FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Mar 22, 2010

ride the white horse

When I posted on my Facebook page that I had to watch Rob Zombie's Halloween II, I got little but warnings and advanced condolences. Everyone told me I'd be really sorry if I indulged; you know: it was two hours of my life I'd never get back, I could never un-see it, I'd be better off lighting babies and/or myself on fire...okay, maybe not that last one. But still, the collective "Do not do!"s from my fake cyber-friends made me feel that watching H2 would be akin to marching off to war without a gun or body armor or even a face: I'd get my body and soul crushed in what would inevitably be a losing battle. To put it mildly, undertaking a viewing seemed to be a foolish endeavor, but it had to be done. And yes, like a soldier headed off to war (or a nogoodnik heading off to the Big House), I spent my last 24 hours of freedom in a drunken stupor, cavorting with hookers and eating cake. Isn't that how they do things?

Anyway, given these warnings and my unabashed dislike of Zombie's Halloween, I was positively dreading the experience. DREADING IT I SAY. And? Well, I made it through. I'm still here. Maybe it's the booze or the prosties or the cake talking, wasn't quite as bad as I'd anticipated.

Whoa whoa whoa! Put away your torches and pitch forks and hot oil treatments (the bad, not-for-hair kind) and everything else in your Angry Mob Emergency Kit- I didn't say I liked it. I didn't even say I didn't hate it. It's just that I anticipated a Hallocaust of epic proportions and when all was said and done, I've seen much worse. I've seen much worse recently, in fact (hey The Unborn, you can still go fuck yourself).

Halloween II opens with a placard explaining the symbolic meaning of a white horse. From this, we can infer two things: 1) Rob Zombie bought a dream dictionary, and 2) Rob Zombie thinks his audience is stupid. Why else would he feel the need to blatantly and literally define his metaphor? Can't we figure it out on our own? Why, some of horror's greatest films and directors know it's better to show than to tell. It's not as if Stanley Kubrick needed to expound on what mazes are all about before The Shining began; likewise, viewers are left to their own devices in deciphering the deeper meaning behind all the steering wheels and throttles in Shark Attack 3: Megalodon. But this is Halloween II, and as such it needs Sheri Moon Zombie...and as such it needs a dubious reason for her inclusion.

Before she becomes the Ghost and Mrs. Muir of Mrs. Myers, there's a flashback to young Michael's sanitarium days- I guess to remind us that the boy had a healthy relationship with his mother, that he was in control of his faculties, and that this version of Michael is not the abstract embodiment of "pure evil" as he was in John Carpenter's original film. Oh well. When Michael tells mom about his dreams of a white horse (I WONDER WHAT IT MEANS), she tells him to "Cheer up- no more gloom!" He doesn't listen to her, and I guess that's why a lot of people end up dead...dun dun dunnnn...15 years later.

We jump through time to the moments after the climactic events of Halloween; Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) is battered and bloody and en route to Haddonfield Memorial, while Michael Myers (Tyler Mane) is carted off to the coroner's office by two Characters in a Rob Zombie Film. You know the kind: they're that variety of trash Mr. Zombie seems so enamored with. They talk about corpse-fucking and they're oh so funny! Except they're not funny. Or maybe you think they are, in which case...I'd rather not know. I just want to travel back to the moment Zombie began typing their dialogue so I can slap his hand with a newspaper and cry "No! Bad Zombie! No trashy characters! You write real people! Real. People." Seriously, I hate Characters in a Rob Zombie Film. I hate that they use the word "fuck" the way the Smurfs use the word "smurf". I hate everything about them.

These guys aren't around for long, thanks to a Deus Ex Cow in the Road. They hit it, Michael gets out of the van (despite being in a serious accident and, oh, getting shot in the face at the end of Halloween), cuts the surviving paramedic's head off with a piece of glass (which could totally happen), and splits. Halloween II then becomes a truncated version of Carpenter's Halloween II as Laurie awakens in the mysteriously empty hospital, only to find Myers once more in pursuit. He butchers his way through the scant staff members on duty...and when I say "butchers", I mean...BUTCHERS. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I can't believe it's not butter. I've also said this before and I will also say this again: Rob Zombie does not shy away from brutal violence. Anyone bitching about the lack of energy in modern American horror needs only watch this incarnation of Myers go to town with a knife. It's cringe-worthy.

The hospital is where we also get our first taste of "Nights in White Satin" by The Moody Blues- I WONDER WHAT IT MEANS. This serves to remind me of the time I went barhopping with some friends many a moon ago. We ended the night at Norm's Country Lounge (don't ask) and I was well and truly tanked. So well and so truly, in fact, that upon spotting the blue satin shirt our bartendress (new word) was sporting, I asked her name (Trish) and proceeded to regale her with "Trish in Blue Satin". She was not amused, but I'm sure it was unbearably charming.

Before Michael can get his grubby mitts on Laurie...she wakes up. She wakes up. SHE WAKES UP because the first half hour of the film was a DREAM. Does this feel like some sort of cheat? Does this crap on your neck? If you're trying to invest yourself in Halloween II, then yes...yes, it does. It's not so much that it's a dream sequence, it's that it feels more like a do-over, as if Zombie got 2 weeks into filming, didn't like the way it was going, and decided to have Laurie wake up screaming in bed rather than try to write himself out of the corner he wrote himself into.

But yes, it's a fucking dream and actually it's two years, not two minutes, past the events of Halloween. Laurie lives with fellow survivor Annie Brackett (Danielle Harris) and her dad, Sheriff (Brad Dourif). Yes, that is his name (no it's not). Annie and Laurie deal with their mental and physical scars very differently: Annie is quieter than she used to be and sticks close to home, while Laurie is sullen, unwashed-looking, and all ten kinds of sweary. She visits a psychiatrist (Margot fucking Kidder) and downs pills in mass quantities to cope with her anxiety and those pesky half-hour dreams that alienate audiences. Laurie eventually reveals that she's come to resent Annie, that seeing her daily means Laurie can't ever forget about her trauma. I think this is actually an interesting development, and that Laurie's PTSD is worth examining; in the end, it amounts to little more than a few yelling matches. After all, who wants to delve into Laurie Strode when you can delve into Michael Myers? That sounds hot, by the way.

Yes, Michael really did survive getting shot in the face. Where has he been for two years? We don't know. His body disappeared from the crime scene (I guess) and he's been living off the grid à la baghead Jason Voorhees (I guess). Myers has gone all mountain man, growing an indigent crazy-style Bigfoot beard. He spends most of the film walking to Haddonfield in search of Laurie, killing strippers and other Characters in a Rob Zombie Film along the way, rendering Halloween II into Cold Mountain II: The Knife-ening. As he walks, he has visions of a white-wigged mom telling him that he needs to kill kill kill so they can all be a family again- you know, just like she did when she was alive.

Time out: Aarrrrrgh I wish all the stupid metaphor bullshit wasn't in the film. It doesn't work. It doesn't work (and if you listened to Episode 2 of The Scare-ening, you know that it wasn't always in the script). I try not not think about it, because it hurts me in my brain place. While it was happening, my body rejected it like a bad organ transplant! I tuned it out and went to my happy place, the place with the hookers and the cake. I dreamed a dream of a metaphor-less Halloween II, where Laurie and Annie and the others lived up to that glimmer of hope in a throwaway line, where Michael was scary and unknown and he was The Boogeyman. It was a nice dream. I liked it.

Time in: Remember Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell)? He's here, too! He's turned into a total money- and fame-grabbing douchebag, capitalizing on the horrors perpetrated by his old patient Michael Myers. He also serves as the voice of Rob Zombie, particularly when he says things like "Did you just mention 'journalists', 'cool', and 'positive' all in the same sentence? Without throwing up? That's an oxymoron." Touché, Mr. Zombie! Way to show people who criticize your work. Much better than, oh, simply ignoring it all, or perhaps ruminating on the fact that sometimes they're right. High road shmigh road, I always say!

Once Laurie reads a copy of Loomis's explosive tell-all, she's understandably dismayed to learn that she's Michael's long-lost sister. She decides to go nuts and booze it up with some new friends at the town's Halloween party, a rather massive affair that gleefully ignores the series of murders that took place the same night two years prior. As Laurie parties it up, ol' stick-in-the-mud Annie stays home. Michael kills the police officer that Sheriff Dad posted outside the house. He gets inside...and I'm not gonna lie: I thought the entire sequence was really well done. To Annie's horror, Michael is suddenly there, looming in the doorway behind her.

Zombie makes an effective use of slow-mo, and then wisely cuts to black before the violence starts. We hear it all, and that's enough- later, when Laurie comes home and finds Annie dying on the floor, the blood and destruction everywhere tells us everything we need to know. I was surprised to find myself a bit upset that Annie died- yes, I actually cared the tiniest bit about the character. I know, right? Weird. Much of this owes to Danielle Harris and Brad Dourif working a bit of magic with the very little they were given. Annie's death is the best sequence in the film- and I don't mean it's the best of the worst...I mean it's actually good.

Unfortunately, then it's back to Happy Myers Family Fuckery as mom urges Michael to kill Laurie so they can all be together. I guess she expects Michael to kill himself afterward to complete the plan...? It doesn't make much sense.

Michael takes Laurie to some abandoned cabin place, and the cops and Loomis (who totally had, like, a change of heart) show up to put a stop to it. They do so as Michael is shot down in one of those blazes of glory Rob Zombie seems to enjoy so much. Unfortunately for the whole wide world, Laurie has also fallen under the crazy spell of Ghost Mom! She's a bona fide Loomis-killing, dirty-haired Myers nutso. She ends up in a metaphorical hospital room...err, corridor, where she spies Ghost Mom and a white horse. I don't know what it means, so don't ask!

What a mess. Halloween II was destined to be a mess, I think, when you consider Zombie's claims that he told all the story he needed to tell in Halloween and he didn't plan for a sequel. The finished product feels like he made it up as he went along, with its numerous disjointed scenes that lead nowhere and that damn metaphor. The Director's Cut, which is the version I watched, clocks in at a whopping 2 hours- and the DVD includes 23 deleted/alternate scenes. Twenty-three! Doesn't anyone tell Zombie when ideas don't work, when they should be excised? When they shouldn't be shot? I don't think so- and that's exactly what he needs, if only to stop the colossal waste of money. More imporantly, the ideas that do work need to be developed rather than glossed-over or buried. And please please please, no more Characters in a Rob Zombie Movie.

I said earlier that Zombie gives good violence, but I suppose I should add a...when you can see it to that. Too often I couldn't tell what was going on because...well, because:

Can you tell what's going on there? Hint: someone's getting killed. See, there's shadow and atmosphere, and then there's plain ol' bad lighting. Halloween II is almost exclusively the latter. Atmosphere, in fact, is sorely lacking. The movie just isn't scary, which is a shame. Michael Myers is one of horror's greatest characters, and when given the proper treatment he's still absolutely terrifying. There are more chills in the end credits' use of a modified version of John Carpenter's original Halloween score than there are in the rest of Halloween II, a sad reminder of what was and what isn't.

Sorry if that doesn't make sense. I may have made it through Halloween II, but it wasn't an easy tour of duty. I'm still a bit shell-shocked...I think this calls for some cake. And hookers!


AE said...

Yay, I'm the one person who said it wasn't that bad! I win! *ducks while other commenters throw rotten fruit*

Agreed about Annie's death -- I don't know how much of my concern for Annie was built on leftover Nancy Loomis love, or if it's just that she's the only character to behave sensibly in the film, or if it's just that poor Brad Dourif is so worried about her and in the end he can't save her. That was a great sequence.

The two paramedics were maddening. I looked over at Art Boy and he was miming typing the dialogue. I don't know what's wrong with Zombie.

As for the dream wakeup, it actually worked for me -- I saw it as "OK, hat tip to the first Halloween II, CHECK. All bets are off from now on."

Ah, there's no defending this movie. But I had fun. White horse! Phbphbphb!

CashBailey said...

I'm genuinely stunned that there are people out there who call themselves horror fans who not only give these ZOMBIEWEEN atrocities a pass, but who actually claim to LIKE THEM!!

I find it hard to articulate the hatred I have of every movie Rob Zombie has ever made, so I 'd better just stop here.

Stacie Ponder said...

Eh, I don't begrudge anyone for liking what they like. Sometimes I don't understand it and I try to, sometimes I don't understand it and I shake my head. Sometimes I see what they like but I don't feel the same...sometimes I just don't know what they're getting out of a movie that I'm not.

In the end, none of it actually affects what I like or don't like, so who really cares? I'd hate for people to disparage MY GOOD NAME (ahem) just because a movie strikes a chord with me. Diff'rent strokes and all that.

David Robson, Proprietor, House of Sparrows said...

When I told people that I liked H2 better than H1, I got raised eyebrows. Of course, I hated H1. H2 was redeemed by, among other things, its gorgeously harrowing shots of lone Michael traipsing across desolate fields, the Dourif-Harris interplay, and the effective deployment of a toy piano (right?) in the revamped Carpenter theme.

Okay, only slightly redeemed.

Your review is more than fair. You put far more time and thought into it than it deserved, and call out things that I haven't seen anyone so invested in horror films actually point out. Too many Zombie fans are giving him a pass for devolving into his own cliches, and too many horror fans are just writing his work off without articulating why.

Nice piece. Enjoy your cake and hookers - you've earned them.

Stacie Ponder said...

"Enjoy your cake and hookers - you've earned them."

Ha! I want to print that out and put it on my wall. Thanks!

And for the record, I liked H2 FAR more than H1.

BJ Colangelo said...

Question: did he rape Annie? I mean she's naked and momma myers says to have some fun...and she's not totally dead when found. I confused.

Paul Arrand Rodgers said...

Is that a Goldfrapp reference in the title?

Marry me.

SikeChick said...

I got the impression that he did rape Annie which made me hate this movie even more because, as Stacie said, Annie was one of the few characters to care about in this movie.

I, for one, hated RZ's Halloween much more than I hated this film...but I still hated this film. I just felt this one was more of a waste of potential. If Rob actually knew how to write REAL PEOPLE, he might have been able to go somewhere with exploring not only Laurie's and Annie's trauma, but the evolution of Loomis from caring doctor to opportunistic asshole.

What showed up on screen was what felt like a bunch of disjointed angry "Fuck you, critics! You didn't like my first Halloween? Fine! I'll show you how I can shit on your precious franchise!" short films with a wacky wrap-around story written just to stuff his bad-acting wife in the film.

Despite all my ire, I've been tempted to rent the director's cut to see if perhaps studio tampering might have created the movie jumble that I sat through (and to hear him explain himself in his commentary track). Then I remembered doing just that with his first Halloween movie and realized there's no point. His puling and whining about studio tampering and subtle rips on John Carpenter's original just pissed me off more and I couldn't imagine I'd walk away feeling any better about the movie than I did back in August when I paid good money to see this tripe.

Stacie Ponder said...

Man, the rape went right over my head! When mom came on during the Annie scene, I must have tuned her out. In my world, Michael Myers is sexless and that's that.

What about the deleted rape scene from H1? I didn't see it, but I understand MM stops someone from being raped? I like that better, even though it's still stupid. WHY RAPE. I hate it when it's treated so casually.

Unknown said...

I've had H2 on my Netflix Q for a while. Seeing that you've survived the ordeal I might put it higher on my list and finally take the plunge.

You know although I am no fan of any of his work so far, part of me really does want to root for Zombie. I think that he really does have a good eye for directing (despite bad lighting)but he just really needs to stay away from writing ANYTHING! I would love to see him visually interpret someone else's writing and if the movie still turns out shitty then we know there's no hope for him.

And I'm joining the campaign to say "NO to Characters in Rob Zombie movies!"

Seriously, I hate Characters in a Rob Zombie Film. I hate that they use the word "fuck" the way the Smurfs use the word "smurf". I hate everything about them.

LOL, I couldn't have said it better myself!

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure he didn't rape Annie. He just "had fun" by killing her very, very slowly as opposed to his usual brutal pummeling. If you recall the directors cut of H1, it's a (very gratuitous) rape by the two hospital orderlies that makes Myers snap and kill everyone in the hospital as he breaks out.

I like Halloween 1. A lot. It's far from perfect, but had a lot more going on that a lot of the other remakes that have come and gone.

Halloween 2 was only good when it was focused on Laurie, and her absolute train wreck fallout of a life since the event. I almost got the impression that Zombie didn't really know what to do with Myers, randomly inserting a perfunctory kill here and there to make it seem like more of a regular horror film. Loved the homage dream sequence ala the original Halloween 2 as well. Hated the broadly satirical way Loomis' character was expanded. Weird Al?!

forestofthedead said...

The whole craziness of the movie worked for me, to the point where I love this insane film.
That said it's a love it or hate film for a lot of people, and I look forward to 3 which sounds like it'll be a lot more normal Halloween.

Midnight Fright said...

I was enjoying this post for it's cheekiness from sentence one...I fell in love, however, when a none-too-subtle reference to "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" was thrown my way.

Stacie's post...perhaps we should get drinks some time and discuss our love of Rex Harrison movies turned television spin-offs...and get to know each other a little better.

James Gracey said...

Yay! Cake and hookers! I really enjoyed reading your review of this. While it is NOT a great film - there is still certainly a lot to enjoy. Zombie has the ability to deliver atmosphere and tacky metaphors with pretty lighting and white horses in them *swoon*, now if he could just work on story, plot and tension... :o)

Anonymous said...

Re: The Ending,

If you wanna believe the internet (and hey, who doesn't?), that's like, Laurie's afterlife or some such nonsense. She's dead and getting visited by horses (when if you take out all the insanity, sounds kinda neat... in a 12 year old girl sorta way).

I dunno. Doesn't make sense to me either.

SikeChick said...

I didn't get the impression that it was the rape that prompted Michael to snap in the first film. It was the taunting by the two orderlies and them touching his masks that made him snap. Yes, he spared the girl, but he killed Danny Trejo who was nice to him so we don't really know who gets a pass from this psycho Michael.

And the characters in H2 are so completely different from the way they were in the first film, I wouldn't put it past Zombie to decide to turn Michael from mere serial killer to rapist/murderer. (This is the person who rationalized on his commentary in the first film that he felt the rape scene was important because he'd heard stories of those kinds of abuses happening in mental hospitals.) I mean, his mother wasn't urging him to kill in the first film either (neither before or after she died) and yet, we are given the impression that's his whole motivation here.

But I can't confirm that she was indeed raped to death. Several other folks I know got that impression too, but lots of others have said they didn't get that. Maybe it's something he discusses in his commentary. I will never know because mine eyes have seen this one time too many already.

Missy Y. (formerly A Case of You) said...

People need to start being much more careful where and why they are inserting the rape narrative.

It's like they don't realize they are entering a dialogue when they do this. And if you have nothing productive to say on the matter, then I kind of think you should just shut the fuck up.

As much as I loathe Last House on the Left, the rapes in it were not arbitrary (as they clearly are in RZ films). Craven was trying to achieve something (and failing miserably in my opinion).

Also, one needs to consider what it means thematically to eliminate the rape victim with murder; thus, rendering her yet another invisible rape victim. This is dangerous territory, and it suggests along with all those 18th century English novels that women are too shamed to look upon once a rape has occurred. I could go on about (in fact, I have in articles), but I will shut up for the sake of your dear readers.

Jordan in Texas said...

This movie is such a clusterfuck of bad and just off the wall choices that you can't help but watch.

goblin said...

"I didn't even say I didn't hate it. It's just that I anticipated a Hallocaust of epic proportions and when all was said and done, I've seen much worse. I've seen much worse recently, in fact (hey The Unborn, you can still go fuck yourself)."

Oh, Stacie. You are a delight.

That being said, the cinematic crapfest called 'House of 1000 Corpses' did anything but convince me that there's actually a capable director trapped somwhere inside Rob Zombie, so I feel no need whatsoever to see his version of 'Halloween' or its sequel. I love the original and I'm kind of scared that, when I do watch Zombie's remake, it'll be such a terrible experience that it'll ruin John Carpenter's movie for me, too.

Stacie Ponder said...

Disregarding H2 because we're not SURE about the rape...I should actually sit my ass down and write something about rape in horror movies.

It's so rarely done "well" (if you want to use that word) and all too often it's just tossed in there, treated too lightly, as if it's the equivalent of a punch in the face. No matter how it's depicted, though, it always raises questions for me, like how much do you actually need to see? Is it better or worse for it to be explicit?

There's a lot to talk about, but yeah, this probably isn't the best place to do it.

Pretty horses!

kindertrauma said...

I watched The Ghost and Mrs Muir twice this winter, I love that movie like nobody's business.

I also love the H2! I know the horsey is a bit much but I have fondness for things that are borderline embarrassing. I can't defend the ambulance drivers, that scene is dumb but the rest of the movie really works for me. I love the schlocky look of the film too, it reminds me of an old Continental video. As you mentioned Annie's death is pretty powerful stuff and when Sheriff Bracket later flashes to the old footage of Annie with a puppy?...sob!. That alone is quite a feat for a slasher sequel. Zombie may not be the best writer in the world but I enjoy that he isn't afraid to go to ugly places with the psychology of his characters. Laurie and Annie's relationship in this is just fascinating to me and I'm not sure any other director would have brought it to the table like that. I'm glad Zombie directed this rather than someone else because I like that he works against the grain of the standard slasher. Even if parts don't work it's interesting to me to see someone at least trying expand upon what a slasher movie can be.

Oh and I kind of dig Loomis and his agent's banter scenes because they remind me of Janet Leigh and Nancy Loomis in "The Fog"!

Also I think the "have fun" line is meant to be ambiguous and to force the audience to use their imagination. Zombie went pretty far out of his way to protect Annie's dignity and to make it impossible for anyone to take her death lightly or be thrilled by it. To me, I think you're just supposed to flash on the that idea for a second, realize that it's too horrible to imagine and then just dismiss it. That's what I did anyway. There's nothing from Mike's history (which everyone complains about knowing too much of now) to suggest he's interested in rape.

Anyway, stellar review! I know you're not the biggest RZ fan so I'm glad you enjoyed it as much as you did. (even if that was not much!)-Unk

Stacie Ponder said...

Oooh, The Fog. You're right about that- and now I want to watch it.

Though it's pointless to fixate on what could have been, I really do wish Zombie had concentrated on Annie and Laurie rather than Michael- they're far more interesting, even with all the "backstory" for him thrown in. I don't think Zombie is equipped nearly well enough to tackle something like the pathology of a faceless murderer- he proved that in the first Halloween.

You're also right, Unk, about expanding the concept of a slasher- and he definitely gets points for trying.

I don't know, man...I can't just dismiss this movie- which is a shocking turn of events! Halloween II is miles better than the abysmal Friday the 13th remake, that's for sure. That pushed no boundaries, and failed at being even the simplest of slashers.

Heff said...

I think you probably didn't dislike it quite as terribly because you EXPECTED H2 to be bad.

Zombie's "Halloween" really stunk it up. I'm not bothering with H2.

"There's nothing like the ORIGINALS".

A Sound Mind said...

The brutality of the movie was good, but Zombie just tried to get too cerebral for his own good. He really needs to find a writing partner to help him work out his ideas. I think then he could produce great movies instead of mediocre at best movies.

As disjointed and convoluted as H2 is, it's still better than the steaming pile of fuckall known as Friday the 13th reboot.

Missy Y. (formerly A Case of You) said...

I'm still trying to find the film that really deals with the rape narrative well. Even when I saw The Virgin Spring (which is the source material for Last House), I thought the rape was a vehicle for the debate about spirituality that Bergman's film was really about. And something about that, I just can't abide.

In terms of what should/should not be shown, I have no idea! I mean, implying seems like chickenry, but actually showing it seems like sensationalism. So I guess I am the Percy Shelley of this conversation. And I am offering all these criticisms but no real solutions. In short, I suck.

You know, even watching Deadgirl made my stomach turn. She's a zombie, and the rape is STILL not sitting right with me.

Oh, oh, oh. Battlestar Galactica. The way they handled the rape of Natalie (it was the Natalie Number 6, right?) on the Pegasus and the potential rape of Sharon on the Galactica! That, I thought, was productive. I felt that it really fit the heart of the series and managed to enter the very political and emotional dialogue about sexual violence.

But here I am going on and on again.

I must learn to shut up.

Stacie Ponder said...

Totally agree on BSG. I have no interest in Deadgirl, to be honest.

I think Irreversible is the "best" example of a film that can show an entire rape, manage to make it suitably brutal, yet not eroticize it. That's a tough one to watch.

Missy Y. (formerly A Case of You) said...

Oh, dude, I could not stomach that movie. It could have been the asshole sitting next to me pounding popcorn while a woman was anally raped, though. I just couldn't take it. I got sick, and I had to leave the theater. And I think I will never watch it again. I think... I don't know, did Noe need to go that far to make that simple of a point: Time destroys all things. Yes, yes, okay. But why do you have to have that woman get so brutalized on film?

But I do see your point, and a great many people disagree with me on this matter.

Aw... now I just keep thinking about what a piece of shit House on the Edge of the Park is.

Jason Azzopardi said...

Honestly, more horrifying than anything in this truly dreadful picture (or anything, it seems, that Rob Zombie's stunted imagination seems capable of coming up with), was the absolute ignorance of two separate sets of parents walking out of the screening I attended, with their eight and ten year-olds in tow!

And, trust me, these weren't intellectuals hoping to explore and discuss the consequences of brutal violence with their children. It was stupid rearing stupid.

Marc P. said...

I somehow managed to bet a ticket to the premiere of this terrible movie. Here were my impressions from back then. (These are based on the theatrical cut).

* The first two minutes of the movie -- Mrs. Myers and young Michael -- should be proof enough that Zombie is not at all good with actors and not at all a good writer. This scene just sits there, dead, with both actors embarrassing themselves, before the title of the movie is even shown. And then the scene ends, I guess, because for no apparent reason the HALLOWEEN II title card pops up with a loud BANG (which is how every supposedly scary moment happens in this movie; it's utterly lacking in suspense). And Zombie thinks the audience is stupid, which is why he runs a definition of "White Horse" at the start of the film. (Side note: The guy who writes maybe the worst dialogue in cinema has a low opinion of his audience? Fuck. You.)

* The first 30 minutes of the movie is a dream? Really? Please, kill me.

* The audience knows Boo is Laurie. Michael knows Boo is Laurie. Laurie didn't know? Really? I've blocked most of the first movie from my memory, thank God, but...what?!

* Loomis's entire arc is really fucking stupid. His redemption at the end was incredibly forced and didn't belong in the movie. Loomis himself didn't belong in this movie. Seeing him at lectures and on talk shows was not interesting.

* Although they had almost nothing to do the whole movie, I really liked seeing the apparitions of Mrs. Myers and Young Michael. It at least was an ACTUAL IDEA. It's retarded in the context of this movie, but it's something I did not expect at all, which almost never happens in the oeuvre of Mr. Zombie. But what the apparitions wanted to accomplish in the end is anybody's guess, because the movie does not give us any ideas. Michael's journey in HALLOWEEN II is kinda like the way Patton Oswalt describes George Lucas describing a young Darth Vader: "He's just like this little kid and he gets taken away from his Mom and he's very sad." Also, the white horse, the ghostly visions, and especially the strobe-light nightmare of the climax in the shack are all images borrowed from TWIN PEAKS. I really liked all these elements in the movie and they felt weirdly original in the context of a slasher movie -- I love the way these scenes were shot, especially -- but they are clearly borrowed from David Lynch.

Marc P. said...


* The movie is three stories: 1) Laurie has a 30-minute dream, then is either emotionally wrecked by her past ordeal, or, randomly, ready to go out and party. In at least one case, she does this in the same scene. 2) Loomis is a douchebag, then he inexplicably becomes a good guy. Does he even say a word to Michael in the shack? His death accomplished nothing and the scenes of him being interviewed are the same exact note three times. 3) Zakk Wylde, I mean Hobo Myers walks around and randomly kills people he encounters. Over and over. We don't get to know them and we won't see them again. Hell of a story.

But I will say this: it's Rob Zombie's second best movie. It's fucking terrible, but way less terrible than H1 or HOUSE OF 2K CORPSES.

And I think it benefitted from the (rumored) barely-existent script. Because the story rockets forward from scene to scene, and the truly awful dialogue, like in the Sheriff/Annie/Laurie dinner scene where they discuss the origin of the phrase "Starvin' like Marvin" and who "Marvin" might have been -- like a fucking retarded 11 year-old Tarantino wannabe wrote this! -- is at least minimized. I think there's far less dialogue in this movie than in any of Zombie's other films, so that is definitely a good thing. The dialogue that's there, in general, seems like ad-libbed screams, curse words, etc., which all comes off more natural-sounding than what Zombie would have written (had he written an entire script).

But man, I wish Zombie would be banished to Director's Jail for all of time.

Jason Azzopardi said...

Hi, again, Stacie.

Just quickly wanted to mention some random thoughts about "Irreversible".

While I completely agree that it is important to show the entirety of the horror of rape (and it is absolutely horrifying to watch those opening scenes), I can't help but feel that Gaspar Noe is having his cake and eating it too by casting a supermodel in the role. An audience brings its own eroticism to Moninca Bellucci, and, therefore, feel more complicit or guilty in witnessing the crime because we not only recognize her, but have a previously attached eroticism to her image from her other films and magazines.

I just feel that's kind-of a cheap shot on his part. He's being deliberately provocative, and it sort-of takes you out of the movie. Your'e not saying, oh that poor woman, you're saying I can't believe that's Monica Bellucci. How did they do that?

As we all know, rape is one of the horriffic crimes imaginable, and it doesn't only happen to beautiful women (in the traditional sense). It happens because it is an act of power, not desire.

This is especially offputting when you consider how he so thoroughly sexualizes her in the rest of the film. I realize he's going for a juxtaposition there, but the film still leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth beyond showing the act of rape in graphic detail.

Honestly, he couldn't have cast a normal looking actress?

Couldn't agree more about BSG, though. Not only do they play down that version of Six's supermodel looks, but that scene and its aftermath really showed what a truly spectacular actress Tricia Helfer turned out to be.

Hope all is well.

Missy Y. (formerly A Case of You) said...

Well put, Jason!

I am totally in agreement with you.

Can we all just say again how wonderful BSG was and how not up to par Caprica is?

B-Movie Becky said...

Why did I have to scroll so far down to leave a comment? Haha, in other words, people have a lot to say about Zombie's mess.

I hated the film, but I agree that I felt bad when Annie died. Annie and her father were the only characters I liked in the movie. Everyone else just looks like different versions of Rob Zombie.

Oh and this "I've said it before and I'll say it again: I can't believe it's not butter" made me laugh really hard.

Kidsis said...

A Case of You AND Stacie,

Your concerns about rape are exactly why I made my feature THE COMMUNE. I'm a female filmmaker who has given up my own opportunity to marry and have children to make the world a better place for women through movies that portray women in empowering ways we've never seen. My effing nightmare would be to invest five years of my life in a film that accidentally portrayed through film language the exact opposite message of my screenplay (see A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, minus the "accidentally").

I've been working on this issue of how to portray rape non-pruriently for seventeen years. (Really. I have the equivalent of a UCLA undergrad minor in Porn researching under Professor Neil Malamuth, the pornography expert witness in Supreme Court cases.) I studied in undergrad and graduate film school exactly how you portray a rape onscreen so that it isn't eroticized. IRREVERSIBLE is, as is TOWELHEAD, and quite famously, THE ACCUSED. (Don't EVER get a feminst film scholar started on how effed up THE ACCUSED is. What. A. Nightmare.)

Feminist film scholars have studied the physical results of watching rape scenes to the point of hooking up men and women's genitals to probes to actually measure their exact level of vasocongestion (levels 1-4) while they are shown rape scenes.

Bottom line of the studies are you can NOT show the rapee's nudity or the rapist's thrusts because they are too associated with sex/pornography in our brains.

The only way to visually show the act of rape and have the voyeur maintain non-arousal and thus the ability to feel empathy for the rapee is to concentrate on showing the victim's face and the emotional aftermath. Period. IRREVERSIBLE would read off the vasocongestion charts for many people, and it's not their fault. It's the fault of filmmakers who haven't studied filmic language and the effects on their audience of camera placement, framing, lens choice, etc. (Kubrick was a master filmmaker and noted misogynist. He DID know what he was doing to the males in his audience and did it on purpose. That's why A CLOCKWORK ORANGE author Burgess was so upset with the movie adaptation and Kubrick's exclusion of chapter 21, again nullifying the Burgess's thesis and instead creating a movie that visually opines the opposite: that violence and rape are cool counterculture acts of rebellion for young men. See hipster douchebags dressed up at Halloween in ACO costumes.) And too many idiots like Rob Zombie who picked up a camcorder and could give a shit about what effect casually and inexpertly tossing a rape scene into the discourse does to his audience.

Kidsis said...

The fictional feature movies reenacting rape that I'd feel confidence in beating the vasocongestion measurers with non-prurient results are ROSEMARY'S BABY and my movie THE COMMUNE. Shall we hook people up to those probes to prove it? That would be a PR event...Volunteers? Anyone??

Unfortunately my first movie is a downer about the sexual victimization of women by religion, and concentrates on a very realistic portrayal of a classic borderline personality narcissist like the cult leader from The Yearning for Zion Ranch, and the incestual father/grandfather from Austria's House of Horrors.

But my next movie PISTOLERAS is an empowering-by-design story about four teen girls who have to learn real defense techniques during the course of the movie to battle their sex slave kidnappers - they win, and the audience members will have been taught the most effective self-defense moves ever created. I take these movies and their impact on society very seriously. Pistoleras has won its category in two big screenwriting contests because I've tested the hell out of it and written 19 drafts. And I'm not done. I'm sure there's still more ways to make it more empowering and more personal bias and filmic errors to be caught before I shoot it.

So long story shorter than Halloween 2, yes, someone out there is taking your concerns seriously and is/has done something about it. Stacie, if you crack open your personal copy of THE COMMUNE you might be pleasantly surprised. :) There is definitely a reason we were on the front page of The Huffington Post's entertainment section for two weeks. I wish more filmmakers were more aware and dedicated to the what and why of their films, but since I can't change that all I can do is keep making my work as calculated, on message, and responsible as I'm capable of and hoping those who want these changes in our media for the sake of making the lives better of women AND the men love them will eventually support and join me. And the world can live as one. Under my sherrifing.

Miss America speech over. I choose cake. No death. No hookers.

Kidsis said...

You know, I think my graduate thesis on the feminist influence of Catwoman on 20th century media was actually shorter than my above hijacking your blog. Apologies, Stacie.

Missy Y. (formerly A Case of You) said...

Kid Sis...
This is really interesting data.

For me, the problem has been what happens AFTER the rape scene. A lot of horror, of course, makes them into rape revenge flicks, which is fine, I suppose, but the real problem for me comes in when the filmmaker decides to off the rape victim. This is something I went nuts over when I was studying 18th century English novels as an undergrad. I feel that doing so really limits the amount of power the film could have in terms of entering the dialogue. You dig? I mean, you can't include a rape without realizing that there is this ongoing discussion about the act and its representations, right?

Or... I guess you can, as so many have proven. But those people suck, and we don't love them very much.

Also, I would be really interested to see your film -- perhaps even review it for my column at FusedFilm. Don't know if you'd be interested in that....

Sorry to pimp myself on your blog, Stacie. You do bring people together.

Anonymous said...

Kid Sis, A Case of You and, of course, the amazing Stacie Ponder,

ROSEMARY'S BABY is my absolute favourite movie. I have watched the film somewhere around 30 or 40 times in my life, and I wholeheartedly agree that an audience member can't attach any prurience to the rape scene. I would argue, however, that the very subtle comedic tone present throughout that entire film, is ALSO present during the rape. And yet it is NOT arousing. And it IS horrifying. I don't know how Polasnki manages that balance, to be honest, but he does.

I've just seen and quite enjoyed his GHOST WRITER, by the way, and I'm absolutely convinced the man pretty much makes comedies. Except for THE PIANIST, of course.

You might also want to include the imagined and attempted rape scenes in REPULSION. They are as horrifying, and as unstimulating as ROSEMARY'S BABY's.

Odd that both portrayals of this horrific act come from, quite honestly, a rapist. Without question, one of the masters cinematic affect, and, aside from Jonathan Demme, probably my favorite filmmaker, but a rapist nonetheless.

Stacie, I, too, apologize for any highjacking of your blog's comments section. Not sure how Rob Zombie inspired this conversation about rape and now Polanski, but that's the beauty of the internet! We just keep on a yakkin'!

Take care.

- Jay

Unknown said...

I think my least favorite part of this movie was the Dr. Loomis rewrite. His character essentially did nothing in this film, served no real purpose, and was always an annoyance on the screen. I found myself dreading his appearances.

It's also interesting that I can generally enjoy the presence of Tarantino characters, even those like Buck and Zed, Zombie's characters are a bit much for me. Both directors have an undeniable touch, and perhaps lack of restraint, when it comes to these idiosyncratic little personalities they insert into their movies, but something about the way Tarantino writes his little excesses is charming, while something about the way Zombie works his black magic is obnoxious. Hopefully this just isn't a case of me being a dick - but that's really fucking possible.

As for Irreversible, I've never been so thoroughly disgusted by a movie and I'm skeptical that I ever will be. The casual homophobia. The wretched gay stereotypes. The, frankly, overlong rape scene (yes, I passed beyond uncomfortable and into the realm of horrified oh, say, 10 minutes ago. Can we stop now?). The gimmicky camera work that I still believe did nothing to inform the audience of the movie's intent at all, and only served to make the first half of the film virtually unwatchable. The gimmicky backwards structure of it, which presented the most watchable portions of the movie at the very end. It all added up to the least comfortable movie I've ever seen.

I recently watched Antichrist (it's on Netflix streaming now, if you can believe it!) and was surprised by just how tame I thought it was given its reputation. Here was a movie that was certainly provocative, and certainly difficult to watch at times, but I think perhaps that Irreversible has forever spoiled the sensational for me, or maybe, possibly, the quality of the ideas behind Antichrist, or at least the implied mythology of it, elevated it to the realm of Hey I Can Enjoy Thinking About This Movie as Well as Watching It, while Irreversible did nothing more than subject my psyche to an hour and a half of abuse. I also found the idea that it was a misogynist film to be incomprehensible. It didn't even cross my mind while I was watching it. Maybe someone around here disagrees and can explain that position to me. Neither my wife, nor I, saw it.

For me, Irreversible has come closer to meeting the goal stated by Haneke when interviewed about Funny Games than that film, or anything else. Should I be concerned that even as much as I felt violated by Irreversible, even then I didn't walk out? I did close my eyes and ears about 5 minutes into the rape scene, and asked my wife to tell me when it was over. Didn't walk out, though. Perhaps there's no hope for me.

Missy Y. (formerly A Case of You) said...


As regards Antichrist, I saw this film when it opened at the New York Film Festival, and I have been, for years, a fan of Lars von Trier (though, lawd knows why). I think people tend to immediately say that his work is misogynistic because he is so clearly a misogynist and he so clearly has NO fucking CLUE what male/female relationships are really like (or can be like when they aren't corrupted by his "vision").

However, there is something to be said for the notion of He taking She out of the hospital and treating her himself. This is undeniably a terrible choice for any clinician to make and even more undeniably arrogant. I can see where someone might wage that war against He. However, I interpreted the ending (that epilogue) to suggest that the "souls" of women past were coming back for vengeance in a way.

Also, there is something to be said for the research She was doing for her graduate studies and how in working with him she slowly begins to invalidate that research.

Also, I think the film does smack of a little bit of "women=nature/man=reason", which is, in my opinion, a rather sexist point of view.

But I also think that von Trier was limited in his successes with this film. I am not sure it says what HE was trying to say. You dig?

I wrote about this movie for my column. I am pasting in the link if you are interested.

Also, yes, I found it rather tame. People tend to get all up in arms about genital violence in film, which I suppose is not without reason, but having seen Bergman's Cries & Whispers and Haneke's The Piano Teacher, I was awfully hard to shock in that regard.

In other news: I, too, find Irreversible unwatchably offensive.

Kidsis said...

Totally agree about Irreversible. Haven't seen Antichrist yet. Jay, my first shot in The Commune is from Repulsion! And I love that you're distinguishing "yes he's a rapist and I don't like that, but Polanski's still a great filmmaker who has valid points about rape in his movies." So complicated and true!

A Case of You, would love to hear what you think of The Commune! Its streaming at Indieflix:

Meg said...

I usually hate the "and then I woke up" crap in movies, but I was so GLAD when the straight H2 remake part turned out to be a "psych!" moment from Zombie. I was thinking about walking out when it looked like he was just going to do the same thing that had already been done, only worse. I ended up staying when he changed it up, and didn't hate the movie at all myself. (Which is not the same thing as liking it, but I've been surprised by the vitriol over this one -- definitely seen much, much worse!)

As for extremely graphic rape scenes in movies, just FYI, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" has at least two. Heads up.

Creature said...

Damn, I definitely came to the party late.

The topic of sexual violence in horror films is one that fascinates me and I have been surprised that more bloggers haven't commented more on Annie's death. She is the most likeable character and Myers' assault felt to me like it definitely has a sexual component. I kinda hated that scene. I thought it was out of character for Myers and I can't help but feel, especially because rape-revenge movies are such a part of the 70s grindhouse thing that Zombie draws so much from, that he included the rape for some sort of shock value.

I dunno. Still chewing it over. I rewatch the original Halloween remake from time to time, like prodding at a loose tooth, but I don't know if I'll come back to H2.

Anonymous said...

So...after watching this today? What a f**king crap movie. It was terrible.

Really? You end it with a cover of Love Hurts, Rob? Really? The various cameos were okay...but this was, to put it is Zombie vernacular:
Fucking what shitty type fucking terrible fucking shit type of fucking shit is this?!

Seriously... I picture the script as a series of fucks and shits and then they tried to figure out what words they could insert between them.

Anonymous said...

What about the horrifying rape scene at the beginning of the lost 80's slasher, "Humongous"? Which by the way looks SMASHING on the recent DVD transfer.....

Nick said...

The problem with Halloween II is the same problem with all of Zombie's films. Zombie seems to think he's "grindhouse" and he isn't. He fills his movies with crappy one-dimensional jerks because he thinks it's grindhouse. It's not. Tarantino and Rodriguez did far better with "Death Proof" and "Planet Terror," and it still bombed.

The other problem is, Zombie seems to have a huge fetish for making the bad guy good and the good guy bad. He desperately tried to make William Forsythe's sheriff in "The Devil's Rejects" a villain, and IMO, failed miserably.

The problem is due to the writing. The Firefly family are all despicable. Therefore, there's nothing bad he can have the good guy character do that comes even remotely close to the vile actions of his villains. Thus, his attempts are failures. I rooted for Forsythe for the entire film. I mean look at a film like "Die Hard." Rickman's Hans Gruber is a bad man who does bad things, but there are redeeming qualities to him. When the music swells as the safe finally opens, you're actually in the celebration with them. And Rickman's natural charisma comes through, which adds to his likability. I like Bill Mosely, but he's no Alan Rickman.

"Halloween," I'll admit, I thought was decent. I loved Douriff, I mean, the guy us just better as Sheriff Brackett. I was actually really excited when Malcolm McDowell was announced as Loomis. No one will ever match Donald Pleasence's iconic portrayal, but of the actors he COULD have cast, I thought McDowell was a great choice. I don't remember Taylor-Compton's role that much, but I don't remember disliking her, and much like McDowell, she had big shoes to fill. Even early in her career, Jamie Lee Curtis is a powerful actress.

The sequel is Zombie unhindered by the leash of Carpenter. And in true Zombie fashion, he has to take the two most iconic characters in the series and completely defile them to create his "vision," I sympathized with Laurie's plight, but I couldn't stand her. There were far more ways to demonstrate Laurie's shattered psyche than what he chose to do.

Naturally, the majority of the townspeople have to be dimwit trash, because that seems to be all he knows how to write. The characters in Carpenter's film weren't fantastic, but they had redeeming qualities and you cared a little when they were slaughtered.

The most unforgivable action was the butchering of Loomis. You could argue that thanks to Pleasence's longevity, Loomis became even more of an iconic character than Laurie. He's the focal point of a majority of the early sequels. His character literally became the Van Helsing to Michael's Dracula.

So for Zombie to take a character that iconic and turn him into a secondary antagonist, I felt, was the worst decision in the world. You could have eliminated 90 percent of Loomis' story and it would not have affected the film. The complete character shift seemed to serve no purpose other than to appease Zombie's fetish of "Bad guy good guy no different." Pretty hard to paint your bad guy in a positive light when he spends the entire film butchering everyone he meets.

Loomis' final moment atonement rung completely false. When a director can turn a character I loved in multiple films into a character I was glad to see killed off, he's done something very wrong.