Upon recently re-viewing Rob Zombie's 2007 take on the classic Halloween, I felt a little bit less harsh about it. Don't get me wrong: it's still mighty tedious and nowhere near scary, but at least I got the impression this time around that the rocker-turned-auteur was trying to fashion more of a character study around boogeyman Michael Myers -- who he was, why he was -- and while diluting the mystique of our killer effectively diluted the suspense, the film still delivered on the basest level of having someone get visibly, viscerally dispatched every so often. If all you had to ask of that film was a body count, Halloween slowly but surely delivered.
But while people do die in Zombie's Halloween II, that's just not enough to make up for all that pesky in-between.
The in-between in question is less a remake of the first Halloween sequel -- a sequence taking place in a hospital right after H'ween '07 would've ended does not last very long, nor does it count for much once truly explained -- and more a remake of that first Halloween remake, which is to say that physically and psychologically scarred survivor Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) in still kicking around Haddonfield, IL with some new friends to be picked off, the presumed-dead Michael Myers (Tyler Mane) is once again lumbering back towards Haddonfield after her, and Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) is too making his way back to Haddonfield by way of a thoroughly shameless book tour.
It's a clever bit, that last part with Dr. Loomis, a protector now turned marketing machine who relishes the good business that comes from what others consider bad taste. How far is this from Mr. Zombie himself, a man who suffers the pains of promotion to convince people that he's giving them a glimpse of Pure Evil? I can't say for sure, but it's ironic if that's supposed to be the case, because claiming a glimpse of anything would be pushing it. Halloween II is shot in more muted tones than its predecessor, and more death scenes are hacked by the editing process more than the killer himself. That person's alive, Myers shows up, we think they broke a bone, and then they're dead. Nothing in the film comes close to suspense or tension, but even the cheap thrill seems to go botched in every other scene.
And in the other every other scenes, we're granted a whole new concern -- the re-appearance of Mrs. Sheri Moon Zombie as the late mother of Michael and Laurie, appearing aside a white horse in white garb with a white light behind her as the most heavy-handed and risible justification for either character's psychological dilemmas yet. It's a device that allows A) Rob to keep his wife on the payroll, B) Rob to indulge in surreal flourishes more apt for his own music videos, and C) Rob to slip a half-dozen dream sequences that beef up the body count without really adding anything to the story.
There we have it, that body count again. We're in trouble when that's all that matters. Hey, I can enjoy a simple slasher myself from time to time, but if it doesn't have a campy or tense tone (which this film does not) and/or tense or intense kills, what's left? At one point, we see a long shot of Michael Myers in silhouette dragging a victim in silhouette out of a truck and then stabbing them again and again and again and again, and it's an image which singularly sums up what a numbing experience the whole film is. No flashes of blood, no hints of character, just shadows killing shadows.
If that's all you want to see, Halloween II is probably for you. But goodness knows it wasn't for me.