" I can safely say at this point that we are lost. "
— Heather Donahue, The Blair Witch Project

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Winsor McCay -- The Master Edition

A new DVD offers an opportunity to see films by a master of animation —Andrea Birgers (DVD review...)

Gertie the Dinosaur, born of Winsor McCay

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Just in time, Rob Zombie’s unnecessary remake of Halloween comes to DVD, making the perfect holiday gift for that special someone you just want to hack into pieces. But if you don’t suffer from severe mental issues, I suggest not making the mistake of putting this one under the Christmas tree.

Copied to Death

Along with The Wicker Man, Thir13en Ghosts, Black Christmas, House of Wax, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Omen, you can now chalk up Halloween as one of the latest failed experiments in this offensive trend of recreating seemingly timeless horror legends.

Unfortunately, the original films aren’t as enduring to some directors; In this case, writer/director Rob Zombie takes a chop (literally) at John Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece. Although sub-par, House of the 1000 Corpses was a decent launch into his career as a horror filmmaker, while The Devil’s Rejects solidified Zombie’s distinct style, christening him a bona fide auteur. Being an avid admirer of horror films, I was delighted by his progression and maturity in Devil’s Rejects, and was highly anticipating his next project.

But why this? Could it have been writers block? A somewhat desperate attempt at making a “better” version to boost his ego? Or was this just another paycheck? Studying his earlier films, one knows these can’t be the reasons: he is a true horror film enthusiast (hell, even his entire musical livelihood was based on terror, dismay, and revulsion), but why he would want to restore a classic that is still — to this day — terrifying audiences, is something I can’t fathom.

This 21st century genre which has exploded in popularity, known as the “remake,” is where I completely place the blame for Zombie’s mistaken project. This faux category of film has been forcing filmmakers from their much respected foundation of creative originality into the dark depths of potential career suicide. When it came to the original Halloween, the writer part of Rob Zombie couldn’t take on a project so psychologically mystifying, while the visual side couldn’t keep up with his new blundered and simplified script.

A Bloody Mess

The film begins with a half hour long back-story to explain the actions and motivations of the renowned psychopathic killer Michael Myers, as how and why he viciously murdered four people as a child. By now, my dear readers, you should already be infuriated with the contradictory premise. What made Myers, who only wears a cryptic-looking white mask and jumpsuit, a horror icon? Surely it wasn’t how we knew why he did those heinous things, but why we didn’t know. The mythology of his sociopath-like behaviors is destroyed; told in a tedious, dim, and unimaginative beginning that demands us to twiddle our thumbs for a even remotely scary moment.

By the time it is 16 years later, we have a grownup Myers (Tyler Mane) stalking babysitter Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) and company, but we already are aware of the inspiration. The brilliant Malcolm McDowell appears as Dr. Samuel Loomis, the only person (besides the audience) who knows Michael’s true ideologies, yet with such a weak script to work off, can’t give us the performance and character awe that’s deserved.

The most irresponsible thing a genuine horror movie can do is to reveal itself in the last five minutes before the final credits. This rendition of Halloween does so after the first five minutes of the beginning credits.

And even more regrettable, it turns out that frightening people isn’t exactly the main objective here. This is more of a study in the exploitation of violence with a drop of character drama; an study in the cinematic traditions of people being killed with knives, mixed with brainless dialogue and a handful of sex scenes that dig us even further into the hole of pointlessness.

DVD Extras

All extras provided on the second disc, the 17 Deleted Scenes we’re exposed to are mostly focused around Dr. Loomis and Michael Myers’ mother, and are generally staged in the beginning half of the film. Nothing that was cut out should have even been considered left in, so if you were disappointed by the final product, there will be nothing special for you here. The Alternative Ending feature proves totally futile, that being a redundant foot-chase between Michael and Laurie. All of this extra footage is available with or without a commentary by Rob Zombie. Watch this material only at the risk of being bored.

The Blooper Reel (no, not disc one), lasts over ten minutes, and is, needless to say, ten minutes too long. Marvel at the once Clockwork Orange prodigy, McDowell, be a goofball onset! *Groan*

There are three documentaries: starting with Many Masks of Michael Myers, this pointless edit is composed to further intrigue us into the idea of Myers and his childhood masks, which does nothing but add to the annoyance for the prequel-like plotline.

Then at long last, we are given Re-imagining Halloween, a documentary that struggles to explain my burning question, “WHY?!” But the substantial subject is tip-toed around and ends up as a lesson in make-up effects and gore. The question of “why?” is flipped into a ultimately meaningless inquiry of “how?” Don’t wander into this feature looking for answers.

And finally, we have Meet the Cast, with Zombie going over all of the characters and his initial incentive for choosing the actors that he did. The cast members respond and talk about their reactions and motivations for the roles that they play. The film is spoiled in this feature, especially if you haven’t seen the original, so watch at your own risk.

The Casting Sessions and Laurie Screen Tests sound as dull as they are; many minor and nonexistent actors try out for the many minor roles presented. Nothing more here.

If you have no shred of knowledge about the original, and enjoy a reliable yet pointless blood-splattering film, go for it. But for me, this disappointment will still be ringing in my ears as I sluggishly push John Carpenter’s original Halloween into my DVD player for desperate renovation.

How to Use This DVD

Watch the movie if you must. Skip the extra features, but seek out the Sneak Peeks. We get previews for Planet Terror, Death Proof, 1408 and The Furnace... four films which dwarf the quality of the one you just watched. Close your eyes and dream of the two hours you could have better spent watching any of these.