WARNING: This Review May Contain Spoilers
I told you before that the name John Carpenter was going to come back and ‘haunt’ you in another article. Well, here he is – the director of Halloween. I’ll be honest, I actually ended up watching the Rob Zombie remake by accident when I wanted to watch the original (not the only film I’ve made the mistake with, but one I didn’t regret). So, as we always do with these articles let’s take a look at which is better…
For those who have seen the original Halloween, you will know that it opens with the murder of Michael Myers’ sister – the bad babysitter – before flashing forward 15 years. Now, Rob Zombie could have kept it just as simple and done the same thing but I get the feeling ‘simple’ isn’t his style. Instead he, in the Halloween remake, decided to extend Michael’s backstory as we watch him grow from a child to an adult. For me, I feel like Zombie was trying to create sympathy for Michael’s character and not only this, but we get to know the character of Dr Loomis more than we do in the original – as we watch him working with Michael through the years.
Zombie also sets up Michael’s character in the form of a serial killer, almost as if to say, that him killing his sister, and many others, were a long time coming.
Loomis and Myers
As I mentioned, Zombie shines more light on the relationship between Myers and Loomis. You get the distinct impression in the original film that Loomis has less empathy for Myers, as he says he never wants to see him freed. However, in the remake Loomis has known Michael since he was a boy – before he killed his sister. He comes in as a child psychologist before Michael even ends up in the hospital and as I mentioned before about the viewer’s sympathy for Michael, I think part of this is developed through the character of Samuel Loomis as he shows sympathy and compassion rather than hate towards Michael.
Laurie and the Friendship Dynamic
Firstly, the difference between the original Laurie, played by scream queen Jamie Leigh Curtis, and the 2007 Laurie, played by Scout Taylor-Crompton, is massive! Curtis plays the typical 80s final girl; kind, friendly and most importantly virgin; whereas Taylor-Crompton’s Laurie comes across a lot more like Annie and Lynda are played in the original film. The friends are also kinder to each other in the remake instead of the mocking behaviour that Laurie receives in the original film – for example when they are talking about the dance Annie says to Laurie “I didn’t know you thought about such things”.
Some Things Don’t Change
I did wonder when re-watching the remake if in some way Zombie had got Carpenter involved in this version or at least consulted him on a few things as there are parts that has kept true to the original – in a positive way I mean. For example, the original piece of music is still used and Zombie kept to the fact that Myers’ wears the rubber William Shatner mask. Yes, he has taken the story in his own direction but keeping these things the same pays tribute to the original in very good and subtle way. Even more interestingly, they are watching the same film on TV as in the original – which I always saw as a little Easter Egg to another of Carpenter’s films – The Thing.
This is something I’ve talked about many times before in regards to horror remakes. I actually think that Zombie makes Myers’ body count is higher in the remake than in the original in order to build Michael’s character. By this I mean that it’s not like the remake is filled with senseless violence, but more that there is a reason to every killing. In the original film as a child, Michael only kills his sister – then as an adult kills 3 of Laurie’s friends. Whereas in the remake of Halloween, not only does he kill one of the bullies before murdering his sister – he also kills her boyfriend and his step dad.
Relevance of the Knife
This is going to sound like a really odd section but I always felt that the knife is relevant to Myers’ character, especially as it’s quite a significant part of the film poster. The fact that he killed his sister with a kitchen knife, naturally, you would expect this to remain as his weapon of choice. However, in the original film, only one of his victims is killed this way and Laurie is attacked with it but this is the most you see the kitchen knife. It’s different in the remake however because Bob, Laurie’s dad, and many others are killed in the same fashion. Maybe Zombie felt the same as I did that the knife was important
Naturally in both films this takes place in the Myers’ house. The interesting thing is that in the original this lasts around 10-12 minutes because typical of these types of killers, Laurie can never seem to kill him. However, in the remake it last 20 minutes! No final scene needs to last that long no matter how superhuman the villain is. So much so that I am going to go on to talk about has been slightly ruined…
So, to end the original film Laurie asks Loomis – “Was that the Boogeyman?” and he answers quite powerfully “I do believe it was”. Now, these lines also feature towards the end of the 2007 remake but they lose all strength because, unlike the original film, they aren’t the closing lines. There’s still another 10 minutes after they are spoken. Also, I feel like there’s something more powerful to Donald Pleasance’s voice than Malcolm McDowell’s so the final line comes over much better.
In their own ways, both of these films are actually really good! Because Rob Zombie takes his own angle on the story and makes Myers as much of a protagonist as Laurie – it adds a completely different take on the whole story. Interestingly, he actually brings in the idea of Laurie being Michael’s younger sister, long before they decided to add it into the original franchise. Obviously I will always enjoy the original but I love the Rob Zombie remake just as much.