There are two camps out there, or so it seems. You either love Rob Zombie‘s takes on the Halloween franchise, or you despise them. After Halloween Resurrection, the franchise was seemingly at an all-time low. That movie tried to bring Michael into a new generation with a reality show gimmick, and it ended up with Busta Rhymes doing karate against Michael Myers. However awesome that sounds, the movie is not great.

Enter Rob Zombie.

He was riding high off his music career and films like House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects. Moustapha Akkad and Dimension had tried to get various Halloween projects off the ground, including a proposed Michael Vs. Pinhead film in the style of Freddy Vs. Jason. None of the sequel or versus ideas got off the ground, and instead, Dimension Films chose Zombie to direct and write the next Halloween movie.

What followed was not quite a remake, not quite a prequel, but something that rides the line between both. While remaking John Carpenter’s immense original 1978 Halloween is a task, Zombie might’ve been the best filmmaker at the time to do it. His style might be influenced by Carpenter (who isn’t?) but it wasn’t just trying to copy the whole film.

The Cracks In Zombie’s Two Halloween Films

I will be fully transparent, I watched Halloween II before I watched Halloween. After watching Zombie’s version of Halloween II, I thought it was one of the worst movies I have ever seen. It was gratuitously violent for no reason other than sheer violence. It had nonsensical portions of the film that added nothing. We didn’t let my friend who picked it out at Blockbuster rent a movie for us for at least a year after that.

After watching Halloween because it came with the Scream Factory Complete Series box set, I was surprised. How could this first movie actually be watchable and add to the overall story when the sequel was so horrific? It helps that even if it wasn’t trying to remake the 1978 film, it still had to basically follow the plot of that film. It does however commit the cardinal sin of horror movies, it fleshed out the backstory of a character that needs no backstory. Michael Myers is the ultimate evil, he kills, he stalks, and there’s almost no reason why other than he wants you dead.

The later Halloween movies added in cults, sisters, familial dynamics, and anything else under the sun to explain why Michael Myers is the way he is. We don’t need a traumatic childhood or anything else for Michael. He’s at his scariest when there’s unknown. The scariest things in life have no explanation or reasoning.

I’ve also been told that the director’s cut of Halloween II is much better than the theatrical version. It fixes a bit with the film, but it’s still ultimately the same film. It still has the goofy dream sequences with Michael’s mother, and the gratuitous violence is dialed up even more. Allegedly Moustapha Akkad gave Zombie his blessing to break the rules of Michael Myers in the film. It’s a shame that the one time he broke the rules was for this film.

Excellent Casting Makes Them Watchable

It’s difficult to compare Zombie’s Halloween films to the other ones in the franchise outside of the original. Part of what resonates well with me about the later Halloween sequels is that they’re kind of silly fun, while still remaining scary and feeling like Halloween movies. If you strip down Halloween 4, 5, and The Curse Of Michael Myers, you still have the tenets of the franchise. However, one area that his sequels have over many other films in the franchise is the cast. It’s almost pitch-perfect casting across the board. Malcolm McDowell, Scout Taylor-Compton, Danielle Harris, Brad Dourif, William Forsythe, Udo Kier, Clint Howard, Danny Trejo, Bill Moseley, Ken Foree, and Sid Haig among plenty of others all highlight these two movies.

Dourif’s version of Sheriff Brackett in particular adds a wrinkle of humanity to the films that are sorely lacking it. Stepping into the shoes of Donald Pleasence should have been a death blow for any actor trying to play Dr. Loomis, however, McDowell does just that. He takes the character and twists it into something new and unlike the heroic Loomis from Carpenter’s film and the sequels. Scout-Compton’s performance as Laurie Strode is also vastly different from Jamie Lee Curtis and she makes the character her own. Even if the films aren’t great, the performances on display are still worth watching.

Try Them Out For Yourself, You Might Like It

Really, when it comes to Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies, try them for yourself. I used to be one of the blowhards telling people that they’re atrocious abominations of mankind. Now, that position has softened a bit. I still strongly dislike Halloween II, but if you like it, all the power to you. I can see why some people might really like these two movies because they are so drastically different than most films in the series, but they’re just not for me. It’s not hard for me to get behind some gore and violence in a horror movie, but it feels gratuitous at times and exhausting at other points in Halloween II. Michael ramming someone’s face into a mirror is brutal, but when he does it 20 times after that, and then stabs a nurse seemingly 100 times, it’s just too much.

The real sin of these movies is that they released them both in August, not October.

For more on horror, make sure to check out Fright-A-Thon, the 61-day Halloween content marathon!

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