Rob Zombie goes for the jugular with Halloween II



By Steve Newton

Rob Zombie likes to fuck with people’s heads. That’s why in his sadistic 2005 shocker The Devil’s Rejects, during the scene where two captive men are being driven to a remote location to be butchered by a psycho, the song playing on the van’s radio is the feel-good Elvin Bishop hit of ’76: “Fooled Around and Fell in Love”.

A similar type of mind-messing occurs in Zombie’s latest bloodfest, Halloween II, which opens Friday (August 28). When a coroner’s van carrying the apparently dead body of mass murderer Michael Myers crashes on a deserted road and a severely injured passenger screams for help, 10cc’s breezy 1977 ditty “The Things We Do for Love” emanates from the crumpled wreck’s dashboard. And a little later, TV screens at a hospital show the Moody Blues performing the gentle “Nights in White Satin” while Myers goes on a particularly brutal rampage.

So where did Zombie pick up the habit of juxtaposing classic soft-rock hits with murder and mayhem? “That’s just something I picked up from life,” he explains on the line from California. “I was in a car accident one time and the song that was playing on the radio wasn’t 10cc, but it was something like that. Sometimes a horrific thing can happen but the actual real-life soundtrack is so different from what is going on.”

Halloween II is Zombie’s follow-up to his 2007 reinvention of John Carpenter’s 1978 slasher flick, Halloween. Like the original Halloween II of ’81, it picks up where the first film ends, with Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton, reprising Jamie Lee Curtis’s scream-queen role) being treated at a hospital after Myers’s initial massacre in Haddonfield, Illinois.

Two years later, Myers’s former psychologist, Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell, in the bug-eyed role made famous by Donald Pleasance), is heading back to the scene of the crimes to promote a new book exploiting the murders. McDowell’s over-the-top portrayal results in some of the film’s lighter moments, but the chuckles are few in Halloween II, which ramps up the gruesome violence of its predecessor.

“That was one of my goals,” Zombie explains. “I mean, considering the subject matter, I wanted to make it a pretty brutal film. I didn’t want it to be funny, I didn’t want it to be campy, I just wanted it to be pretty relentless. I mean, it’s a disturbing movie, as I think any good horror movie should be, so, hopefully, people walk out in a state of shock.”

The hard-working director will follow Halloween II with the September release of The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, an animated feature based on his comic-book series, which he describes as “an R-rated, adult, superhero-monster sex comedy”. Then, in November, the former White Zombie leader will don the shock-rocker guise again for the release of an as-yet-untitled solo album—his first since 2006’s Educated Horses—and its subsequent effects-heavy arena tour.

Whether via the blood-splattered screen or the pyro-blasted stage, Zombie commands attention.

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