August 18, 2018
Rob Zombie's Halloween II has always been an interesting film for me. I still remember that it left quite an impression on me and my wife when we saw it upon initial release at the cinema. The sheer brutality of the film left us quite shaken and frightened - honestly, the drive home that night in the fog was pretty scary!
However, over the years I've come to appreciate the film less and less. One reason for this, is simply that this is about as far removed from Carpenter's concept of "The Shape" as you can get. Also, Zombie's terrible writing doesn't help (with an over reliance on non stop swearing) and the fact that he turns all the characters into assholes - even the ones you're meant to be routing for. So, this edit from Ryantology certainly piqued my interest.
Prior to watching the edit, I had recently watched the theatrical cut again on blu ray. It didn't change my mind in terms of the problems the film has, but I'm glad I did watch it before seeing this edit. With the edit only being 71 minutes, I did fear that the film would now suffer from major pacing problems. However, I have to applaud Ryantology here, as he skillfully manages to avoid this problem, to the point where it didn't really feel like anything important was missing. By restructuring the film and in-particular its characters, he's managed to turn Halloween II, almost, fully into a film where you genuinely do like the characters.
By trimming back on the trauma Laurie is going through, the film actually becomes more effective on portraying this aspect of the film - what's the old saying, "less is more". It reinforces my opinion that somewhere buried in Zombie's inability to subtlety portray the story and the events which his characters are going through, there is a solid and deep character study in Halloween II, which could have produced a genuinely excellent and unique Halloween movie. I'm not saying Ryantology genuinely manages to achieve this, but but streamlining everything here, he gets about as close as one could get with the material available.
Also, by cutting back on the violence, the film is no less effective. This kind of surprised me a little, as I thought the practical effects in this film were incredible and that by cutting back on some of the gruesome and unrelenting scenes might make the film weaker. It doesn't change how traumatic Annie's death scene is - still brilliantly acted by all concerned, including Brad Douriff's reaction - and the re-editing of he sequence was nicely handled by Ryantology.
The only slight hit and miss here is the audio work. It's not bad at all, but by having a clean centre channel there are some scenes which have been left "unscored" which I feel would have benefited from music, to the point where some of the sequences feel a bit hollow and empty - this is probably due to the fact that often just using a centre channel can mean certain atmospheric sound effects which were only located in say the right and left channels are now missing. However, I must give kudos to the use of music from Harry Potter during Sherriff Bracket's discover of Annie's body - I genuinely didn't think this would work, but it's sad and effective without being over the top. I would never have thought to use orchestrated music like this in any Halloween film, let alone a Rob Zombie Halloween film, so it was a brave move from Ryantology and one which works.
Overall, I had a blast with this edit. Sure, I'm still not sure I like any of the "White Horse" style sequences, but it will easily be my "go to" version of Rob Zombie's Halloween II from now on. I'm sure Rob Zombie himself would hate it, but for me this version is a much more restrained and focused movie. Great job.