Young Michael Myers is a quiet kid who lives in a small Midwestern town. His life has become a churning blender filled with obscenity-screaming adults, hateful school bullies and a sexually promiscuous older sibling.
There’s also a vile evil that’s bubbling up inside the boy that, at first, drives him to torture and kill small animals.
One Halloween, Michael’s dark habits are exposed when the school principal discovers a dead cat and pictures of mauled animals in the lad’s backpack. When the truth is revealed to his mother (and his sister chooses a sexual tryst over taking him trick-or-treating), a cog slips and Michael suddenly starts killing classmates and family members.
After the killings, Michael is sent to a sanitarium and put under the care of Dr. Loomis. Fifteen years pass. Michael is a hulking man who never speaks and makes masks to hide his “ugliness.” During a late-night patient transfer, the silent behemoth breaks free from his bonds, kills his keepers and heads back to his hometown in search of his baby sister, Laurie, the one living family member and the only person in the world for whom he feels any affinity.
Dr. Loomis desperately tries to locate his patient. Because anywhere Michael goes, death follows. Just like it did in 1978.
Dr. Loomis earnestly tries to help Laurie escape Michael’s murderous grasp, even giving his life to do it. Earlier, Loomis comforts young Michael with a hug.
We see a large cross-like headstone in a basement. Young Michael remarks that his dad is in heaven. While talking about Michael, a policeman suggests that Loomis is referring to the Antichrist. A young girl tells a boy, “Go and worship your god.”
Several scenes show couples having sex. They are explicitly graphic, both visually, with a great deal of nudity, and sonically, with sexual sounds and obscene conversation. At least twice, a sadistic killing interrupts the act.
Four different women are seen topless—one runs around a house through a lengthy scene while being dragged and bloodied by Michael. Another displays nearly complete frontal and rear nudity. Michael’s mother dances at a strip club (wearing a thong and bra), and we see her mostly naked in a picture. The camera joins a trucker in looking at a pornographic magazine. (One picture that gets screen time displays genitalia.)
There are multiple explicit references (both verbal and visual) to masturbation, oral sex, gay sex and ejaculation. Young Michael runs his bloody hand up his sister’s bare thigh.
The gratuitously gory, grotesque violence in Halloween, perpetrated by a 9- or 10-year-old Michael as well as an adult Michael, is not only continual, it is painfully vivid. A few examples (relayed here in a effort to represent a mountain of scenes): Young Michael beats a boy to a bloody extinction with a hefty tree branch, pausing only to callously listen to the boy’s agonized pleas for mercy. He duct tapes his stepfather to a chair, slits the man’s throat and watches him bleed out. He hits a teen in the head with an aluminum bat (the boy drops to the floor in spasms) and then mashes his head to a literal pulp. He stabs a woman in the neck with a fork. And he guts his older sister with a large knife, repeatedly slicing her skin as she tries to crawl away.
Each of these scenes revels in seeing the resulting blood, torn tissue and scattered brain matter.
People are also shot, one at very close range. Teens are beaten, stabbed, choked, thrown, hanged and dragged while covered in blood. During chase segments, Laurie is battered and cut. She falls down stairs, through a ceiling, off a high balcony and into an empty pool. We see numerous dead animals, including a cut up cat in a plastic bag and a splayed coyote.
About 70 f-words and 20 s-words. But there could be even more than that: The first five minutes of the film is so packed with an orgy of obscenity and the crudest of sexual dialogue that it is impossible to keep up with it. God’s name is combined with “d–n” eight or nine times; Jesus’ name is blasphemed at least seven times. An obscene hand gesture is made.
Michael’s stepfather drinks beer and apparently passes out after consuming too much of it. He also smokes.
At the sanitarium, a janitor suggests to young Michael, “Learn to live inside your head.” Loomis says that Michael’s 15 years of incarceration is twice as long as his own first marriage. A teen calls her friend’s policeman father a “pig.” Laurie is pleased that a boy says of her, “Dude! She’s f—ing hot!”
The 1978 original Halloween was really little more than a B-movie. It was thrown together on a shoestring budget and directed in a poor-man’s Alfred Hitchcock style. In it, writer/director John Carpenter quickly intros a heartless, indestructible killer and then sets him loose in middle suburbia to murder half-naked promiscuous teens. The short, independent film was most likely expected to end up as barely-seen filler for the drive-in gristmill.
But in spite of its limitations, the base little flick sparked a dark side of America’s imagination and packed ’em in to movie houses across the country. It’s since been credited with serving as inspiration for a long line of what became known as “slasher” films, which at first included the likes of Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, then eventually evolved into the Scream, Saw and Hostel franchises. Not a very proud legacy, to say the least.
Thirty years and seemingly hundreds of sequels later (OK, two or three shy of 10), the so-called movie masterminds in Hollywood have decided that the public needs a remake of the original and they tapped White Zombie singer-turned-horror director Rob Zombie to preside over its unholy reincarnation.
What Zombie delivers is an unwatchable mess that’s equal parts homage, prequel and bloodbath. This Halloween takes great pains (quite literally) to try to explain why little Michael becomes a non-speaking, mask-wearing homicidal maniac. Indeed, about 40 of the movie’s 109 horrid minutes are devoted to this. But in a single sentence, I can save you the misery of sitting through it: The kid has a stripper for a mother, an abusive alcoholic stepdad, a hateful sleaze of a sister and a gaggle of school bullies to drive him to the brink.
In short, his obscenity- and evil-drenched home life is poisonous enough to be anyone’s version of hell on earth. So he puts on a clown mask and butchers everyone.
The last part of the film condenses and duplicates the original film’s telling of older Michael’s suburban rampage. Of course, it “modernizes” everything by adding up-close visuals of the gore-letting flesh slashes (the original never actually shows the blood and guts) and by ogling a lot more naked teenagers.
Without giving any kudos to Carpenter’s first take, it’s needful to report that anything vaguely passing for legitimate suspense or tension 30 years ago has been stripped away. No masked man glimpsed in the darkened window here. This Michael just plows through doors and walls with his bloody knife at the ready. And that’s making even fans of the genre blanch. TheMovieBoy Dustin Putman writes that he and the Halloween franchise “share a passionate history together, and one would be hard-pressed to find a bigger supporter of the series.” Yet he concludes that this installment is a “foul-mouthed, soulless, low-rent slasher flick that mistakes graphic violence for genuine thrills and sex scenes for character development.”
It sounds like he saw exactly the same movie I did. Here’s hoping no one else has to see it at all.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.