There are few slasher films (or just overall horror films) more beloved than 1978’s Halloween. Not only did it inspire the massive slasher boom of the 1980’s, but on its own, it’s a brilliant exercise in fear, tension, and suspense.
And while it managed to spawn an entire an entire franchise of sequels, spinoffs, and remakes, not all of the following films are loved equally. That’s not to suggest that they were all deserving of it, as there’s a very wide disparity of quality.
As poorly received as some of the sequels were, many fans still found them fun or charming in their own way. But the 2007 remake (and its 2009 sequel) by writer/director Rob Zombie are uniquely despised among many fans. Many will argue that The Curse of Michael Myers or Halloween Resurrection aren’t great movies, but do have some redeeming qualities.
There is no such love for the Rob Zombie movies, with many fans not even acknowledging their existence, and disregarding them entirely. So as we approach the most fun holiday of the year, we thought it would be fitting to give these two movies an honest defense, and put forth their very real merits. We’re not saying that they’re better than the original, just that they deserve to be recognized along with it and its other sequels.
Giving Michael a Motivation
The most common criticism it receives is that giving Michael Myers a backstory ruins his image as the mysterious “shape of evil”. And to be fair, there’s some truth to that. The more we know about a character, the less mystique there is. It’s the reason why Heath Ledger’s Joker is so memorable and intriguing, because he’s a nobody from nowhere.
But while that may have been the goal in the original Halloween (along with the 2018 sequel/reboot) that was very much not the goal of Rob Zombie. If there’s anything we can learn from Rob Zombie’s filmography it’s that he’s very interested in taking characters who seem evil and repulsive, and developing them into a three dimensional character.
He shows the wide spectrum of thoughts, feelings, and emotions of characters that we don’t necessarily sympathize with, but we come to somewhat understand.
Zombie dared to do what so many remakes are afraid to do, and actually tried something completely different. Halloween fans lost their minds when Season of the Witch came out and it’s a sad fact because it’s a brilliant film.
But the masses demand more of the same (which is why sequels and reboots are so popular), and that’s partly why this movie was so hated. People felt like it wasn’t a true Halloween film, but it was always Zombie’s goal to do something completely different. If anything, the second half of the movie is where the problems are because it follows the original beat for beat.
Point being, if the goal was just to do the exact same thing over again, what would even be the point in remaking it? The 2018 sequel is well crafted and enjoyable, but honestly what does it do differently than the original? Rather than try anything new it merely blends the premise of the original with a little bit of H20 thrown in for good measure.
Wasn’t the First Time
What’s most infuriating about hearing people bash the Rob Zombie films due to “giving Michael a motivation” is that it’s far from the first time the franchise had ever done it! Going back to Halloween II (the first one), we first learn that Michael Myers is really going after Laurie because she’s his biological sister.
This pursuit continues to her daughter Jamie in the next three films, also known as the “Thorn Trilogy”. And Curse of Michael Myers goes so far as to give him a supernatural Druid explanation involving a blood cult and one family being chosen for sacrifice. It’s all very strange and absurd, and yet this film is at least unanimously recognized as “legitimate”.
So why all the hate for Rob Zombie? For many, they point to the fact that his remakes don’t feel like any of the other movies; that they feel more like Rob Zombie movies with Halloween characters in them. At risk of sounding bold, what’s wrong with that? Again, if every sequel or remake was just going to do the exact same thing, why bother making it?
His sequel is truly unique and bizarre, to say the least. But it had a lot more to say and took far more risks than the crowd-pleasing 2018 version, which just relied on fan service and nostalgia to give audiences something they had already seen before.
To be clear, we’re not claiming that Zombie’s version is better than the original. That’s for each individual fan to decide. We’re just arguing that his movies are well made (in Zombie’s own way) and they don’t deserve to be utterly hated, or to be not recognized as legitimate Halloween movies. They deserve a spot in the pantheon that is the Halloween franchise!
What do you think of the Rob Zombie Halloween movies? What’s your favorite of the entire franchise? Let us know in the comments!