The Bigger Picture: Neither a remake of the 1981 sequel nor a movie to be taken on quite the same terms as Zombie’s first stab at masked maniac Michael Myers,Halloween II sees the killer as a psycho drifter—now vaguely resembling Watchmenwriter Alan Moore—who still haunts the dreams of li’l sister Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton). Visions of the late mama Myers (Sheri Moon Zombie) alongside a white horse also abound. The director will undoubtedly be accused of merely looking for a way to shoehorn his wife into the flick, but she does serve a specific plot purpose.
Pushing Laurie even further to the brink is Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), who, like Michael, has inexplicably survived near-certain death just so there could be a sequel. In Zombie’s biggest departure from the source material, Loomis is portrayed as a total ass, a shallow fame junkie who’s like a wholly corrupt version of Dr. Drew Pinsky. Eager to exploit his star patient again, Loomis pens a new book revealing the full family connection between Laurie and Michael, and the extent to which surrogate pop, Sheriff Lee Brackett (Brad Dourif), kept it under wraps.
As one would expect, Zombie corrals yet another freak show of classic character actors, from standbys like Batman Begins‘ Mark Boone Jr. and Office Space’sRichard Riehle, to TV faves like Howard Hesseman and even Weird Al Yankovicas himself.
More surprising are the stylistic flourishes: Shot on grainy stock in a ’70s drive-in style but with harder-edged, realistic brutality, the movie tries to reflect the fracturing perspectives of the Myers siblings by playing around with sound and image, including, if we’re not mistaken, visual references to the likes of French cinema pioneer Georges Méliès!
But lest you think Zombie’s gone too highfalutin, he still gives characters playful names like “Bruce Cabot” and “Harley David” (of course, “Lee Brackett,” carried over from Carpenter’s original, is a reference to the coscreenwriter of The Empire Strikes Back, to which Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects owes many plot points).
Halloween II attempts some ambitious genre bending that doesn’t always work and that may occasionally evoke laughter. Yet there’s often much more in play than the obvious.
The 180—a Second Opinion: If you want anything remotely like John Carpenter’s original Halloween, or even a typical slasher flick, you’re not gonna get it here.