Re-Visiting Rob Zombie's "Halloween II"

If there’s one thing “Halloween: The Complete Collection” has done for fans, its let them conveniently re-live their favorite movie in the franchise at any given moment in the comfort of their own home. October is one of my favorite times of year because of a certain horror-themed holiday which gives me even more reason to go through the “Halloween” series as furiously as possible. I recently took in Rob Zombie’s “Halloween II” after only seeing it once when it was released in 2009.

Zombie’s 2007 remake / reboot / origin story of John Carpenter’s classic tale took the first half of the film to give us exhaustive information on Michael Myers’ past and his reasons for becoming the cold-blooded killer he turned into. The second part was a rather faithful re-tooling of the original 1978 classic.

His “Halloween II” does the exact same thing as the remake. It loosely takes the storyline from Rick Rosenthal’s 1981 follow-up to Carpenter’s masterpiece and runs with it for the first 30 or so minutes before heading in a completely different direction. In a nut shell, Michael Myers is viciously making his way back to Haddonfield to finish the business he started in the first chapter. This time he’s being led by the specter of his dead mother riding a white horse while leading around a vision of his childhood self. It seems Judith Myers wants Michael to bring his sister Laurie “home.”

Tyler Mane portrays Michael Myers as a coherent demonic force with an unquenchable fury. When he wants someone dead, he sees the job through grunting and viciously thrusting his weapon to the bitter end. Carpenter’s Myers was more calm and passive in his approach. Although cut from the same cloth, these are two very different versions of the same character.

Where the original 1978 film and even its sequel were studies in gore minimalism, Rob Zombie’s “Halloween II” revels in its onscreen gruesomeness. From the graphic opening scenes of Laurie Strode being put back together on the operating table to each and every kill performed by Michael Myers, it’s an exercise in excess blood and guts. Just what audiences crave in their horror films now.

Taking in “Halloween II” for a second time has revealed it’s not quite as cerebral as I originally thought on first viewing. Don’t misunderstand me. There’s way more thought put into the script here than a slasher film really demands, but at its core it’s still just a modern update of a good old-fashioned stalking killer flick. I still think there are points in the film where it’s insinuated someone else besides Michael is doing the butchering.

“Halloween: The Complete Collection” features the unrated Director’s Cut of Rob Zombie’s “Halloween II.” It’s 14 minutes longer than the version seen by audiences in the theater. The extended edition is made up of 94 altered scenes including 42 examples of alternative footage and 14 re-cuts. What’s strange is there’s no extra violence or sexual situations among any of the unused and amended material.

While still a worthy entry into the “Halloween” franchise, Rob Zombie’s sequel isn’t quite as fulfilling on a second watch. I remembered it being a whole lot smarter than it really is. It does deserve props for trying to take the slasher genre in a heavier psychological and abstract route. However, at the end of the day, it’s still just another entertaining episode in the legend of Michael Myers.

Rob Zombie's "Halloween II: Unrated Director's Cut" is available now on the "Halloween: The Complete Collection" Deluxe and Standard Edition box sets.

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