Remake vs Original – Halloween
By: Justin Hopkins
It is the most wonderful time of the year. Better than the rest of the holidays and most birthdays as well. That magical time of the year, where you try to cram as many horror movies into one sitting as humanly possible, while eating way to much candy. The Thing, Pumpkinhead, It… And the one you may have already seen. Maybe on the marathon or maybe on a loop from you personal collection. Of course, I am talking about the timeless classic, known as Halloween. A staple in most people’s horror movie watchlist for today, but I have a question; which one do you go for? John Carpenter’s 1978’s classic, or Rob Zombie’s brutal ride from 2007. With some pretty diehard fans from both sides of the fence. Let’s dive in shall we. We will take a closer look, separate pro from con, and declare a winner at the end. Like always, we will begin with the original.
The story starts off, with the death of Judith Myers at the hands of her Brother Michael. Watching her death through his eyes. On his way out, he is met by their parents, who take off the mask and we see Michael is just a small child. We then get a quick jump ahead. Where we Doctor Loomis and a Nurse on there way to the Mental Institution. Where they find the patients out and about. When Loomis gets out to investigate. Michael gets the nurse out of the car and escapes. Heading back to Haddonfield, with the good Doctor on his trial. Meanwhile, we are introduced to our Lead Girl, Laurie Strode. On her way from school. Stops at the Myers house to put the key under the mat. Unknowingly, catching the eye of Michael, and became his obsession. Following her throughout the town, as well as the little boy she was slated to babysit later in the evening. Along with her friends, Annie and Lynda. As nightfall takes hold, Michael begins to eliminate those around her. Till only his obsession remains, and Laurie must find a way to survive.
Story is simple, let intricately woven together, in a compelling manner. The shots were beautiful, especially the long shots used throughout. Creating an aura that they are being watched, even when Michael is not around, and early on, he is used perfectly to ramp up the tension. Seeing him in passing, or just standing off in the distance, or over there shoulder. Always, in a way, where he is watching, but they are not in position to see him. And what can I say about the score that you haven’t heard. It’s as iconic as this movie is.
The casting is spot on. PJ Soles and Nancy Kyes were excellent as Annie and Lynda. Two very important roles, since they were Laurie’s Best Friends and we spent enough time with each to have their deaths not only mean something, but be memorable in the same instance. Donald Pleasence is the best. Dr. Loomis is one of the best parts about watching this movie, and is a joy to deal with, and of course, we got Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode. While, I do believe that she is not the best Final Girl, her performance here, created the formula for what a Final Girl should be, and all of us in the horror community do owe that to her performance here, but I will be circling back to her, in just a little bit.
Nick Castle did a fantastic job, portraying Michael Myers here. He is not a particular big man, at a lean five feet ten, but through his mannerisms and way he held himself. Didn’t have to be. His body language in the presence of someone much bigger. Not to mention the brute force Myers displays throughout.
Now, this movie does have a few minor flaws, and one of which, is with Laurie. It is one thing to fall down while running away. Not going to fault someone for that, but her constant desire to not only stop near the body, but discards her weapon gets infuriating. There are two occasions where she can escape, with the kids, but doesn’t take it. For someone who is supposed to be smart, makes a lot of dumb mistakes. Movie is slightly outdated, particularly around Annie’s death. Bit more tame than most horror movies we see today, but didn’t have to be. Psychological, suspense and characters added more then brutality. Final Grade: A
And on to the remake, from the mind of one Rob Zombie. Much like a good remake. He had put his own spin on the movie. We start off again, with young Michael, who kills his pet rat. Dad wants to get it on with Step-Daughter Judith, and both are… highly unlikable I’ll say for a lack of non swearing words. Both of which bully Michael, and gets the same from the bullies at school. Dad, Judith, and the bullies are ramped up to as far as they can get, in just about every despicable way. Leaving Mom to try and hold her family together, on top of stripping. Later, we find out Michael is killing all sorts of animals, and we get introduced to Dr. Loomis who is trying to evaluate Michael, but he runs off first. Killing the school bully. Then later on that day, kills the Dad, Judith, and her boyfriend. The later introduces the iconic mask to the equation. All three die in brutal ways. When Mom comes home, finds him covered in blood, sitting on the steps. Baby Laurie, cradled in his arms. We then take a jump to him in the institution. Gets one last kill as a kid, and never speaks again. Mom kills herself. Then we jump ahead to him as an adult. Doctor Loomis saying his goodbye to him. Having nothing left to give, after years of attempting to reach him. Michael escapes, killing a wave of guards, and the lone worker who is friendly to him. Going back out, to find his sister. From here, we get into the Laurie part of the story. While a lot of it remains a homage to the first. Michael leaves a much bigger body count in his path. Every again, ramped up. Sex, hormones, violence. All turned way up. All leading up to a much more climactic finish.
The Laurie part of this story is great. Keeping Annie alive to bait Laurie in, showed he was more than a brutal killing machine. Michael taking out her Step-Parents was a great touch. Really leaving Laurie completely alone by the end. Keeping Annie alive to bait Laurie in, showed he was more than a brutal killing machine. The acting was stellar as well. Danielle Harris was great fan service and a wonderful Annie. Kristina Kleb was a decent Lynda, but maybe needed a bit more screen time. Scout-Taylor Compton blew it away as Laurie. Had some massive shoes to fill, but I think in her own way, may have outpaced Jamie Lee Curtis. I know, made some of you.. alright all of you mad at that, but here me out. The reason, I am saying this, was that she was more of an active fighter at time. Bludgeoned, broken, and battered, but still going. Staring him down, ready to blow his brains out. That was really lacking in the first movie, and glad we got it here. I even liked Malcolm Mcdowell’s performance as Dr. Loomis. He was not Donald Pleasence, but played the Doctor role a bit more legit here. Donald’s character just wanted to kill him, while Malcolm’s wanted to still save him. Yes, he did shot him, but only because he was going to kill Laurie, and even after that. Unable to get up, he still clung on to Michael’s leg. Hoping beyond hope, to stop him. It is just a shame that so many good performance are wasted, because of how this movie started.
I don’t want to call it out right awful, cause in the right movie, could work well. If you take the entire front half and change the kid to Freddy Krueger, it would work out so much better. Cause that I believe is his childhood. That’s kind of my problem here. Take that childhood, it would be more of a surprise that he didn’t turn out to be a killer. His childhood is the stuff of several real ones. They try to sell you on him being pure evil, but he is not. Just a kid with an awful, awful childhood, who snapped. Nothing even inhuman about his strength, because they brought in Tyler Manes, who did a good job, but at his sheer size, you believe that he could easily do these things, because he is huge. The front half of this movie, just stole all of his mystique and turned him into just another bland killer, and the front half did a whole lot worse and hurt the back half in the process.
All the sex and nudity made sense in the second half of the story, because they are young adults, who just want to get laid and have a good time. However, because we had to deal with the likes of Roy who wants to sleep with a waitress and gets it on with Judith, and Judith and her boyfriend, and the bully who mocks Michael with a flyer of his Mom stripping and wants to know how much she would charge him or how much Judith is charging for this and that and goes on and on. By the time you get to the part where this all makes sense, you are just so tired and over it, and you still have an hour of it left to go. It is fine when it makes sense, but as a method to make you hate them, is just dumb and lazy way to go.
There is one more negative to go, and that is the way this movie closes. They tumble out of the window together. I like it. She is on top of him, gun to his head. Pulling the trigger, click, nothing. Again, nothing. His arm grabs hers, and another blank shot. All of which is great stuff, until the gunshot rings out, and she lets out a hellacious scream. Unraveling in front of us, and no. I will never be okay when the lead goes, crazy. It is lazy and ridiculous thing to do. After everything she did to survive. Just mentally break at the end, and I know the argument over realism of what she has been through and you are wrong. Michael eats bullets and knife wounds for breakfast. Can’t ignore that and use realism later on. Her unraveling at the end, is the only negative I have, around the back half of this, but it is a big one.
I may be a little more generous than I should. Scout, Danielle and Malcolm. Along with enjoying some of the later kills. The second half of this movie, dug it out of a massive hole, and if I could forget the first hour or so. Then the grade would be much higher, but since I can’t. Final Grade: C –
Winner- The Original
At the end of the day, it’s not even really close. I do understand why people like the remake. It’s bold and brutal, and over the top. It had splashes of genius and great casting in Laurie, Annie, and Loomis. If more effort was put into the writing and pacing and a little restraint. Could have been a real challenger, but Carpenter weaved a simple story into a timeless classic. Everything flowed well, and let Suspense and Psychology add to the terror and built up over time. Do you disagree? Feel like I have overlooked or missed something? Let me know in the comments. In the meantime, Have a Happy Halloween and…
Thanks for reading.