When director Rob Zombie set out to remake John Carpenter’s seminal horror classic Halloween, many disparagingly called Zombie’s new version Hillbillyween due to his affinity for featuring repulsive white trash characters in movies like The Devil's Rejects. While the tone couldn’t be more different between the atmospheric and eerie 1978 original and Zombie’s brutal remake, he succeeded in reinvigorating the franchise and making blank-faced slasher Michael Myers a terrifying screen presence again.
Zombie’s follow-up, Halloween II, picks up right after Halloween ended and then follows the characters a year later. Scout-Taylor Compton returns as heroine Laurie Strode, a more damaged and infinitely shriller version than the character Jamie Lee Curtis embodied in the original. Malcolm McDowell also returns as Dr. Loomis, whom we find is a smug, opportunistic book peddler instead of the good-hearted Ahab looking for his whale that Donald Pleasance played in five of the original Halloweens. The movie is shot on grainy 16mm film stock, giving the film a grimy, grindhouse feel. Myers has surreal visions of his dead mother (Sheri Moon Zombie) that are straight out of a David Lynch movie as he closes in on Laurie, who is rooming with fellow survivor Annie (Danielle Harris) and Annie’s sheriff father (Brad Dourif). The film is ugly to look at, brutally violent and eyeball-rolling at times (teenage girls Laurie and Annie share a bathroom that looks like a graffiti-riddled stall at a run-down gas station. Really, Rob?). Still, there is something strangely fascinating about this twisted take on the Myers legend when compared to the slick Michael Bay-produced remakes of Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In fact, someone should have hired Zombie for the latter instead of Halloween. Halloween II effectively ends Zombie’s vision of Michael Myers’s story and any future sequels—one is already in the works—will have to resurrect this monster in a new way.
The Weinstein Company distributed Halloween II in theaters but seems to have passed it off to Sony to release on DVD and Blu-ray on January 12 after the film made a modest $33 million at the box office. Special features include commentary with Zombie, deleted/alternate scenes, audition footage, Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures music videos and a blooper reel that might help shed light on how much fun, if any, the actors had on the set making this dark and dirty sequel. Soap is not included.