Home > Reviews > HALLOWEEN – Tyler Bates

HALLOWEEN – Tyler Bates

Original Review by Clark Douglas

And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. – Samuel L. Jackson, “Pulp Fiction”

Oh, how I loathed this movie. “Halloween” is one of the worst remakes you will see this year, or any year. It takes a fascinating premise and removes it of all it’s fascination. It takes memorable characters and makes them boring. It takes subtlety and turns it into overbearing obviousness. It takes what was previously unspoken and spells it out. It takes a movie that was creative and breathtaking and makes it dull and uninvolving. In addition to all of this, it is just plain mean and ugly.

As you may have guessed, I love the original “Halloween”. To date, it remains the finest teen slasher film ever made. The film bears a closer resemblance to “Psycho” than “Friday the 13th”, often using implication to make things far more frightening than they would be if we were actually shown them. Let’s just start with the opening. John Carpenter’s “Halloween” featured a creepy, unnerving prologue that offered up the murderous beginnings of Michael Myers, and then quickly cut away to a scene 15 years later, in which Myers escapes from a mental institution. It very effectively builds up the film’s villain, and inspires numerous questions in the mind of the viewer.

Rob Zombie’s remake attempts to answer all those question in a sloppy and violent fashion. His film opens with some 20 minutes of loud, over-the-top white trash melodrama, as we meet Myer’s appalling family. The audience cheers as young Myers kills pop, sister, and sister’s boyfriend. He is sent off to a mental institution, where he engages in dull psychological sessions with Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell, taking over for Donald Pleasance). After 15 years, he kills some more people, escapes, and goes back to his home town.

This long “Michael Myers Rising” prologue to the famous Halloween night takes some 45 minutes, leaving around an hour for the material covered in Carpenter’s film. Zombie moves quickly. He keeps all the deaths, adds more violence, adds more nudity, adds some extra deaths, and takes out all that filler that Carpenter’s movie had in between these scenes (it was called building tension, a lost art form generally performed by boring directors like Alfred Hitchcock). By removing all the suspense and build-up, and by making the murder scenes more explicit, Zombie transforms “Halloween” from a nail biting thriller into a mundane killfest. There isn’t a single scare in the movie, or a single character we care about. The most satisfied viewers of the film will be those who enjoy laughing at the gruesome deaths of innocent people (there were many such individuals in the audience at my screening).

Yet another Zombie mistake is to put Michael Myers at the center of attention in this film. He’s not interesting. He likes to kill stuff, and the rest of the time he just plods around aimlessly, never saying a word. Carpenter always kept Myers creepily hanging around the edges of his film, and put the much more engaging Jamie Lee Curtis at the center. That worked brilliantly, but the Curtis character in this film (played by Scout Taylor-Compton) is completely forgettable, partially because she has little screen time… and partially because Scout Taylor-Compton is no Jamie Lee Curtis.

The two best actors in the film are Malcom McDowell and Brad Dourif. McDowell turns out to be a very poor replacement for Donald Pleasance, and has to deliver some of the worst dialogue you’ll hear this year. When Zombie isn’t offering creative profanities, his writing becomes obnoxiously bland. McDowell is generally a very good actor, but he never finds the right note for this role. Brad Dourif is in the movie so little that most will probably forget he was in it, a very good thing. Other character actors like Danny Trejo, Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Clint Howard, Udo Kier, and William Forsythe all play small roles, none of them memorable.

In terms of the music, the big question was whether Zombie would employ John Carpenter’s iconic original theme. He does, and no, it’s not a horribly remixed version. The main theme, and Carpenter’s less famous secondary theme both pop up a few times, and they are more than welcome. Watching the original “Halloween” again recently, it was startling to observe just how effective and frightening Carpenter’s very simple score is. It may not stand up so well on album, but it works wonders in the film. The same cannot be said for the bulk of the underscore in this film, written by Tyler Bates. The score is absolute dreck… cheap, trashy, obnoxious noises that pile together in something vaguely resembling something posing as music. Bates endlessly pulls out one of the oldest slasher music gags in the books, making knife sharpening noises every time a knife appears onscreen.

Those who enjoyed the unlistenable music Bates wrote for Zombie’s “The Devil’s Rejects” will undoubtedly love this effort, but those film music fans who value things like musical coherence, melody, and their sanity, this is one to avoid. As with Bates score for “300”, the only moments of value in his “Halloween” score are the moments he is stealing from another, infinitely superior composer. Bates has consistently stolen music from others in score after score, either legitimately (in this case) or not (most of the others), but he hasn’t shown us one logical reason why he should continue to get scoring assignments.

I despised this movie. The early family scenes got on my nerves quite a bit, I never expected them to be the highlight of the film. The movie starts poorly, and when it finally arrives at the territory covered by the original film, it does nothing but remind us of how good the original was. I don’t suspect many people will like this film, at least I hope not… but my faith in the humanity of humanity has been misplaced time and time again. Still, it’s not the sadistic violence and cruelty that bothers me so much… I was expecting it… after all, this IS a Rob Zombie film. What really bugs me is how this movie manages to take every wrong step it could possibly take. An utterly horrible abomination, and also a dull waste of time.


Track Listing:

  • dialogue (“These Are The Eyes”)
  • Halloween Theme 2007
  • dialogue (“Is The Boogieman Real?”)
  • Don’t Fear The Reaper (performed by Blue Oyster Cult)
  • dialogue (“Are You Saying Michael Did This?”)
  • Love Hurts (performed by Nazareth)
  • dialogue (“I Hope She Likes Cripples”)
  • Baby, I Love Your Way (performed by Peter Frampton)
  • dialogue (“A Taco Deluxe Supreme”)
  • Tom Sawyer (performed by Rush)
  • dialogue (“Driven By Pure Animal Instinct”)
  • Let It Ride (performed by Bachman-Turner Overdrive)
  • dialogue (“Trick Or Treat, Baby”)
  • God of Thunder (performed by Kiss)
  • dialogue (“Satan’s Mother”)
  • 1969 (performed by Iggy Pop)
  • dialogue (“Talking About The Anti-Christ”)
  • Only Women Bleed (performed by Alice Cooper)
  • dialogue (“Needs To Get Laid”)
  • Halloween II (performed by The Misfits)
  • dialogue (“Was That The Boogieman?”)
  • The Shape Stalks Laurie
  • dialogue (“The Scream”)
  • Mr Sandman (performed by Nan Vernon)

Running Time: 50 minutes 26 seconds

Hip-O Records B0009792-02 (2007)

Music composed by Tyler Bates. Conducted and orchestrared by Tim Williams. Original “Halloween” theme by John Carpenter. Score produced by Tyler Bates and Rob Zombie.

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