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Chalkin' up the Body Count: Rob Zombie sinks horror to new depths 

Halloween 2 is so seriously and extremely brutal that it takes violence for violence's sake to a whole new disturbing level. Director Rob Zombie's track

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Halloween 2 is so seriously and extremely brutal that it takes violence for violence's sake to a whole new disturbing level. Director Rob Zombie's track record started with homage/tribute to slasher/horror movies of the late '70s and early '80s, making House of 100 Corpses and The Devils Rejects and both have their moments of pure genius. With these two under his belt he ventured out into remake land. His Halloween was fairly reverent to the original with added Zombie-isms and more hyperkinetic violence. Now, as he finds his "voice," it's becoming more incomprehensible to fathom his vision. Pushing psychedelic visuals aside, he abandons creativity for one big grisly CACHUNK after another.

The simplistic plot is chock full of blood-drenched dream sequences, knights-on- white-horse analogies, heavenly metaphors and bizarre cultish absurdity. Everyone who wasn't slaughtered in the first movie returns, including Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) and Sheriff Lee Bracket (Brad Dourif). Laurie is plagued by dreams and the memory of serial-killer-mental-patient-escapee Michael Myers, her anxiety gaining momentum as Halloween draws near. Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) returns to the scene of the crime all puffed up and belligerent, touting his new Myers biography entitled, The Devil Walks Among Us. The book stirs up bad feelings in the town and brings to light the fact that Laurie is Myers' sister, which skyrockets her freak out to new levels. Meanwhile, Myers has escaped death and meanders home to Haddonfield in a pilgrimage of murder.

The amped-up violence is relentless. All we get are brutal killings, and the giant Michael Myers thrusting his knife deep into victims. This flick is the equivalent of watching cows led to slaughter - you know what's coming, and you know it will be gruesome, over and over again. The guy in the mask is a killing machine. We get it.

In his better moments Zombie leans toward the sleazier, white-trashy side in his directing, but like Quentin Tarantino, incorporates pop culture, obscure movie references, snappy dialogue, handpicked music, ultra-violence and a sense of humor. Here, the sense of humor is almost non-existent and the hip references ting hollow. The instances in which realism is undermined for the sake of cool run the gamut: for instance, Laurie, flipped out by a serial killer, has a cult shrine poster of Charles Manson on her wall.

Sherri Moon Zombie's performance as Myers' mom in H-1 was a step above her usual psycho-bitch-slut role, but here we're force fed a dreamy angelic version of her bathed in white. Dourif resembling a hippie in a sheriff's outfit (not a Halloween costume), should get the most-underrated-actor-of-the-year award. He gives his all no matter what piece of crap he's in. There are countless appearances by cool character actors that are sadly short lived. But the hyper-obnoxious scream/weep/screech antics of Taylor-Compton prove so annoying that you lose any sympathy for her character. Finger nails on a blackboard never seemed more inviting. And I don't think Malcom McDowell is acting anymore. Every time I see him, he's playing such an overstuffed pompous bastard that I can only assume he's being himself for the camera.

Clearly, the best attempt at homage is that this movie was shot on 16mm allowing it to truly resemble an old drive-in horror movie through its weird film saturation and lighting. Otherwise, H-2 is just a loud belligerent mess. I'd like to think Zombie's still visionary, but this crude compilation of blood, guts and gory violence feels like he's saying he doesn't want to do this anymore. Whether this is Rob Zombie's weird stab at defining the horror genre, his swan song or he's breaking up with us is yet to be determined.

Halloween 2 ★★✩✩✩
Starring Brad Dourif, Malcolm McDowell, Sherri Moon Zombie, Scout Taylor-Compton, Mark Boone, Jr.
Directed by Rob Zombie
Rated R


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