In the world of horror remakes, seldom do we get a film that can hold a candle to the original. The remakes of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Friday the 13th” relied too heavily on the over-the-top kills rather than adding anything fresh to the genre, or by having substance that related back to the original films. The remakes of “The Omen” and “Psycho” were literally shot-for-shot remakes with the same dialogue, but with worse actors and zero originality. However, in 2007 Rob Zombie remade the classic 1978 John Carpenter’s “Halloween.” He added more background story to the main antagonist, gave his characters more modern personalities, and still remained true to the original. The film was so good that some fans of the series who grew up with the original said that Rob Zombie’s remake was the superior film. Others still hold on to Carpenter’s for doing it first and, in their opinion, best. For Day 4 of our 31 days of Halloween, we have decided to tackle this debate once and for all. We will be looking at several different elements at what makes a good horror film to decide once and for all, who remains supreme.
Best Dr. Samuel Loomis
Slasher films are notoriously known for having poor acting, but both of these films did not go with that trend. Both films have memorable characters played by great actors. John Carpenter’s film starred the legendary Donald Pleasance, while Zombie’s had Malcolm McDowell try the role. McDowell is a legend in the horror movie franchise with his historic performance in “A Clockwork Orange.” His role as Dr. Loomis added a bit more of a believable human tone to the film with how he speaks with the police, and to young Michael Myers, however, this point goes to Donald Pleasance. Pleasance’s performance as Loomis is legendary. The way that he describes Michael Myers to the police, and the genuine terror in his eyes gives a chilling performance that still sends chills down your spine even nearly 40 years after the film premiered.
Point: John Carpenter
Best Laurie Strode
Jaime Lee Curtis’s role as Laurie Strode earned her the title “Queen of Scream.” Her genuine terror throughout the film captivated the audience who just wanted to see her escape from Michael Myers’s clutches. Scout Taylor-Compton had much of the “Queen of Scream” persona, but also added a more believable human element. She interacts with her parents like a teenage girl, talks with her friends and cracks jokes with them. To put it simply, Curtis was the more believable victim, while Compton was the more believable teenager. So, who gets the point? Well, when you have a more believable human character, you care more about them when their life is in danger. Compton did not have the same victim’s persona that Curtis had, but she didn’t need it because the audience cared more about seeing her make it out alive since she gave us a more human performance. The Queen of Scream just didn’t have the humanity. The point goes to the remake.
Point: Rob Zombie
No slasher film is complete without its kills. Carpenter’s relied on slow-drawn out terror, where Zombie had buckets of blood and gore. If the point went to the most gruesome or entertaining to watch, Zombie would obviously run away with this point. However, the best kill point should go to the film whose kills made the most sense given what the film presented. In the Carpenter film, Michael Myers is not yet known to have superhuman strength and durability. In the Zombie film, he is an ogre. In the first film, he relies on sneaking around, and well-placed stabbings. Michael Myers in the remake butchers everyone he comes across like a pig. When he encounters Dr. Loomis in the final showdown, he drops his knife and tries to crush his head with his bare hands. Although the brutality is entertaining, when a big ogre of a man is on screen you expect brutality so the horror suffers. The Carpenter film built up the tension, and then delivered with great kills. The point goes to the original.
….Or, it would have if not for one thing.
The remake begins with young Michael Myers. He is a child who appears innocent in all regards. However, when he snaps and kills someone it is insane. You don’t expect such a small kid to annihilate his victims as much as this kids does. He beats a bully to death with a tree branch, he beats up his sister’s boyfriend with an aluminum bat, who slits his step-father’s throat after tying him up, he butchers his sister with a kitchen knife, and he cuts out a nurse’s throat with a fork. Young Michael Myers’s kills are not only better than any of the kills in the original, but they are the best in the entire series, and they are absolutely horrifying.
Point: Rob Zombie
Carpenter’s film had a more simple story revolving around serial killer who escapes a mental institution, and kills a bunch of teenagers. The remake went further into the story by explaining the relationship between Michael Myers and Laurie Strode, as well as using half the film to show his adolescence. Unfortunately, the first half of the remake is far more entertaining than the last half. The second half has some brutal kills, and Laurie Strode to keep people entertained, but the entire first half devoted so much time to character development and building an incredible story that it just made for a tough act to follow. The original had constant rising action that flowed perfectly that ended with an incredible climax. This category was so close because the beginning of the Zombie film is so good, but the point goes to the Carpenter film due to the consistency.
Point: John Carpenter
Best Michael Myers
Finally, it is time for what is may be the only category that matters. Who did Michael Myers the best? As I said before, the Michael Myers in the remake was more of a brute, while the original had more finesse. The remake offers more background and story to the character, while the original keeps him shrouded in mystery. In the remake, by the time he reaches Haddonfield, you know exactly what he is capable of. You know that it will take a small army to take him down, while in the original because he is shrouded in mystery you feel as though Laurie still has a shot. Because of that, the point would go to the original.
However, Rob Zombie is not out of the fight. His film was a remake. When you remake a film, you have to account for the new fans and the returning fans. The returning fans already know what Myers is capable of. They saw him get mowed down by a hail of gunfire in the fourth film. They saw him get blown-up in the second film. Shrouding him in mystery would be pointless in a remake. It’s like when in the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” remake they pulled Freddy out of the dream to kill him. That has been done before, and it never works because nothing can stop him. The original had to shroud Myers in mystery, but the Zombie, realizing that was unnecessary, made a new incarnation of Myers, with more story, fresh persona, and brutality. The remake’s Michael Myers was both a gift to fans as well as a fresh take on one of the baddest baddies around.