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PCR #389 (Vol. 8, No. 36) This edition is for the week of September 3--9, 2007.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"Halloween"  by Mike Smith
Book Review: "Dead Girls Are Easy" by Terri Garey  by Lisa Ciurro
Loose in Las Vegas 2007  by ED Tucker
Voices Silenced .... This And That .... Larry Craig  by Mike Smith
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Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Tyler Mane and Scout Taylor-Compton
Directed by: Rob Zombie
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hour 44 mins

It's all Kansas City's fault. That's right. In 1978 an independent film producer dropped his movie into a twin screen theatre in Kansas City to see what would happen. Business was OK on Friday, better on Saturday and through the roof on Sunday, something almost unheard of in the movie business. Word of mouth told him he had a hit and soon his movie was everywhere. That movie was John Carpenter's "Halloween." Now, after countless sequels comes what could best be called a "re-imagining" by Rob Zombie.

Some quick history: in the 1978 original film, we are introduced to Michael Myers who, as a boy of 10, killed his siter and her boyfriend on Halloween night. Sentenced to an asylum, Michael escapes many years later and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois to terrorize an unsuspecting Laurie Strode, who is revealed in "Halloween II" to be Michael's sister, given up for adoption as a baby after the murders. Michael has been under the care of Doctor Sam Loomis. And, in the spirit of all great movie monsters, no matter how many times Michael is shot, stabbed, bludgeoned or set on fire he always comes back for more. Here endeth the lesson.

The new "Halloween" finds our 10-year-old Michael (Daeg Faerch) dealing with all kinds of problems. He's bullied at school, his mom's boyfriend is verbally abusive and he has a thing for hurting animals. He also has a habit of wearing a clown mask when he wants to be alone. After a night spent trick or treating Michael decides he's had enough and kills everyone in the house with the exception of little baby sister Boo. Michael is found guilty of his crimes and sentenced to a mental asylum. There he meets Dr. Loomis (McDowell) and visits weekly with his mother (Sheri Moon Zombie). Early on, Michael seems unaware of his deeds, asking his mom how things are at home. However, the longer he is incarcerated the more withdrawn he becomes. He begins making masks and wears them always. Jump ahead fifteen years and we find Michael (Mane) as a giant, hulking mute still hiding behind his masks.

OK, let's get the comparisons out of the way first. Where John Carpenter went for the shock of the unseen, Zombie likes blood. And lots of it. Language wise, there could be more four letter words in the first ten minutes of "Halloween" then in "Scarface." As for genuine scares - edge to Carpenter. This is not to say that the new version is not without it's moments. Zombie has grown as a filmmaker since the release of his first film, "House of 1000 Corpses" in 2003. He showed promise with his next film, "The Devil's Rejects," and his faux trailer "Werewolf Women of the S.S.," which ran during "Grindhouse," was outstanding. Here Zombie has put himself under the microscope because the source material is so well known. However, unlike Gus Van Sandt "recreating" "Psycho," Zombie stretches himself, and his camera, creating some truly interesting and frightening scenes. As for the cast, McDowell does well in a role that should have been much larger and Taylor-Compton ably steps in for Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, little Boo all grown up. And though he doesn't utter a word, Mane (he was Sabretooth in the "X-men" films and wrestled in the 1990's under the name The Big Sky) is a formible presence on screen. And credit Zombie for filling the supporting cast with veterans of other horror films, including Brad Dourif (the "Chucky" series), Dee Wallace ("The Howling," "Cujo"), Ken Foree ("Dawn of the Dead") and Danielle Harris, a veteran of two earlier "Halloween" sequels. Add to this bunch such names as Sid Haig, Sybil Danning, Clint Howard, Richard Lynch, Udo Kier, Danny Trejo and the always great William Forsythe and you've basically got a who's who of cult cinema. Heck, while watching the movie I remarked to myself "that guy looks like a really out of shape Mickey Dolenz. Imagine my surprise when I watched the credits and learned it really was the former Monkee.

Of course, the film is not without its drawbacks. Among them: Haddonfield is the only town in America without working streetlights; apparently there are no gun laws in Illinois as you can walk in and buy that 357 magnum without a wait; even though he can break chains and lift 1000 pound headstones, Michael Myers strains when he drags a body. And, everyone seems to like to watch James Arness in "The Thing," which of course was remade in 1982 by John Carpenter. Carpenter went on to make some decent films, "Escape from New York" and "The Thing" among them, but "Halloween" will always be his "Citizen Kane." Zombie is still learning and I'm sure in time will deliver a true horror classic of his own. Until then, enjoy his latest effort. Here are two more facts about the original "Halloween:" the mask worn by Michael Myers during his killing spree was a spraypainted mask of William Shatner. And I was the only one in our group that thought Jamie Lee Curtis was HOT! I was told I was crazy until "Trading Places" came out!

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Halloween":

This week's movie review of "Halloween" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2007, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.