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Rob Zombie’s Halloween Is a Good Slasher – But a Bad Michael Myers Story

The Halloween remake remains a divisive entry in Rob Zombie’s filmography. However, it’s not a bad slasher movie, but it is a bad Michael Myers story.

Rob Zombie’s upcoming film adaptation of The Munsters proves the musician-turned-director has a penchant for bringing past hits to the present. However, his 2007 remake of John Carpenter’s Halloween remains a controversial entry in his filmography, with even Carpenter having mixed feelings about the reimagining of his horror icon, Michael Myers.

Much like 1978’s Halloween, Zombie’s film picks up with a young Michael Myers killing his sister (and, in this case, his stepfather and sister’s boyfriend too) before returning 15 years later to wreak havoc on Laurie Strode and her friends on Halloween night. With such similar premises, it’s difficult to imagine how audiences could find the remake so divisive. However, Zombie’s interpretation of Halloween made two big mistakes. As such, the remake holds the complicated title of good slasher movie but bad Michael Myers story. Here’s why.

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People love a good mystery. And while Carpenter’s Halloween is no hardboiled detective story or twisty thriller, it serves up a hefty dose of intrigue with Michael Myers. Michael — the personification of evil — embarks on his Haddonfield rampage for no apparent reason other than to kill. He doesn’t show remorse, nor does he display any delight. His mask hides any emotions, turning him into an unrelenting force and a human monster who kills because he can. This is even apparent when Michael kills his sister, Judith, at just six years old. While audiences get a glimpse into his past, it doesn’t tell them anything other than Michael was born evil — and that’s terrifying.

This is where Carpenter and Zombie differ. Carpenter takes the “nature” side of the nature versus nurture debate, and Zombie takes the latter. The first half of 2007’s Halloween follows Michael at ten years old, dealing with an abusive stepfather, a neglectful sibling and a school bully. Michael’s mother, Deborah, is an exotic dancer who struggles to provide for her family, although she genuinely cares for Michael. While Zombie implies Michael was born different, he hammers home the idea that the environment really created the monster. Michael exhibits many signs of psychopathy, including killing animals and explosive anger. However, he shows glimpses of empathy by caring for his mother and not killing his baby sister — and having any kind of moral compass is a far cry from Carpenter’s slasher.

It’s an intriguing premise for a serial killer movie — seeing how the man became the monster. But, in this case, it counteracts the main point of Carpenter’s original film: Micheal is a mystery. Later Halloween sequels that tried explaining parts of Michael’s origins were also not well received by fans and critics, including the supernatural arc established in Halloween 5. Michael isn’t scary because he is otherwordly; he is scary because he is human. Zombie knows this, but his film gives Michael too much humanity. As John Carpenter himself said of the film, “I thought that he took away the mystique of the story by explaining too much about [Michael Myers]. I don’t care about that. He’s supposed to be a force of nature. He’s supposed to be almost supernatural.”

RELATED: How One of Friday the 13th’s Wildest Films Made Jason (Kinda) Sympathetic

Although audiences might remember it differently, Halloween is a (mostly) bloodless horror movie despite all the stabbing. The founder of Compass International Pictures, Irwin Yablans, wanted to achieve terror without gore. As he said in his book The Man Who Created Halloween, “I had this idea we could orchestrate the scares and manipulate the audience. I cited the example of following a protagonist to the right side of the screen, only to surprise on the left side.” These clever tricks resulted in slow-building suspense, something Zombie’s film lacks.

Known for their hyper-violence and gore, Zombie’s movies — like House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects — don’t shy away from the shock and awe kills. It’s a signature that Zombie unapologetically brought to Halloween, but for many critics, it was a pain point. Zombie fans wouldn’t expect anything less from the director, and admittedly, it works within the Halloween universe; later sequels — including 2018’s Halloween — leaned into the bloodier side of things. However, other parts of Zombie’s style don’t, such as his foul-mouthed “redneck” characters whose unredeemable qualities have few to none rooting for them.

Still, there are good aspects of the film. Zombie managed to generate a certain level of sympathy for young Michael, and the death of Danny Trejo’s character was particularly upsetting. At its core, Zombie’s Halloween is a good slasher story, but one that gets lost when throwing Michael Myers, Dr. Loomis, Laurie Strode and the Halloween legacy into the mix. The main appeal of Carpenter’s Halloween is its restraint, something Zombie’s remake forgoes entirely, creating a Halloween movie that feels very, very un-Halloween.

Jeanette White is a writer, horror fanatic and video game enthusiast from Boston. This self-proclaimed nerd enjoys finding the next big scoop in the world of entertainment. She is currently the Lead Movie Features Editor at Comic Book Resources. Jeanette is also the author of two horror thrillers, Shattered and The Other Inside. She sporadically rambles about horror books and films on her website.

Rob Zombie’s Halloween Took the Mystery Away From Michael Myers

Rob Zombie’s Halloween Forgoed Suspense for Gore and Violence

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