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Post-Screening Update: In short, my verdict on Halloween 2 is that it’s superior to Rob Zombie‘s first effort and a far more entertaining film. Zombie definitely listened to criticism that the first film wasn’t holiday-oriented. In this one, he stages a trippy Last Supper with Jack-o-Lanterns. And moreover, it works for chrissakes. The critics labeling the film a by-the-numbers “rote slasher picture” either didn’t see the movie or haven’t been paying attention to recent  ”rote” horror flicks like Prom Night and Platinum Dunes‘ stillborn Friday the 13th.

I ask these critics to show me a comparable “rote” horror film this well-shot that stars the excellent Brad Dourif (Blue Velvet, John Huston’s Wise Blood) reminiscing about Lee Marvin. Or how about one with a fun Malcolm McDowell thinly and hilariously disguising contempt for movie journalists who trash certain directors with trigger-happy aimlessness. The early hospital scenes set to The Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” make for only one of the sweet, sweet uses of music therein. Sidenote: I enjoyed seeing actress Silvia Jeffries‘ (Tracy on Eastbound & Down) play a stripper who receives a priceless tip from Michael. Like most, I was worried that Sheri Moon Zombie would take a sizable Yoko-like chunk out of the movie, but she’s merely a muse to Michael (and Zombie) here. And sure, the dream sequences are different from previous Myers installments, but is that a bad thing? They add genuinely creepy flourish to Zombie’s grisly murder scenes. It’s only been an hour since my screening let out, but I’d say this is the second best Halloween movie in existence: inferior to John Carpenter‘s first (obviously!) but better than Rick Rosenthal‘s original sequel. I doubt the critics hating on this movie (and Zombie, for whatever reason) can debate my closing statement. And tellingly so. Rob Zombie put Laurie Strode in a Black Flag shirt and dragged her to hell. And I liked it!! And it makes me wonder: are sites like CHUD and STYD, that profess love for horror, this out of touch per the genre? They really prefer the dated Abercrombie bottle blondes of Platinum Dunes to Zombie’s girls, who for Halloween go as guys dressed as girls and leave parties to shag a werewolf in a van? Weird.

Set Visit Report: Earlier this year, /Film went down to Georgia to visit the set of Rob Zombie‘s Halloween II. The sequel to 2007′s remake was shooting in a quaint, charming town called Newborn—an hour or so outside of Atlanta—that is tucked behind sprawling farmland and reached by hilly roads outlined in dead trees. Spring was in session, but outside it was already chilly and the approaching darkness and anticipation made it feel like Halloween night. After spending an hour completely lost and staring at a cow in search of cell phone reception, /Film finally reached the set. A handful of other peers including STYD’s Ryan Rotten joined us as we piled into a van and drove down a dark street to watch what publicists said was a climatic action piece in the film.

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In the second installment of /Film’s in-depth chat with Rob Zombie, we discuss the limp yet horny state of the American horror film. Zombie also rants on why getting original projects made in Hollywood has become a lamer development hell. Given that his last theatrical movie as a writer/director was a remake (Halloween), and that this summer’s H2 (Halloweeen 2) is a sequel, it’s interesting to hear Zombie get the lead out in such bold fashion. But consider that a release for his $10m animated film with Paul Giamatti, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, is on the burner indefinitely; and that his T-Rex—a violent ’70s-set flick about a heathen war vet/boxer—now revs at a yellow-light. The status of both projects is discussed below.

While Zombie’s vision for Michael Myers has proven divisive, the privilege to re-shape one of the top three monsters of modern horror was well-earned. His directorial debut, 2003′s House of 1000 Corpses, has held up nicely in the years since; a fun-house experience akin to falling down a broken disposal, Corpses wallows in the slime of decades’ worth of deranged genre influence.  2005 brought his signature film, The Devil’s Rejects, arguably the most nefarious celluloid celebration of murder and nihilism set loose in theaters this decade. Four years later, even he’s a little surprised that it exists. But exists it does; a major studio picture that feels like the extroverted, distant Southern cousin to William Lustig‘s ode to the NYC lurker Maniac.

Rejects solidified Zombie as the rare, talented filmmaker sitting high on the pop-cult ladder whose work craps on any and all moral barometers. And after speaking at length, we’re convinced that there isn’t a working director in the U.S. more dedicated to the hard-R picture-show. (Click here for Part 1)

Hunter Stephenson: How you depict violence on film sets you apart. It seems like much of the violence in American horror films these days, it’s very routine and mundane. A lot of the violence in your films seems flat-out wrong, but in a really good way. [Zombie laughs] You were never part of the torture-porn trend, when Hostel and Saw came out, and what not.

When you show violence on screen, it serrates but then you move on, and I think it’s very effective. I’m wondering, what films do you watch to get your kicks for violence? What films do you draw on when you’re making them?

Rob Zombie: Well, I like when violence seems real and I like when it seems ugly. I like when the act doesn’t seem fun. I was never a fan of ‘80s slasher movies. I think they are cartoony and silly. I was more into the violence in movies like Taxi Driver, The Wild Bunch, and Bonnie and Clyde. The violence in those films makes a statement in some way. You know what I mean? It’s saying something. And it’s either brutal, or depressing, or it’s real. But it’s never fun.

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