The best thing about Rob Zombie’s Halloween II is The Newman Hour. Hosted by David Newman (a pre-Midnight Chris Hardwicke), this fictional chat show briefly enlivens a mostly dead, very tired remake sequel to an earlier remake no one even asked for. Featuring the hilarious Weird Al Yankovic as his sidekick, Newman interviews the shamelessly self-promoting Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), the incredibly incompetent shrink who somehow lived through a rather thorough thrashing from his most famous patient in the previous movie.
Capitalizing on his rather improbable survival in a second high-profile book, Loomis is stunned to face refreshingly adversarial questions from a deeply unimpressed Newman. (If only real talk shows were always this funny and tough.) Skeptical from the start, the host and “Mr. Weird” (as Loomis humourously calls him) show him absolutely no reverence. Embarrassed during the taping, he’s even more humiliated when he watches it again on TV. “It’s over, ” he says softly to himself, utterly defeated. (Not buying that belated ‘face turn, though.)
Now if only the rest of Halloween II was this much fun. Like its needless predecessor, it’s literally a bloody chore to sit through. Underdeveloped characters we barely know or care about get carved up in one gruesome scene after another. And when murder isn’t happening, boredom sets in for the most part.
Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Hampton) thought she had shot her homicidal brother to death in the last scene of Halloween. (She finally learns about her biological connection to Michael Myers (Rob Zombie doppelganger Tyler Mane) thanks to Loomis’ very helpful book.) Still terrorized by a recurring series of nightmares about him (including one that’s clearly a tribute of sorts to the original Halloween II), the now orphaned teen lives with Haddonfield’s ponytailed sheriff (Brad Dourif) and his still obnoxious daughter Annie (Danielle Harris), the only friend of Laurie’s to survive the earlier film (which never made any sense).
When she’s not in session with her therapist (nice to see you, Margot Kidder), she works in a used record shop with her friends: Frank-N-Furter fan Harley (Angela Trimbur), blonde, bespectacled Mya (Brea Grant) and Mya’s die-hard vinyl-lovin’ hippie dad Uncle Meat (WKRP’s Howard Hesseman). Meanwhile, Dr. Loomis is doing the hard sell for his second Myers book and, excluding the excitable weirdo at the book signing, meeting a lot of resistance for it which his suffering publicist Nancy (Mary Birdson) has already warned him about. (She’s way too ethical for the job.) He conducts an interview with an attractive Australian journalist he fancies right in front of the old Myers place. The scoundrel.
As for the unkillable damnation himself, thanks to a car accident (fucking cow), despite being shot at super close range in the previous film Michael is able to escape out of the back of a coroner’s vehicle and fend for himself in farm country. (Let’s just say he would love living in China.) As he slowly hacks his way back to his old hometown, by the time Halloween arrives he’s back in Haddonfield looking for Laurie again. All this time, he’s been having visions of his dead mother (Sheri Moon Zombie) and his 10-year-old self (Chase Vanek replacing Daeg Faerch which is awfully noticeable) with a white horse. Apparently, they want a family reunion with Angel, Laurie’s birth name.
Ol’ Mikey has some unfinished business to attend to, plus some new victims to slash (an iconic murderer’s work is never done, you see) while the sheriff is none too pleased with Dr. Loomis’ latest “literary” cash-in.
Bereft of fresh ideas, Halloween II recycles, to a certain extent, elements of Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers and Halloween H20: 20 Years Later as it concludes by, shall we say, passing the torch. Whether it will actually follow through with this bad idea in Halloween Returns (yes, another remake is in the works), unlike Halloween 5, I don’t care.
Honestly, John Carpenter’s original Halloween has no equal when compared to any of the follow-ups in this overlong franchise. I highly doubt yet another entry will change my mind.
God knows I don’t need to see any more naked women getting their head repeatedly bashed against a mirror or watch some drunken bouncer get his head repeatedly stomped on, not to mention all those horrifying stabbings. (Poor Octavia Spencer. The road to that Oscar was painful.) Nor do I need to hear that creepy coroner talking enthusiastically about the temptations of necrophilia or listen to that lousy rockabilly band that specializes in lame Halloween-themed material. (We could do without the immensely unfunny host in the skeleton make-up, too.)
Ok, I’ll admit it. The herpes insult is funny, Coach’s Bill Fagerbakke is good as a deputy (as is Margot Kidder as Laurie’s therapist) and even though some of it sounds like it was recorded with kids’ instruments, I’ll never tire of John Carpenter’s classic Halloween theme, even in this less intense, remade form.
But come on. This is the 10th film in this series and this is the best they can do?
I’d rather see a full episode of The Newman Hour.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, October 15, 2015