So leave it to Rob Zombie to shrewdly shift focus away from the original star to the iconic object around which this franchise has always gravitated. Yes, I’m talking about the white-faced likeness of William Shatner.
It is a stroke of luck that original Halloween creator John Carpenter didn’t accidentally spray-paint a Lee Majors Six Million Dollar Man mask or, God forbid, a Kristy McNichol mask. Imagine the likeness of Kristy McNichol mercilessly filleting sex-crazed teenagers – the idea alone is thick with enough gender issues to keep Scott Baio single for another 45 years, and who could blame her.
Yes, there was a time when the name “Michael Myers” meant more than the guy who lends the voice to Shrek. He was a slasher’s slasher before the genre rotted into circle-slashers.
The history of the Halloween franchise is splattered with bloody stretches of crap so profoundly fetid, the ironically named Donald Pleasance would still be spinning in his grave if only his grave weren’t a six-foot Ziplock bag in a refrigerator at Dimension Films. There he stands ready to be thawed, his icy trenchcoat unfolding like an angel’s wings, his frozen gun ever-ready to fire another useless round into Myers’ bulletproof hide.
“I will never learn,” Pleasance once said. “My accountant, attorney, business manager, realtor, agent, and refrigerant supply vendor won’t let me.”
But production schedules being what they are, Rob Zombie barely had time to write a script, let alone thaw out Donald Pleasance. “So I went for the next best thing: Malcolm McDowell in a Prince Valiant wig,” said Rob.
What a cast in this movie! Every familiar face you’ve never memorized the name of can be found here.
Udo Kier is in the house, meaning not only that Michael Myers is nearby but also vampires and Nazis!
There’s the great Clint Howard, whose persona is now so well-established audiences would laugh at him even if he called each of our mothers ugly, one at a time and by name.
Here comes E.T. mom Dee Wallace – “I have finally vanquished JoBeth Williams in the TV/Movie Mom Celebrity Deathmatch. Next I take on the winner of the bout between Marion Cunningham and Shirley Partridge.”
Enter Danny Trejo, creatively attired and only marginally recognizable from every cell block in every prison movie made in the past 15 years. If you have a hangnail on a movie set and you need a shank, Danny’s your guy.
Unless I missed her cameo altogether, Adrienne Barbeau ended up on the cutting room floor, which seems fitting for a slasher flick. Adrienne is probably bunched up in a corner with some dust bunnies and a yellowed old treasure map to Bea Arthur’s penis.
The voice of Chucky, Brad Dourif, is the Town Sheriff. I don’t know about you, but if I dial 9-1-1 and Brad Dourif comes to my house I’m bringing out the Haldol and Thorazine party mix, because Dourif always seems to be just back from a stakeout in crazy-ville.
With a group like this, how did 80’s horror stalwart John Saxon miss the casting call? “I was busy getting old,” said Saxon, “and that takes a lot out of someone with my acting skills.”
“Besides,” he added, “they ran out of cop roles, parent of cop roles, and grandparent of cop roles.”
We begin with the backstory of young Michael Myers.
Myers begins his killing career with a clown mask and works his way up to a William Shatner one. “I did just the opposite,” noted a wry Shatner, who adjusted his bulbous red nose only to realize it was original Starfleet issue.
Michael is obsessed with masks. Why a mask? “It hides my face, it hides my ugliness,” he says, with a line that shows director Rob’s a zombie when it comes to his severed ear for dialogue.
Judging by his favorite tee, Michael’s a member in good standing of the KISS army. “This kid single-handedly moves dozens of KISS-brand coffins,” said band-leader Gene Simmons, who would license the air KISS fans breathe if he could figure out a way to stamp a logo on it.
Poor Michael. You know you’re in trouble when your mom’s boyfriend compliments your sister’s new outfit as follows: “Man, that bitch has got herself a nice little dumper.”
There’s only one man alive who can deliver that line without an audience rolling hysterically down the aisle. Yes, I’m talking about the actor whose headshot is scanned with ultraviolet light before a casting agent will touch it – William Forsythe, the David Niven of scumbags.
“If I ever win an Oscar it may be for brushing up on Shakespeare,” said Forsythe, “but not for brushing up on my teeth.”
This Halloween is way grittier than what we’ve seen before – even grittier than Halloween III: Season of the Witch, which should have been called “Season of the Which Franchise is this chapter from?”
Believe it or not, the weakest stuff in Rob’s new Halloween is the material we’ve seen before. The new stuff is fairly strong, although it’s hard to envy the job of recreating an experience that can truly be frighteningly fresh only the first time. No movie can make us forget how bad slasher flicks became in the wake of the original Halloween.
But now, at least, when I open my door to trick-or-treaters wearing my five-year-old Michael Myers mask, the kids won’t say, “Who are you supposed to be?”
Thank God – and Rob Zombie – for small favors.