Monday, June 05, 2006

You Can't Kill the Boogie Man or Rob Zombie

The latest atrocity in cinema is the announcement from rock star cum filmmaker, Rob Zombie, that he has secured financing from Miramax Films (once famous for producing quality indie films) to write and direct an all-new "Halloween" bloodfest feature. The allure this time out is that the movie will not be a sequel or prequel or remake of the original franchise of films. Instead, this flick will feature a whole new interpretation of the anti-hero Michael Myers, as imagined through the brainwaves of Rob Zombie himself. Ooo-ah!Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this development is that Rob Zombie noted that notorious killer, Michael Myers, over the years of sequels and licensing, stopped being a frightening figure in cinema because of saturation of the visage of the murderer. Evidently, once a Halloween mask was marketed to kids, allowing casual trick-or-treaters the opporuntity to pretend to be Michael Myers, the fear of him dissipated. Says Zombie: "...over the years, Michael Myers has become a friendly Halloween mask. When it came to the point where you could buy a Michael Myers doll that was cute-looking and press its stomach and play the 'Halloween' theme, you knew the scare factor was gone." Touché!
William Shatner or Michael Myers?!

The logic follows that the original "R" rated film suddenly became acceptable for children, since the masks were being worn by kiddies and the dolls diminished the menace of the murdering
Myers. Call me old-fashioned, but the original film, though lovingly stylish and lacking in the type of blood flood depicted in more recent horror movies (like Zombie's "House of 1,000 Corpses"), is still a scary movie; indeed, it suggests violence kids should not be exposed to until their teen angst years. Why? Because I believe in preserving the innocence of a young mind, until it develops through the unfortunate and inevitable stimuli of life itself (like hearing about the Holocaust via history books or Mafia murders through a report on the "Today Show" -- curse you Katie Couric!)
You know, for kids!

Now, as far as mass exposure of masks eliminating our cultural fears... maybe there's a point here after all. Let's see: the same fear loss occured when Richard Nixon became a popular Halloween mask. Oh, and the unnatural fear I had of Pokémon was quieted several years back when ten kids appeared at my door, all donning the famous yellow mask of Pikachu. So maybe Zombie is onto something. But the, dare I say, very subtlety of John Carpenter's "Halloween" is why that film survives and has remained a cult classic. It insinuates and rarely over indulges in the excesses of the genre -- like graphic depictions of decapitations and severed limbs. Sure, there are penetrations of sharp things, gouging of eyes with hangers, shocking impalements and the like, but they are done, shall we say, lovingly... in tribute to the masters of the genre, like Hitchcock. It's often the scenes where an implication of violence occurs that remain the most terrifying. The mind has its way of filling in the horror.

We do not have to wonder if Zombie's version will allow the mind to explore its own fears and horrors. There will be no question -- when a victim gets killed by Michael Myers, it will be complete, resolute and flowing in blood. The dripping excesses of Zombie's filmmaking are mean-spirited, compared to the expressionistic manners of directors like Sam Peckinpah. Or the implied horror resident in Hitchcock films. Is there a place for Zombie's "Halloween" in today's world? Sure, the fringe underground. Thank you, Miramax, for raising the fringe underground, like a Zombie, to the surface and delivering bloodstains on over 1,000 screens nationwide.

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