When it was announced that Rob Zombie was going to remake “Halloween,” the fandom reaction was mixed, to say the least. The still-not-quite-dead horror remake trend had been going on long enough that fans were sick of it. “Halloween,” for many, is an untouchable classic. Even after the general positive response to “The Devil’s Rejects,” Rob Zombie is a divisive talent. How would someone remake “Halloween?” More importantly, how would Rob Zombie remake “Halloween?”
By turning it into a Rob Zombie movie. 2007’s “Halloween” is as much prequel and reinterpretation as it is a remake. Zombie loves his monsters. “The Devil’s Rejects” followed its monsters and, similarly, Zombie’s “Halloween” follows its monster. The movie focuses on Michael Myers. The previously squeaky clean Myers household is given the Rob Zombie make-over. Little Michael is an ugly, trollish looking kid. His mother is a stripper. His sister Judith wears shorts-shorts and has anonymous sex with a guy she’s just met. Most obnoxiously, Michael gains a vulgar, abusive, grotesque step father. Everyone swears and makes crude sexual references. If the baby could talk, she would probably swear too. Little Mikey lives in a house but his family would fit in better in a trailer park.
Zombie reinterprets most everything about the original. Dr. Loomis isn’t a dark knower of evil, a defender of innocents from an inhuman monster. Malcolm McDowell’s Dr. Loomis is a real psychologist. He isn’t terrified of Myers. Instead, he feels sympathy for him. His guilt over failing to heal Michael drives his entire character. Loomis has made millions from a best-selling book he’s written about Myers, something other characters are willing to chastise him for. In the theatrical version, Loomis gives the “Blackest Eyes” speech. However, it’s completely wrong coming out of this Loomis’ mouth. Carpenter worked in archetypes. Zombie delves into his character’s psyches.
Zombie ultimately made Myers too human. It’s hard to imagine a teenage boy decimating his family the way lil’ Michael does in this. A major story turn involves Michael killing the one person who was kind to him in the hospital. This is supposes to show that the kid is too far gone. It doesn’t work and instead seems out-of-character. Daeg Faerch growing into 6’ 9” Tyler Mane seems unbelievable. Despite being very human, Michael maintains his super-strength from the later sequels. He smashes bathroom stalls, explodes through doors and walls, and crushes a man’s skull with his bare hands. Myers adsorbs bullets with ease like no human could.
Zombie loads his cast with cult actors new and old. Malcolm McDowell actually gives a thoughtful performance as Dr. Loomis, making the character his own. Danny Trejo shows his softer side in his small supporting role, a highlight of the film. Dee Wallace excels at mother roles, given her natural warmness. However, more often then not, the stunt casting is distracting. William Forsythe, Lew Temple, Ken Foree, Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, and Leslie Easterbrook go way over the top in their small roles. Brad Doriff, Richard Lynch, Udo Kier, Clint Howard, and Sybal Danning, all actors I love, are mostly in the movie so you can point at them and say, “Hey, I recognize that person!” The young talent isn’t much better. Danielle Harris and Kristina Klebe can’t make Zombie’s unseemly dialogue workable. Only Scout Taylor-Compton wins the audience over. Her Laurie has a lovable back-and-forth with her family and the young kids. Taylor-Compton actually works far better as a normal teenager, as her scream queen routine is mostly unconvincing. She’s cute as a button too, which helps.
Slugs: The Movie (1988)
Some horror movies have goofy premises. Killer trees, killer worms, a killer bed. No list of absurd horror premises is complete without “Slugs: The Movie.” Slugs, as a species, are known for being slow and easily killed with salt. They do not inspire terror, unless you’re a cabbage. Building an entire horror movie around slugs seems ill-conceived. It is and yet, not only is “Slugs: The Novel” a real thing, so is “Slugs: The Movie.” (As opposed to “Slugs: The Collectable Dinner Ware?”)
There’s not much to the story of “Slugs: The Movie.” A small town in the rural United States is threatened by a plague of flesh-eating slugs. The slugs were mutated from normal garden pest into man-eating killers by toxic waste. Our heroes are Mike Brady, a health official, and Don, a sewer inspector. The script gleefully indulges in cliché. Despite the dead bodies piling up at their feet, the town politicians refuse to acknowledge the threat, laughing killer slugs of as silly. Go figure. This impedes the heroes, forcing them to do things by themselves. The focus is more on the town then the people. Slowly, very slowly, the slugs claim clumsy, dimwitted victims. Will the heroes stop the threat in time? Or is the town doomed to be destroyed by slimy, slow gastropods?
The movie is almost knowingly ridiculous. How would anyone fall victim to a slug? In several different, contrived ways. While a teenage couple has rowdy sex, the slugs unknowingly fill the bedroom. Just one step on the floor and both teens are claimed. (I feel so sorry for the actress who had to crawl around in the nude, covered in fake blood and fake slugs.) A man lays down on a couch without noticing the slug infestation on it. A woman, chased by a masked rapist, leaps into a hole in the ground, unaware of the slugs filling. No scene is more ridiculous then when a single slug explodes a house. Yes, you read that right. While in his green house, an old man is bitten by a slug. Instead of just pulling the critter off, he writhes around in agony. In his blind panic, he crushes a table and pulls down a shelf. Jars of flammable chemicals are smashed, gas filling the air. The singular slug drives the man so nuts he thinks chopping off his hand is a good idea. His clueless wife in the room over lights a cigarette, igniting the gas, and exploding the house in a massive fireball. It is hilarious. Words don’t do the scene justice.
Bad movie lovers should walk, not slowly crawl in their own mucus, to watch “Slugs: The Movie.” It is totally ridiculous but never boring. The nudity is frequently and bouncy, the sleaze is honest and up-front. The score, performed by the Philharmonic Orchestra (seriously!), is dramatically overwrought. In our era of pre-fab B-flick laughers like “Sharknado,” “Slugs” is here to remind us of what a hilarious, B-flick can truly be. [7/10]