Scare Compare: ‘Halloween (1978)’ / ‘Halloween (2007)’
The original Halloween directed by John Carpenter and the remake by Rob Zombie are two very different films that have their own view of the same characters and their own style. Michael Meyers kills his sister when he was 6 years old for seemingly no reason. The scene at the beginning of the film is the only glimpse into his childhood, which shows caring parents and a nice house, very similar to that of his victims. Rob Zombie delves into Michael’s past to explain his behavior with an abusive father and being bullied at school. These things don’t really justify his behavior, so I felt his tragic history was unnecessary. The mask is given meaning as he uses it as armor. It allows him to commit murder, but seems to leave the person Michael intact and buried deep in his psyche. I much prefer Carpenter’s vision that Michael no longer possesses any humanity and becomes the Shape.
Dr. Loomis is also markedly different in each film. Although well acted by Donald Pleasence, Dr. Loomis in Carpenter’s film is a one dimensional character, running around and trying to convince people that Michael is a serious threat. He follows the rules to letter and tried his hardest to help Michael even though it was hopeless. Zombie’s Dr. Loomis’ actions are similar, but on top of them, he wrote a book sensationalizing Michael and Haddonfield, which garnered unwanted attention. When he goes to warn the town, he is viewed with suspicion, delaying his search. He also views Michael as his own failure because his years long treatment didn’t seem to help at all. Zombie’s Loomis is a more well rounded character with some flaws.
Both directors choose different styles to create horror in their stories. John Carpenter chooses to build suspense with simple, rhythmic music and a relentless killer. Blood and gore are almost absent. The horror is more psychological. Rob Zombie chooses to make his version much bloodier and violent. Too many of his characters fall into the sleazy southern archetype the we’ve seen in his past films that do nothing but curse and say the most inflammatory things. The act loses effectiveness quickly and seems juvenile. This demeanor bled into other characters like Laurie and her friends where it didn’t fit with their background or their personalities. Overall, John Carpenter’s Halloween is the one with more scares and has proven to make a lasting impression.