whilst in prison).
It’ve a very different movie And it’s better because of the fact. It doesn’t try to update for a new generation, opting to take a different view of the reasons for the actions of the killer.
For me, this film works a treat. It’s not better than Carpenter’s, it’s different. To compare, I could say that MM doesn’t have the same intense screen presence that the 70’s version has. He was terrifying every time he appeared in a doorway, or across a road. Menacing, and bloody deadly. RZ’s MM is just a huge monster of a man who can punch his hand through a house and break a body in half with his bare fist, but no real creepy boogyman feeling, just menacing brute force, which works better for Zombies version.
The cast is awesome. Brad Dourif, Malcolm McDowell, Udo Kier, Sid Haig and Sheri Moon is once again stunning in the role of Myers mother. Daeg Faerch, who plays the young Mike Myers steals the show though. Real conviction, real presence; a cracking young actor.
The film works and it’s a tribute to Zombie once again for his love of the genre, the history and honour to attempt to remake this movie. It’s a fine movie which leaves the original in tact and offers an alternative rather than a replacement.