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WEINSTEIN COMPANY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Rob Zombie
Cast:
Malcolm McDowell, Brad Dourif, Tyler Mane, Daeg Faerch, Sheri Moon Zombie, William Forsythe, Richard Lynch, Udo Kier, Clint Howard
Writing Credits:
Rob Zombie, John Carpenter (1978 screenplay), Debra Hill (1978 screenplay)

Tagline:
Evil Has A Destiny.

Synopsis:
In this update of John Carpenter's classic horror movie, director Rob Zombie goes deep into the psychology of what makes a serial killer. Disturbingly evil even as a little kid, a young Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch) kills his sister and is sent to a mental hospital where he's treated by Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) who becomes obsessed with his young patient. Years later, an adult Michael (Tyler Mane) escapes and goes on a killing spree, especially going after a trio of beautiful teenagers (Scout Taylor-Compton, Danielle Harris, Kristina Klebe) on the scariest night of the year.

Box Office:
Budget
$15 million.
Opening Weekend
$30.591 million on 3472 screens.
Domestic Gross
$58.259 million.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 121 min.
Price: $24.95
Release Date: 10/7/2008

Bonus:
DVD One:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Rob Zombie
DVD Two:
• Alternate Ending
• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Bloopers
• “The Many Masks of Michael Myers” Featurette
• “Re-Imagining Halloween” Featurette
• “Meet the Cast” Featurette
• Casting Sessions and Screen Test
• Trailer
• Sneak Peeks
DVD Three:
• “Michael Lives: The Making of Halloween” Documentary


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Halloween: Unrated Collector's Edition (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 9, 2008)

While it seems to me that it’s a mistake to remake a legendary flick, that doesn’t mean filmmakers don’t occasionally give it a try. The horror genre appears most open to remakes of iconic efforts, and we can add 2007’s Halloween to the list. Rock star turned director Rob Zombie takes the reigns for this update of John Carpenter’s 1978 classic.

If you saw the original, you’ll know the plot of this one, though the 2007 version offers a new introduction. We go back to the mid-1970s to meet pre-teen Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch), a disturbed kid in a massively dysfunctional family. Michael constantly gets in trouble at school and he displays troubling behavior such as killing animals. Child psychologist Sam Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) wants to assess Michael, but the boy takes a turn for the worse before this happens. Michael goes on a killing spree and undergoes psychiatric incarceration.

While in a sanitarium, Michael undergoes work with Loomis but the boy’s mental status degenerates. Eventually he kills again when he goes after a nurse, an action that pretty much ensures his permanent residency at the sanitarium.

With that, the flick leaps ahead 15 years to find a hulking Michael (Tyler Mane) still in the sanitarium. Silent for that entire time, Loomis still works with him, though obviously to no avail, so the doctor finally quits the case. When some drunken sanitarium guards taunt Michael one time too many, he kills them and escapes. This starts another killing spree, one that brings him home to Haddonfield Illinois in an attempt to find his sister (Scout Taylor-Compton). The flick follows Michael’s violent path and the attempts to stop him.

If some one can tell me why this remake of Halloween exists, I’d love to hear it. I’d guess that two factors came into operation. First, these remakes of older horror flicks are cheap and they do pretty well. No, Halloween’s gross of $58 million didn’t set any worlds on fire, but it’s perfectly fine for a film in this genre, especially given the movie’s modest $15 million budget.

I suspect the other reason for the movie’s existence stems from a misguided desire to “improve on” the original. Though the John Carpenter Halloween did a lot to launch the “slasher” genre, it offered exceedingly little actual violence. Most of the mayhem was implied, not seen, and the film worked more like a thriller than the bloodfests we’d get a few years later.

Given the “tame” nature of the Carpenter version’s violence, I suppose Zombie and others figured it’d be much more entertaining if it amped up the gore. And boy does Zombie achieve that goal! Actually, I don’t want to overstate the level of violence, as the 2007 Halloween isn’t absurdly bloody, but it definitely eliminates the subtlety found in the original. This one comes with a few fairly graphic scenes and plays more like a splatter flick.

So I expect those who dislike the tame qualities of the 1978 edition will like the bloodiness of the new one, and they get more explicit elements in other ways. The Zombie version is simply a lot nastier in many different ways. We get a ton more profanity, much of which seems gratuitous and unnecessary. We also find more nudity, which is fine with me; call that gratuitous as well – which it is – but I won’t complain.

The biggest changes come with the addition of Michael’s backstory. If you remake a film, you really need to do something different with your take, and I will give Zombie credit in that department. If nothing else, no one can claim that he simply rehashed the original – at least not for the flick’s first half. The sections that take place in Haddonfield after Michael’s escape tend to more closely resemble the scenes from the Carpenter version; Zombie doesn’t literally replicate them, as he makes some changes, but they’re often quite close.

So that leaves the parts with the young Michael to stand as the movie’s most original statement. The film’s extended introduction attempts to answer questions about Michael but it fails miserably. First of all, the flick revels in its unpleasantness, as it presents the crudest, nastiest family on record. Obviously Zombie intends to show us how this environment created Michael, but he fails. If the setting screwed him up so badly, why do the others not turn psycho as well? It’s a simple explanation of a complex problem.

And it also seems absurd, since it’s hard to imagine any clan being so insanely dysfunctional. Michael’s family makes the folks on Jerry Springer look like the Cleavers. The movie needs to leaven the material in some way but instead prefers to bask in the foul stench.

I might excuse the over the top look at the family if Zombie introduced any real psychological complexity. Zombie doesn’t really attempt to explain what happened to Michael. The film vaguely blames his messed up family but that only goes so far, and it doesn’t touch on the causes of Michael’s continued decline over the years. He goes badly downhill as the years pass but we learn no real reason for it. The result is completely devoid of psychological merit; Zombie puts on pretensions in that regard but creates more questions than answers.

The ridiculous lack of continuity or storytelling clarity doesn’t help. Frankly, the flick is a mess in most ways. It boasts no sense of pace and comes with lots of odd editing choices, such as the decision to linger on the bully forever as he leaves the school. That shot never ends but adds nothing, and it becomes perplexing.

We find an awful lot of confusing story issues, starting early in the film. What state puts 10-year-olds on trial for murder? I don’t think even Texas would do that. Why does Loomis go from working at the school to serving at the sanitarium? Why is his baby sister still an infant when he’s been away for years? Why does Loomis remain the only psychologist on the case for 15 years when Michael just gets worse and worse?

The answer to all these questions and many more? Plot contrivances and sloppy filmmaking. Look, I’m willing to suspend disbelief when I get into a movie. I’ll allow all sorts of iffy choices and goofy logic if I find myself involved in a story. Unfortunately, the 2007 version of Halloween doesn’t draw me into its world at all. A third of the flick provides a banal look at Michael Myers’ “origin story”, and the rest does little more than rehash the superior work from the original. There’s nothing worthwhile on display here.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus A

Halloween appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The movie featured a good but not great transfer.

For the most part, sharpness looked solid. Some shots suffered from a little edge enhancement, and those haloes could make matters a bit soft. However, this wasn’t a consistent concern, and the image usually seemed crisp and detailed. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and only a speck or two cropped up in terms of source flaws. The movie almost always seemed clean.

In terms of colors, Halloween usually went with an autumnal palette. This meant the hues were subdued but warm within their constraints. I thought the tones appeared well-reproduced. Blacks were deep and tight, but shadows tended to be a bit lackluster. Though most low-light shots offered good delineation, a few became a little murky. Overall, the image seemed more than acceptable.

Similar thoughts greeted the pretty good Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Halloween. Most of the time, the soundfield emphasized ambience. The movie didn’t boast a lot of scenes that made great use of the various channels, but it managed to create a good sense of place and atmosphere. A few scenes broadened matters to a satisfying degree, and music always worked well. The score actually spread to the various speakers in a satisfying manner that made the music the most compelling aspect of the mix.

Audio quality was perfectly acceptable. A little edginess occasionally crept into some speech, but the lines normally seemed natural and distinctive. Music was lively and bright, while effects sounded clear and accurate. Bass response was pretty solid as well. Nothing here really excelled, but the soundtrack was a positive one.

How do the picture and audio of this 2008 “Collector’s Edition” compare to those of the original 2007 DVD? Both were literally identical. This release simply reused the old DVD and packaged it with a new third disc of bonus materials.

That means the extras on Discs One and Two are also exactly what we found on the prior release; only the materials on Disc Three are exclusive to this set. DVD One presents an audio commentary from writer/director Rob Zombie. He provides a running, screen-specific chat that looks at cast, characters and performances, story and adaptation issues, editing and changes made for the director’s cut, sets and locations, stunts, effects, music and a few other production topics.

I may not like his movie, but I like Zombie’s commentary quite a lot. He presents a consistently engaging and honest personality as he digs in his work. Zombie tends to be very screen-specific, meaning that he rarely deviates from subjects related directly to the action we see, but this never becomes a problem. He offers lots of great stories from the shoot and never simply narrates the movie. Zombie gives us a very good commentary.

Over on DVD Two, we find 17 Deleted Scenes plus an Alternate Ending. The Deleted Scenes fill a total of 21 minutes, 57 seconds, while the “Alternate Ending” goes for three minutes, 46 seconds. The Deleted Scenes include “Rabbit in Red” (2:16), “Quickdraw” (0:52), “End of a Long Night” (0:23), “Rainy Evening” (0:27), “Not a Monster” (0:36), “You Seem Sad Today” (1:45), “The Media” (0:51), “Xmas Gift” (0:24), “Parole Hearing” (3:36), “Night Shift” (2:48), “Very Young” (0:58), “He’s Out” (1:02), “Tombstone” (1:37), “Aftermath” (0:26), “Adoption Agency” (0:30), “Missing Stone” (2:23) and “Van Kill” (0:59). None of these are particularly interesting, though some do flesh out plot holes. “Parole” proves particularly useful in that regard. “Agency” isn’t very memorable for its content, but at least it gives us a cameo from Adrienne Barbeau.

As for the “Alternate Ending”, it seems decidedly less satisfying than the one in the released flick. It puts Michael’s death in the hands of the cops, which doesn’t make a ton of sense; he essentially surrenders but they unload scads of gunshots on him anyway. It also doesn’t work to leave the other leads as so passive. It’s not a good scene.

We can watch all of these with or without commentary from Zombie. He throws out some decent details, but after his interesting chat for the main movie, these remarks disappoint. Zombie gives us the basics and lets us know why he axed the shots, but he doesn’t tell us much else. The comments are decent but not particularly involving.

A collection of Bloopers fills 10 minutes, 16 seconds. Although these offer the usual goofs and giggles, they entertain more than most gag reels. That’s primarily due to Malcolm McDowell, as he offers lots of fun improv lines and other amusing bits. His moments with Brad Dourif prove especially entertaining.

Next comes a featurette called The Many Masks of Michael Myers. This six-minute and 27-second piece presents movie clips, shots from the set and interviews with Zombie, FX makeup artist Wayne Toth, editor Glenn Garland, costume designer Mary McLeod, production designer Anthony Tremblay, and actors Tyler Mane and Daeg Faerch. We learn a little about the performances as Michael and more about the different masks he wears in the film. Though somewhat insubstantial, the show includes a few good details such as the origin of young Michael’s clown mask. It’s a short but decent piece.

For the 19-minute and three-second Re-Imagining Halloween, we hear from Zombie, Garland, Tremblay, Toth, McLeod, director of photography Phil Parmet, producer Andy Gould, and prop master John Brunot. The program examines the adaptation of the original film and Zombie’s take on the material, cinematographic styles and visual elements, set design, props, costumes and makeup effects.

“Re-Imagining” doesn’t provide much of a general “making of” program, but it helps flesh out some areas. The discussion of production design proves particularly intriguing. Along with some good glimpses of the shoot, this show becomes satisfying.

Meet the Cast lasts 18 minutes, 17 seconds and includes Zombie, Gould, Faerch, Mane, and actors Malcolm McDowell, Sheri Moon Zombie, Scout Taylor-Compton, Danielle Harris, Brad Dourif, Kristina Klebe, Dee Wallace, Lew Temple, Sid Haig, and Danny Trejo. We learn why Zombie chose the various actors and also get some insights into their performances. Along with this, we inevitably hear a moderate amount of happy talk, but enough substance comes along for the ride to make the program worthwhile.

Next we go to Casting Sessions. The 29-minute and 52-second collection offers test readings from Faerch, Taylor-Compton, Harris, Klebe, Hanna Hall, Adam Weisman, Skyler Gisondo, Jenny Stewart, Daryl Sabara, Pat Skipper, Clint Howard, Nick Mennell, Max Van Ville, Mel Fair and Courtney Gains. The most interesting come from a few that include scenes not found in the final flick. We also see some actors try out for roles they didn’t get, and it’s fun to view they’re takes on the parts. We find a lot of good material here.

In a separate area, we find a Scout Taylor-Compton Screen Test for the role of “Laurie Strode”. The seven-minute and 47-second clip may sound like it’ll be redundant since we already see Taylor-Compton’s audition in the prior section, but this one appears to come from a callback session. It shows Taylor-Compton in a more elaborate setting as she works through a few scenes with ger teen friends. It’s another good addition to the package.

In addition to the film’s theatrical trailer, we get some Sneak Peeks. We find ads for Death Proof, Planet Terror, The Furnace and 1408.

For the only exclusive extras on the 2008 Collector’s Edition, we go to DVD Three and Michael Lives: The Making of Halloween. In this four-hour, 19-minute and 44-second documentary, we follow the flick from pre-production through all 42 days of its shoot. That means an examination of all aspects of the movie, with an emphasis on “fly on the wall” footage from the set. We hear from Zombie, Faerch, Wallace, Moon Zombie, McLeod, Mane, McDowell, Toth, Hall, Dourif, Parmet, Mennell, Klebe, Taylor-Compton, Gould, Fair, Harris, Gisondo, Van Ville, Skipper, Sabara, Howard, Haig, art director TK Kirkpatrick, set decorator Lori Mazuer, second 2nd AD Korey Scott Pollard, key rigging grip Scott Parent, stunt coordinator Rawn Hutchinson, stuntman Chris Nielsen, composer Tyler Bates, and actors Adrienne Barbeau, Richard Lynch, Daniel Roebuck, Courtney Gains and William Forsythe.

If another DVD includes a longer documentary than “Lives”, I’ve not encountered it. That doesn’t necessarily make the piece good, however, as it could’ve been a long, dull program. Happily, “Lives” works pretty well. It offers scads of footage from the set, and it throws in enough interview material to add perspective. I suppose the show’s length might be a negative for some folks, as you gotta really like Halloween to want to sit through nearly four and a half hours of info about it, but if you want to know more about the flick, this is a great program.

Since I’ve enjoyed other remakes of horror classics, I thought the 2007 Halloween could’ve been good. However, the movie totally discards everything that made the original so enjoyable and just becomes a tedious mess. The DVD presents generally positive picture and audio along with some nice extras highlighted by a very good audio commentary and an extremely long documentary. This ends up as a strong release for a weak movie.

I don’t like the flick so I can’t recommend it to new viewers, but those who know they like Halloween will want to get this release. If you already own the old disc, however, this CE is worthwhile solely to get the new documentary. Everything else remains the same, so only upgrade if you really want to see the new program.

To rate this film, visit the Unrated Director's Cut review of HALLOWEEN (2007)

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main