I knew eventually that I would have to address the elephant in the room, so why not just go ahead and do it now before we get in too deep? Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake is one of my favorite horror remakes when pitted up against the comparable Platinum Dunes efforts. Sure, Rob Zombie adds a little too much of his trashy filmmaking niches to the Myers mix, but he does something that almost all horror remake directors fail to do; he adds his own take on the character. You can’t deny that Halloween is very much a Zombie film and for most that’s why it didn’t work.
I’ll side with everyone that says Carpenter’s original is still the clear winner of the two and I’ll even side with those that say the lack of back story actually makes the Myers character more creepy, because he suddenly snaps for no reason, but I give Zombie major props for at least trying something different with the character, even if it relates a little too closely to his previous works.
Zombie’s Halloween pays homage to the original throughout the film, with its blatant score and several shot-for-shot scenes, but it also adds a new take on the Myers character in the form of a back story, and even though the back story is kind of weak and less frightening, it still is something new to this particular series.
Halloween II is how not to make a successful horror remake sequel, because Zombie throws almost all Myers mythology out the window and instead makes his own weird two hour music video that sometimes features a bearded Myers, but mostly features Zombie’s wife and frequent star Sheri Moon Zombie. In this one Zombie gave up all of his good grace earned in the remake for a blood-soaked hillbilly trash piece that simply uses the Halloween name to make a horror film without a pulse.
Cruising along we have Samuel Bayer’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. This was probably always going to be the trickiest remake to tackle, because Robert Englund’s take on Freddy will always remain something that you just can’t top, but Jackie Earle Haley actually does a good job with the character and mostly adds his own take on the iconic dream-slayer.
It is not Haley’s performance or even Rooney Mara‘s portrayal of Nancy that holds this remake down, but it is instead production company Platinum Dunes and their inability to hire experienced directors. This time they went with music video director Samuel Bayer, who in his defense gives the film a nice dream-like feeling, but his lack of experience shows as the film’s script more than borrows from all of the previous Nightmare films, while even stealing complete parts of the ending from Freddy vs. Jason. Again, we run into the problem of lifting directly from the source material instead of paying tribute, while adding new ideas and concepts.
The only good thing to come out of this remake was Jackie Earle Haley‘s attempt to make the character much darker and scarier again, because the later sequels certainly made Freddy more of a joking prankster than someone you feared to go to sleep over.
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