Halloween (Work Print 2007)
Directed by Rob Zombie
There’s no question from the time that the remake of Halloween was announced any filmmaker willing to tackle this endeavor was going to be in the hot seat, and holy shit has the seat been hot. A quick scan through any film site’s message boards will reveal venomous rant after venomous rant both pre and now final release. Does Rob Zombie’s Halloween suck? Not really, but just like Michael himself, the whole experience comes off as empty.
You see the main problem here is that it feels too much like two different movies. In my opinion the first forty-five minutes were great. It was a dark ride with only a few bumps along the way that came in the fashion of some forced foul mouthed dialogue, and probably the most awkward usage of the song “Love Hurts” ever put to film. Most everything in this section of the movie comes off as grim, gritty, and realistic, especially the stuff at Smith’s Grove. That reality check is then snapped as soon as Michael breaks out of his chains like a blood hungry super hero. This scene, while heavy on the violence, just seems a bit out of place and honestly it’s that misplaced feeling that resonates throughout the rest of the film’s runtime.
It’s hard to care about characters who we hardly know. There’s barely enough time to get acquainted with any of them before the shape starts knocking ‘em off. It’s as if we’re watching the Cliffs Notes version of Halloween. No matter how you slice it, taking the events of a ninety minute film and cramming them into forty-five just doesn’t work. There needs to be more. Hell, an extra half an hour added to the runtime probably would have done the movie wonders. In the end though this theatrical release, despite some truly shining moments, feels incomplete and ultimately falls flat during the second to third act.
You’ve got to love the Internet. If one looks hard enough you’d be amazed at what you can find. Such is the case with the work print of Rob Zombie’s Halloween. Clocking in at a runtime of a solid hour and forty-seven minutes, this version of the film does a hell of a lot more right than the one playing in theatres because it’s much more cohesive. We finally get to see at least some of the much needed character development and other assorted goodies. Let’s take a look at the differences ...
First up there’s a bit more one-on-one with Loomis and young Michael as well as Myers and his mom (Sheri Moon-Zombie) at the hospital. These added scenes really help to get inside of the psyches of each character. The moments that take place at Smith’s Grove are arguably the best parts of the film so to have more of them is welcome.
Next it seems that Udo Kier and Clint Howard actually have a part to play in the movie instead of their theatrical fifteen second one-line cameos (speaking of cameos, most of the really annoying ones which take you directly out of the film are nowhere to be found here). During their screen time an adult Myers is featured standing in on his parole proceedings with Kier and Howard eventually dropping the hammer down and denying his release. Having Kier, Howard, and McDowell onscreen together is great. Why this was cut remains a mystery, though I’m guessing it was for time.
Now comes the escape sequence; There’s no chain breaking shenanigans going on here. In this version two orderlies (Lew Temple and Courtney Gains) decide to engage in a little midnight sexing with a female inmate at the hospital. Temple’s character, who already has a hard-on of sorts for Michael, decides that they should rape this chick in Myers’ room(!). Unfortunately for our two horn-dogs Michael proves that he has other ways in which to speak than with his mouth. His hands do all the talking here and the results are pleasantly gooey. After the deed is done he grabs the keys from one of the bodies and just walks right out the front door. Even though this scenario is completely absurd and downright senseless on the part of our now departed duo, it just feels so much better than what we ended up getting.
Another great scene worthy of mention here is one that finds Michael stealing Judith’s tombstone. In the theatrical version we get a scene much like the one found in Carpenter’s Halloween with the great and always memorable Sid Haig taking up the cemetery caretaker’s reigns as he escorts Loomis to Judith’s grave. Instead of that, in the work print we get a truly creepy shot of Myers staring down at the body of a caretaker as the sun sets behind him. This moment has an eerie beauty to it, and one cannot help but feel a bit of a chill run down the spine as Michael kneels down and begins prying the stone marker free.
From here we get a few alternate scenes with Loomis and Sheriff Brackett (Dourif), and thankfully get to learn a bit more about the films three heroines. With even just a few extra moments of exposition the relationships between this trio becomes slightly more defined. Of the three chicks it’s Danielle Harris who completely steals the show; just as young Daeg sold the first half of the film, it’s Harris who sells the second. When she screams you can feel her fear. That fear ends up being the only honest emotion in the entire flick.
Also strewn about this part of the movie we get a bit more of Michael stalking around and watching, as well as a couple of alternate kills. While the scene detailing the murder of Laurie’s parents is a bit longer in the theatrical version, the work print thankfully loses the verbatim kill of Lynda’s boyfriend in favor of a different demise.
There are no other real major changes to speak of. That is until ... the end.
The main thing that the theatrical version lacks is the Ahab / Moby Dick type relationship between Loomis and Myers. In the work print they finally have their showdown so-to-speak, and the end result is infinitely more satisfying than a screamy Scout Taylor-Compton. Gone is the end theatrical scene in which Laurie hides within the walls of the Myers home while Michael destroys ceilings and walls with a two-by-four in desperate search of his prey. Good riddance.
Don’t get me wrong, even with these alternate scenes the film still has its fair share of pitfalls, and still exhibits the same basic problems as its theatrical cousin. Yet in the end the work print feels more like the film we should have gotten. Why didn't we? That's the magic question! I smell studio tinkering!
One thing's for certain, there will be fence riding pertaining to this flick. Either folks will love it or just love hating it. Seeing two different cuts of the film with just hours in between each viewing has given me pause. I left my theatre kind of heart broken; I wanted to love this movie but something seemed to be missing. At least now a few of those things have come to light. Of the two cuts I feel the work print is far and away the better version of this film. Here’s to hoping we get an all encompassing DVD release.
2 1/2 out of 5
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