Halloween II (2009): Zombie’s Follow-Up to 2007 Reboot

More odd, weird and repellent than scary or goofy, Halloween II, Rob Zombie’s hardcore slasher flick, is a quickie exploitational flick, a vastly disappointing flick on different levels–by standards of this sub-genre, and by standards of helmer’s previous films.


The Weinstein Co. has decided not to hold advance screenings for the press, anticipating negative response, and trying to make quick cash on opening weekend (or rather opening day) before the dismissive reviews and unfavorable word-of-mouth spread around. (By the way, I may be one of the few critics who hold that the studios do not have to show their pictures to reviewers if they don’t wish to; the movies are their products.  I mention that, because while I was president of the Los Angeles Film Critics, in the 1990, there were huge debates about critics being barred from advance or industry showings).

Zombie’s follow-up to his 2007 reboot of “Halloween” contains some stylish sequences (like a creepy red-tinted party) and few visceral frills and thrills, but overall, it’s a tedious, senseless, uninolving, and even punitive movie, in which no character is sympathetic enough for us to care whether or not he or she survives, and during which we are subjected to a display of nihilistic sadism and movieish cynicism of the worst kind.


Though quickly made (or more accurately assembled together) and rushed into release (the Weinsteins are desperate for cash flow), “Halloween II” still bears the signature of a Zombie picture, perhaps even more so than the first one, which I also disliked, albeit for different reasons.


The yarn is set right after the events of the first film, finding a bloodied Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) seated at the site where she’s just killed Michael Myers (Tyler Mane).  The authorities then arrive to clean up the mess and to take the catatonic lone survival for medical care.


Cut to one year later, and the revelation that Myers’ body had “mysteriously” disappeared on the way to the morgue from the coroner’s car, which all too conveniently crashes.  Residing with her best friend Annie (Danielle Harris) and Annie’s father, Sheriff Bracket (Brad Dourif), Laurie now works in a record store, sporting a new punkish look.  Despite session with her kind therapist (Margot Kidder), Laurie remains petrified by the implication of Myers’ survival and haunted by a sequence of horrible nightmares.


The one smart decision of Zombie the writer has made is to posit Laurie as a foe for Michael Myers, based on the notion that both are relentlessly harsh, endlessly haunted and damaged by their respective pasts, and ultimately indestructible.


Predictably, when the new Halloween arrives, Michael makes his way back into town, except this time he’s carrying with him an important “secret” (used here pretentiously as a Macguffin in the Hitchcockian way).


Malcolm McDowell plays Sam Loomis, Myers’ former doctor and expert on the latter, who arrives in town to promote a book about the first series of killings. The name of his character is of course lifted from John Gavin’s role in “Psycho.” Looking weird, and playing even weirder, he has one preposterously inane scene, a talk show in which he is interrupted by Weird Al Yankovic; if the movie survives the opening weekend, it might become a talking point.

In effort to shed light on Myers’ twisted psyche, Zombie inserts some odd dream sequences, which bring the little narrative flow the picture has to a halt.  In one of the film’s few calm seconds, we see Zombie’s wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, as Myers’ loving and departed mother.


Lacking the edge and style of Zombie’s “House of 1,000 Corpses” and “The Devil’s Rejects” and other flicks, this “Halloween” feels like quickie exploitation flick, an exercise in gory violence, mayhem and cannibalism; no wonder Laurie Strode has become a vegetarian.