Article: Halloween (1978) Vs Halloween (2007)

Article

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Rob Zombie’s remake of John Carpenter’s Halloween is not only a prime example of a remake done right; it’s a prime example of how a remake can surpass the original.

Now before I go on to discuss why I much prefer Rob Zombie’s much maligned take on Carpenter’s beloved classic, I’d just like to clarify that I’m a huge John Carpenter fan.  I like most of his films, including some of his more scorned efforts.  In fact, I even defended ”Ghosts of Mars” here.  So understand that this isn’t a criticism of one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of American cinema.  This is merely my opinion and I hope you’re not upset if you’re part of the majority who are going to disagree with me.

Carpenter’s ”Halloween” was a revolutionary horror film that paved the way for the slasher boom that was to follow.  It’s one of the most influential genre films of all time and nothing will ever change that, especially not my opinion.  Rob Zombie’s version will never be held in high regard; even though it is a better movie.

The appeal of the original Michael Myers is his mystery.  He’s The Boogeyman: an unstoppable, supernatural force of nature who could pop out at any time.  He’s supposed to be an inhumane embodiment of pure evil.  I respect that and I can see why people find it effective.  Rob Zombie on the other hand, gave Michael a backstory of growing up in a broken home and being bullied in school.  I’ll be the first to admit that Zombie’s backstory doesn’t tread any new ground.  In fact, on paper it’s fairly generic. However, I’ve always loved Zombie’s depiction of Myer’s upbringing from a white trash background and feel it added meat to the bones of a story that was severely lacking in substance originally.

Personally, I’ve always been fascinated with backstories in horror films.  I like to see the origins and motivations of my villains and Zombie’s ”reimagining” of Myers is one of the best.  Furthermore, regardless of which version of Myers you prefer, did you want to see the exact same portrayal in both?  Aren’t remakes better when they do something different?  The original wanted us to fill in the blanks ourselves; the remake done it for us. It was the right approach to take in my opinion.  Some movies are bogged down by needless exposition; but if it wasn’t for Zombie delving into the life and psyche of Michael Myers he’d have remained one of the dullest characters in horror lore.

Dullness is my main issue with the original version.  Many fans I talk to praise it for being a prime example of Hitchcock’s pure cinema; this is where a story is told through visual composition, editing and the use of sound and images.  It’s very minimalist, and it’s been used to great effect in a lot of movies.  When done well, it can be awe inspiring.  However, ”Halloween” failed to build suspense, tension and that sense of dread we need to evoke a fearful response.  Fans of the film will counter my statement by saying it has all of these things, and who am I to argue?  It certainly aims to accomplish them, but for me it came out feeling flat.  For others, it’s the exact opposite.

Zombie’s also fails to capture the aforementioned characteristics.  He uses brutal violence as a substitute for suspense and creating a foreboding sense of doom.  Does this make it an effective horror film? I don’t think it does; horror needs more than blood and gore to be effective. However, I don’t for one second consider the remake to be an effective horror film.  The violence is just one aspect that makes it entertaining; the original had absolutely nothing happening and it was tedious.  Give me entertainment over boredom any day.

If your film isn’t going to scare us, at least make it engaging in other ways. Zombie has enough respect for the original and its fans to approach it from a new perspective; his fresh perspective just so happens to be an improvement on the original, where he takes it’s template and adds elements it was severely lacking – a story, interesting characters, entertainment and violence.  Of course the original wouldn’t have needed any of these things if it was successful in other departments – like causing the fear it tried to create.

Rob Zombie’s ”Halloween” isn’t a masterpiece of cinema.  It’s an interesting violent slasher with some layers the original lacked.  In comparison to Carpenter’s, it is a masterpiece.  The backstory is a white trash soap opera, but it’s handled in such a way you can see why it would turn Michael into a psychopathic killer.  In summary: the remake is a fine piece of entertainment and the original is a tedious bore which fails to accomplish the effective horror it tries for.

Zombies sequel, however – now that is a masterpiece.  But more on that some other time.

This is all just my opinion.  The consensus is I’m in the minority, but I can’t change how I feel, folks.  I state it with respect for the original as it inspired filmmakers and movies I love, but I don’t consider it to be a good movie. Feel free to berate me in the comments below or on Facebook.  These are 2 movies that always create some fun conversations when compared.

Movie Review: Suspension (2015)

Horror, Movie Reviews

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The slasher sub-genre, more so than any other, is often considered the brittlest branch on the horror tree; critics such as Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel dismissed these flicks as ”dead teenager movies”, whereas many who appreciate them still often equate them to that of cinematic junk food.  I love them personally; sometimes I think the sleazier the better.  But then something like Suspension comes along; a movie that, while not straying too far from familiar ground, employs a traditional framework and fiddles with it occasionally to successfully subvert viewer expectations.  When that movie comes along, I appreciate it forever.

Suspension, first of all, ticks all the boxes when it comes to the visceral delights we all expect from a slasher film.  We have an imposing villain with an intimidating appearance who has no qualms about sticking his knife in the groin of an obnoxious teenager.  The kills are more than satisfying in terms of the red stuff and the type of people being slaughtered.  When it comes to building terror and unleashing it, Suspension gets an A+ for effort and execution.  So if it’s just a mindless good time you’re looking for, it will satisfy.  However, underneath the surface, claws gently scratch the tapestry, becoming louder as the film progresses.

The core of Suspension is, primarily, a character study of its protagonist Emily (Ellen MacNevin), a teenage girl with a troubled family history who’s bullied by her classmates when her father isn’t killing them before he gets to her.  The loner with a fractured psyche is nothing new in horror, but Ellen MacNevin brings an authentic humanity to the role it feels true to life.  She’s so sweet and innocent, which makes her inherently likable; she possesses mental instability and an underlying mania which makes her interesting; the world has been unkind to her, yet she continues to survive, and thus, we root for her.  For a ”final girl”, she has layers of depth, and if you took away the horror element, the movie would still be interesting to watch just to see her character unfold.

The supporting cast all do a great job as well: Emily’s classmates who bully her are spectacular douchebags, and knowing that will all get sliced up eventually is somewhat comforting.  My favourite supporting character was Deputy Jacobs (Sage Brocklebank), the clumsy police officer whose ineptitude provides some comic relief, without ever feeling out of context. Horror and drama take precedence, but comedy is blended in at opportune moments, adding an extra dimension of enjoyment to a movie that only hits high notes.

Visually, Suspension is stunning to look at, with cinematography boasting lush grey skies that adds a sense of dreamlike dreariness to the atmosphere, which is effective for the more surreal aspects of the film. There will be moments when you start questioning what’s real; expectations will be subverted just when you think you have it all figured out.  That’s all I’ll say about that, because the line between reality and fiction blurs often – and the imagery enhances that blurred line.

Calling Suspension a thinking persons slasher makes it sound pompously grandeur, which it isn’t; it’s generally straightforward and can be enjoyed as such.  However, twists and turns aside, should you choose to look for deeper meaning, you’ll find some. Themes such as self-deception and the effects of mental illness were my interpretation, but I’m sure others will be different and more expansive. One thing is for sure: Suspension is a horror film with substance to compliment its style which breathes new life into a worn out sub-genre with just the tiniest amount of CPR.  8/10

Directed By:

Jeffery Scott Lando

Written By:

Kevin Mosley

Starring:

Ellen MacNevin, Duncan Ollerenshaw, Sage Brocklebank, Taylor Russell

Genre:

Horror

Running Time:

90 min