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MOVIE REVIEW

‘Halloween’ sequel has few treats

By Tom Russo
Globe Correspondent / August 29, 2009

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Is there a point to remaking “Halloween’’? For the first half of Rob Zombie’s 2007 redo, the answer seemed to be yes, within limits, as Zombie delved deep into bogeyman Michael Myers’s origins. The material wasn’t so much jolting as absorbingly weird, full of the low-res ’70s horror vibe on which the rocker-turned-filmmaker has built his screen (and music) career. Then the full-grown Myers returned home, and the homage turned slavish.

With his new sequel, Zombie spends less time paying tribute and more time getting inventive, with mixed results. The story picks up where the last one left off, with bloodied, traumatized baby sitter Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) carted off to the ER, and her psychopathic brother, the hulking Myers (Tyler Mane), presumed dead. After a nod to 1981’s original, hospital-set “Halloween II’’ (the only sequel in which original director John Carpenter had a hand), the action jumps ahead one year, with Laurie now a tattooed, punked-out head case plagued by nightmares that Myers is still after her.

The killer does resurface, of course, his head filled with bizarre visions. There’s Freudian stuff about white horses as symbols of chaos, and whispery exhortations from his dead mother - Sheri Moon Zombie, the director’s wife - to get the family back together. Pretentiously silly? Sometimes, but the dream sequences help to shake up the standard genre slog, and at their best have a sideshow flair that feels like Tim Burton doing straight horror.

Other effective touches include a costume party scene that later supplies the excuse for a fetishy climax featuring Taylor-Compton in a “Rocky Horror’’ maid’s outfit. Meanwhile, Malcolm McDowell reinvents Myers’s shrink, Dr. Loomis, as a shallow true-crime author who hounddogs women at book signings.

The copious violence, as always, is an assault - even aurally, as every thudding knife strike is made to sound like a boulder dropping on the theater. The print ads claim this is the franchise’s “final chapter,’’ but despite Zombie’s efforts - or because of them - only the most hardcore fans will have a hard time saying goodbye.

HALLOWEEN II

Written and directed by: Rob Zombie

Starring: Scout Taylor-Compton, Malcolm McDowell, Brad Dourif, and Tyler Mane

At: Boston Common, Fenway, and suburbs

Running time: 101 minutes

Rated: R (strong brutal bloody violence throughout, terror, disturbing graphic images, language, crude sexual content and nudity)

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