Franchise Expansion (Or Implosion): Rob Zombie’s ‘Halloween’ (2007)

by Ben Martin

Franchise Expansion (or Implosion) is a column that looks at franchises that have new installments or releases forthcoming. In looking at a franchise, each entry in a franchise will be given a review and then be examined as part of the bigger franchise. (i.e., Was this sequel a worthy expansion of this franchise or was it an implosion of sorts?)

Most folks, myself included, go to certain movies around the holidays. However, my favorite holiday of Halloween did not gain a film that genuinely celebrated it until 1978’s Halloween. John Carpenter’s classic slasher flick is rightfully considered one of the best horror movies ever made. It gave us an icon of modern horror in Michael Myers. More than that though, it created a franchise that spanned 11 movies, 5 continuities, and 40 years With the upcoming 11th entry, Blumhouse’s Halloween, set to be released on October 19th, I’ll take a look back at the Halloween franchise. In doing so, I’ll trace precisely how one of the most convoluted movie franchises in history got to the already divisive entry and why we need it. But before we get there, we must look at how horror rocker and filmmaker Rob Zombie attempted to reinvent this franchise with Halloween (2007)!

After eight films, the Halloween franchise was dead. Halloween: Resurrection (2002), did what no one else could; it killed Michael Myers and his film franchise. If there was one thing to be gleaned from the failure of that eight entry, it’s that something new had to be done with this series of movies. Of course, before Dimension Films and The Akkads decided to give this series a fresh-start, they made several attempts and doing a ninth sequel. All of which was to no avail and were all wholly halted after the godfather of the Halloween franchise, Moustapha Akkad was the victim of the Amman bombings of 2005, which led to his untimely death.

With the films now in his hands, Malek Akkad, along with Bob Weinstein decided something drastic needed to be done if Halloween was to continue. So, they gave Rob Zombie a call to see what his take on this beloved horror series was. Even though the producers were going to give Zombie carte blanche, he initially refused their offer to tackle Halloween. However, after rewatching Halloween (1978), Zombie changed his mind. Upon meeting with the producers again, the writer/director proposed that they forget everything about the original series and restart the series from scratch.

Zombie felt that all of the sequels had robbed Michael Myers of his menace. Therefore, he wanted to give his take on the legendary serial killer. One which in his mind, fleshed out Michael as a character; as opposed to being a vessel for evil. As a result, Zombie initially pitched two Halloween movies. The first film would explore the dysfunctional and abusive childhood of Michael Myers and how he came to be a killer. As a follow-up, the second film would be Zombie’s remake of the original Halloween. Alas, the producers insisted he truncate those storylines into one movie.

Uncharacteristically, Zombie acquiesced and crammed his two movies into one. The result of which is a film with two distinct and varying halves. In putting his stamp on the material, Rob Zombie made a Halloween film unlike any that had preceded it. This entry is a dark and brutal exploitation film. Not that such a result considering that making entertaining, trashy exploitation flicks (except for 2012 Lords of Salem).
The problem with taking such an approach to Halloween is that it simply doesn’t fit. Sure, Halloween and its sequels are slashers, but I would never go so far as to call them trashy. Rob Zombie’s interpretation certainly fits the trashy cinema bill. In the first ten minutes of this flick, there are more stereotypes and F-bombs than I could shake a huge stick at. As a fan exploitation flicks, I don’t have a problem with such content. What I do have a problem with however is shoving a ton of exploitation genre fare into a movie which it does not fit.

I appreciate that Zombie tried to something new. However, I feel that this film has many more problems than it does positive attributes. The flick certainly has style, and Daeg Faerch delivers a performance as a young Michael Myers that no doubt evokes empathy. Alas, those aspects of Halloween are overshadowed by terrible dialogue, unlikable characters, and serial killer stereotypes. To explain Michael’s becoming a serial killer, Zombie makes everything about his childhood horrible. So much so that we as the audience are only left to think Well, of course, he became a mass murderer. No argument of nature vs. nature; Zombie simply theorizes that an abusive, white-trash upbringing could create a killer.

While the prologue half of this movie is undoubtedly stronger than the second half; I still feel that it’s lazy. The second half of this picture though, is just messy. Everything is done wrong from the start by filling the remake half of this picture with victims whom you want to be eviscerated. Watching the last 40 minutes of this flick is the equivalent of watching a filmmaker forced to do something. Zombie rushes through this latter portion in a flurry of brutality. In doing so, he overlooks everything that made the 1978 movie a classic. Aside from the violence, this portion of the film feels like nothing more than a rushed obligation.

Don’t get me wrong, Rob Zombie’s Halloween isn’t terrible. To the contrary, if you’re looking to get your exploitation flick fix, it might just do the trick. No doubt Zombie was an inspired choice to bring Halloween to a new generation. The issue though, is that he wasn’t the right one. Zombie seemed more interested in making a trashy birth of a killer type flick then he did about making a Halloween movie. Thus, this barely feels like a Halloween movie and despite looking at Michael through a different prism, ultimately does nothing new. As a result, Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007) is an Absolute Franchise Implosion!

Still, this interpretation was a hit and would receive a sequel. Join me next time when I review Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2!

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