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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While on the set of Halloween 2 earlier this year, an acquaintance and I witnessed a night scene in which a helicopter hovered above Michael Myers. We witnessed this scene again and again and again. On the first few takes, we laughed at the bizarre noise (and at the sheer giddy thrill of hangin’ in Haddonfield) being yelled by the towering actor Tyler Mane as Myers in said scene—I won’t reveal further details at this time. However, after about the fifth take, and against the whirring of a ‘copter and an excruciating windchill, it seemed like Michael Myers was in fact emitting a single, fully-constructed word. Shock, horror. Dear Zombie detractors, no, it was not a curse word delivered with backwoods panache. Nor was it “Boo!”—the virgin utterance once prescribed to Myers and later scrapped altogether in Zombie’s first remake. But hearing Myers, a silent horror icon a la Jason, speak for the first time was simply off-putting. “Caveman” jokes were exchanged next to heat lamps.
We immediately went around and checked in with several people involved on the production. We were told that Myers was simply emitting a grunt. At that hour and temperature, the explanation seemed fair enough. And if it was a word? It was merely a performance-enhancer to later be edited out. Well, about an hour ago, Rob Zombie posted the following on Twitter: “Off to meet Tyler for some Michael Myers ADR. Sleeping some day would be great.” As STYD has pointed out, ADR means additional dialogue recording. (Note: STYD’s editor, Ryan Rotten, was on the set as well.) So, what’s the deal?
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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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Last month, /Film visited the set of H2 (Halloween 2). After flying into Atlanta, Georgia, a colleague and I followed a publicity firm’s map and drove far out into the country, down winding roads encased by high trees that exhaled into healthy farmland. The sun was setting, the temperature was cooling, and our cell phones were no longer getting reception. We were lost. We finally came to a local cop car blocking a road, lights on spin. The cop exited—he was alive—and said, “Here for the movie?” and pointed us in the direction of Haddonfield, a fictional town that millions of people all over the world have watched Michael Myers terrorize for years.
Since 2007, the grisly lore of Haddonfield has rested in the determined hands of writer/director Rob Zombie. And in my opinion, so does the current state and fate of the American horror film, an institution predictably oft-sniffed at, but that is vital to our culture. As exemplified in our epic interview—divided into two parts—Zombie is a filmmaker who is unapologetically forthright about detractors of his vision for Halloween and horror, and much more. There is great irony to be found in that so many 20somethings wake up to Zombie’s music cuing The Howard Stern Show, and that the same guy is creating cinema that aspires to haunt our grandkids’ nightmares more so than the last president. (Click here for part two of the interview.)
Hunter Stephenson: In December, it was officially announced that you were on board for the sequel. So, between then and the release date this August, you have had to write, cast, prep, shoot and now you guys are editing. That’s such a small window. When you first sat down to write the script, where did you want to go with Myers and this new mythology you created?
Rob Zombie: Well, I looked back at the first film and I thought, What would be the most realistic fall-out from the events that occurred previously? So, I started with Laurie Strode. The reality now is this: here is a girl who wakes up, her parents are murdered, most of her friends are murdered, and she finds out her brother is the person who killed everybody. What is the reality of that? What does that do to a person? I felt it would be much more interesting this time to make Laurie this dark, damaged character. And everyone else too.
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We’ll be posting my rather epic interview today with Rob Zombie shortly. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt in which he clears up misconceptions surrounding Michael Myers‘ “mask-less ratio” in H2 (Halloween 2). You may recall previous reports that Myers will go mask-less for 70% of the film. But as Zombie emphasized in good humor, the editing process has just started on the sequel, rendering the figure moot…
/Film: I think what has sparked the most controversy so far over the sequel is the mask. Once that statistic hit the Net that had Michael only wearing the mask for 30% of the movie, it was on. To be honest, it sounded like bullshit to me, so I didn’t report it. …Would you care to clarify?
Rob Zombie: It is total bullshit. [laughs] See, I think Wayne Toth [SFX] said [70% mask-less] when you guys were down on the set. Wayne wasn’t bullshitting you, but that was taken out of context, and to an extreme [online]. We’ve filmed so much stuff and at this point nobody but me knows what we’re going to use or not use. There are more shots of Michael Myers running around in his mask in this movie than in any of the other movies. I don’t think anybody has to worry. Yeah. Michael Myers never looked so good. [laughs]
Zombie also expressed complete disdain for all prior Halloween sequels, calling them “pathetic.” It’s a pretty candid interview. Some fans will be disappointed to learn that Tyrannosaurus Rex will most likely not be Zombie’s next film due to—per the interview—Hollywood’s current appetite for unoriginal, toned-down fare. After the jump we have the latest one-sheet for H2, released today.
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Rob Zombie is now through with his principal photography on H2 (a prequel to H20 and sequel to… er… H, non?) and is up to his beard in post production. Between now and the film’s release on August 28th, I dare say we’ll be seeing a lot more controversial material from the set and playing host to a lot more heated debate.
And why shouldn’t we get stuck in today, eh? Will give us all something to do on the holiday weekend anyway. Below the break is a nice big officially released picture of Michael Myers modeling his William Shatner mask from the last installment, courtesy of Zombie’s MySpace page.
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If you’ve seen any of the set photos from H2, Rob Zombie‘s sequel to the Halloween reboot, you may have noticed Tyler Mane not wearing the signature mask, ShockTillYouDrop was able to confirm with effects make-up artist Wayne Toth that Michael Myers will be maskless for more than 70% of the film. Towards the end of the film, Myers wears a new mask which Toth describes as “a lot different from any of [the masks] we’ve seen.”
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The above photo shows actor Tyler Mane reprising Michael Myers in Rob Zombie‘s H2: Halloween 2 and arrives via a new tipster batch sent to Shock. While it’s difficult to make out the face, the guy is rocking long locks and a huge beard (!), features never previously associated with the horror icon. Over the weekend, many /Film commenters had it out over the superiority of Zombie’s Halloween compared to Platinum Dunes’s limp F13th, and it seems that Zombie will continue to excavate canon and pave new ground in the sequel. Cool by me. Also of note, actor Daeg Faerch who played a young, blond Myers in the first film reports that he has been recast in the sequel due to height issues. He is bummed.
The blog Rated-M also managed to get photos from the film’s set, and they reveal two things: there will be Halloween decorations and vibes aplenty (horror fans cited a lack thereof in the first film), and the biography on Myers by an opportunistic Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), The Devil Walks Among Us, will play into the plot as well.
More set pics after the jump…
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