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What Do You Remember About ‘Halloween’ (2007)? Bill Reick Discusses the Rob Zombie Remake



What Do You Remember About 'Halloween' (2007)?

We never really all got together to decide what to call 2000-2009. “Aughts” gets used, but it was never formally agreed upon. The “thousands” just doesn’t work. You can get away with using “post-9/11” for 2002-2005, but the second half of the decade just doesn’t have a firm title.

It seems much easier to contextualize things that happen within clear eras. Hyper-violent movies reacting to the War in Vietnam. Body horror and paranoia in the wake of the AIDS crisis. But what the hell was 2007? You can’t make too many sweeping claims about 2007. We’re into the second term of the W. Bush era. The damage of the housing crisis still needs a few years before it’s reflected in movies. There’s not much bold, or memorable about 2007. It was a forgettable year on a global scale.

Looking back on the news, it’s all pointless. America sent 20,000 more troops into Iraq in 2007. Twenty thousand. In addition to the ones that were already there. There were no weapons of mass destruction. There was meaningless loss of life with the Virginia Tech Massacre. This was the year Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s long standing Home Run record. What should have been celebrated for being the athletic feat of the century was, instead, a performance enhanced by drugs and was shrugged at by the public.

Where were you in 2007? Where was I? I was a sophomore in high school. I was Rob Zombie’s target audience, and I was buying what he was selling.  When I was a kid, his song “Red Red Kroovy,” was the TItantron theme song for one of my favorite wrestlers, Edge. Rob Zombie was fully on my radar. I was the ideal consumer for what he was making.

These were the days of FYE. Post-dissolution of the Sam Goody stronghold; Tower Records receding even further in the rearview. The dawn of the streaming era was not quite realized, and the used DVD market was huge. You could go to the horror section in the retailer in your local mall, and probably get, like, four titles for $15. It was a good time to be a consumer of media.

The Devil’s Rejects was perfect for the time. This earlier Rob Zombie directorial effort was something meant to be discovered while rifling through physical media. Maybe you were digging through a bin. Maybe you were flicking through the stacks of DVDs, you just passed a used copy of The Devil’s Backbone, you hadn’t gone far enough to hit all the E’s yet (Exorcist, Evil Dead, etc.). The Devil’s Rejects feels like a movie you’re meant to blow the dust off of and see what it’s got. The color desaturation and hyper-violence make it an excellent ‘70s pastiche. The whole thing harkened back to a bygone, dusty era, and it was a jolt to the system of any teenager who checked it out.

So then they announce that Rob Zombie was doing a new Halloween movie, and it felt like a slam dunk, to me. I can only speak to my experience, and I was like fifteen and loved the idea. Let’s do it baby, Rob Zombie and Michael Myers, how would that not be cool? Rob Zombie showed in his earlier movies that he was definitely a huge Texas Chainsaw Massacre fan, and I was excited to see what he’d do with another favorite franchise.

Halloween 2007 Laurie Loomis

What do you remember about the 2007 Halloween? I remember that before the opening night screening I saw, a guy dressed as Michael Myers walked through the theater, menacing people. This was pre-Aurora, back when a masked man in a theater was scary but still safe. It was a part of this viewing experience. It definitely enhanced the experience. The trailers are rolling, and every time there’s enough light to see the whole room, this Michael Myers was someplace new. Now, there are 100% rules against doing this, and it would feel scary in a very unsafe way.

I’ve definitely criticized the movie for “explaining too much,” but what did I know, really? I was, like, fifteen, and I regurgitated a lot of what I read online. I think a lot of people regurgitated what they found online. I might be alone in feeling this way, but back in 2007, the internet, and in particular, the movie parts, could feel like sort of an echo-chamber. The iMDB comments section was one of the only places to discuss movies, and so how much of my feelings were mine? How much was I trying to be cool by reading what others thought?

Halloween (2007) definitely does explain a lot about Michael Myers. But that’s what 2007 was. We were at the height of this first wave of celebrity overexposure. This was the year that Britney Spears, during a very public custody battle, shaved her head to distance herself from further attention and scrutiny. Between magazines and the blogs, this kind of over-explaining was everywhere. We knew everything about everyone. So of course we’re going to learn Michael Myers’ backstory.

Halloween 2007 Michael Myers Mask

We spend a good chunk of time with pre-murderer Michael Myers, when he’s just a kid. And what is his life like? Well, it is exactly what the character’s life would be like in a 2007 movie directed by Rob Zombie. His hand was forced in a lot of ways, but Rob Zombie definitely made this movie his own. Whereas the new Halloween (2018) feels so stylistically similar to Halloween (1978), Halloween (2007) feels like a Rob Zombie movie. It’s his very specific style, and he applies it fully to make his mark on this series.

All of this is to contextualize what I think is a wrongly maligned movie. There’s a lot to understand about what Rob Zombie was facing, the odds were pretty much impossible. I don’t think the 2007 world would have responded any more positively to a movie that felt more like John Carpenter’s original. This was, again, 2007, and The Force Awakens was still some years away. That Star Wars movie, and the way it mirrors the earlier A New Hope, definitely influenced the way Halloween (2018) hearkened back to the original 1978 Michael Myers movie. Sorry for all these dates, it’s tough talking about a franchise with three movies that have the same title.

Anyhow, The Force Awakens wasn’t out yet, and we hadn’t hit that real nostalgic thing everybody was going for ca. “Stranger Things. So, no, Rob Zombie would not have fared well to repeat John Carpenter’s classic footsteps. Think back to 1998 when Gus Van Sant was pretty much eviscerated for making a shot-for-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Nope, Rob Zombie had to make this one his own, for better or for worse.

Halloween 2007 Michael Laurie

Me? I think it’s for better. Hell, if you’re a fan of something, surely you can agree that any Michael Myers is better than no Michael Myers. Why complain about a huge box-office smash? When movies do well, we get more of them. If you like Michael Myers, support those movies, so more can get made. Plus, Rob Zombie’s got an interesting perspective and a totally different lens to view this story through. John Carpenter’s artistry is what made the original so good, so how can we shame Rob Zombie for being a total artist and shaping the movie in his image?

I don’t know. Go watch the 2007 Halloween and tweet @billreick if you made it this far. I think it’s fair if you have not. You can rent the movie on Amazon Prime. The kills are brutal. Danielle Harris is in it. It’s midnight, I’m tired, go see Halloween (2007) and tell me why you think people are always so grumpy about it.