Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Side By Side: HALLOWEEN (1978) vs. HALLOWEEN (2007)


Welcome to another installment of SIDE BY SIDE, where we dissect the differences and similarities between two films, be it a remake/reboot with its original, a sequel with its original, or two similar movies. This week we will be comparing John Carpenter's original horror classic, HALLOWEEN, with Rob Zombie's 2007 remake.  Enjoy!

Carpenter's 1978 horror film is one of the most classic in the genre.  It is, by far, my favorite horror film, which I watch every year around the holiday.  So, when word of a remake came out, I was intrigued, and even more so when I heard Rob Zombie was behind it.  

Zombie's reimagining of this classic hit theaters nearly a decade ago, back in 2007.  He had made his break into the world of film with the 2003 horror film, House of a 1000 Corpses, and its sequel, The Devil's Rejects, which came out in 2005.

So what makes these two films so different?  They follow the same general story, with the same characters, but there are some obvious similarities and differences, some good and some bad.  Let's check them out.

Laurie Strode

In John Carpenter's original classic, the main protagonist and sister of Michael Myers is played by the wonderful Jaime Lee Curtis.  This iconic role made her career.  She did an amazing job of portraying the innocent damsel-in-distress-turned-heroine.  No matter how many remakes of this film we may end up seeing over the years, no one will be able to top Curtis in this role.

In the 2007 remake, Rob Zombie brought in a fresh face to take on this leading role...Scout Taylor-Compton.  Starring mostly in short films and tv shows, such as Gilmore Girls and Charmed, Scout took a more outgoing approach to the role of Laurie Strode, veering away from Curtis's timid portrayal of the character.

Michael Myers

The main antagonist of both films is the iconic Michael Myers.  Referred to as "The Shape" in the closing credits of the original film, Michael was portrayed by three different people.  Nick Castle played the role for most of the film, with Tommy Lee Wallace and Tony Moran portrayed the him in later scenes.  The original character was rigid and emotionless, as if he was not human, moving like a mindless killing machine.  John Carpenter has described the character as "almost a supernatural force - a force of nature.  An evil force that's loose, a force that is unkillable."

The remake saw Tyler Mane give a much more visceral portrayal of this iconic character.  He was more menacing, more methodical, and his movements were much more brutal.  The 2007 Michael Myers seemed to be on a mission to bring Laurie home and show her the truth, whereas the 1978 version was simply out to kill her.

Dr. Samuel Loomis 

Halloween would definitely not be the same without Dr. Samuel Loomis.  Throughout the Halloween franchise, he is depicted as the doctor and archenemy to the series' central character and primary antagonist, Michael Myers.  In the original, we see the talented Donald Pleasence play Dr. Loomis while Malcolm McDowell dawned the tan trench coat for the remake.

Even though Donald Pleasence will always be Dr. Samuel Loomis to me, I can't help but like the way the character was done in the Zombie version.  We saw more of the connection between him and Michael, starting from when Michael was a child.  This really helped to build the on-screen bond, giving their interactions more meaning.

The Overall Film

While both films told basically the same story, with the same characters, the 2007 remake took those basic concepts and twisted them into something new.  In Rob Zombie's version, we got the chance to delve deeper into the mind and life of Michael Myers, from child to adult.  This allowed the audience to more easily understand his motivations for the things he does throughout.

In the original, we only see young Michael in the short opening scene, when he dawns a mask for his first kill, but the remake shows more of the hell he went through at home and at school, which caused his inevitable rampage of death.  Even the fate of his parents is cleared up in the remake.

John Carpenter's film is a psychological slasher flick, pure and simple, and was perfectly done for its time, whereas Rob Zombie's film is a more bloody slasher film, showcasing the brutality of the killer.  Both films are well done, in my opinion, and I'm aware that most people won't agree with me, but as far as remakes go, I thoroughly enjoyed this one.  The original Halloween will always be my favorite horror film, but the remake is one that I will definitely watch again as the years go on.

The Merc's Scores:

Halloween (1978) - 9/10

Halloween (2007) - 7/10

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