What makes Zombie’s take on the classic-slasher Halloween stand on its own as an entertainment experience, rather than a scene-by-scene rip-off with a bigger blood budget, is who he chooses to focus on as the main character — and, more interestingly how that changes what you feel while watching it
While Carpenter chose to centre his movie on the female protagonist, Laurie Strode (catapulting Jamie Lee Curtis into the big-time) Zombie has chosen to focus on Michael Myers himself, particularly his troubled childhood and incarceration. Michael starts out as a cute, blonde haired kid (Faerch); almost angelic, in fact, if he weren’t killing his pets and donning a creepy clown mask. His treatment by his family, school and various bullies intensifies Myers’ dark side until he savagely beats his tormentor to death in the woods, and then proceeds to off the rest of his family, aside from his baby sister.
Despite the efforts of the kindly Dr Samuel Loomis (McDowell), Myers retreats into a life of both mental and physical incarceration and obsessive mask creation, until his eventual escape — and from that point on the movie adopts a similar structure to the 1978 original. This focus on the antagonist certainly seems designed to elicit a certain amount of sympathy from audiences. But it also lends itself to a lot more interpretation of Myers’ movements, facial gestures and a little of what might be going on behind that famous mask — something that certainly didn’t happen with Carpenter’s version. This has the unfortunate downside of devaluing Laurie (Taylor-Compton), who isn’t really given much depth of character. But then we’ve probably seen enough plucky horror heroines to last us quite a while.
There’s a chunky lot of extras too, with a bucket full of deleted scenes and an alternate (although, admittedly, crap) ending. The Re-imaging Halloween and The Many Masks of Michael Meyers mini-docs are pretty comprehensive and cover the production from angles, without dissolving into a parade of "Rob’s just great!" — Tripper director David Arquette please take note!
EXTRAS *** Director’s commentary, deleted scenes and alternate ending, Re-Imagining Halloween