February 17, 2015 The Anatomy of a Remake: Halloween
American’s favorite fall celebration of Halloween has never been the same since Michael Myers came to the big screen in 1978. Directed by the legendary John Carpenter (The Fog 1980, The Thing 1982) and produced by Debra Hill, this low budget Horror film grossed over seventy million dollars worldwide and has become one of the most profitable independent films in history. Although not the first Slasher film per say, it did lay the stepping stones for future films such as Friday the 13th(1980), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), and an entire generation of Horror to follow. The idea behind Halloween was to portray an evil that could not die through “Michael Myers, the most evil kid who ever lived.” Due to low funds, the filmmakers had to spray paint, tease and adjust a cheap, two dollar Captain Kirk mask to complete the Michael Myers costume, but the simple, emotionless facemask was a perfect representation of the unfocused evil behind those empty eyes. Carpenter admits to being inspired by the paranoid fear and minimal gore and blood from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 masterpiece Psycho, and has said he wanted that same chilly, deranged atmosphere for his first slasher.
The film spawned an eight movie franchise that brought in millions of dollars and created a huge Michael Myer fan base over the years. Twenty-nine years later, famous Rock artist and film director, Rob Zombie (House of 1000 Corpses 2003, The Devils Rejects 2005) felt inspired by the original movie and commissioned a remake, offering up a new look at Michael Myers. Many people were not happy about this, thinking the classic should remain untouched and that Michael Myers was best played as an emotionless, silent killer with no background story. Although, Zombie being a passionate Horror fan himself, thought different and introduced audiences into a deeper look at Michael Myers on August 31, 2007.
The 1978 original has twenty-one year old Michael Myers (Tony Moran) escaping a psychiatric hospital after a fifteen year imprisonment for killing his older sister on Halloween night. He returns home to Haddonfield, Illinois and stalks his surviving sister, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis: Prom Night 1980, The Fog 1980), and her friends, Annie (Nancy Kyes: Assault on Precinct 13 1976, The Fog 1980) and Lynda (P. J. Soles: Carrie 1976, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School 1979). Adopted out after her family’s terrible tragedy, Laurie assumes the hovering Michael is just some harmless creep and not her long lost, psychopathic brother. Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence: The Great Escape 1963, Escape from New York 1981), who has studied Michael for the past fifteen years, assumes Michael plans on finishing off his family and sets out to stop more carnage. On Halloween night, as The Shape stalks the neighborhood, the unsuspecting Laurie babysits Tommy (Brian Andrews) while Annie babysits Lindsay (Kyle Richards: Little House on the Prairie, The Watcher in the Woods 1980) just across the street. Michael begins killing off Laurie’s friends as he makes his way to her, where she fights for her life against the masked man.
In Zombie’s version, a young Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch: Hancock 2008, Run! Bitch Run! 2009) is already showing signs of psychopathic behaviors, while also being mentally abused by his mom’s boyfriend, Ronnie (William Forsyth: Once Upon a Time in America 1984, Raising Arizona 1987), and his sister, Judith (Hannah Hall: Forrest Gump 1994, The Virgin Suicides 1999), with no help from his absentee, stripper mom, Deborah (Sheri Moon Zombie: House of 1000 Corpses 2003, The Devil’s Rejects 2005). Some disturbing drawings bring a visit by the concerned Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell: A Clockwork Orange 1971, Caligula 1980), but Deborah waves it off. It is not until Halloween night when the disappointed Michael gets back at his family for not taking him Trick or Treating by emotionlessly slaughtering Ronnie, Judith and Judith’s boyfriend before donning the traditional Michael Meyers mask, kissing his baby sister, Angel, and bringing her outside as they wait for the cops to arrive. Michael gets sent to a county sanitarium under the watch of Dr. Loomis.
As the weeks go by, Michael does not recall what happened the night of Halloween, Deborah visits him religiously in the hopes that somehow her baby boy can get the help he needs. Michael only disappears further and further from the world with each passing day, becoming mute and gaining an obsession with masks, using them to hide his face. After barely showing any signs of human recognition, Michael is teased by a nurse, and he stabs her with a fork and kills her. After this, Deborah can no longer deal with the pain and kills herself, leaving Michael and baby Angel orphans. Seventeen years later, after growing into a six foot, eight inch beast of a man (Tyler Mane: X-Men 2000, Troy 2004), Michael escapes the sanitarium and seeks out his now adopted sister, renamed Laurie. Laurie and her friends, Annie (Danielle Harris: Halloween IV 1988, Halloween V 1989) and Lynda (Kristina Klebe: Proxy 2013, Killer Mermaid 2014) have to fight for their lives as Michael Myers once again terrorizes the streets of Haddonfield.
Although the remake is loved by audiences worldwide, some people will never be happy with the changes that were made. There are both similarities and differences in the two films respectfully. Zombie stuck with the original story of Michael Myers as an adult and used the same basic mask. However, while Carpenter wanted less blood and gore and more atmosphere, Zombie aimed for more splatter, nudity, as well as rougher language. Some fans hated the fact that Michael Myers was given a back-story and complained that it ruined the mystery of who” The Shape” was, while others loved finding out what made Michael Myers a killer and witnessing all of the steps that built the legendary masked maniac. Despite the controversy between both movies, each have their own endearing qualities for different generations, and Michael Myers will live on as the man who could not be killed, because one can not kill evil.