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Feeling (Rob) Zombie-fied
by T.J. Tranchell

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Thanks to Rob Zombie, HALLOWEEN comes early again.

Thanks to Rob Zombie, HALLOWEEN comes early again.
Halloween will come early again this year, thanks to rocker/director Rob Zombie. His sequel to his 2007 remake of HALLOWEEN comes out later this month. Instead of getting into the pros and cons of remakes (again), I'm just going to talk about Zombie.

One could spend a lot of time discussing the imperfections of Zombie's work as a director. One could say he spent too much time explaining Michael Myers, that he ruined the notion of evil without cause or justification. OK, I can buy that. The difference is that Zombie chose to make his own movie. He did his job, as opposed to just recasting and reshooting the film, like Gus Van Sant did with PSYCHO.

Getting into childhood trauma may not have been the boldest move Zombie made, but it works for me for a couple reasons and both are performance-related.

As the ten-year-old Michael, Daeg Faerch is complex and frightening. He hates everyone except his mom and his little sister. He isn't the totally silent, heartless
Sheri Moon-Zombie, Daeg Fraech made the first half of HALLOWEEN worth it.

Sheri Moon-Zombie, Daeg Fraech made the first half of HALLOWEEN worth it.
killer that the adult Myers is. He is still a sad and confused boy and it's easy to see how the isolation of institutionalization contributes to his further receding from the rest of the world.

Sheri Moon-Zombie gives the other performance that makes the first half of the film worth watching. She plays the role of conflicted mother to perfection. She's angry at Michael for killing the rest of the family (sans little sister), but is still mommy, wanting to comfort and support her troubled child. She should be playing more serious roles in serious films, but will probably never get the chance to prove it.

The rest of the movie plays out more like John Carpenter's original. Tyler Mane is a big, scary dude, and the teen scream princesses are adequate in their roles. Some of them even get to return for the sequel, which Zombie said he wouldn't be making upon the first film's release.

This isn't Zombie's first sequel, of course. His first two films HOUSE OF 1000
These three hoodlums look like they just woke up from a bad dream.

These three hoodlums look like they just woke up from a bad dream.
CORPSES and THE DEVIL'S REJECTS make an interesting pair. I've said it a million times, but it bears repeating: HOUSE is a nightmare fantasy and REJECTS is what happens when those people wake up. HOUSE even has the look of a dream compared to the gritty reality of REJECTS. This theory also makes it easier to reconcile the inconsistencies, such as recasting and relocating, from one film to the next.

Zombie's growth as a screenwriter and director is easy to see. When watching HOUSE, you can see how new he was at the process, yet comfortable with the ideas. He knew what he had and thought he knew what he wanted to do but didn't have the muscle to fight a Hollywood studio like Universal. When it came time to make REJECTS with Lionsgate, Zombie got to make the film how he wanted to and had learned from his experience making HOUSE.

Zombie has an advantage over many other modern horror film directors in that he has surrounded himself with good influences. He made one of
It's not about dinosaurs and not coming out this year.

It's not about dinosaurs and not coming out this year.
the fake trailers in GRINDHOUSE for Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. Like Tarantino, Zombie has an extensive knowledge of genre film history and is almost as good at finding the right music for the right moment. If one didn't know better, THE DEVIL'S REJECTS could have been a Tarantino film. Zombie also has a flair for resuscitating stalled careers by casting icons like Bill Moseley Sid Haig, Ken Foree and Tom Towles.

Between sequels and remakes, it might start to seem like Zombie doesn't have an original idea to his name. Thankfully, that's not true. The animated film THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO will finally be released in late September and TYRANNOSAURUS REX is in pre-production.

Zombie has always had a flair for the theatrical, having been influenced by Alice Cooper and Kiss. His visual style has transferred well to the screen, and it will be exciting to see what else he can do. I think some time off just to write will be good for him and for horror fans.

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Other Columns
Other columns by T.J. Tranchell:

Hit the road, Jack

Camcorder Carnage

The scariest movie of all time

Universal's forgotten fiend

Home is where the horror is

All Columns

T.J. Tranchell
Born on Halloween and raised in a single screen theater managed by his grandpa, T.J. now spends more time than should be healthy staying up past midnight reading Stephen King and watching Friday the 13th movies. Part 3 is the best one.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to T.J. Tranchell by clicking here.

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