Halloween II -- Film Review

"I've killed him." "Everything will be fine." "He's f***ing dead." "Michael Myers is f***ing dead." You're alright, you're OK." If you've believed any of these statements, then you've obviously never seen a "Halloween" film.

Yes, it's deja vu all over again, with this sequel to 2007's $80 million-grossing reboot of the franchise that apparently is as hard to kill off as its central character. (For future Trivial Pursuit purposes, be advised that this is technically not a remake of the 1981 sequel to John Carpenter's original classic.)

This edition, dubbed "the terrifying final chapter" in the ads (another line you probably shouldn't take at face value), begins moments after the last one, with a bloody and clearly traumatized Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) convinced that she's dispatched Michael Myers. Well, someone forgot to tell him, because after the police vehicle transporting him to the morgue crashes into an errant cow, he promptly revives and resumes his errant ways.

And so it goes, with the story alternating between repeated scenes of Laurie having bad dreams and Michael (Tyler Mane) gutting nearly everyone with whom he comes into contact.

As with his 2007 effort, director-screenwriter Rob Zombie's approach is far grittier than in the original series. The 1978 film took place in a bucolic suburban setting, which made Michael's murderous rampages all the more shocking. Here, as with the filmmaker's "House of 1000 Corpses" and "The Devil's Rejects," the action occurs in a rural environment populated largely by rednecks and strippers. As a matter of fact, most of Michael's victims pretty much deserve what happens to them.

Even the character of Dr. Loomis, Michael's psychiatrist (played so memorably by Donald Pleasance in the original), has been made darker. Here, as played by a hammy Malcolm McDowell, he's a media-whore opportunist looking to score big bucks for his latest book about his most infamous patient.

The other major difference is a fantastical aspect added to the story line, with Michael frequently having visions of his younger self and his dead mother, the latter dressed in angelic white. (Cynics might point out that this provides a handy opportunity for Sheri Moon Zombie, the director's wife, to reprise her role.)

Perhaps reflecting the filmmaker's other career as a recording artist, many of the film's scares come as much from the ultra-vivid horrifying sound effects as the gore itself.
As is his penchant, Zombie has populated the proceedings with a large number of familiar faces in the smaller roles, the better known of which include Margot Kidder, Howard Hesseman and Weird Al Yankovic (very funny as himself).

Fans of the original series will be disappointed to learn that Carpenter's haunting theme music is only briefly utilized at the end.

Opened Friday, Aug. 28 (Dimension Films)
Production: Dimension Films, Spectacle Entertainment Group, Trancas International Films
Cast: Scout Taylor-Compton, Tyler Mane, Malcolm McDowell, Brad Dourif, Sheri Moon Zombie, Danielle Harris, Brea Grant.
Director-screenwriter: Rob Zombie
Producers: Rob Zombie, Malek Akkad, Andy Gould
Executive producers: Andy La Marca, Matthew Stein, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein
Director of photography: Brandon Trost
Editor: Glenn Garland
Production designer: Garreth Stover
Costume designer: Mary McLeod
Music: Tyler Bates
Rated R, 101 minutes
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