Movie News & Reviews

Good slash, thin story in 'Halloween 2'

I rag on horror sequels a lot for being so bad even Jesus can'tforgive them, but the opportunity is there for them to be better thantheir originals.

This phenomenon is most visible in the last decade's superhero movies,where X2, Spider-Man 2, and The Dark Knight allkicked it up one or more notches over the ones that came before them.

I love origin stories because you get to see what turned people intothe bad-asses we all know and love today, but once the first movie haswaded through all that setup and exposition, a director can really cutloose on his second entry. It's a simple formula: less time on dudessewing their first costume is more time for cities blowing up.

Thus my anticipation of Rob Zombie's Halloween II. The firstwas OK, but it was a remake and it had to cover all that boringstuff where Michael Myers wasn't chopping people into strudel.Yawn!!!. This time, Zombie had free rein to take the serieswherever he wanted it, rendering it extra boo-worthy that he seemscontent to stomp back over the same patch of blood-soaked ground.

It's been a year since killer Michael Myers (played by Tyler Mane) wasshot to death by estranged sister Scout Taylor-Compton. But his bodywas lost on the way to the morgue, and Taylor-Compton is still dealingwith the trauma of that night.

She's right to worry, because Michael isn't dead. He's been hiding inthe woods outside town. With Halloween night approaching again, hecomes back to finish business with his long-lost sister.

Halloween II is 101 minutes long, including credits, andwriter/director Rob Zombie wastes the first 15-20 minutes of hissequel on that highest form of art, the dream sequence. It's meant toramp up the suspense at the start, but the usual response to havingthe rug pulled out from under you isn't terror, it's a sharp pain inthe ass as you crash into the ground.

In fact, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to ring up Hollywood right nowand demand a complete moratorium on the cinematic dream-sequence. Theynever, ever work. At best, your reaction is a disappointed "Oh," andat worst it's "What the ----?", where "----" is any and everycombination of curse words you can imagine. Maybe it's that thisreminds me of my ex-girlfriends, but they're just no good. Squandering20 percent of your movie on one is insane.

After that giant misstep, Halloween II settles down into whatZombie does well: brutal, bloody violence, an intense and skillfulaura of chaos, and dialogue that's as funny as it is filthy. Zombieis talented with both a script and a camera, and his creativebrain throws sparks onto even the smallest scenes.

This extends to the casting. Loaded with cameos and bit parts fromactors you love but can't name (yay Charlie Udder from Deadwoodand Fat Charles Bukowski from Batman Begins!), they bring theirsliver-thin roles to life in a way that makes it sad when they havetheir faces stomped in. But that's fun, too, so what are you going todo, not have people's faces crushed to goo? Let's not getcrazy.

The small things are great, the bigger one's aren't. Zombie does someinteresting things with Michael Myers (less boogeyman, more realistic)and weaves in a psychological element that's rare in these things, butthe plot never really hangs together and the rest of it doesn't riseabove its genre roots.

As a slasher flick, it's got some interesting stuff.

As a story, it's nothing special.

Grade: C+